Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
My name is Maria Masi -Edwards. I design women’s wear for special occasions. Each garment I make is designed individually using couture techniques and finishes. I handcraft garments that hold meaning for the wearer. I have made garments for brides, bridesmaids, school formals, mother of the bride and other all manner events – even Mardis Gras.
I have been juggling my passion for fashion design with a daytime retail management career. I enjoy the diversity and challenge of switching between both. Luckily, I learned a bit about multi-tasking at University. Fashion Degree Student by day, Clint’s Crazy Bargains sales assistant by necessity. I am currently working at refining my skills and learning new ones.
I enjoy working with a client. It’s a rewarding experience, a fascinating, magical process where you get to know your client quite intimately. You need to be sensitive to their needs and listen attentively. The most important aspect of my work is to ensure that the garment fits beautifully, suits the wearer and is finished to the highest standard. It gives me a great sense of achievement and joy when my clients are happy with what I’ve created, feel confident and have that sparkle in their eye.
Here I am with my husband.
This is what happens to the space-time continuum when you tell him about selvedge denim.
Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love?
From a young age, my family were a strong influence on my creative life. They inspired me to develop skills in sewing, knitting, drawing and stitching.
I would sit and watch my Mum and my Aunties sew, knit and crotchet. My Mum created most of our clothes. She knitted my sister and I jumpers and made us dresses – we always looked neat and smart.
I would play on my grandmothers old Singer treadle machine, transfixed. When I wasn’t doing that I would hand-sew, paint or draw. My family kept me busy, probably to stop me from breaking the Singer. It came as no real surprise when I starting making things myself.
Such as the bridesmaid’s dresses seen here.
Where do you get your inspiration from when you design?
I am constantly looking at things in my environment that catch my attention and light that spark of creativity
I take lots of photos with my phone, scribble ideas down on random bits of paper, scour magazines for images, collect vintage dress patterns and postcards of artworks. I can spend hours poring over fabrics. Generally, I hoard anything that I come across that catches my eye.
When I’m designing for a client, the inspiration is led by them. An image is the starting point. It could be a photo of a design they love, something a celebrity is wearing to a red carpet event or even a favourite dress of their own.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
Attentive, creative, patient, adaptable and persistent.
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
Apart from Clint’s Crazy Bargains, my first creative job was as a seamstress for a costume hire store. That led to a hugely enjoyable role creating mascots for clients as diverse as Nickelodeon, the NRL and Dreamworld.
Over the following years I worked a mixture of seamstress and design roles, mixed with retail work and one-off bridal and event dressmaking gigs. After receiving positive feedback, and helped by word-of-mouth recommendations from happy clients, I found myself spending more and more time at the sewing machine. And here we are!
As a designer, what is your biggest frustration?
A lack of room! One-bedroom garden flats aren’t overly generous with floor-space, so our lounge-room doubles as a design studio. Fortunately, I have an understanding spouse and a forgiving cat.
Tell us about how you prioritise your studio work.
I like to make at least two toiles (test garments made in calico) and fit them prior to cutting a garment in the final fabric. This means that my clients must make time to see me at least twice before I begin sewing the finished garment. From that point, I am working to meet the client’s deadline. Obviously, some deadlines are shorter than others!
As I only take on one project at a time, I am able to concentrate fully on the task at hand.
How do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
I rely quite a bit on word of mouth for dressmaking work, although I have gained a lot of work simply by talking to people at social events. I connect with other creative people by attending art shows, fashion events and through social media.
What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
You need to be brave, persistent and consistent. Above all, enjoy what you are doing!
What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
My dream is to have a body of work that, when I’m 80 years-old, I can look back on with pride.
What is your proudest moment so far?
Completing my degree many years ago. It was the first time I felt vindicated in my life choices.
Who do you most want to meet and why?
Thom Yorke – I find his music incredibly inspiring. I always have Radiohead playing in the background when I’m deep into the creative process.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
‘Fall seven times, stand up eight” = Chinese proverb.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
Currently I’m reading ” The Transformed Mind- Reflections on truth, love and happiness” by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
I highly recommend “ The E- Myth Revisited– Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”, by Michael E. Gerber.
Where do we find you and your product? (list stores, links websites)