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Julie Mollo: Student Designers Create

Lots of women nationwide are making a huge impact on the world of fashion, all still as college undergrads. Each month, we’ll profile a different student designer and give you the inside scoop on her life and her line of work.

Fashion designer Julie Mollo is just like any other college student—except in addition to studying for exams, writing papers, doing laundry, and getting ready to graduate in 2010, she also has to worry about things like dressing Katy Perry for the MTV Video Music Awards.

You might remember the banana-licious ensemble from the 2008 award show. What you probably didn’t know is that a girl your age put the look together. Twenty-one year-old Mollo designs cocktail dresses and rompers, in addition to fun pieces of jewelry often made from items she finds in toy stores. “I design party clothes for party people,” says Julie Mollo, a senior fashion design major at Pratt Institute in New York. “[My client] has a real sense of humor. She’s young, she’s edgy, she’s flirty, she’s fab.”

For Mollo, dressing Perry was really as simple as 1-2-3: One: Send e-mail to Perry’s manager, using the booking information found on her MySpace. Two: Have manager forward e-mail to Johnny Wujek, Perry’s stylist. Three: The next day, Perry contacts Mollo herself. She loves Mollo’s designs and orders five garments. “Then, I wake up to an email saying they want my clothes for a magazine shoot in L.A. in two days,” says Mollo. “I rush home early from babysitting, put together a nine pound box of fabulous and overnight it to L.A. moments before UPS closes. The next day I see pictures of her wearing my stuff on stage during the Vans Warped Tour in California.” The VMAs followed, along with The Today Show, photo shoots, and performances.

Although Mollo has some other celebrity clients (lead singer of The Vettes, Melissa from the Millionaires and upcoming pop star Tina Parol), she also designs for us “regular people,” too. You can shop Mollo’s designs at http://juliemollo.bigcartel.com or request custom work at http://juliemollo.com. “Julie is enthusiastic and driven,” says Kelly Horrigan, associate professor at Pratt Institute’s fashion department. “She’s always moving, always creating. You’d think she has an identical twin she moves so fast!” So how does she balance an academic workload with running a fashion line? “I sometimes have a ton of projects going on at once, but because it is just me making them, I know where I’m at and what needs to be done.” Despite her success, Mollo continues to have a realistic approach to life. “I want to be able to commit myself to my business 100% of the time, but the reality of it is I can’t. I have to get my degree and then dive in full force.”

After graduation, she hopes to eventually produce in a factory and sell her clothes in higher quantities. She also hopes to have the spunk and spirit of Betsey Johnson, one of her true inspirations in life. “The woman is in her late 60s and still does a cartwheel at the end of every runway show wearing bright red lipstick, glitter and a tutu,” says Mollo. “That will be me.” Like Betsey Johnson’s designs, Mollo’s pieces are exuberant and whimsical. “My main goal is that the wearer feels happy. I hope that she feels like she is at the party before she even arrives.” For those with similar dreams, Mollo suggests taking advantage of social networking to the max. “Get yourself business cards and a website—hit all of the popular networking sites. You never know who is out there looking!”

According to Horrigan, Mollo had the drive and talent to make it from the beginning. She advises: “If you have a passion for something, push the boundaries and don’t ever look back,” just like Mollo. Follow Mollo on twitter, Facebook, or MySpace.

Sources: Julie Mollo, fashion designer Kelly Horrigan, Associate Professor at Pratt Institute’s fashion department

Cassie Potler is a senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA where she’s majoring in Media Arts and Design with a concentration in Print Journalism and a minor in Art. In addition to writing for HerCampus.com, Cassie works as a review editor for the James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal and a photographer for “Picture It! JMU.” She enjoys traveling the world and spent this past summer studying abroad in Ireland. Cassie grew up in Glenwood, MD where she was raised to be a devoted Ravens football fan. Her top guilty pleasures include stalking celebrities through Perez Hilton and watching old seasons of The OC repeatedly. She thoroughly enjoys watching summer storms, dancing to live music, and the McDonald’s dollar menu.
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