Alumni Throwback: Celia Ehrle

Celia Ehrle, Fashion Design Major, 2017

If you could sum up your experience at Design Works as a shop assistant in one or two words what would they be?

“Stressful, but fun.”

What was your earliest memory of working with the Design Works staff?

“I think, now I don’t remember the names, but Annalise telling me the names that the printers had. Like all the weird names that we’d given the plotters.

What are you currently doing/have been doing since graduating?

“When I graduated, I moved back to Colorado because I didn’t have a job. Then I got a job working at Target in their apparel department, and I worked there for about 8-9 months. I started there in July 2017 and then worked there until March the following year. And then in February 2018 I got my current job, a Sales Sample Coordinator for this company called Karman, which is a manager of three different western wear brands. And I’ve been there for a year and a half now.”

A lot of students who graduate and go into a career that isn’t there field feel negative feelings towards their job, did you feel that way too and if so how did you overcome it?

“The month that I didn’t have a job, and I was applying before I even graduated to stuff in Texas and Denver, it was kind of disheartening. But it was also kind of nice in a way to work at Target for a little bit after. Because senior year is so crazy, you have all your big final projects and all that stuff, and then going to work retail for a few months was kind of a mindless thing. Then I was like, okay I’m done with this, and moved on. So, I felt a little bit bad right when I graduated, I think most of it was because I couldn’t stay in Texas. But I also think I was happy to have a break for like a month, to not have a job and not have school. I got to take a deep breath after the craziness of graduating and all that stuff.”

Did being around the clothing section in Target keep you inspired?

“Yeah, I definitely applied to the apparel section with the intention that it was vaguely dealing with clothes and stuff. And it’s retail, so I wasn’t doing anything creative, but it was still fun in a way. It was interesting, because I would still keep up with what was currently happening in the fashion world and I would see what was trickling down to Target. I would go, that’s funny because I just saw a similar really expensive thing with this high-end fashion brand. It was funny to get that perspective on it, of the different tiers of the industry. I’m glad I didn’t do home furnishings or something, I’m glad I was in the apparel department because it kept me into it. I’m really into clothes, so I was able to style people if they weren’t sure they liked something then I could find them something similar.”

What is your favorite thing about what you’re doing now?

“It has really given me a better perspective on the reality of the industry. Because when you’re in school they, I don’t want to say not teach you everything, but they maybe make it seem not like it is. I don’t know if that makes sense, and I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. I guess the specific thing I’m referring to is that teachers in college say that if you’re a designer for a company you have to have a billion ideas all the time. You can never have a burnout, you have to just be on it, on it, on it. You have to be super creative all the time. And the industry is like yes you need to be creative, but at least with stuff in my company you know like we did this style of shirt last season and we’re going to do it again but change a few things. So you don’t have to be super ground-breaking creative all the time, because I know that would stress me out. I remember in school being like, I don’t have enough unique ideas I won’t be able to make it in this industry. I thought I didn’t have enough new things that haven’t been done already. But its kind of given me a good perspective you know that nobody’s superman. It’s definitely been good to see a real fashion company work.”

How would you say Design Works impacted you and prepared you for the future?

“A lot of the interaction between, not really department, but to student activities about an order or clarifying with a customer about order specifics. Like for me personally, the company I work for now doesn’t have brick and mortar store fronts. We have sales reps on our payroll who then go to the brick and mortar places to sell our product. Well then my job as sales sample coordinator, is say Boot Barn wants to do a photoshoot with some of our products they contact me and are like hi I need this, this, and this sample sent to me. So I think in Design Works the customer communication was a really big help to what I’m doing now. I learned at Design Works how to nicely say “what the heck are you talking about.”

What was your favorite moment at Design Works?

“When y’all did the Kim Kardashian champagne thing with the squirrel thing that I made. Anything using Al I was just like awww, I was proud of that. That was fun, I liked that people were into the squirrels.”

What is something you miss about UNT and being in that phase of your life during college?

“A sense of community. Especially working in the Union, well once we moved Stovall was awful, but the new Union is like the center hub of everything. That was really great. But overall just the sense of community, and there’s always things to do. There was always a club with uber specific interests and stuff, and once you get out of college it’s really hard to find groups of people with similar interests that you can get with regularly. Everyone’s schedules are so crazy, so I definitely miss that aspect of it.”

Have you been able to find that relatable community post college?

“I mean some. And another problem, and this isn’t something everyone would face, but a lot of people at my work are considerably older than me. I’m the youngest, well there’s another girl in her 20s, but besides her I’m the youngest by like 15 years. It’s a big age gap, and I know that wouldn’t be a problem for everyone. The other girl in her 20s, we are friends, and we’ve hung out a couple times before which is nice. But I’m trying man, I’m trying to find people.”

Not to ask a cliche question, but what is your five year plan continuing in this industry?

“I don’t know if you know this, but the VF Corp which manages a bunch of brands–they do North Face, Timberland, Jan Sport–they just moved their headquarters to Denver from a suburb of LA. They’re in a temporary workplace now because they’re refurbishing a whole big building in downtown Denver. So there’s going to be a lot of job opportunities happening with that, and I’d really like to get in there on a creative level. That is a goal for the next two years. Or, and I don’t want my own business. but more of a smaller business kinda angle. I have a friend who knows a friend kinda thing, who this person has their own custom hat making business. They’re really nice felt, not fedoras but that kind of vibe of hat, that are like $1000 a hat or something obscene like that because they’re all handmade. So kind of a situation like that, I’d be interested in that kind of thing too. But the North Face, that’s what I have my eyes on right now.”

What is something you wish other students who are reading this knew about working on campus/Design Works?

“Just the breath of things that can be done or printed. You know it’s not just come and print your poster, you can do some crazy crazy things. I remember watching Michael and Emma print their projects for comm design and they were these intricate folding things that were crazy design wise. Everyone could come for that type of thing if you know how to set the file up right. It’s not jut posters and business cards. And also the creative side of it, like the quality of designs that come out of Design Works. I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s not just “here’s your line vector art” but that it can be really cool design.”

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

“Clearly not answering questions quickly. Okay, I’ve never met a cat I don’t like.”

What’s your spirit animal?

“Oh god what was that thing called, it’s this tiny little thing that looks like a cross between a kangaroo and a deer. It was like a Patagonian mar-something. I don’t know, I saw it at a zoo in Oregon and I was like that’s incredible!”

What is your brain food?

“Pickles, oh I love pickles man.”

What are you currently listening to, either music or podcast?

“This singer/songwriter dude named Gregory Alan Isakov. He describes his music as sad space music.”

When you’re on your way to work, what’s in your bag?

“Usually some kind of tea–like a tea bag, or loose leaf, or tea already in a mug. Just some type of tea product.”

What’s your favorite color?

“Pink. For a while I didn’t like to say that it was pink because I was like, I don’t want to be the stereotypical girl. But now I’m like it’s freaking pink!”

Where’s the last place you’d be caught dead?

“The middle of Florida.”

If you won the lottery what would be the first thing you’d do?

“Buy a house.”

Any advice for current students who may be reading this now?

“Take a deep breath, it’s not that serious. I remember thinking everything in college was the end of the world, you know, and it’s not–you’re going to be okay.”

If you could go back, would you do anything differently?

“I wouldn’t get a studio apartment my senior year. It was a fine apartment, it wasn’t like a tiny tiny studio, but I think with the stress of senior year living by myself was a bad idea. I think about it now, because for me social interaction was really important to my mental state. And living alone senior year while being stressed, living alone contributed to some mental health situations that maybe weren’t the best. So I would definitely make a different decision.”