I was born in Florida where sunshine and bright colors are plentiful. I grew up dancing and creating art! I attended New College of Florida and graduated after completing a show of paintings and theses titled "Process Recess; The Balance of Spontaneity and Control in the Creative Process" I continued to make art after school but continued to dance and pursued a life in the theatre. I made my living first as a dancer than as an actor and a singer, touring nationally and internationally to over 40 countries. As my career continued I learned to Stage Manage, Direct Scenic Paint, and Teach, all the while keeping my hands busy with my art, always travelling with my pastels and my yarn.Things took a turn when I entered Lion Brand's Vanna White Yarn competition to try to win my dad tickets to Wheel of Fortune. I didn't win the Grand Prize but won the Fashion category beating out 5000 entries for the $1000 prize, and I haven't put my hook down yet!I've had two multimedia solo shows exhibiting my pastels, paintings, mosaics and textiles, and been included in several group shows. I just showed my Ladue Lane Wearable Art pieces on the Runway for the first time at FashionART Santa Cruz. I am inspired by all the fabulous costumes and designers I've gotten to work in the theatre. And I think of all the clothes I've been able to wear on stage that have an impact beyond the footlights, and that is my inclination when I make something because it's just more fun to make! My pieces are process oriented as I start with an idea but let them take me where they want to go. I am in love with color and texture, and all my pieces are incredibly soft. My clothes are a celebration, and I want my clients to feel the sense of power and the irresistible comfort that my clothes bring. My pieces can be worn to the Opera, can be thrown into a carry-on and are comfy enough to cuddle up and sleep in for a little shut-eye on the plane, all while looking fabulous! I've been creating pieces for Music industry professionals with an edge and have enjoyed the juxtaposition of my soft, colorful pieces on the male body. But my clothes are made for all ages, sizes, sexes and styles!
Elizabeth, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Designer?
I've always had a passion for art. I started out as a painter then moved on to other media. The defining moment for me was when I won the Vanna White Lion Brand Yarn competition a few years ago. I had always knitted scarves and hats for wast members while on the road as a Musical Theatre Performer. But I wanted to make a crochet skull cap. I happend to buy all Vanna White yarn when my sister sent me the announcement for the contest. We joked about my trying to win tickets to see Vanna on Wheel of Fortune because my dad hadn't missed an episode in over twenty years it seemed like. SO I thought, since I was using her yarn I would give it a shot. And I turned the skull cap into a bonnet covered in three-dimensional free-form flowers and leaf covered vines and entered as a hoot. It was the first that I had ever crocheted as I had always used knitting needles in the past. So, when I beat out 500 entries to win the fashion category and $1000 prize, having never done it before, I thought "Maybe. Am I on to something? So I started exploring with different kinds of yummy yarns and fell in love with all the wonderful colors of the faux fur yarn that had become available on the market and started making shrugs and shawls as well as hats, scarves, and purses.
Who is your inspiration in life Elizabeth? How do you keep inspired?
I've been inspired by so many folks I've met along the way. I'm inspired by the kindness of the teachers who shared their gifts. I'm inspired by the costumes and designers and theatre folk I've shared close quarters with my whole life. I'm inspired by the glamour and artistry of Old Hollywood, by the colorful art, and artists from indigenous and primitive cultures, by the great painters throughout history. I'm inspired by people who wake up every day and try their best, and who do their best to keep their heart and mind open, even when met with negativity or adversity.
We all make mistakes Elizabeth; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about time being a Designer; you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
As I work alone to create wearable art pieces, most of my interaction is with clients. I have not had any disasters, but I have had regrets about opening the door for too much input. As I am process oriented, my pieces find what they want to be along the way. I've learned to keep the client away from being involved in the minutes. I was so concerned with pleasing a client once that I assured her I would try to meet all her demands and she got so excited that she wanted to collaborate with me on every decision I was going to make, which took all the joy out of my process. I finally convinced her just to trust me, because she liked everything else I made and was then able to make her something she loved. I now try to present a clear picture of how I work, and what I am and am not capable of. I will work hard to give them what they want, but it will be a version of what I do. So I have found my niche with clients who get excited about commissioning new works without needing to be assured of the exact form the final product will take. And I run away from the ones who want to design it with me every step of the way. My take away advice to avoid headaches and regrets is Know Who Your Client Is and don't spend any energy on the rest.
Elizabeth, when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Designer, how do you go about prioritising your clients’ needs?
Honesty is the best policy, otherwise you get yourself in a pickle! I don' t promise what I can't deliver, and I am honest and upfront about my delivery dates. It trains them to get their order in early!
Please tell us Elizabeth, about a time you had to be very strategic to meet all your top priorities as a Designer?
That's simple! I just had my first runway show ever last week at FashionART Santa Cruz along with eight other designers who had been chosen for the event. I had to approach something I'd never done before, as a one-woman band per say; finish my pieces, communicate with the producer, 14 models, put together looks, decide who will wear what, pick line up order, decide on makeup and hair looks and get them to the stylists, choose songs for the runway music and send that to the studio to be mixed, deal with two models who cancelled the day before the show, redo lineup and reshape looks. The practicalities of a situation dictate my strategy. In the weeks leading up to the show, I was working on garments all day and night. And the last week before the show I found I had to spend all day dealing with everything but the clothes, and I would finally settle into working on my garments at around 11 or 12 at night. I knew I would be capable of doing all those things but to do it in the time allowed I knew I had to take care of myself. I've lived a life onstage in the theatre and knew the stamina it takes to put up a show. And the best strategy is not to wear yourself into the ground and to cut out anything that is going to make it harder for you to do what you need to do. A week before the runway show I cut out alcohol and limited my diet to fruit vegetables and meat. I made sure I let myself sleep, which is the most important thing. I compartmentalised everything else in my life that didn't need immediate attention. I forced myself to put my other concerns out of my mind.I switched to Stage Manager Mode on the day of the runway, to avoid knee-jerk emotional responses to the whirlwind organised chaos of the day, and set my mind to problem-solving mode as if that were my job. It's a psychological shift that I was a sensitive person need to make when the gritty get knitty! And it works....for the most part. :) So my strategy involves, laser focus, practicality, objectivity, compartmentalising, and kindness and stewardship of myself and my body,
Elizabeth, please give us an example of a time when you were able to persuade someone to see things your way at work successfully.
I work at home, and I work alone, so I would have to say when I got my cat to eat the same cat food two weeks in a row. No, I'm just kidding, I was never able to do that. But in general, I think its easier to change people minds if they can see your point of view in action. It's important when presenting your position to let the other person know you recognise their point of view and validate so they will then be open to hearing and listening to what you have to say which will help them to see your point with more of an open mind. It's about establishing a relationship of trust that will inspire confidence and a melding of ideas rather than it feeling like a competition.
Elizabeth, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Designer. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share with everyone. What is it and why?
That's easy! That would be my inclusion in the FashionART Santa Cruz Runway show last weekend. You see I was an accessories designer for several years before I started making larger pieces such as jackets, shrugs and shawls. But I decided to hold on to my pieces until I had enough to apply for the Runway show for FashionART Santa Cruz. They loved my stuff but said since I was primarily an accessories designer my stuff wasn't impactful enough for the runway. I was just starting out and making hats and scarves at the time. But they let me be in the Trunk show, which I did for two years in a row and me people started to recognise my work. I then took a job with another designer to learn the ropes, and spent 18 months learning; going to Market, dealing with boutiques, and facilitating distribution ( packing boxes :). It was a great experience and taught me so much, but I had to put my work on hold. After 18 months, the designer decided to streamline her business and as I was the last hired I was the first to go. It was sad for all of us, but it was time for me to leave the nest, take what I learned and got back to my work. So for the last year, I have had this runway show in mind and have been making larger pieces and squirrelling them away and hoping I could break that barrier! Long story short, I got in the show, was very well received, there's a buzz about my work, and I feel like I'm on cloud nine!
Elizabeth, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
Haha! I feel like all my work is creative and difficult! I don't ever really make the same thing twice. All my pieces are like doodles, so I feel like I am always inventing the wheel which can be thrilling or laborious. I know general shaping when I approach my crochet pieces but as I switch yarns a lot and each yarn is a different thickness or texture, and it can create wildly different sized stitches so shaping can be challenging and surprising. I also seem to be afraid of making sleeves that are too short and sometimes end up being a foot too long once I'm done. Thus my cuffed shrugs were born! My pieces are always adventures, as I'm not smart enough to steer them where they don't want to go. So I just go along for the ride and try to keep up with them until they tell me what they have decided to be. A lot of my new shapes were born from miscalculation, so I try not to be too disappointed when things don't go as planned. But that's easier when your not working on a commission for a client. I've spent a lot of time pulling out stitches and sometimes have rolled into a ball, hours of work
What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Designer?
Find out what you like to make and make it.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state what type of collaboration you are looking for?
I'd like to collaborate with stylists in the hopes of getting my pieces on more people in the Entertainment Industry. My pieces are glamorous and theatrical and travel well for a busy lifestyle. I'd also like to have my pieces represented in magazine editorials.
Photo 1 Nicolas Ardelean @NicolasArdeleanPhoto 2 Elizabeth Lewis-Palmer @ laduelanePhoto 3 Elizabeth Lewis-Palmer @ laduelanePhoto 4 Nicolas Ardelean @Nicolas ArdeleanPhoto 5 Nicolas Ardelean @Nicolas ArdeleanPhoto 6 Nicolas Ardelean @Nicolas ArdeleanPhoto 7 Nicolas Ardelean @Nicolas ArdeleanPhoto 8 Bari Lee Photography @barileephotographyPhoto 9 Elizabeth Lewis-Palmer @ laduelanePhoto 10 Desi Arnaz @marendez