Desiree’s story is almost a dream come true. From corporate, where she was able to glean the skills she needed, to handmade business, where she was able to finally let her creative side fly. She is full of encouragement to those starting out, and I love the nod she gives to her parents for helping to inspire her in the direction that she’s gone. Meet Desiree, and go check out her amazing line of vintage inspired wears!
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Desiree Salas, a woman’s clothing designer of 10 years. My line is Desiree Salas Designs. I grew up in the sunny San Fernando Valley amongst orange grove, malls and Valley girls. I moved to the Bay Area 25 years ago because I was attracted to its creative spirit, diversity and beautiful surroundings.
What do you make or do?
I create Vintage-inspired, feminine women’s clothing. Mostly I love designing pretty dresses in colorful retro prints that are either floral or natured themed. My signature piece is a 1940’s inspired A-line wrap dress that’s been nicknamed “The boyfriends favorite”.
For Spring I designed a dark denim 70’s inspired wrap skirt (a nod to Marsha Brady) and for Fall a color-blocked “Madmen” secretary dress. Women of all sizes comment on how flattering the fit is, and how well the garments are sewn. My workspace is at my Oakland home in my “funky shack”, where I design and draft all my patterns. All of the clothing is sewn in Oakland and I seek out local vendors when possible. My designs are “season-less” and timeless and are meant to be worn around the street, office or party.
Where can we find your creations?
You can buy my clothing on my etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/desireesalas
In Oakland they’re available at handmade boutiques: Bella Vita and Resurrect. I also love to sell at trunk show as it gives me a chance to get direct feedback from customers and meet other makers.
Check my website for upcoming trunk shows: https://www.desireesalas.com
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
I help my husband run his coffee business, freelance, bike Oakland, swim, eat local, take road trips in Marin, see live music and spend time with family & friends.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
Creativity is a necessity!! I often have a hard time going on vacation for more than a few days. I’ll miss cutting, sewing and drafting and can no longer bring my scissors and tools on a plane! I think of creativity and self-expression as an outlet that produces an endorphin high just like when working out.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
To lead a truly creative life I had to let go of a good, stable, corporate, good job. I was a Pattern-drafter/Technical designer a major garment manufacturer in San Francisco.
I worked there for many years and there was finally a day when I couldn’t take another meeting about a button! It took years to really hustle for stable freelance work that allowed me the free time to grow my business. I had to always be available for freelance while balancing a creative life. I was also very insecure about my pattern-drafting skills, and made it a point to learn all that I could though my employment. After years of experience I had the opportunity to be a pattern drafting Instructor at the Academy of Art.
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
I owe everything to my mother. She taught me to sew out of necessity. She had 5 kids to raise and we didn’t have the “luxury” of being fashionable. When I really pined for something trendy, she would take me straight to the fabric store or thrift shop and helped me put it all together to get the look I wanted. My father was an architect and influenced my love for drafting. I loved that he always had his worktable and tools set up in our living room.
Where do you find inspiration?
People watching on the streets in the Bay Area is the best. There are no rules, people mix from many different eras and everyone has created their own interpretation of style.
What would be your perfect day off?
Having time to sew for myself!