What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Lydia Critchfield, and I am a rising senior at Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in fashion design and minoring in general business.
Are there any childhood experiences that led you to where you are today?
I remember using sewing machines as early as 3rd or 4th grade, and I was drawing designs regularly by 5th grade. I had always been interested in fashion, so I knew from a very young age that fashion design was the career for me. I particularly remember really liking the show That’s So Raven,and she made a lot of her own clothes, which I thought was awesome. I’ve been interested in all aspects of art growing up, and always did as many crafts as I could get my hands on. I knew I needed a career that allowed me to be creative so that I would enjoy working. After being accepted into Virginia Commonwealth University’s art department, I couldn’t wait to begin fashion classes sophomore year. Being accepted into and studying in the fashion department has been the best learning experience. I don’t think I would ever hope to have a successful career without the skills and knowledge that I’ve been taught at VCU.
Who do you look at as inspiration to keep going?
To keep me going and inspired, I look to both established designers that I like and my fellow classmates. My favorite designer is Monique Lhuillier, so following what she’s working on encourages me to keep going so that I can be in her place one day. My classmates also inspire me to work harder. We all push each other to do our best, and encourage each other when we’re feeling down. Having a group of peers around me to keep me positive and help me stay on track toward my goals is the most important thing to keep me motivated.
What makes you stand apart from everyone else in your field?
It’s pretty hard to stand out in a field of work that includes so many talented, unique, and creative people, but I think one thing that sets me apart from the masses is my eagerness. I get so excited about what I do, and that passion comes through in my work ethic and the things I make. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but I still love to have fun. I like for my illustrations and clothes to be vibrant. I think adding a serious effort to exciting garments sets me apart from others in my field.
What tangible piece of advice would you give young girls who want to be where you are?
I would tell young girls to choose their careers based on what they’re passionate about, rather than just practicality.
I am a very rational person, but I think everyone should at least try to do the thing they love so that they don’t spend their life wondering what if.
Hard work and practice have helped me the most in getting where I am today. In the fashion industry, you can’t be afraid of the word no. When looking for an internship, I applied to at least 100 different places, and around 10 responded. But, I kept sending emails anyway, and I ended up with more than one offer. Not everyone is going to love everything you make, some people might hate it all, but that’s okay because not everyone can be your customer. If someone wants to be a fashion designer, they need to work hard, practice their skills like sewing and drawing, and be diligent when looking for jobs. Build up a portfolio as much as possible to get into a good program to study more. With fashion constantly changing, there’s always more to learn.
What do you love most about being a woman?
I think the best part of being a woman is that we have so many different options to dress and accessorize ourselves however we please. There’s clothing out there for every style imaginable, you can dress formally or casually, and on top of the clothes you can add jewelry, nail polish, makeup, hairstyles and colors, purses, and of course, shoes. Knowing that the world is like a never-ending closet for women excites me. Personally, dressing myself for my mood or occasion or just my style of the day is my favorite part of being a woman.
What is your most memorable moment as a Fashion Design Major and Designer?
My most memorable moment as a fashion design major would be seeing my first collection on the runway. It was just last semester, my junior year, and the first time I had made a collection. It consisted of 3 outfits [pictured above], and seeing them come out on the runway was the best feeling ever. It felt like my hard work had paid off and it was sort of a milestone moment in my career. I hope to be able to showcase on many more runways in the future.
What is your least memorable moment as a Fashion Design Major and Designer?
My least memorable moment in fashion design has probably been the times when I stayed up all night working on projects and not getting the grade that I was aiming for. For one competition project, I worked on it everyday for weeks, and the day before it was due I was fixing last minute details and presentation things until 6am, only to not be selected by my teacher to be sent to the competition. Things like that can get me down, but it also pushes me to try harder next time.
Are there any struggles being a woman in your field?
In fashion, I don’t think being a woman makes it any harder than a man to make a name for yourself. However, there are still more well known male designers than female designers. Luckily, I don’t see gender to be a hindrance in furthering my career.
What is one thing many people do not know about you?
One thing many people don’t know about me is that I spent a lot of my childhood on a farm. I grew up with goats, llamas, dogs, and cats. I feel like I’m more into city living at heart, but I definitely appreciate the things growing up in a rural area has taught me.
Our fun question: If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
If I could be any animal, I would like to be a mermaid. I know that’s not really an animal, but it’s the best thing I can imagine. They get to swim all day and hang out with tons of other underwater species. Not to mention they probably have an awesome 6 pack of abs just from flipping that fin, kind of like leg lifts. It would be cool though because they can still come up to land and hang out by the beaches too, so it’s like the best of both worlds.
What does the future hold for you?
For my future, I want 2 main things. Number 1 being a successful career, and number 2 being a family. I would like to work my way up in an established brand, hopefully getting to be a head designer or creative director one day. I would definitely prefer working with women’s ready to wear or even in the bridal industry. Maybe after several years of learning what not to do, I could start my own label. I would probably start out as an online store, and work my way up to a brick and mortar location. I know that I will be working crazy hours because that’s how the fashion industry is, but making time for my family is super important to me. I would like to travel a lot while I’m still young, and have my career going so that I can be around by the time my kids are reaching all those precious milestones. I also want to be a supportive wife in whatever my husband decides to pursue. My career may come first on my timeline of the future, but when I also have a family, they will take priority.
Where can people find you?
Currently, I am interning with Gretta Kay’s bridal boutique White Dress in Waynesboro, VA. I’m also starting work at the Sew Classics in the Shenandoah Valley Heritage Market. Those two stores are where I’ll be spending my summer months, and in the fall I’ll return to finish my senior year at VCU. If anyone would like to contact me, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.