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Bright Lights, Big City, Bold Ambition

Assistant Designer for Ralph Lauren, Jordan Weymouth Richards

I’ve heard it said that if you can find something that you love to do, and find someone who is crazy enough to pay you to do it each and every day, then you will never work a day in your life. The implication is that work is a state of mind, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven Jordan Weymouth Richards lives in a New York state of mind.

Since leaving her hometown in Maine seven years ago, Richards has been pursuing her passion for fashion, and is currently working as an assistant designer for Ralph Lauren in New York City. Ironically, the path to Manhattan began when she was only seven years old and received a plastic Singer toy sewing machine. She says, “Of course, I was thrilled and went right to work with the intention of putting miles on that baby!” When it broke, her parents quickly realized that upgrading to a real machine was a necessity.

Jordan immediately put in hours creating dolls, clothes for all of her dolls, Halloween costumes and eventually reconstructing and redesigning her old clothes into custom creations. Without even realizing what was happening, she began crafting her future career. As she got older, she considered engineering because it would allow her to translate her childhood vision into a lasting career through the use of creativity and the logic of math and science.

Richards, with a handbag she designed for Lucky Brand.

However, her initial love for fashion and creation kept pulling her in a different direction. Jordan says, “I went to a Catholic elementary school, which meant uniforms and not much opportunity to express myself through my clothing. When I got to high school styling my daily outfits was exciting and fun! It was like playing with a fresh canvas each day and that truly appealed to my creative side.” The fusion of engineering a product with her passion and curiosity for fashion made fashion design the only option.

Four years of sleepless nights, one semester in London, an internship with Kevin Christiana, a bag design picked up by Lucky Brand Jeans, a feature on CBS New York, and an outstanding thesis presentation resulted in Jordan landing an interview and job offer from Ralph Lauren before she even graduated. She loves what she does and credits Ralph for refining her style saying, “My attention to details—the trim, buttons and the fabrication—has sharpened. I used to look at design in a broader sense of shapes and silhouettes, but the little things can truly make a garment special.”

A wedding dress Jordan designed for her cousin Kasie.

When she isn’t working at Ralph Lauren, Jordan can be found in her Brooklyn apartment booking work of her own. Her work has been featured in two fashion shows, one in New York at Webster Hall in 2010 and one in Maine for Maine’s Fashion Night Out in 2010. Richards has always worn her own couture apparel since she was in high school, but recently, she has been building a clientele that keeps her busy. She designed her cousin’s wedding gown in 2011 and is currently working on a 3-in-1 wedding dress for a New York City client.

Where does this designer find her inspiration? Richards says that she definitely looks at social media sites such as Pinterest, Etsy, and a number of blogs and Tumblr accounts to see what’s out there. She says, “I want to be original and that means I have to know what’s out there. You never know where you will find inspiration. You might see a sleeve on a Tumblr post that sparks the idea for an entire dress.” She adds that access to so many images helps designers understand construction and inspires creativity beyond what can be learned from a textbook.

Jordan credits her Maine roots to the other sources in which she finds inspiration—architecture and nature—saying, “I grew up surrounded by acres of woods and there is so much beauty in the striation of a broken rock, or in the texture of bark on a tree. These little details help me come up with color stories, silhouettes, seaming, fabrication and more.”

Jordan and her brother, Griffin, on a recent family visit in NYC.

While Richards loves New York City, she also loves to get away from the faster-paced life and relax with her family and enjoy the peace that is Maine. She finds it funny that even after almost a decade in the city, she still occasionally gets asked “you’re not from around here are you?” because she takes pride in the fact there will always be a bit of Maine left in the now-New York girl.

The vibe and energy that the city feeds Jordan is the same energy that she hopes to translate into her work. Richards says, “I am dedicated to becoming a designer of not just clothing, but of lifestyles. The impact fashion has on our society and the world we live in is fascinating, and I want to be a part of that.”

Richards will be launching an Etsy shop in the summer of 2013, where she will be selling couture accessories and pieces. For more information or to reach out to Jordan, you can add her on Facebook, check out her website, or follow her on Pinterest

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