A Conversation with Priscilla Barroso of Crowned Bird
ISSUE FIVE: PRINTS & PATTERNS, A CONVERSATION WITH PRISCILLA BARROSO OF CROWNED BIRD
"IT'S ALL ABOUT THE HEART AND I STAND BY IT!"
Photographer: Jeremy Davis /@jeremyxdavis
Model: Daniela Sevilla / @daniela.sevilla
Designer: Priscilla Barroso / @crownedbird
Agency: Dragonfly Agency
Texas based Fashion Designer Priscilla Barroso has had an amazing run so far in the fashion industry since launching Crowned Bird in the Fall of 2012. Around the same time, she was recruited as a Contestant on NBC's Fashion Star (Season 2) as Nicole Richie's Designer! Born as a first generation Turkish/Panameña, despite her less than traditional upbringing in the suburbs of Dallas, Priscilla is happy to have had it shape the nostalgic presence of her designs. Raised in a large extended family, her greatest influences still come from all the strength and diversity of several generations sharing one home. Now, with the wisdom gained from her upbringing and a fortunate tailoring experience, Priscilla treads a lifelong ambition to unravel traditional garment making through colorful and inspired expression.
Thank you for meeting with us, Priscilla!
When did you first start designing apparel?
I started designing in 2006. Wow, 10 years now! I'm just now feeling like a master of my craft. I have made everything head to toe, including hats, shoes, bags and suits. You could say I had a fortunate beginning as a custom tailor that offered me a lot of experience in the industry of creating.
Your work has been tremendously inspiring for us, particularly for this issue, Prints and Patterns. How do you choose the design patterns you feature in your work?
I design very quickly if I'm inspired. Crowned Bird is a very personal collection in which I create scenes in my head from direct memories from my childhood and the characters that shaped it. Most designs are patterned from ingenues in my life and most color schemes are taken from storybooks I adore.
When you launched Crowned Bird in 2012, was it before or after you appeared on NBC?
It was almost simultaneous, crazy how life happens that way. I had just wrapped up my Kickstarter and was in LA market launching Crowned Bird to retailers when I was discovered by a rep from NBC. They offered me VIP status to audition for the show. I was the first one in, first one out. It all happened so fast. As my line was hitting the stores for the first time, I had to secretly disappear from my life and enter a new form of reality.
"EXPRESSION IS KEY! I THINK MY PURPOSE IN LIFE IS TO SERVE OTHERS THROUGH SHARING PERSONAL IDEALISMS."
What was your experience designing for Nicole Richie on NBC's Fashion Star?
Nicole was amazing. I feel like, if we weren't on a reality game show and had met IRL, we'd be true buds. She has a humbling approach to fashion because she knows herself so well. She remains "specific." I feel like it was obvious she picked me to be on her team because we had this in common. It was refreshing to receive praise from someone I really admired in the industry. Bonus, she's hilarious and stunning in person.
How has your brand evolved since it's beginnings?
Since I was gone for four months on the show, my brand went through many hiccups. I listened to industry PR people that I thought knew more than me and tried changing my brand to become more mainstream. There is actually a season no one has seen because I trashed it. They were trying to make me into something I wasn't. I mean, I love Anthropologie but it just wasn't me. It lost that magical element people recognize in the brand: novelty. It's a "happy" factor of seeing something that feels fresh and inviting. After that, I decided to listen to my gut and promised myself I would never change anything for money again. It's all about the heart and I stand by it. I have a theory that it has to make me proud first in order to inspire others later.
We love the way your designs intersect among many influences, is there anything currently inspiring your work?
Thank you so much! My next collection should be out at the end of summer, it's called PIPPI based off my childhood hero, Pippi Longstocking and her adventures! I'm working with an artist to create a coloring book fabric print that you can draw on. Pippi was always drawing outside the lines so I encourage gals to color on the clothes and make it their own. Markers will be provided!
How do you see your upbringing in Dallas as a first generation Turkish / Panameña influencing your work?
Growing up in such a culturally diverse home affects me on a daily basis, I am always going back to a place of nostalgia to find what I want I want to say next. Expression is key! I think my purpose in life is to serve others through sharing personal idealisms. Strangely, the more personal you get, the more universal you become. Comedians understand this better than anyone.
In addition to your work as a Fashion Designer, do you work another job?
Most people don't know this but I spend most of my time behind the scenes producing collections for young designers. My company is called Bait Apparel Industries. I have several factories in Dallas and work with an amazing wash house in El Paso. It is my long term goal to help other designers make it in the industry by providing them with the tools to grow. Dallas was once a hub for manufacturing and I'm playing my part in reviving the trend! Made in America is not just a marketing ploy, it is the only way indie fashion can survive. The true cost of producing overseas is almost too much to think about and I could talk about the perils of it for hours. These days I haven't felt more passionate about providing production jobs locally and transparency to designers globally. It's time for the big shift and I'm going to be ready with open arms to those that need my help. Texas is a friendly place. People here genuinely want to help you. The prices and timelines I feel are better here so it's more accessible for smaller budgets and niche markets.
Do you have any other future projects in the works you'd like to share with our readers?
Getting into the wearables market blending technology and accessories but that is a whole other story for another bedtime!
© Crowned Bird 2016