How did your interest in fashion begin?
My mom used to make every single costume for us (my brother, sister and I). We never had a store bought costume for plays, Halloween, etc. I used to watch her sew and became hypnotized by her sewing machine/materials.
Also, my grandfather was very big on educational materials, magazines etc, because he was an art teacher and everything we did with him related to art in some way. However, when I became a teenager, he got me a subscription to Seventeen magazine, out of the blue. I was fascinated with the clothing, and started making clothing for my Barbies, based on the designs I saw. That coupled with my mom’s sewing scraps made for an interesting childhood.
What motivated you to start selling your designs and what were your expectations when you started?
I’d been making things for years but had a hard time parting with them. At one point a few friends suggested I sell what I make, because my creations were so unique. When a few of my friends started raving about the reaction they got from wearing my creations, it inspired me to sell to the public! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started to sell, as most of my designs have lots of detail and are a departure from mainstream design.
Do you have any formal training in fashion, art or design?
I have two BFA’s – one in Art History, and another in Jewelry/Metalsmithing. I really wanted to take the Fashion Design program at the U of I in Champaign, but it was in the Agriculture Department, and I didn’t want to take any “farming courses” to qualify. My Dean suggested I enter the Art Department and then transfer, but I loved the Art Department at the University of Illinois so much that I kept taking classes and ended up with two degrees. I would have had a painting degree as well, except my Dean told me it was time to graduate
So I went to grad school at NYU for an MA in Costume Studies and Decorative Arts. The program was based on the history of clothing and textiles, with some design aspects. It gave me a solid base for understanding design. Of course, I also studied the NYC nightlife studiously *wink*.
Is Indiscretion your primary job?
Indiscretion is more my obsession when I’m not taking care of my two kids! I do my “indiscretions” whenever I have a free moment. This sometimes means staying up until 1 or 2am. The muse has no set hours, ha ha.
How many people are behind the scenes at Indiscretion?
Just me! I’m a bit of a control freak.
What are some of the best and worst aspects of being an independent designer?
Some of the best things: you call all the shots, from the design, to the advertising. I like being involved in all the aspects, because I’ve learned a lot about different jobs!
Some of the worst aspects: wishing I could just sew and let someone else deal with the photography, listings and advertising. But I found I cannot clone myself…just yet.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
I get inspired by everything, all things are fair game! I carry a notebook with me to scribble down designs when they pop into my head. Sometimes I’ll look at a fabric and know instantly what I want to do with it. I love the quirkiness of the 80’s, rock, as well as design elements from history. Some historical designs are so beautiful, they keep popping up in modern clothing.
How would you describe your designs?
Since I’ve separated my two lines, I’d describe them as:
Indiscretion – bright, fun casual wear, inspired by the 80’s, streetwear, and a vivid imagination. A friend once described it as “Japanese Streetwear meets the 80’s with a side of Goth”.
Haute Indiscretion –dark clothing inspired by Goth and alternative wear, more special/evening type clothing. This line indulges my need to create drama!
Any advice for aspiring designers?
Persevere! It doesn’t really matter what other people think about what you are doing, just keep doing it – you will find the right path. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions, we all have to start somewhere.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
I like to collect vintage clothing as well as clothing from other countries. Shoes are another passion but I don’t have enough room here to talk about THAT obsession!
You can find more about Mara’s designs at her website: