PFI Alumni

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?:
Nike, through the temp agency Boly-Welch, which fills a lot of Nike’s temporary and entry-level positions. 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 my temporary work is helping me get there. I’ve learned so much about different aspects of the industry here at Nike. I would say my favorite part of the job is the people, because Nike is 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.
Cayenne Adler

Cayenne Adler

Brief Biography:
Cayenne Adler is a 22 year old seamstress from Santa Fe New Mexico. She has lived in Portland since 2014 and graduated from PFI in 2017.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
Apparel Design
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Fiber Artist at Michael Curry Design
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I always knew I wanted to go into costuming and when I was hired at Michael Curry Design I discovered a passion for puppetry and stage craft and decided I wanted to continue pursuing a career in this field.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
My favorite part of the job is working with a team of highly skilled people and having opportunities to use technical skills in new and unique applications.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Practice!
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
I would say to take advantage of being surrounded by teachers and people who are passionate and trained in fashion and clothing construction. Being around people like that gave me the resources and confidence to pursue the career I have now.
Corazon Mitchell

Corazon Mitchell

Brief Biography:
My name is Corazon and I grew up the majority of my life in Oregon. At 16 I ended up getting emancipated and moved to Portland to go to school and pursue a career in fashion. I ended up getting signed to an agency and started a modeling career. In 2012, I had to move to Mexico for a year where I continued modeling. I always knew at a young age I wanted to be apart of the fashion industry, but growing up and facing unfortunate obstacles and hardships, on top of becoming a single mother at 21, it didn’t seem like a possibility. In 2016 I found an affordable program through PFI which led me to move back to Portland. I worked harder than I ever worked before, but I managed to graduate in 2018 as well as entered into the Fashion Forward program where I designed and showed a 7 piece collection at the Fade to Light Fashion show here in Portland. All my family lives in Thailand so my style was greatly influenced by my Thai background. I found a job as a production sewer quickly after graduation for a company called Seamus Golf, which was the fastest growing company in Oregon while I was there. There, I worked making high end golf accessories as well as assisted the Head of Product Design on special projects for high profile clients and celebrities. After working there for almost 2 years, I realized my personality was not the right fit for Seamus, and that I needed more. I started looking for better opportunities and landed a job as an Image Artist with Nike HQ. Due to Covid-19 Pandemic, I lost that job right before my start date. I managed to land a scholarship to attend Parsons School of Design Streetwear Essentials online certificate program. I took advantage of the quarantine and unemployment to finish the certificate by June 2020. Shortly after, I somehow managed to find an opening and interviewed for a CMT Developer position developing professional athlete jerseys with A&K Designs. I got offered the job same day, doubling my previous yearly salary. On top of this, I am currently working on launching my own sustainable Streetwear apparel company Corazon Co.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
Apparel Design
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I am working at A&K Designs as a CMT (Cut Make Trim) Developer II
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
After almost 2 years, I realized sewing as a career was not meant for me. I started looking at other positions that were within my skillset gained at PFI and eventually stumbled upon a CMT Developer opening. 

What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
My favorite part is how much freedom I have to manage my own projects as well as have the ability to dip my hands in different areas of the development process. I absolutely love having a leadership role where I communicate with different team leaders on projects in the development, as well as communicate directly with multiple developers and project managers that work at Nike. I assist in the development of jerseys made for Professional athletes in the NBA/NFL/WNBA/NCAA/GLEAGUE/ETC contracted through Nike...Also, working on a team of great people as well as working for amazing owners is a MAJOR bonus and help.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Be ready to put in a lot of hard work and if anything like me, extremely late nights to early mornings. Sometimes it may take longer than you will want or expect, but your hard work will be worth it. Make sure you engage and network with all your instructors. PFI brings in a lot of awesome people currently in the industry, so take advantage! Get out there and network. If you are like me and did not have the opportunity to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, don’t ever let that discourage you from going after that job. Lastly, never give up hope.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Make sure you are passionate about the industry, because it is hard work. Make the most of your networking opportunities!
Erin Clutinger

Erin Clutinger

Brief Biography:
Tell us a little bit about yourself.   I am enjoying living a dual work life, both as a nurse and an alterations specialist at Duchess Clothier. I get to have the best of both worlds! When not working, you’ll find me cooking, reading, sewing/knitting, and hanging out with my partner Danny and our fur kids, Victoria (mischievous cat) and Watson (sweet and very energetic chocolate lab).
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
What was your focus at PFI? Sewing, patternmaking, draping. I received certificates in both Apparel Design and Apparel Technical Development. I think I took close to every class offered at PFI!
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I am currently working in alterations at Duchess Clothier. We work with clients to create custom, made to measure suits, separates, footwear and accessories.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
A former Duchess employee did a talk at PFI about his position and I remember thinking at the time what an amazing job that would be.  When a part time position opened there I jumped at the chance and am so happy I did!
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
I’m part of an amazing team whose goal is to make clients feel confident and beautiful. Seeing clients’ reactions when their clothes make them feel this way is so rewarding. Plus, I get to spend my days sewing!
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
There’s so many different avenues you could take in the fashion industry. Find a way to do what you love!
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at PFI.
Viola Pruitt Horton

Viola Pruitt Horton

Brief Biography:
I’m a professional Seamstress/Tailor/Costumer of theater and film.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
When I first came to PFI, I focused on classes that would challenge my sewing skills. I began in 2013 by taking the Leatherworking classes, then I took the menswear classes. After about a year, I finally put myself in the Apparel Certificate Program, and I started with the Pattern Making classes!
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I work as a professional costumer for Equity and Community Theater houses, children’s theater and film.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I have loved being around theater since high school, and I started costuming in HS, continued in college, and I used to do the costuming for my former husbands Funk Band Velvet, from 1983-1992.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
The favorite part of my job is taking an actor’s back story and creating their characters with fabric!
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
To anyone out there wanting to pursue a career in fashion, my advice is DO IT!! Don’t let anything thing or anyone stop you, and most important, it’s never too late!
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
PFI is the best fashion school on the West Coast! You get the technical training that you need to pursue anything you want and need in the fashion realm! A simple placement test can help you to discover what sewing classes you need to get started, to realize your dreams!
Melanie Bowman Clark

Melanie Bowman Clark

What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
Apparel Design
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I am a freelance costume designer and wardrobe stylist for commercial, television and film. I also do on-set alterations and even style print now and again.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I've wanted to do this since I was a child.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Character development and costume design.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Be prepared to work hard, realize you likely won't be a part of the creative design process for awhile, and don't expect a big paycheck the first few years. Soak up all you can during the early years and find a way to be creative in your off-time.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
It's time consuming so tailor your program to take the classes you are most interested in first. Listen and learn what you can from teachers and others' feedback but it's most important to follow your instincts and be true to yourself.
Maia Burt

Maia Burt

Brief Biography:
I'm 28 and I love everything about fashion. I first received my Bachelor's degree in Political Science, but came back to school to pursue apparel. I completed the Fashion Forward program at PFI and it was one of the best decisions I've made.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I received the Apparel Designer certificate but took technical classes along the way.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I am working on the Nike Swim team for Perry Ellis as a Technical Designer.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
By taking classes at PFI, I realized that I wanted to pursue fashion and Sharon helped me find an internship that suited me.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Seeing a garment fit perfectly after many patterning challenges and prior fittings.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Try to take specialized classes and pick a focus and get to be an expert on that subject.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
I loved my time at PFI, everyone is so nice and knowledgeable about the industry. It is also very affordable. If you have never sewn before, learning a new trade is not easy but it will be worth it.
Karen Wilfred

Karen Wilfred

Brief Biography:
I love living in Portland and being surrounded by creative people. I'm excited to be working on producing more Wilfred Apparel pieces.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I took everything I could, but I was particularly interested in fashion illustration and the creative work involved with completing the Fashion Forward program.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I am currently working as a seamstress at a.ell atelier on Hawthorne Blvd.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I grew up around sewers and always loved learning their tricks and secrets to design something beautiful.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Getting to play with amazing fabrics.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Try new things without being afraid of making mistakes.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Go for it! You will learn so much!