Amanda Casarez grew up in California helping her mother sew and create patterns for clothes. She made prom dresses for herself and her friends, and now she wants to share her designs with the world.
Casarez said her clothing line is an “advanced contemporary brand” with bold, linear designs for women.
“[The clothes] almost have a menswear or masculine approach to them,” she said.
Casarez lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband who's stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. She is a designer-in-residence at the D.C. Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Metro Center.
She said the incubator helps budding designers get established and provides direction and knowledge from other designers. Casarez has shown her collections at shows in the D.C. area and Hawaii, but a big break came when she was chosen out of 300 applicants to attend Phoenix Fashion Week in October.
“They kind of guide you through relaunching your brand and being very aggressive as far as selling,” she said.
Her clothes range from $125 to $500, and she’s hoping to partner with home-shopping channel Evine Live, as well as boutiques in Washington.
Casarez said she finds inspiration in the world around her, especially in nature and architecture. She used the pinks and greens from a cut-up rose for one of her color palettes, and she looks to architecture when she’s designing the shape of dresses and pants.
“A set of stairs can be an inspiration to how you want to do the pleating on a garment,” she said.
Casarez learned the basics of fashion while helping her mother, but when she and her husband moved to Hawaii in 2011, she took summer classes while her husband was deployed.
Her next step was enrolling in the fashion design and merchandising program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which she completed in two years.
"We were only in Hawaii for three years, so luckily it all worked out,” she said.
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Gunnery Sgt. Jesus Ramirez, Casarez’s husband, said it’s not easy being a military wife who also has three children, is going to college full time and working. When they arrived in Hawaii, Casarez was seven months pregnant with their daughter, and Ramirez was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.
All I had time to do was get ready with my unit and concentrate on the deployment,” Ramirez said in an email to Marine Corps Times. “She has come a long way, and it was all on her own.”
Casarez said she tries to make the best of wherever she is, and even though it can be difficult starting over in a new place when her husband is reassigned, it aligns with her goals of representing herself in different areas.
“It forces me to put myself out there instead of being in one spot,” she said. “You have to do shows in different areas, so it kind of fits in.”
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Casarez said it's easy for military spouses to lose sight of their own lives because they're so invested in their family and their spouse's career. She encourages spouses to remember to take some time to focus on themselves.
“I think sometimes as a military wife you feel like, ‘Oh it’s not worth investing because I’m moving in two years,'” she said. “With all the technology now, anything really is possible from wherever it is you are.”