Designer strong-armed her way into a career in fun fashion
Spunky, flirty phrases on T-shirts are a trademark for designer Amy Tan (not the writer), whose creations have been worn by Madonna, Hilary Duff and Keira Knightley.
Tan started her company, Amy Tangerine, based on the popularity of an unlikely fashion innovation: arm warmers.
Amy Tangerine trunk show
» Place: Cottage by the Sea, Ward Warehouse
» When: Saturday and Sunday
» Call: 591-9811 or visit www.cottagehawaii.com or www.amytangerine.com
» Also: "Make it and take it" tote bag class, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday in the Ward Warehouse second-floor conference room. Cost is $65. Reservations required.
"I had a job dressing models and didn't want to keep removing my gloves. I crocheted arm warmers, which are similar to leg warmers, with a thumbhole."
She found a boutique to carry them, and her arm warmers sold out within a week. Soon afterward, Tan's hand-embroidered T-shirts appeared in Glamour magazine.
"It was an indication to start my own business," said Tan, who started sewing in high school, made her own prom dress and continued to sew for herself and her dorm mates at Georgia Tech.
When it came time to commit to fashion design, she attended American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, where "networking and being around the vibe and energy of the city really helped."
Her business continues to grow and expand into infant and children's' designs. "It's a fun and different way of doing T-shirts, a younger, happier market."
This weekend at Cottage by the Sea, Tan will be presenting a preview of her spring collection, which debuted last week at L.A. Fashion Week. Limited editions, one-of-a-kind designs and custom Ts will be included in the trunk show. Shoppers may also order custom T-shirts bearing their initials or favorite saying.
Tan's inspiration is derived from daily life, traveling and trying to maintain a positive attitude. "There are so many negative factors, it's good to focus on the positive," she said.
This attitude carries over to her "make it and take it" class Sunday at Cottage by the Sea, where she will help participants create a tote bag bearing the word "smile."
"It's nice to wear something they actually made themselves. If someone walks by and sees it, they can't help but be happy."