Some of Chany’s earliest memories involve sitting at her mother’s knee while she took outgrown or outdated clothes, and reimagined new garments. She would meticulously rip seams, look at the fabric that was left and piece together a new dress, a new shirt, a matching bag, or new accessories. In much the same way, Chany has reimagined her life and created something new.
Life before fashion design
With degrees in Computer Programming, International Business, and Information systems, her early career was as varied as her degrees. She worked for an international airplane sales company, and for a medical software company. She also spent time in part sales for 18 wheelers, and as an auditor at a university. When she met and married her husband, they followed his career which led them to the Pacific Northwest. She dedicated her life to raising their two daughters. She did the stay-home parent role with aplomb volunteering for the PTA and Girl Scouts. She was a leader and project manager for both organizations.
Her daughters off to college, she decided to turn towards creative pursuits. She threw herself into crafting, first knitting and then sewing. Her husband left her unexpectedly in 2015. After decades away from the workforce, she was left to find a new career. When life comes at you and demands change, she did what many people do: she took stock of what she cared about, revisited her roots, and rediscovered her passion.
Lifelong love of fashion
Her mother died 7 years ago, leaving her a collection of fabrics and yarn which housed her mother’s dream of having an atelier as a fashion designer someday. Chany realized as she touched those materials, that her mother had imparted a great love of fashion and artistic expression to her. She recognized at once that this was a passion shared by her mother, her grandmother, and herself. Fashion was a way to connect with the strong artistic women who shaped her. With less than professional finishes, she realized she needed to learn new techniques to bring her vision to reality.
Her younger daughter, then a college student, suggested her mom consider going to the Seattle Art Institute. She followed that advice. Like a person who has finally found her flow, she excelled. She was not intimidated by her 20-something year old fellow students. Instead, she became a leader, focused on her learning, inspired her fellows, and graduated with honors.
It was while she was a student that she became aware of the wastefulness of the fashion industry. The impact on the environment is severe. According to fashion designer and fashion magnate Eileen Fisher, the fast fashion industry is second only to the petroleum industry in pollution generation. Chany believes that luxury and glamour can be achieved in environmentally careful ways. Most of her garments are crafted from reclaimed materials. She sources her materials from non-profits that are dedicated to education, community service, and social justice. Even with the dedication to use reclaimed materials, she has achieved accolades.
She was awarded Designer of the Year 2017 from Seattle Art Institute with a collection that featured 10/12 garments made from reclaimed materials. She was invited to the Bellevue Independent Designer Show of Fashion Week 2017. There, she won the Fan Favorite Award. For the second year in a row, she has been invited to present her Asian inspired designs at the Vietnamese Bar Association Gala. Her designs made a splash at Vancouver Fashion Week 2018, which prominently featured pieces from repurposed fabrics. She has been invited to show all over the world -- New York, Paris, Milan, and London.