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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

At last: Christina from RxApparel- Part 1

If there's anything you learn from Christina while chatting with her, it's this- sometimes you've got a plan for life, and sometimes life's got a plan for you. Pursuing a major in Political Science and Japanese in Chicago, Christina never thought she'd end up a designer, struggling to keep afloat in the great big sea of New York. Yet, it's evident that she's succeeding- her soon-to-be- opened store in Brooklyn is a testament of that fact. Presenting Part 1 of a conversation with Christina Ewald of RxApparel.

How did Rx Apparel begin?
This is going to be a long story, because I tend to ramble a bit. I'm from Minnesota originally, I did a double major there in Japanese and Political Science. I never studied Fashion or anything. Then I moved to Chicago to start fresh. I grew up poor, so when I was younger I was really into thrift store shopping. I was bored one day, and I found this awesome dress in a thrift store in Chicago. It was huge, so I decided to spread it on the floor and chop it up. I took the whole day. I didn't have a sewing machine so the entire thing was hand sewed. I wore it the next night... I went into a thrift store downtown and the girl behind the counter asked where I got it. I thought she was making fun of me! I don't normally make stuff, and I never sew ever. She told me that she liked it, and said that she was the owner of the store. She said that she would so sell something like that! Her name's Jamie, she's the owner of Clothes Optional in Chicago. While I was in Chicago I toured with a Children's Theatre Troupe for 3 months. We rented a car and for every city we stopped at, I would drive to thrift stores, make things in my hotel room and send them to her. She'd sell them on consignment and send back the money. I was able to afford to live on this, and then I realized that I could make it a more lucrative business.

Do you think this will be your main career, or do you have plans to pursue something else in the future?
This will be my main career. It's a good thing you asked me this question now- two days ago I might not have given that answer. I just signed a lease for a store front in the Lower East Side, Manhattan. It's going to be an Andy Warhol type Factory, where I plan to sell vintage clothing, vintage reconstructions, and other artsy stuff. I do plan to do this now, forever. Here, it's impossible to be a starving artist- it's really expensive. It's been hard moving, New York is a city that can really eat you up and spit you out alive. I thought that my back up plan would be to study hairdressing and become an apprentice to my friend Daniel, a hairdresser in Manhattan. Four years ago I never thought I'd be doing clothing. Ten years from now I used to think that I might be in law school, or teaching English in Japan. But, I'm having a good time doing this.

That sounds really depressing, what you said about New York.
It's hard unless you're really doing very well. You can't be a struggling artist. You need a back up plan. But then, the potential for success is so great. The grand scheme is so much bigger and better. I used to be a big fish in a small- what do they say? Sea? [laughs] But now I'm a small fish in a big city, a very big city. There's so much potential to grow. New York can be a wonderful place. I've heard that it's always hard the first year!

So, how'd you end up in Brooklyn, where you live currently?
I felt that I'd done everything there was to do- no, that's not right [laughs]. I think my ego was getting far too big for the city of Chicago, so I moved to New York. I thought it would be the perfect place to move to. My friend Ethan
(Ethan Bee, illustrator) had moved from Chicago to New York three months prior, and he was able to suggest a place that his friend owned. It was perfect timing, I was like “I'll be there tomorrow!”.

Right: One of Christina's creations (alliteration, woot!)

Part 2 coming up next week!


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