Name: Angela Morano
Current Title: Teaching Artist/Designer
Education: BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- Tell us about your journey, how did you get where you are today.
I think my journey has been a pretty organic path. I used to say that I never thought I would be doing what I do, and I still feel the same at times. But, it does make a lot of sense. I learned to machine sew and construct garments in high school. I was fortunate enough to attend Whitney Young High School, which had a fashion design program. I took every fashion class I could throughout my time there, and eventually organized the annual fashion show with my best friend. I always knew I wanted to go to a fashion or art school after high school. The School of the Art Institute just made sense. I intended to study fashion design while there, but once I took a few classes in the department I realized it wasn't for me. Coincidentally, I took a millinery class around the same time and fell in love. It combined my two most important interests-- sewing and sculpture. It also helped that I was good at it. It came natural to me. While at SAIC, I again took every millinery class I could, including a few self-guided independent studies where I basically created my own lines and curriculum. Through the generosity of my millinery instructor, Eia Radosavljevic I was provided with many gallery and showcase opportunities as a student that lead to sales and networking possibilities. So, I began to sell more work, build my website, and create a brand through tools like business cards and signature hat designs. At the time though, I didn't realize that I was slowly creating a brand. After graduating SAIC, I was able to obtain a teaching position through an internship again with my millinery instructor. For half a decade, I taught a millinery design program to high school teens for After School Matters. I also continued to regularly sell work at trunk shows and events. Eventually, I transformed my website from a portfolio platform to an e-commerce site to accommodate the growing demand I was seeing for online sales from customers. Along the way, I met some lovely boutique owners that were interested in carrying my best seller, the Turband. I continue to work with these ladies as they have been more than supportive of my brand and provide an in-store experience for customers to purchase my ready to wear pieces versus my website. Currently, I teach hand and machine sewing to 6 year olds and up at a private studio on the near north side of Chicago. Though balancing teaching full time and producing my line can be very challenging at times, I consider teaching and engaging with others interested in creating to be an integral part of my work.
- What’s your morning routine?
My day-to-day work schedule may vary, but my mornings are pretty consistent. I usually wake up between 5 and 6 am (if my dogs let me sleep in a bit.) I let them out and feed them first before putting on a pot of coffee for my boyfriend and I. I then make breakfast-- fruit, toast with peanut butter, sometimes a hard-boiled egg. Afterwards, I like to do any housekeeping that might make the day a little smoother. I might prepare a meal for dinner in the crock-pot, which is my favorite thing in the world (literally set it and forget it), load the dishwasher, and tidy up the living room. Once those tasks are complete, I begin to work in my home studio. I like to get to work by 9 or 10 am, and I often start by checking and responding to emails before sewing.
- What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Read everything and work hard. Learn to find answers to questions for yourself. I do believe in mentors, but I also think it's important to be self-sufficient and use available resources to your advantage.
- How do you unwind after a long day?
Hot baths are my greatest luxury. A good soak feels amazing after a long day on my feet or at my sewing machine. I like to add scented Epsom salt for extra relaxation.
- What’s your go-to gift that never fails?
I love to give zipper pouches that can double as cosmetic bags, clutches, or travel toiletry bags-- whatever you want. Everyone can use a new little bag. My favorites are either local designer, Bliss Joy Bull or Baggu. Bliss Joy Bull uses organic materials and fabrics that she hand paints or dyes. Her pieces feel really special, and I love to support local artists. Baggu bags are minimal and come in great colors. I like the shapes and clean lines.