PFI Alumni

Zarela Brown

Zarela Brown

Brief Biography:
I have had an intense love affair with fashion and apparel for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I had a sketchbook that I used exclusively for designing evening gowns. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so I would create what I considered to be the most expensive and flashy garments that just maybe I could make and wear myself one day. The concept of a high slit dress was the epitome of sexiness to me and nobody could tell me otherwise. It was my own little fashion fantasy book.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
Apparel Technical Developer program was the ideal course of study for me. The streamlined coursework at PFI really appeals to me. This will allow me to completely focus only on my specific goals and aspirations. The instructors seem to have extremely diverse experience to offer a well rounded education. Upon looking over the coursework, every class taken will be invaluable to my career. I also appreciate what the school stands for, in terms of offering affordable education in an industry where most schools and programs cost tens of thousands of dollars and leave students with crippling debt. I am also ecstatic to be in a classroom full of like-minded individuals, with whom I can get inspiration from and learn from. And most of all I am excited to begin my journey in Portland, a place I have called home since childhood.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Assistant Technical Designer at Perry Ellis International (Nike Swim)
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
Landing a job as a jr. technical developer at a large company was my immediate goal upon completion. From there, I hope to continue to learn and excel in the industry. Being a person of color, I hope to bring a diverse voice and vision to wherever I work, especially in Portland, where diversity in every industry is scarce.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Great people. Great experience. Great work.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Portland has a plethora of apparel industry job opportunities and PFI seems to be a great jumping off point to explore those.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Studying at PFI was a very important step in realizing my dreams. This was an opportunity of a lifetime for me and nothing could make me take it for granted. I’ve had many wins and losses in my life, and I know without any question that this will count towards the latter.
Kelli McDonough

Kelli McDonough

Brief Biography:
I was born in South Korea and was adopted to the States at the age of 10. I was a stay at home mom for some time where I taught myself to knit and started patterning my own garments. I needed a lot more help to do it right, so I started researching my options. I chose PFI because of the range of topics taught and the classes were at a time that worked around my kids' school schedules
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I started with Technical Development as I really wanted to focus on pattern making, but I took as many classes as I could along the way because I enjoyed them so much. Before I could even think about it, I had all 3 certificates.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I am in product development at Danamor.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I didn't really know where I was going to end up, but the guidance came from not only learning more about myself and my abilities as time went by, but Sharon [PFI director] especially, has made sure I knew about every possible opportunity that was out there. Creatively, Danamor was the perfect fit for me.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
A creative outlet all around. No micromanagement but encouragement from a positive place to help set goals and get to put my design skills to use. I'm learning about production, quality control, sourcing and how to run a small business and more.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
I was scared, but what fun would it be if you weren't at least a little bit. "Fashion" needs to be a word not so intimidating because it's definitely a possibility. Don't call it your dream: Call it your goal.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
First and foremost, remember that you are accountable for your experience. Deciding early on what kind of journey you want is important. I wanted it to be a challenging and equally rewarding adventure, and through the choices I made along the way, I got exactly that. I learned so much more than I thought I would at PFI. I had so many knowledgeable teachers and the guidance from staff to help me get confident and feel accomplished. Now it's your turn to choose!
Ida Andersson

Ida Andersson

Brief Biography:
I am originally from a small village outside of Gothenburg, but have lived in Copenhagen and now Portland for the last 3 years. I want to use my Scandinavian roots as an inspiration tool to express my design. I’ve always liked to stand out and that's why I wanna make clothes for women that aren’t afraid of standing out. I want women to feel confident and stylish wearing pieces from my brand. Another interest I’ve always had beside sewing is training and staying active. That has always been a big part off my life, so a workout collection is high listed on my “to do” list.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I want my design to be unique and reflect me and my personality.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Studio Designer at Creative Capital Design. Owner and creator of Ida Andersson LLC women's handmade apparel brand.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
Back when I was six years old and it was time for my first day at school I already had a hard time picking outfits, so I changed outfit probably six times and because of that I missed my bus and got to school late my first day. Clothing and looking good have always been very important to me since I was a little girl. I always followed the latest fashion. Ivé always had my own style and I have never been scared to stand out. My interest for fashion kept growing over the years. I discovered the sewing machine in sixth grade and the obsession was a fact. And I remember how eager I was to get to the sewing class and I just couldn’t wait to start creating and bring my ideas I had in my head to life.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Working closely with a tight-knit team. Using Adobe Illustrator to create Apparel Tech Packs and Digital Materials for an Apparel Brand. My most important assignment included designing five original products with three different themes of variation based on similar categories such as: Fit, Style, and Color. In total, I created 15 individual garments. Other work included color forecasting along with accompanying mood boards for a separate brand's collection.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Make contacts. Work hard. Be kind and dependable.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Cater your class projects to the job you want. When you are done, you will have great content for your portfolio.
Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall

Brief Biography:
Fashion has been my strongest and most enduring passion throughout my life. My first opportunity to work in the industry in some capacity started, like many, in retail. What began as a part time college job as a sales associate quickly turned into a full time management position where I learned about merchandising, styling, and forecasting. However, at the time a real career in the fashion industry didn’t seem attainable to me and I knew that I did not want to build one solely in retail. I was eventually persuaded to pursue a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and French. My education took me to Italy and France. I chose to be around the places that influenced many of the greatest designers. I have regretted that I did not take a chance and apply to fashion school when I was younger. This was one of the biggest reasons I was excited for the certificate programs at PFI. I finally felt like I had the opportunity to pursue my dreams of a career in fashion that’s not only within my financial means, but that would allow me to learn from and get acquainted with some of Portland’s experts.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
The Apparel Technical Developer certificate because is prepares students for a career in the apparel industry. The program is designed to shape students into desirable candidates for jobs at both large and small companies after certification, I felt it was most suited to my current main goal of working towards building a long term career.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Technical Designer at Nike
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
In researching more about apparel technical developer/product developer jobs, I became interested in having work that couples both design and business. Having multiple responsibilities that called on different skill sets sounded both exciting and challenging, two things that really appealed to me in a potential career.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
I love being at an established apparel company that I believe in, assisting them in carrying out their vision by calling on my own aesthetic strengths and design skills to help them evolve and grow.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Stay excited to learn about and be open to all of the possibilities of the apparel industry.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
All of the instructors when the extra mile for me. I loved the idea of being able to create alongside people with my shared values at PFI and in my future career. I can't thank everyone enough for their help in getting me the opportunity to join the Nike team.
Adrianna McKinley

Adrianna McKinley

Brief Biography:
I moved to Portland to change my life. I was coming from a career I didn’t find any passion for and was adrift in a sea of choices. I sewed as a hobby and took my first course at PFI for fun, but 3 weeks in and I was hooked. I signed up for the certificate and haven’t looked back - I’ve finally found my passion!
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I focused on learning everything I could! I think having the skills of both the designer and technical designer will help tremendously in any role I find myself. The technology side of things has always been my greatest interest and I threw myself into those aspects of the education at PFI.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I’m so happy to be working at PFI as a Pattern Developer, putting my skills to work helping the next generation of apparel professionals.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I really enjoy learning and helping others learn, so it was a natural progression for me to use my skills to help at PFI. As a student I was tutoring my peers so the whole position developed naturally.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
When people enjoy something I’ve worked on, or create a garment from a designer pattern I developed, I get so happy and feel proud of what I’m doing.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
I would tell them that it's not what you expect, it's so much more. You will find so many avenues to take in fashion, just be open to the possibilities and throw yourself into every opportunity you can.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Be prepared to work hard for this, but know that your hard work will pay off. There’s a lot to learn and it can be difficult, but the staff at PFI has got your back. You will get 10 times what you put in, so constantly be applying what you learn and build on the knowledge with each class you take. There’s no right way to do fashion, so come make it your way and get the skills to succeed at it!
Blake Hromco

Blake Hromco

Brief Biography:
I am a 20 Year old Jamaican American. When I'm working I love putting my all into my work, and when I'm not working I'm out in nature doing stupid things like cliff jumping and finding other ways to get hurt. Simply as a creative, I never want to be limited or boxed in. I want to be able to excel in all facets of the fashion and design industries. I have aspirations of impacting the active wear leaders, contributing design perspectives on high-end & luxury ready-to-wear, and even contemporary furniture design or interior decorating. I feel like nothing is out of my reach when it comes to the different sides of the creative field I can reach.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I really enjoyed the patternmaking aspect of creating garments, so when it came to focusing on something thats really what was able to capture my attention. I focused on the Apparel Entrepreneurship pathway, but really enjoyed any and every class that had to do with patternmaking.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Apparel Technical Developer, The North Face, a VF Company
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
The offer presented itself and I interviewed well and it seems to be a great pathway to lead me in the direction I want to go with my career, plus Denver is a great city.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Creating mood and concept boards in Illustrator and Photoshop around given seasons to create apparel lines that match the trends for that season. Designing technical garments within CLO3D and taking them from flat patterns to 3D renders and then producing them to be sold on the company website.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
If its something that you really enjoy I think its worth pursuing but its not just a cakewalk.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
PFI is a great program. All my experiences with Anne Swanson and Jena Nesbitt as my teachers were very positive. Both of them were the best teachers I have had across all my years in school. I am really happy to have chosen to go to PFI as they gave me everything I could have hoped for and more to start and launch my career.
Summer Sweet

Summer Sweet

Brief Biography:
My last 12 years have been spent as a career parent, where I've had to apply all of the above skills plus multitasking, problem solving, prioritizing, and more forms of communication. My caregiving skills were too tapped out to return to education. Seven career quiz books, a sewing hobby, and an education later, I've found work I'm really interested to dive into. I find both the technical and creative aspects exciting and I'm likely to be happiest applying both in my daily work. Before I came to PFI, I used my spare time to create -- and still do. I like to make things out of what I have or acquire materials second hand. I have made travel bags for my kids to take on road trips and diaper bags for friends using fabric from my stash. I am currently working on a handbag using scraps of restaurant booth upholstery I found discarded in an alley. In an effort to apply zero-waste to my home life, I save my scraps for quilts, stuffing or making crafting rope.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
Apparel Design and Apparel Technical Development. I design for people like me. I move from one activity to the next. I wear a lot of "hats" during the day and I don't like having to change my clothes just because I'm going from commuting on my bicycle to picking up my kids to going to work to whatever it may be. I want my clothes to be durable. I want them to be fun. I want things to be comfortable and functional.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Sourcing assistant at Hanna Andersson
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I applied on many jobs from Looptworks to Kroger's apparel line. After working for a while as an assistant designer at Premier Press, I stepped up to the job at Hanna Andersson.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
I like being part of the company and learning something new every day. I enjoy using Photoshop, Illustrator, Browzwear, Optitex, and Excel, as well as pencil and paper techniques. I thrive on learning and problem solving and handle a steep learning curve well.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
I required a lot of extra push and confidence to get myself going. I came to learn how to sell stuff on Etsy and ended with a career.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Overall, I have nothing to say but good things. I left more prepared than I set out to be.
Florencia Pacheco

Florencia Pacheco

Brief Biography:
I was born and raised in South America. In 2009, I began to take pattern making and sewing classes in Cordoba, Argentina. I completed the Apparel Design certificate at the Portland Fashion Institute after I moved to Portland. I then interned at Home Product Development at Kroger, Creative Capital Design and Portland Garment Factory. I currently work as Product Development Assistant at Kroger.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I focused on garment construction.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I work at Kroger, as a Product Development Assistant for their new brand DIP.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I was a philosophy teacher for six years and I was ready for a change in careers. I wanted to do something more creative. I started to attend sewing and pattern making workshops while teaching. After I moved to Portland I found PFI, and I worked toward and obtained the Apparel Design certificate.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
My favorite part of the job is learning something new each day and being surrounded by and working with other creative people.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Do it! It’s a great journey and Portland is the right place. It has a lot of talented and knowledge designers willing to share their experience.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
PFI is the perfect school if you want to break into the fashion industry. You learn what you need to know. You won’t be in buried in debt when you’re done. You have an opportunity to meet the right people that can help you have a successful career in fashion.
Bryn Swain

Bryn Swain

Brief Biography:
I’m a true product of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve lived in all three western states and went to school at the University of Oregon. Although, my degree was in product design, my first internship after college dealt with the design and development of accessories and bags. I really enjoyed the job, but knew it was a niche field, so I turned my sights on fashion design.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I’d done a bit of technical development work before attending PFI and realized that it wasn’t my favorite side of the fashion industry, so I decided to pursue an Apparel Design dertificate. My capsule project was a ready-to-wear collection for plus sized women.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Pendleton Woolen Mills as an accessory designer. Before that I worked at Nike. I initially worked as a Tech Dev 1, primarily dealing with the PLM (product life cycle management) side of the job, but I was just moved over to the Materials department due to my training with the FlexPLM system at Nike.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
My life experiences to date.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
I’m still working to get to my ideal job field in the industry, but what I am doing today is helping me get there. I’ve learned so much about different aspects of the industry at both Pendleton and at Nike. I would say my favorite part of the job is the people, because both places are home to a really friendly work environment and my co-workers have been wonderful.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Have an idea (or just a picture) of what you want to do in the field, but be willing to explore. The one thing I regret about my product design degree was not being able to explore and really get a feel for what design field I was most interested in pursuing. But, by the time I got to PFI, I had a plan in place that really helped gear me and my portfolio to the apparel field I was actually interested in.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
When I look back at my 4-year degree, I feel that think I gained more job-applicable training and education through certain courses at PFI. As an added bonus, it’s more affordable, so there’s the freedom to try new classes and really get a feel for what you enjoy and want to pursue in the fashion industry.
Bethany Gross

Bethany Gross

Brief Biography:
My name is Bethany Gross. I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and always knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry. I went to summer fashion camps at a local university, made and altered my prom dresses and took every fashion related class, even the independent student classes, available at my high school. After high school I traveled, worked full time and started school for Marketing Management in Milwaukee. When I moved to Portland in September 2016, I was happy to find PFI and started classes mid-Fall. I participated in the August 2018 Fade to Light Fashion Show and debuted my first mini-collection under my brand, Loraine Watson Co. With an interest in sustainable fashion, I look forward to being part of a solution to an industry problem.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I focused on Apparel Design at PFI and joined the Fashion Forward program to jumpstart my line at the August 2018 Fade to Light Fashion Show.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I have been working since 2017 for EcoVibe Apparel, a local boutique that focuses on affordable, ethical fashion. I am the general manager and lead merchandiser. As a small business, everyone on the team wears many hats on the job. I work in most aspects of the business including sales, merchandising, buying and hiring.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I was already working for EcoVibe when I started school through PFI. I gained more and more experience with EcoVibe over the past two years and found it to be rewarding. I know that there would still be more room to learn and grow. It was important for me to work in a place that cared about their team and strengthened them, helping them grow.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
I love hearing that people loved their experience in working with me and the rest of the team or that they came in because of a display or a recommendation from a friend. It really validates all the hard work we put in every day.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Take every bit of feedback into consideration but at the end of the day, fashion is a creative and individualized art expression. Stand up and stand confident for your creative point of view.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Take a class or a private lesson or go for open sewing. Get to know the teachers and other students. The hardest decision during my time at PFI was always figuring out what classes to take and which ones to wait to take.