We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
“Mama, I’ve quit my job.” These are not the words you usually want to hear from your child. But, from this child, I have been waiting to hear these words for a while. Steven Oo is not any ordinary child.
After coming to the US from Myanmar, and graduating from Berkeley with a degree in Political Economy and International Business, his interest in knitwear drove him to pursue a Master’s degree in Fashion Design. His collection was one of only 6 chosen to debut at NYC Fashion Week at Bryant Park, garnering accolades from the one Ms. Suzy Menkes and my sister/friend and Steven’s other surrogate mother, designer Pamela Tuohy-Novinsky.
Pamela sent me a link to see some of Steven’s work and as they say, “the rest is history.” Steven became my other child and a valued part of the Project Artisan family. It was love at first sight…with his work and with the delight that is Steven.
Because most designers start their careers working for other designers before launching their own labels, Steven took a lucrative job with the highest bidder for his very much in demand design skills and became a lead designer for mega brand Anthropologie. They got really lucky, their shoppers got some very fashionable knitwear and Steven got to learn the ropes and put in his time.
So a couple of months ago, I received the phone call I had been anticipating. Steven tells me he is going to design a collection for a VERY successful line that sounds like Pro-in-za School-er. This NYC duo came right out of Parsons Design with some major financial backing and they were hoping to add Steven to their team. It was time for a move to NYC and another step towards Steven’s dreams of designing under his own label.
So, you know how the universe laughs at you when you think you have everything figured out? The Universe was rolling, literally, and blowing and sending a message via a little storm called Sandy. Interviews were delayed and plans put on hold, just long enough for fate to take its course.
You see, the political climate has been volatile in Steven’s home country, Myanmar, and strict sanctions on trade have been in place for many years. Because positive changes have been recently made toward democracy, our dear President Obama lifted sanctions and will now allow products made in Myanmar to be exported. Just in time for Steven to go home to step into his destiny and change the lives of his people. He will open a factory and start an atelier and he will bring fair wages and a good living to the craftspeople of his country. We will soon see Steven’s designs hanging alongside Philip Lim and Alexander Wang and those other guys that I mentioned earlier, in the stores in the US and in the world. Steven will work for the only person he has ever been destined to work for, himself.
Today I am a very, very, proud mama, but I am missing this boy already. I see travel in my future and a bright and shining star to lead my way.
See more of Steven’s work in following post…Photography by Conan Thai
Born and raised in Myanmar, Steven Oo graduated in 2007 from UC Berkeley majoring in Political Economy with an emphasis in International Business. Instead of joining the corporate world of finance, he decided to nurture his interest in Art and Design. Steven finished his Masters in Fashion and Knitwear Design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and was one of the six graduating students chosen to debut their collection at Bryant Park during Fall/Winter 2010 New York Fashion Week. He now looks into exploring, experimenting and expanding his knowledge of knits and wovens for the creation of collections to come. Project Artisan is proud to present Steven Oo.
Louis Verdad blew up the fashion scene when he dressed Madonna for her unforgettable stage kiss with Britney Spears at the MTV Music Awards. Since then Louis has become a fashion icon, dressing Cate Blanchett, Scarlett Johansson and Halle Berry, to name a few. His designs compliment the female form with tailoring and detail reminiscent of 50’s Hollywood glamour. The New York Times called Louis, “the style world’s man to watch.”
Louis Verdad by David Christopher Lee
The comeback collection (of designer Louis Verdad) was a collaboration with Project Artisan, a website that features the work of emerging and socially responsible designers, giving them a platform to sell to consumers who are looking to support grassroots fashion labels. The site is similar to Moda Operandi.com, in that it bucks the traditional fashion system by allowing consumers to bypass store buyers, and vote with their dollars for the next crop of designing talent.
Booth Moore, Los Angeles Times
The CFDA and Vogue Announce the 2009 Fashion Fund Finalists”
Florence Kane, Vogue