From student to intern to small business owner and designer.
Naomi Sauro’s first job in fashion was with Ann Taylor Loft. It seemed perfect.
“It had everything I wanted in a job and there were a lot of growth opportunities within the brand. After climbing the ladder and becoming a Store Manager, I was very happy and wanted to stay there permanently.”
Unfortunately, Naomi was let go after two years due to the economy. Disappointed and unsure if she wanted to return to fashion, she took a job as an Office Manager at a small company. She liked her coworkers and her boss, but something was missing.
Though she had been sewing and sketching for years, Naomi had never considered going to school for it. Then, she found The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division and thought “why not?,” deciding that the online format was a good fit for her lifestyle. Soon, she was enrolled and pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Fashion & Retail Management.
With hard work and determination, Naomi excelled in her classes. “I took the initiative to get to know my peers and my professors. I knew that the right professors would help me if they saw my determination.”
Additionally, she found a supportive mentor in Kelly Hronek, Assistant Online Program Director at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh--Online Division. “I talked with her about my career goals, and she advised me on how to build my business plan, looked at my sketches and provided tips and suggestions along the way,” she says. “Kelly has been a great support system, and she continues to give me encouragement every time I speak to her.”
Naomi’s long-term goal was to have her own business, but first she wanted experience interning with a designer. “I wanted to get behind the scenes in the fashion industry. I already knew the retail side, but I really wanted to become a designer,” she says.
In early 2011, Naomi began an internship with Marc Streisand at Marc Allen Fine Clothiers, a menswear designer in the Boston area, and was quickly tasked with completing an installation for StyleWeek in August 2011.
She worked with the owner of the company to determine what looks to display at the show and where to place the installation—ensuring that the event was a success. After the show, she continued her internship, but something was still missing.
During the internship, Naomi also worked as an Assistant Manager at Lane Bryant. There, she realized how much she enjoyed working with plus-sized women and saw an opportunity to create her niche. She was inspired her to start her own business.
She expains, “I realized that women’s clothing was my passion. Clients were always looking for something that a store did not have. I made it my mission to create custom clothing designs for women at an affordable cost.”
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Naomi’s story, including information about her upcoming show.