FIDM Merchandise Marketing Student Isaiah Garza works for MTV and just won a $10,000 Scholarship from Cotton, Inc. (Click here to see pix of Isaiah's winning designs as well as winning designs by other FIDM Students.) He was also recently accepted into FIDM's acclaimed advanced study program in International Manufacturing and Product Development. Read on to find out more about what inspires this busy fashion scholar and get his advice on making your dreams come true! --Kim
Name: Isaiah Garza
Major and Grad Year: Merchandise Marketing Graduating June 2009
Campus: Los Angeles!!! Where else??
Hometown: Yakima, Washington
Job Title: Designer/Promoter
Are you currently employed and/or interning? If so, where:
Yes. I’m actually a promoter for MTV. I basically just get people to show up to live television shows and get paid for it! I was recently working at a PR firm though. At this point I’m probably going to be self employed pretty soon so I’m excited for that!
I heard you punk'd a fellow FIDM Student. What's the story behind that?
HAHA! Yeah!!! It was the funniest thing. About three weeks ago I got a phone call from a guy I know who was on EPIC movie and How High. He asked if I was interested in punking some friends for a new pilot coming out called My Worst Weekend.
I ended up telling a good friend of mine Gina Marengo that an assistant of Marc Jacobs wanted to sit down with me to discuss future business--haha. So basically I asked her if she wanted to tag along and meet the guy. She was sooo exited for probably two weeks straight, asking me what she should wear.
I told her I wanted to stop and get a burger before the meeting and when we were in the drive through out comes Kelly Osborne and friends throwing cake at the car!!! She went crazy! It was taped so should be seen in late January. We did get paid and a free car wash so it ended up being fine!
How did you find out about FIDM and what made you feel FIDM was right for
I actually learned about FIDM when I was attending a DECA state competition event in Bellevue, WA. I never really saw myself following any crowds since I was a little kid. I’ve always made my own path to walk through; I knew Seattle wasn’t right for me at the time.
Los Angeles fit my personality/had all the resources I needed to become as successful as I wanted to become. After hearing so much buzz with the success stories FIDM carries, along with instructors featured on Project Runway, I knew FIDM was definitely a base I thought I could build a foundation from. Let me just say this, after being here for over a year now, it’s actually exceeded my expectations more than I can explain.
How did you choose your major?
I initially applied for Merchandise Product Development. Designing has always been probably the obsession I’ve continued to love throughout my entire life. The only issue was learning the business end was just a little more important to me at the time to learn opposed to only learning designing.
I knew all the passion/ambition I carried for designing I could in actuality learn on my own time outside of classes. So I decided to take the business route with Merchandise Marketing. Honestly I have no regret because I’ve learned Designing on my own; being surrounded by hundreds of fashion design students. I also knew Merchandise Marketing could set up probably the most valuable knowledge to creating a business, being the financial planning.
What are some of your top sources of inspiration?
Without a doubt, old runway collections from Milan, Paris, New York and avant-garde fashion. Music has also been quite the complement to the work I produce. There’s always something new to be created or recreated in fashion, but I really feel like avan-garde fashion will become a norm someday.
I spend hours and hours going back into old archives of the Milan haute couture collections and trend forecasting books. The collection I’m planning on creating next is a mix between both. These designers in no particular order have given me quite inspiration as well: Yohji Yamamoto, Galanos, Oscar De la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani, Christian Audigier, Gianni Versace, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Kenzo Takada, Paul Poiret, Cristobal Balenciaga etc., etc.
What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
Wow, where do I even start. Honestly I think my greatest accomplishment in life to date is being able to continue to push myself all day everyday to achieving what I set out to do since day 1 of my journey.
By saying that, I think moving to Los Angeles, getting into FIDM, and working with the people I’ve worked with has been my greatest accomplishment yet. Most people probably wouldn’t say that if you knew me personally, but that’s how I see it. Right now I’m actually sponsored by Cotton Incorporated and creating a collection for them inspired by a geographic location. This is probably the greatest opportunity I’ve ever had and in sincerity a dream come true. The show is on December 10th so I’m super exited and will probably be my next greatest accomplishment.
I actually got a celebrity as my model for my main dress, which I can’t give away too much just yet! My next great accomplishment is to be the first Merchandise Marketing student to get accepted into FIDM’s IMPD program. IMPD is an exclusive major that only accepts 10 people every year and usually only Fashion Design, Product Development, and Apparel Manufacturing apply. Until now! So look out!!!! Other accomplishments include status as an honor roll student, being on MTV shows, meeting my idols, and having the resources to create my casual/couture collection for next year.
What is your favorite thing about attending FIDM?
Definitely the excitement of coming to a school everyday not knowing what exiting things can be in store. Who knows who you could meet and who knows what could be offered. I’ve never gone somewhere nor had so many people treat me so well since FIDM.
I feel like FIDM has honestly become part of my family, they’ve gone out their way more times than I can remember to support my success down here. Other than that the resources FIDM has is endless, with basically every instructor working in the industry for who knows how long!
Think of how many connections you could have by just reaching out to one! I actually have gotten jobs not from applying, but by just being close to some instructors and them referring me to companies. I also like how its main campus is based in LA, Which will be the future hub of fashion before we know it! I could sit here all day explaining everything I love about FIDM; unfortunately I don’t want to write a novel--ha ha.
What are some of your goals for after graduating?
In no particular order...
Have my collection featured in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week @ Smash box studios.
Cash a million dollar check I wrote to myself 3 years ago before age 26.
Become a motivational public speaker.
Own 1 private label and 1 label that can be sold in department stores/boutiques.
Have my own talk show called “Small Talk with Isaiah Garza.”
And the list goes on!!!!
Anything else you'd like to tell aspiring FIDM Students?
I have a lot to say actually. The first would be I want everyone to know I come from a family that didn’t have the resources to actually pay for college. In fact the idea of attending college by my junior year was a complete joke to most people. The idea of moving out of the small town I lived in was probably the joke of the school at a point as well. Nobody thought someone like myself could make it in a city like Los Angeles. I use to also get horrible grades my freshman year; I was even expelled at one point.
Thanks to someone upstairs I ended up changing my life around for the better. I never seemed to stop believing when others said it couldn’t happen. So to anyone out there who wants to go to FIDM but doesn’t think they can afford it, email me firstname.lastname@example.org I will gladly give you advice. I applied for scholarship after scholarship, studies hard and worked hard. Trust me; if I can make it down here you can too!
Second let me say that FIDM has honestly been the greatest experience I’ve ever had. If you show them how bad you want it, they will give you what you need to get your foot in the door. If you’re truly passionate about doing great things in this industry I wouldn’t recommend anywhere else.
I want to end this interview by saying a couple of things. Mountains and brick walls are put in front of us for a reason. They are put in front of us to narrow down the weak from the strong. If success in life was easy, everyone would be filthy rich. Success isn’t a race; don’t let money be your drive. Yes it’s great to have, but your passion for what you do should be your drive. If it’s meant to be the money will only be a perk to doing what you love. The fear of following your dreams will only keep you small, so run towards your fears, embrace them, because on the other side of your greatest fears lives your greatest life.