SUKA is owned and operated by Edmonton's badass babe, Ali Schick. Growing up, Ali was always putting her pen to paper, sketching comics and creating different characters who had their own unique style. She was fascinated with the experimentation element within the fashion industry and the potential to create. Ali remembers her first fashion instructor telling her to sketch a skirt and then make it. It sounded so tangible; she loved that she could draw something and then make it come to life. SUKA has become a unique blend of all things urban; there's a little bit of punk-rock, a little bit of rave, and a little bit of hip-hop in there. Ali says she feels lucky to be part of a generation who can blend their experiences and create something new - and we feel lucky to see it all unfold!
Read on to learn more about this boss babe's love for fashion and why she is so over and done with apologizing, in our latest #getREAL interview...
What do you do and why do you love it?
I have my own clothing line called SUKA and I also teach at MC College. I love what I do, because I love being part of what has become a collaborative fashion and design community within our city. I'm in a spot now where I can be creative with my own brand and also support up and coming design students with the knowledge I have gained along the way. Everything comes full circle - I learn as I go, I teach my students, they grow, and oftentimes we begin working together on projects and helping each other out with our individual pursuits.
Who or what influences you?
Mmmm. I interact with a lot of people, and I think it is the people that I know who inspire me most. I often sit down and think of a person, and think of an outfit they would like. From there I figure out how I am going to SUKA style it (laughs). It's my experiences and the people I am surrounded by that inspire my designs. It's interesting to look back and see how parts of my life have made their way into my line; everything I learn and everything that I do becomes a part of what SUKA is.
Piece of advice you need to take just as frequently as you give?
Calm down (laughs). The more we stress out about things the less we accomplish. Sometimes stress can inspire us, because it can push us at the last minute, but at the same time we need to learn to balance it. Fashion requires the ability to roll with the punches and adapt to the situations presented. I used to spend more time freaking out and less time being present, so I continue to work to create a productive space.
Ooh! My own sewing factory. There is a Portland Garment Factory, and I wish that I could have my own right here in Edmonton. I don't need anything else (laughs) - if I could open and manage this kind of creative space in our city, it would be hands down a dream freakin' come true.
What keeps you moving forward no matter what?
Opportunities. I can't say no to things - I am really bad at that, but I think that is a good thing for my business. The opportunities that come my way keep me feeling challenged and inspired.
I don't think I have a specific moment, but there have definitely been rewards along the way. I think my proudest moments are the times I get my ass kicked or handed to me, and I keep going anyways. In those moments I might feel super bummed, but then I pick myself up and say okay, let's learn from this, let's do this better, and let's keep at it.
Words to live by?
Like a mantra or something? (laughs) Hmmm. It could always be worse - suck it up and keep going. I think it is important to look at the big picture and know that whatever you are facing you can handle it.
Memorable moment you have experienced in your life that has made you feel strong as a woman?
I think because I am the type of person who is prone to care too much about what other people think of me, empowerment has been found in my shifting mentality. I feel like it took me a long time to think that my opinion matters or my business perspective matters, or that even my experiences matter. In the last two years this has flipped for me. I started to take myself seriously, and I began to feel more confident. I had to take a step back and process what I have worked so hard for and the decisions I have made; when I did that, I was able to see what I am capable of and be proud of my output.
Complete this sentence: To me, beauty is___________________.
Making it work for you and owning it. Own up to who you are and don't apologize for it.
Ali Schick is a multi-talented fashion designer, entrepreneur, and trendsetter residing in Edmonton, Alberta. Interested in shopping her brand? Head over to the online SUKA shop, or stop by Bamboo Ballroom to shop the collection in person.