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TV Goodness Q&A: Fashion Star’s Eliminated Designers Discuss the Season So Far and What’s Next [INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: NBC
Photo Credit: NBC

TV Goodness participated in a press call with two of the designers who have been eliminated from the show so far, David Appel and Tori Nichel. Not only did they talk about their time on Fashion Star and working with their mentors, but they had a lot to say about what it means to be a designer in today’s wolrd and what projects they’ve been working on since they were on the show.

Photo Credit: NBC
Photo Credit: NBC
Photo Credit: NBC
Photo Credit: NBC

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring designers?

David Appel: “I’ll go first, I love this question. [As]spiring designers, I would definitely say…go intern for somebody. Don’t try to pop into the industry, go intern for something then go work for somebody. Learn the methods of the clothing industry, from design to production to everything that goes into it to sales, to PR. You need to learn that before you step out into the real world of owning your own brand or starting your own brand. Even if you think you have the best idea, that’s a one in a million chance. And you need to learn the ins and outs before you get out. Because it’s rough. It’s rough, come hang out with me for a day.”

Tori Nichel: “…there’s more to designing than just sketching and draping and pattern making. You’ve got to learn the business side too. [O]ne of the best [pieces of] advice I got coming out of school was mess up on somebody else’s dollar first. Like, learn the ins and outs while it’s not costing you anything. So definitely apprenticing for someone is so important and also just staying true to whatever that vision or design aesthetic is that brand DNA. Not everybody is going to love your aesthetic.”

Q: What was the most important piece of advice you received from your mentor?

Tori: “The most important advice I got was just…to make sure I design commercial pieces and when I was eliminated [Jessica Simpson] just told me make sure always stay true to myself and my brand, which was really nice.

David: “[Jessica] knows basically what sells.” “…she’s a got a $300 million company….”

Q: What kind of buyer feedback did you get that you’ll use going forward with your design work?

David: “I think that the buyers’ critiques would have been better if they were done before the show even started, before our first episode. [To let us know] what they’re looking for would’ve been a lot better and a lot easier from the get go. We saw them after our first show and from there it’s like uh oh, now I’ve got to change everything.” “[You’ve] got to understand, all the buyers for every store are different, every single one. So it’s very difficult…when you’re put in a frantic situation of actually designing and having to figure out what you’re going to make once you’ve actually spoken to these buyers, things change. [W]hat they told me doesn’t really translate to…what I’m taking into my business, to tell you the truth.”

Tori: “For me, there was a lot of feedback that I got that…wasn’t shown but from what was shown I…kind of agree with David. The feedback I got from (Karen) I definitely disagreed with and I think the people who are following the show disagreed with the print selection and the colors. It seemed like everyone really loved it, referring to the second episode. One of the thing[s] that (Caprice) had mentioned to me, which I’ve always stayed true to, is just continuing to do my dresses. People out there in the market, whether it’s been me working at Kenneth Cole, Tibi, my own collection Tori Nichel, people always remember my dresses, love them. So just staying true and servicing that customer, especially since dresses are so of the moment right now.”

Q: What one lesson have you taken away from being on Fashion Star that you can apply to your business?

David: “Honestly, for me, it’s pretty much just [that] I went to fashion school on Fashion Star on TV which is cool because I’ve never draped before, I don’t think I’ve ever draped anything.” “I had no idea how to do any of this stuff. I think that my design skills are I would say 10 times better than what they were and now they’re more in perspective. And I think that it’s kind of odd to be on a…fashion reality show in general but to actually learn something on a fashion show is pretty cool and to take it into my business is what I’m doing now. And if you take a look at my spring line or my summer line and my fall line to my line cohesive, it’s – I mean, it’s 10 times better.”

Tori: “I wish I was just tougher from the get go with my manufacturing team. It was just slow going…deliberating and…I just wish I was much tougher….”

Q: Do you have any advice for the designers who are still on the show?

Tori: “Advice that I would give to contestants still on the show, I would say just to…have fun with it, live in the moment and enjoy the experience. You know, I think we all collectively could say that. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. I think Season 2 has…amazing, amazing contestants. Everybody’s talented in their own right and own market and I would just say live in the moment and enjoy, not think too much of it and just have fun with it. That’s my spill.”

David: “As far as the contestants on the show, I mean, pretty much every person that’s on this show except for one or two of them actually know what they’re doing and they’re very talented. I’m not going to tell you who…I don’t think should be there because honestly I think [I] should be there.” “I think on the first season nobody had any clue – not one [of] those people had any clue…what they were doing, they were just stuck on a show and they were like oh my god it’s a great opportunity. Every single one of these people know what they’re doing, they know what’s going on. They know what they’re going to do and I don’t really have any advice because they know exactly what they’re doing and what to do.

Q: What are you working on now?

Tori: “…I just relaunched…a dress collection. Previously I had a full sportswear collection when I went on hiatus back in 2008/2009 so it’s really exciting to get the momentum and get out there to the stores again and hit the ground running. You know, people are super excited. Customers that I had that are still with me excited to get some new Tori Nichel dresses and then all the new customers that I gained from the show[are] just really excited. [I h]ad so many people who wanted the trench coat from the first episode and the dresses from the second episode, even though they weren’t bought… [it] really means a lot. And then working on some partnership opportunities with manufacturers, just really trying to build my infrastructure. Like many designers it’s pretty much like me, myself, and I…doing a lot of the stuff. When I first launched I had one assistant with me and believe it or not my mom helped me with a lot of PR and communications out in Michigan, that’s a whole ‘nother [story]. So, this go around I really want to make sure I’m just building slowly, it’s not going to happen overnight. But building the right infrastructure so I don’t have to be the one doing packing and shipping and designing…. I’d love to just focus on the design, the sales, and getting out there and there’s so much more these days with…social media and just rebuilding that presence for the Tori Nichel brand and building it up. So that’s what I’ve been working on and in addition to interviewing for creative director jobs. I know those are like the three main things right now. Oh, there’s been some opportunity to go back into full time and then still have my dress collection and keep the momentum with that. So, those are my three majors right now.”

David: “…after the show I went back to my creative director and owner of a line called Cohesive and Company. It is a full menswear collection. I also do the kids wear collection. The line – both my kids and my mens are sold in Bloomingdale’s amongst other stores around the nation. I do a lot of private label for a lot of companies. I’ve done private label for K-Mart and I do Buckle and stuff like that. So basically coming back I…got enthused more, I got energetic from the show and sort of moved into this whole world of trying to build…a megabrand….”

Fashion Star airs Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.

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