I discovered Rogue:Minx while recruiting designers this summer for the Designer Flea at Lot 13 on Mississippi. The ambitious designer behind this fairly obscure brand is Anna Marie Cooper; a high spirited, business minded creative force who is equally easy to hang with. Her personal style highly reflects her design aesthetic which expresses both grungy-rock coolness as well as flattering girly details. I was immediately drawn to her style. Each and every piece of the many available in her line incorporates a special detail with its own personality, and the entire line is cohesive (as opposed to just individual collections). The clothing is very polished and well thought out; inventive and highly marketable at the same time. Her pieces are within reach for local fashion lovers at an affordable price-point (tops and skirts generally between $70-$100).
Anna did indeed suffer through the heat at the Designer Flea at the Mississippi Street Fair along with some other highly respectable local designers (thanks again to all of you for conducting that experiment with us!) She also represented her label at the first ever Urban Air Market in Portland and the Renegade Craft Fair just recently. She'll also be at Portland Fashion Week's presentation of Fashion on The Square September 5th-7th. We caught up at the Lost & Found a couple of weeks back to discuss what it entails being an emerging designer in Portland and tips on the local trade, among other things.
Mercury: What is your background? Where are you from, what's your story?
Anna: I'm originally from Arkansas, so I spent the first part of my life adrift in humidity, thunderstorms, and lightning bugs. I moved here in high school, and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I was a bit of an oddity in the South, and I seem to blend in a little better here. I have moved around quite a bit since then trying to find other potential places to call home, but nothing has been as good a fit for me. I re-settled here again three years ago, and I plan to stay as long as I can.
When did you start designing clothing?
I started sewing about ten years ago, and managed to put myself through college designing and sewing questionable party clothes. When I graduated and it came time to find a real job and I realized I would rather just stay home and keep sewing. I've been pretty successful selling direct to customers for a few years now via Etsy, but I didn't really become serious about designing until pretty recently. I'm finally getting to a place that I am happy with aesthetically, and I think my knowledge is finally at a point where I can transform my hobby into a profession.
What do you love? What inspires you?
I am inspired by so many things it is hard to narrow it down into a few bullet points. I'm drawn to minimalism with it's clean lines, simple shapes, and interesting textures. I also really love vintage clothes and thrifting. My personal style shifts constantly, so you might find me wearing something super feminine one day, and something tomboyish or minimal the next. The result is that my designs are usually pulled in several different directions. There are so many things that I want and love to make, the hardest thing is to decide what is next.
What do you listen to while you're working (designing, sewing, pattern-making etc.) ?
I tend to shift through phases of listening entirely to music or entirely to pod casts. Right now I'm in the depths of a pod cast phase. There are quite a few that I am addicted to at this point such as Risk! Hardcore History, and Stuff You Should Know among others. Pretty much anything that enables me to learn while working will keep me entertained; Although, I am definitely not above setting up my tablet and binge watching Toddlers in Tiaras or Drag Race. I am hoping the variety is good for my brain.
What do you hope to be doing in 5 years? What is your ultimate dream for your design career?
Naturally I hope to expand and refine my design work further in that time. I have no intentions of leaving the Portland area, and I really want to continue producing my garments here in-state. I really love the culture here, and I want to do what I can to support the local clothing industry. Eventually I would also like to do more than just design. I would love to find a way to help support other American based makers and designers out there, whether that means buying wholesale from them, by promoting them, or both.
Do you have anything exciting in the works that we can expect to see soon?
Right now I am switching my focus to accessories and jewelry. I have had a few ideas kicking around in my head now for a year that I would like to get out. Some of them involve experimenting with 3-D printing which I have been itching to start using. After that, I will be back to designing more clothes and really filling out my website. So far I am avoiding the churn of releasing spring/summer and fall/winter collections. Instead, I plan to release new items consistently as I go along. The goal is to be able to show customers something new on a fairly frequent basis, and the next year should show my store filling up with new designs, lookbooks, and collaborations with other artists I know.
If you follow her blog, you'll find that she displays work of and talks about other independent designers that are worthy of exposure and recognition.
Portland is in fact becoming a place where many of our independent designers have this mind set: Supporting each other and embracing our craft together, which is (maybe slowly- but surely) making our overall success much stronger. For one more person in the community to have this mission while building her own mini-empire is endearing as well as smart. As of now you can find Rogue:Minx garments at her etsy store, and I foresee some local boutiques seeking out her pieces in the near future as well. I'd recommend keeping tabs on this lady because she isn't slowing down!
Fashion on The Square is September 5th-7th from 11am-8pm.