Here’s What Inspires The Five Finalists Of The Caleres Fashion Entrepreneur Competition

On Nov. 10, Theresa Wangia of Beltshazzar Jewels, Crystal Frazier of Qristyl Frazier Designs,Claire Flowers, Ralph Cordova of Rafael Adón and Christina Fogerty of Fauxgerty will compete to win up to $10,000 at the Caleres Fashion Entrepreneur Competition. We chatted with each of the hard-working designers about what keeps them creative and motivated.

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Claire Flowers, of Claire Flowers

What keeps you inspired, and from where do you draw your inspiration?
I am inspired the the wonderful people in my life who constantly encourage me. A lot of what I design has a 1960’s feel. I am inspired to create something functional and practical when I have issues with my shoes or garments and I like to find solutions to women’s problems and build a beautiful aesthetic around it, not the other way around.

Who are a few artists/songs that are on your current playlist?
My most-listened to five songs in my iTunes right now are:

  • “Cut Your Teeth” by Kygo and Kyla La Grange
  • “Let me Down Easy” by Max Frost
  • “It Ain’t Over ’Til it’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz
  • “Wicket Games” by Parra for Cuva
  • “Here For You” by Kygo

What is a piece of advice that you were given that really stuck with you?
“All work is noble.” My mom told me that when I was kid, and I recall that statement many times a week.  She also once said, “Keep your head down and work hard.” I also think about that when faced with noise or other distractions that will not help me reach my goals.

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Crystal Frazier, of Qristyl Frazier Designs

What keeps you inspired in your, and from where do you draw your inspiration?
I am inspired by staying still in the moment and paying attention to my surroundings—beauty and inspiration is everywhere in St. Louis. My design inspiration comes from women with curves living their day-to-day life as career women, students, mature women taking vacations with their husbands, partners and girlfriends. I hear their pain when they are unable to find a stylist or well fitting clothes to fit their unique curves.

Who are a few artists/songs that are on your current playlist?
Anything by K.Michelle, Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, Goete’ or Fetty Wap.

What is a piece of advice that you were given that really stuck with you?
When I was at Stephens College studying fashion design, I was trying to figure out how to do a particular jacket pattern and I was really struggling with it. My instructor said to me, “Stop being an over-thinker, you think too much.” I never understood that comment she made to me for the longest time until many years later. Sometimes you have to walk away from something to understand it better. It was a “light bulb turning on” moment for me.

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Christina Fogerty, of Fauxgerty

What keeps you inspired, and from where do you draw your inspiration?
Fauxgerty as a brand is so inspirational to me. I find a lot of joy in searching for innovative materials and figuring out what styles work best with them. This creates a lot of organic inspiration for new garments. My team is also extremely inspirational with their artistic influence and visions for who we want Fauxgerty to grow into. We design pieces we gravitate to daily focusing on comfortable basics and elevated outerwear.

Who are a few artists/songs that are on your current playlist?
I sure do love my tunes. I am on a kick of Breezeblocks by alt-J, Beirut and Rilo Kiley. Also, anytime “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” comes up on Spotify a Faux Dance Party ensues.

What is a piece of advice that you were given that really stuck with you?
One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is to go with your intuition and have some faith. Whenever I am feeling uncertain, I refocus on my original goal and it helps maintain a positive perspective.

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Ralph Cordova, of Rafael Adón

What keeps you inspired, and from where do you draw your inspiration?
The process of making—whether bags or bread; herbal tinctures or new soap formulations; risottos or olfactory-centric cocktails—keeps me going! I derive great satisfaction from listening to my client’s wishes, helping them articulate their desires in a bag that is not only functional but of a caliber that is truly heirloom quality. Sometimes designing and making a bag for them pushes me to learn a new approach or to attempt again an approach that was previously difficult, and in doing so the process is an invitation toward mastery.

Who are a few artists/songs that are on your current playlist?
I’m an unabashed fan of fellow Santa Barbaran, Katy Perry…California Girls, of course! I’ve recently fallen in love with Mexican artist, Natalia Lafourcade whose lyrics—especially “Hasta La Raíz (to the root)— nuance my mood as I work in the studio. Of course the Beatles’ pump out their tunes on a gramophone-inspired iPad amplifier. At any given time, upon entering the studio, patrons will experience a range of tunes that bring a comforting and curious dimension to their experience.

What is a piece of advice that you were given that really stuck with you?
“¡Házlo pues!” which means “Well, do it!” in Spanish are words that were always present while growing up. My sisters and I were raised in a fourth-generation Mexican-Californian family full of makers: seamstresses, home-builders, musicians, bakers. You name it, creatives were all around us. Whenever any of us had a stirring to make something, “¡Házlo pues!” is what we heard. That expression is golden to me as at its very core is a permission, given by an elder, to do embark on a journey of discovery that cannot be experienced by no other than yourself. No living vicariously allowed!

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Theresa Wangia, of Beltshazzar Jewels

What keeps you inspired, and from where do you draw your inspiration?
I have a very busy life, and something as simple as dropping my kids at school and driving through the park inspires me. I like to walk to get my thoughts lined up or meditate on something I’ve read and allow it to sink in….then head to my studio, which is a constant inspiration. I also draw a lot of my inspiration from my world travels, nature, music and a unyielding appreciation for the eclectic. 

Who are a few artists/songs that are on your current playlist?
I love listening to my mom and dad’s vinyl collection of folk and soul from the 70’s but also have an appreciation for many different genres. My musical taste is very eclectic. I listen to Black Coffee, an afro house DJ/producer from South Africa; Tycho, who makes amazing music using vintage-style synthesizers; and Hillsong United’s new album “Of Dirt and Grace.”   

What is a piece of advice that you were given that really stuck with you?
My husband is my biggest supporter and always encourages me to keep it moving, don’t sweat the small stuff and continue planting seeds. Where they will grow…only God knows.

Don’t forget to vote through Nov. 8 for one designer to win the People’s Choice Award at the Caleres Fashion Entrepreneur CompetitionBuy $10 tickets for the Nov. 10 competition finale now via Eventbrite.

Featured photos courtesy of the designers mentioned.

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