June 26, 2015

Pratt Alumni Spotlight: Julie Mollo

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Julie Mollo, I am 27. I’m from Massachusetts and I am a Brooklyn-based fashion designer and stylist. I specialize in doing fun, flirty rock & roll clothes and I love designing for musicians and seeing the designs on stage.

Could you walk me through a day in the life of Julie Mollo?
Every day is different, I wake up early and spend the first two hours of my day on social media and e-mail. Because I run everything, I don’t have a social media or business person.
Sometimes I’m styling a video so I’m running around to studios and coordinating with different show rooms or I’m working on custom stuff and sewing for all different clients. Other times I’m running around midtown sourcing fabrics and running to my manufacturer to get  everything together.
Everyday is different but they’re long and I work seven days a week, probably 7AM to 9 or 10PM on an average day, some days are longer and some days I get to take off.

How long ago did you start your business?
I started my business while I was still at Pratt, I was 20 and started dressing Katy Perry. I was a junior. Katy started wearing my designs and after she did the Today Show and VMA’s she made a blog post about me and sent thousands of girls to my website. I was forced to create a business while I was juggling my Pratt fashion classes and making custom clothing such as rompers and party dresses for girls all over the world. It was fun and crazy but that’s how it started. So seven years later I’m putting the pieces together.
What is one fun fact that helps you succeed?
I found Katy Perry on Myspace. And that’s what made me succeed overall, but you have to be fearless and crazy. If you are those two things you can do anything.

How do you think your experience at Pratt helped shape you as the artist/creative professional that you are now?
My aesthetic has always been the same but at Pratt the students have their own thing going on, and a lot of students were into high-fashion. I was always doing my own thing which was fun and  flirty. Everyone useD to laugh it off and I learned to defend my design--I got better at that and I’m so glad that I did because it’s easy to fall into a certain design.
It was a good school. I think having New York City and the connections that we made at school was good. Everybody at the dorms even--I’m still using those connections and references, but they were my friends back then and we’re working professionals now. It’s a really cool home-base to have.

What were some of the challenges you faced at Pratt and how did you overcome them?
Probably when I was starting my business, that was challenging. It was nuts! I never did work in the studios since I had a studio set up in my dorm room. I had a single in Willoughby and I’d work all night. I’d take as many orders as I could because I wanted the money to get me through school. I didn’t do anything else but work. It was rare that I was going out in college, I was not a party girl. There was no time for that.

What is some advice you want to share with current Pratt students?
You have to understand your aesthetic, defend it, keep going and believe that what you’re supposed to do is what you’re supposed to do. And if you want to do that you have to do it. Don’t question it, you have to believe it and work your ass off for it because it’s not luck, it’s a lot of work. If you work hard enough you’ll succeed. Don’t be afraid to make connections-reach out to anybody, you have to be gutsy. No one else is gonna do it for you, nobody will help you in this city, you have to do it yourself.

Did you have any internships while at Pratt?
I got lucky when I was working with Katy, I was making so much outside the classroom that my advisor was, like, “We’ll just write some of this off”.
Working for myself was considered an internship credit at one point. I also interned at Betsey Johnson for the summer of 2009, the whole summer I interned there. I worked 40 hours a week for free and when I’d get out of my internship I’d make custom clothes for musicians. That was right before senior year, it was crazy.
The industry was such a turn off for me that it made me decide that I don’t want to work for anybody else so that’s what I’m going to do. It’s gross out there!
Katrina Eugenia Photography
Anything else you’d want to share? 
I just released a new line of my reversible clothing and had a big launch party to celebrate that, so it’s going well. But you never feel like ‘I made it’, you’re always working. I still work freelance jobs, or style gigs here and there to make it all work. It’s a hustle.
Katrina Eugenia Photography
To get the latest on Julie Mollo’s fashion line be sure to check out her website!

Written by: Jazz Seijii

Images by: Katrina Eugenia and other Associated Press

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