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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell
Sarah brings her hula hoop to an afropunk music festival, in New York.
Photo Courtesy: http://theeverybodyproject.com/
Landing a role in fashion is much sought after in the metropolitan city of New York. This week’s Warrior Woman Wednesday takes a turn into the fashion world to meet Sarah Mitchell! Sarah assists with the special projects at Anna Sui, specifically to work on the Anna Sui book and an exhibition scheduled to launch in London. How did she get to be where she is at now?

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell
Sarah poses with Andrea, an assistant designer at Anna Sui, in front of the Spring/Summer 2017 backdrop for Anna Sui.
Sarah grew up in Tucson and I met her in college at the University of Arizona. I was always in awe of her outfits. While eccentric and unlike the norm, she pulled-off every look fantastically. Her outfits were art, but her push for fashion arrived much earlier than college.

“My love for wild fashion was spurned by Barbie and my two best friends in high school [they always dressed colorfully/boldly],” Sarah said. “I got into making art when I became obsessed with anime. As a kid I spent hours tracing my favorite characters and eventually drawing my own.”

Inspired by her art, she included it as part of her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, along with Theater and Fashion Design.

“I've always struggled with having too many hobbies to pick a direction,” Sarah joked.

A key point in her college career occurred when she spent a summer in New York City interning at Anna Sui. Four years from that point she would make a circle back to Anna Sui.

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell
Sarah enjoys the views of New York as a young, ambitious intern for Anna Sui, in Summer 2014.

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell
Sarah handmade this dress which infamously dubbed her the nickname "cupcake head" in the office in Summer 2014. Four years later the Anna Sui team still knows Sarah by the same name.
After college graduation Sarah didn’t have much planned aside from backpacking in Europe with her friends. Two months of couchsurfing later, Sarah found herself back in Arizona feeling lost. She quickly concluded she needed to leave to another city. The change would happen much sooner than what she anticipated.

On Christmas Eve 2014, she was driving her Toyota Yaris at 70 mph on the freeway to her mom’s house when a semi-truck crashed into her, causing her to spin across three lanes. Sarah was fortunate to come out with only a few scratches, but her car was totaled with completely shattered windows.

“It helped me decide where to move: NYC, the city where I would never want to own a vehicle anyway,” Sarah said. “I started out in a crappy basement apartment in the Bronx where I faced daily harassment, a creepy landlord, a flea infestation and unrequited love.”

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell

Sarah commuted two hours each way from the Bronx to Coney Island to a gift shop job. It wasn't her top choice but it did enable her to receive an income while she patiently waited for something better.

“I stuck it out because even though I wasn't happy,” Sarah paused. “I felt like I had the chance of moving toward something bigger and better.

She upgraded to a nicer apartment and roomed with a cool friend while working as a hostess at a high-end restaurant. It included perks like the occasional, fancy dinner and showing celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Mr. Big to their tables. Sarah continued to hostess until her career received an unexpected boost.

“Out of the blue I was contacted by one of the Anna Sui designers I had helped as an intern,” Sarah said. “She let me know Anna Sui was looking to hire a new assistant to help with special projects. You can guess what happened next!”

Working at Anna Sui has provided her with invaluable experiences, best friends and mentors. Assisting with the Anna Sui book gave Sarah the chance to be involved in all steps of the process: research, photo/artwork selection, contacting photographers/artists/agents, managing a budget, creating a media archive, designing layouts, and making deadlines.

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell

"I've also had the opportunity to do some illustrations for Anna Sui fragrance, which I still seems surreal!" Sarah exclaimed.  "Now I'm assisting with preparing the Anna Sui Exhibition that will be at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London this May."

The entire experience of working with Anna Sui made Sarah realize while she loves fashion, she no longer wishes to become a fashion designer. She loves wearing clothes and drawing them more than the idea of creating them. It is her main reason why she wants to be an illustrator and why she started her blog, Peacock Street, to showcase her work.

"I love fashion and being a part of this world, but I see how hard Anna works -- she gives 110 percent toward her dream -- which is how dedicated you HAVE to be to make it happen," Sarah said. "Anna knows I'm an artist and she is very supportive."

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell

Q&A with Sarah Mitchell

1. What motivates you to succeed? 
I hate myself when I'm not being productive! This motivates me! I have big dreams and the concept of falling victim to a mundane/average existence keeps me moving forward. I feel it's a sin not to live up to your full potential.

2. Who inspires you? 
J.K. Rowling. Her persistence turned her life around. Harry Potter was turned down 12 times by publishers before someone gave it a chance! Dr. Suess is another example -- publishing companies told him to change his art style, which is his signature now!

3. Your biggest achievement? 
I can't single out one. I'm constantly celebrating all of my achievements, whether that's completing a morning workout class or finishing an illustration I feel proud of. Whenever I doubt myself I look back on cool things I've done to remind myself how awesome I am! A few of my top picks:
  • An animation video I drew by hand of a girl dancing in an ice cream shop night club. It's 186 frames/drawings and took too many hours to count to make! 
  • The rap song I wrote and recorded with angry lyrics fueled by heartache. 
  • My hand-painted swallowtail butterfly dress which won "Best in Show" at the Tucson Project Moda Fashion Show in 2013. 
  • The book I helped put together for Anna Sui! I was able to design a lot of the layouts and I learned so much from the process.

4. Goals for the future? 
I'm an artist, so my goal is to thrive by creating. I have a street style blog (Peacock Street) where I illustrate people I see instead of photographing them. Down the line I'd love to release of a compilation of these drawings in a book, like the Japanese magazine Fru!ts but drawn. I've got ideas for so many stories: children's books, comics, YA novels I want to write, illustrate and publish. I also love performing so I think about getting more into dance, rapping, even trying stand up comedy! I know it's all possible over time.

Warrior Woman Wednesday: Sarah Mitchell

5. What has your journey to your success taught you? 
I wouldn't call myself successful yet, just on the road! I fear change, but force myself into it, which continuously proves to be good. Since moving to NYC two years ago I'm in my third apartment and 6th job and each one has led me to something better.

6. What do you do for fun? 
I love high energy exercise, like dance classes and hula hooping!

7. Favorite quote or Bible verse? 
No risk, no reward!



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