Meet: Patrice Gentile
MEET: PATRICE GENTILE
LINE OF WORK : DESIGNER
A: Who is Patrice Gentile?
P: I'm the owner/designer of ALICEANNA. I grew up in a small town outside of Baltimore and moved to Los Angeles 4 years ago on a whim. I am a life-long east coast girl who basically fell in love with the weather and produce in southern California and decided to stay.
A: What does ALICEANNA stand for and what kind of girl is she?
P: ALICEANNA is named after my grandmothers, Alice Falugo and Anna Vaccaro. The two couldn't be more opposite. Anna is the warmest, most patient woman and Alice, or Achoo as we call her, is a hard as nails, take no crap kind of woman. I was pretty scared of her growing up. As I got older, I realized I had become a complete 50/50 split of the two of them. I think most smart, thought-provoking women have a certain duality to them. My clothing reflects this idea. You can dress masculine while still evoking femininity; you can exude a certain softness while being hard and vice versa. The ALICEANNA woman can't be labeled or put in a box; she is all of the things.
A: How did you startup ALICEANNA and did you have any trouble?
P: I started ALICEANNA when I was living in Annapolis. Back then I really was just making a few pieces and dropping them off at small shops in Baltimore and DC. It was chill. When I moved to LA, I walked into my favorite shop and tried doing the same thing, and the owner told me to never come in and do that again. I felt so new and green. I started sending line sheets after that. I would send 50-60 e-mails a day to shops and get one, maybe two responses. Meanwhile when I wasn't working on starting my business, I was waiting tables four nights a week. I started ALICEANNA with my own money. I put every tip I made toward ALICEANNA. Two years ago I launched my website and online shop.
A: Did you go to school prior to opening your own line? Did it help prep you for ALICEANNA?
P: I went to undergrad at Radford University in deep southwest Virginia and majored in Fashion Design. It is an old-school program and we learned to do everything by hand; draping, pattern-making (the old-fashioned way, paper and pencil) pattern grading, fashion illustration, machine sewing and couture hand-sewing. I basically learned how to do every aspect of the creative/production side of the business. I had to learn (and am still learning) the business side as I go.
A: Are you a one woman team or do you have a small team?
P: ONE WOMAN SHOW! I have a woman here in LA who can sew small production runs in case I get a wholesale order that I can't handle, but other than that, it's just me.
A: Why did you want to start your own line?
P: I moved to NYC after I finished college and worked for a fashion company that designed and manufactured private label apparel and accessories. I have never been so miserable in my life than I was when I worked there. I quickly realized that a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job was not for me. They must have realized it too, because they fired me. I remember being so relieved on the subway ride home that day. I moved back to Maryland at the end of the year and started what would later become ALICEANNA.
A: Did you have any mentors that helped you / guided you through your process?
P: Sadly, no. I wish I had! I did reach out to a couple designers when I first moved to Los Angeles and introduced myself, asking them for advice, offering to take them out for a coffee; no one responded. These days I make a point to respond to every question e-mailed to me because I still remember that lost feeling I felt when I first moved here.
A: How did you break into showcasing your designs and how did you get your name out there?
P: I'm not sure that my name is quite out there yet. The few people who do know the brand know so because of social media. I feel like anyone with a decent product can launch a business these days using Instagram alone. It's a powerful tool.
A: Where do you buy/source fabrics?
P: There is a little store in LA where I source all my fabrics from.
A: Is ALICEANNA your full-time job and career now?
P: YES. I was waiting tables for what felt like 100 years (it was actually 10) and I finally stopped last year.
A: Where do you sell your designs?
P: I sell directly to my customers through my site WWW.ALICEANNA.CO.
A: What are your favorite fabrications to design with?
P: I work with natural fibers. Cotton, silk, linen & wool. I'm currently looking to source organic cottons made in the U.S.
A: Who and or what are your inspirations? How do you keep inspired?
P: My main source of inspiration is COLOR. I saw a silk/cotton tangerine orange fabric the other day and the first thing I thought was 'wide-leg trousers'. That is how I design most of the time; by seeing a color or fabric and picturing it as a garment. LA is my other source of inspiration. The architecture, the flora and vegetation, the colors, the easiness of it all. I love driving and walking around the city. Actually I love when my boyfriend drives so I can stare out the window. My mind is always going 100 mph. Ideas, colors, images all churning together. I take hikes a couple times a week to organize my thoughts and when I get home I'll make lists of things to do and sketch out potential designs.
A: Any future collaborations or upcoming projects?
P: I have a list of goals for 2017, but I like to keep things to myself until they come to fruition.
A: How do you run production and do you design per season?
P: I used to design per season, but recently stopped. I'm ignoring the buying calendar and just making clothing that feels right and releasing them right away. I'm much happier doing it this way.
A: Three tips you would pass along to young designers?
P: Don't start your own line to make money achieve any sort of fame. It is a lackluster, grueling job. Be prepared to work seven days a week. Develop a thick skin. This was hard for me; I've always been sensitive. Learn to accept criticism and let failure roll of your back. If you're pleasing everyone, you're doing something wrong. Most importantly, be a decent and kind person to everyone whose path intersects with yours. Don't view people as a way or means to get ahead. Oh also, HAVE FUN and don't take yourself too seriously. I know that's more than three. :)
Check out Patrice!