PFI Alumni

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!
Joan Robbins

Joan Robbins

Brief Biography:
I’m not in my 20’s. Starting PFI in my mid 50’s, I relished the classes. I started with an interest in sewing and honing my skills, and ended up graduating with an apparel design certificate and completed the Fashion Forward program.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I loved all the classes but got my certification in apparel design. Loved and focused on the marketing and business classes. Also took a lot of pattern making, advanced techniques.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I started my own company called ALTON OAK. It’s all me, so I am designer, pattern maker, construction , marketing and business manager.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
After my youngest child went off to college, I decided to take sewing classes. Not knowing the outcome at the time, it developed over a couple years into a passion for design.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Design!
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
I would tell someone to start taking classes that interest you and stretch your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, and take challenging classes.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
I did a lot of research before choosing PFI. I believe it’s the best well rounded overall program where you can learn from the pros, learn industry techniques, and keep the costs down.
Jon Greer

Jon Greer

Brief Biography:
After i finished school i threw all my work away and started over, I'm re-designing everything and acquiring industrial sewing equipment so i can have my own one man shirt factory
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
Apparel Design
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
Montavilla Sewing Center, Repair technician
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I fell into it, then fell in love with it.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Industrial machine repair
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Walt Disney jumped head first into debt to achieve his goals.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Do it
Stephanie Hutton

Stephanie Hutton

Brief Biography:
I started at PFI right after I graduated high school in 2012. The following year I was apart of the Fashion Forward program. I was focusing on building my portfolio and I am now in my 3rd year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. I have already completed an AAS in International Fashion Design, where I studied abroad in Italy for my first year. I will complete my Bachelor of Science in Technical Design next summer.
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
I was apart of the 2013 - 2014 Fashion Forward program.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I am currently a full time student at FIT. However this summer I will be apart of PVH's annual summer internship program, as a 3D Technical Design Intern.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I wasn't sure where I wanted to go to college after graduating high school, but new I wanted to major in fashion design. So I started at Portland Fashion Institute(then known as Portland Sewing) to help build foundational skills and my portfolio. Which led my to FIT where, upon graduation, I will pursue a career in 3D Technical Design.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
I am have completed two internships involving 3D design (using Browzwear) and will have a third one this summer with PVH. I love the 3D design process because there is so much potential in the field. The technology has the ability to really change the way we go about sampling and fitting garments.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
PFI is great because you can really explore the different roles of the fashion industry, the design process, the technical process of pattern making and flats and specs, as well as what it takes to be a fashion business. There is a lot to learn, so make the most of it.
Erich Treeby

Erich Treeby

Brief Biography:
I'm a hard worker but also a big goof. Look in the shop window at Duchess Clothier and you are likely to see me singing along to k-pop while I sew, dancing while I iron, or doing runway walks in the garments that just arrived from our manufacturer (which I will eventually measure and inspect).
What Did You Focus In At PFI?:
At PFI I focused on studying menswear design and construction. I participated in the Fashion Forward program and presented a capsule collection under my label Favorite Son at Fade to Light in 2015.
Where Are You Working Now And What Is Your Position?:
I currently work at Duchess Clothier as the lead tailor overseeing the Alterations department.
How Did You Decide To Do What You’re Doing?:
I have always enjoyed fiber and textile-based crafts (in addition to sewing, I have learned crewel embroidery, designed crochet toys, and made crochet lace). I started reading menswear blogs several years ago and was extremely inspired by recent developments in the menswear industry. Men are once again participating in fashion and valuing personal style, and I wanted to be a part of that. Tailoring was a natural fit for me because I am detail-oriented and love the intricacies of flat pattern drafting.
What’s Your Favorite Part Of Your Job?:
Since I work for a small independent company, I get to participate in all aspects of an apparel business. In addition to performing alterations, I have helped with costing and merchandising, designed a line of sportcoats, styled photoshoots, created a custom accessories program, and acted as a consultant for our bespoke shoe program.
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Considering A Career In Fashion?:
Figure out what you want to specialize in as early as possible and make your interest known. Having a niche is crucial in today's highly competitive world, and networking is how you will likely land your first job. When I was at PFI, I made it clear that I was interested in tailored menswear and saw myself working in a custom suiting business. There aren't many of those jobs available, but when one opened up I got the job (and I hadn't even graduated yet).
What Advice Would You Have For Individuals Thinking Of Attending PFI?:
Show up to your classes and do the homework. The technical and business skills that are taught in the classes are not something that you can passively "absorb". You only learn to sew by putting in the work.