Sara Teixeira used to be fascinated with her seamstress mother’s sewing machine and sketches.
The gentle lines creating flows of fabric and the way the needle bobbed up and down danced around her. She took after her mother, making a hobby of sewing in her childhood and teenage years that she later developed into a career.
Teixeira, a 2009 Temple alumna with a bachelor of business administration in entrepreneurship, is now a local fashion designer and tailor working for high-end fashion clothing store Hugo Boss, with hopes of owning her own store within the city in the coming months.
But for now, along with her day job, she’s been managing her own set of clients through her website, TheTailory.com.
During her childhood, Teixeira said she enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together, foreshadowing her career. She said she enjoys the construction of fashion, which she described as architectural.
Teixeira said she believes fashion and designing was always in her future.
“It’s just one of those things where you know,” Teixeira said.
The designer earned a master of science in fashion/apparel design from Drexel, and it was during her time there that Teixeira participated in Philadelphia’s magazine’s “Fashion Project” in 2013, a city-wide competition to discover and celebrate local fashion designers. The contest chooses eight designers to work with the magazine’s editors, as well as stylists and mentors to create a design.
Being of Portuguese heritage, Teixeira learned about the contest through the Philadelphia Portuguese Heritage Commission that works for cultural awareness in the community. Teixeira was part of a fashion show the commission put on, showcasing a handbag collection she designed.
An organizer from the commission told Teixeira about the contest and she submitted her designs on the last day, not thinking she would have time for it as she was working on her thesis.
Teixeira ended up being selected and later winning through an online voting process after her design, along with the other contestants’ work, was featured in the magazine. Teixeira’s final piece won her $1,000 and a window display at Knit Wit on Chestnut Street.
“It just kind of happened,” Teixeira said. “It was fun, but the thing that excites me the most about it is that I really didn’t think I was going to have the time to do it, I didn’t expect it.”
It was while working on her thesis that Teixeira discovered her interest in wedding gown designing.
“It was the most challenging thing I had ever accomplished, and it’s something that people are always fascinated to see,” Teixeira said.
That same bridal collection has been featured in store windows and magazines, as well as various fashion photo shoots.
“It’s been a blast,” Teixeira said. “It’s been kind of non-ending.”
Teixeira said she enjoys designing wedding dresses, but loves custom work for bridal more than anything else.
“You can really get into it and really perfect something, it’s kind of like artistic expression in a way,” she said.
While she said she realizes the design and vision comes from the client, she enjoys perfecting the creation and giving the final piece that couture-house look.
Teixeira credits her time in business school with making her understand that design is not just art. Realizing she needed a way to start her own business beyond design, Teixeira began doing alterations and plans to use that as her starting point.
Although Teixeira is focusing on bridal alterations, she does menswear as well.
Teixeira said her ultimate goal is to take her future location into the made-to-measure type of direction, beginning with her alterations business. Teixeira said she plans to have a collection within the location that customers can choose from, and she can later design and alter for them. She said she believes there is a need for this type of alterations business.
“There aren’t many places you can go and feel comfortable,” Teixeira said. “There is no specific place you can go where you feel like you can trust the person making the alterations.”
Beyond designing and alterations, Teixeira said she enjoys meeting people and getting to know them, ultimately hoping that her store can become a reliable place for customers to have their visions brought to life.
“This whole process has been about taking chances and good things coming out of it, that’s why I keep going,” Teixeira said.
Caitlin O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.