Member Spotlight: Lydia Naomi
Get to know Launchpad Member, Lydia Naomi. This fashion and textiles expert works as the Production and Design Manager for local bag and accessory brand, YNOT and side hustles as a YouTuber sharing DIY videos on everything from pattern drafting to styling.
Aside from her familiar presence in our Textiles & Fashion Studio, Lydia first caught our attention nearing the completion of her first project at Launchpad – a red dress that will be one of three in her new mini collection. We spent the afternoon with Lydia to learn more about her background as a designer, her efforts to create a more sustainable practice and of course – the story behind the red dress.
Q: Let’s start with an introduction. Can you share a little bit about yourself?
A: I am a small town girl from a very large family. Being one of eleven kids taught me to be thrifty and creative. I always possessed an enthusiastic interest in fashion, creative writing and singing. My mom taught me to sew which gave me a great base for entering Ryerson’s Fashion Design program in 2011. I graduated in 2015 and began a series of fashion related jobs, such as sample sewing for startups, Purchasing and Imports Administration at Hugo Boss, Production Managing at Omi Woods (when she had her clothing line), starting my own sustainable line (@naomihabit – though no longer a running business) and now I am Production and Design manager at YNOT, a Toronto bag and accessories company.
Q: What does a day in the life look like as the Production and Design Manager at YNOT?
A: I start the day by quality checking any finished products from the day before, next I will work on whatever priority products need to be sewn or catch up on our product stock, later I will go through order requests and delegate jobs to our prep and sewing team. I generally make sure our production is running smoothly so that we are meeting order deadlines. On occasion I may deal with 3rd party design work which includes product ideation and configuring production assembly processes, or I may help with bringing new designs to our product line. I also take care of training any new sewers that join the team. I really love this job!
Q: What’s one key takeaway you’ve learned about the Fashion Industry since joining their production team?
A: I have learned a lot about the rigors of running a ‘Made in Canada’ company, meeting deadlines, staying true to the brand while growing, and learning about what the customer needs. The fashion industry in Toronto is a small community but it is a great place to be!
Q: How do you keep on top of current trends?
A: Personally I keep on top of trends through instagram or youtube, but I have been transitioning into a more simplistic approach to fashion, gravitating to more timeless and simplistic silhouettes. I try not to jump on a trend just for the sake of it, if i really like it I may adopt it, otherwise it has to be a lasting trend to adopt it. At YNOT, we stay current through networking and media but we have a distinct and timeless style that our customers really like, we don’t like to veer too far from that.
Q: You’ve just launched your YouTube channel, congrats! Plug that for us! What can we expect to see on your channel?
A: I have always enjoyed teaching people how to sew. It makes me excited to see someone learning how to do it, there are so many possibilities when you have this skill. That is why I launched this youtube channel, Lydia Naomi (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo6c0lfyl-qAZlB_JaIklWw?view_as=subscriber). You can expect DIY videos on how to pattern draft, sew garments from scratch, alter garments, textiles info, wardrobe styling info and some lifestyle too. The next two videos that are coming up are a tutorial for a fringed poncho/scarf, distressing denim, no pattern sweater dress, and altering my leather jacket.
Q: How did you first hear about Launchpad?
A: I think learned about it when I was also featured on Launchpad’s Instagram page modeling Warren Steven Scott’s earrings, I then found out what it was all about and I signed up right away!
Q: How does Launchpad fit into your career goals?
A: Launchpad is helping me get back into the creative headspace again. I always have oodles of ideas of what I want to do in the future, whether that be starting a new line of sustainable womenswear and/or significantly growing my youtube audience. Launchpad has created the space for these dreams to be realized!
Q: You recently created a beautiful dress (in our Textiles and Fashion Studio!) using only thrifted fabrics. Tell us more about this garment? Do you have any additional tips on how to incorporate sustainable practices into your designs?
A: Thank you! This dress outfit is the first of 3 outfits in a mini collection I am working on. My inspiration is the idea of an ordinary but regal woman who does not have to shout to be heard. I named the collection Strength and Dignity, which references a biblical passage that fascinates me. It is a segment of the ancient Jewish scriptures that is often misconstrued to be dowdy, “holier-than-thou” and oppressive, yet if you look closely, you will find it is, in fact, the opposite. I was inspired to create a physical garment that looked like the metaphysical strength and dignity a woman could posses. This inspiration translated into a regal, stately and vibrantly pigmented garment. This outfit was created using a velour curtain, lined with some additional thrifted textiles. The bodysuit underneath was created from some mesh that was purchased from a fabric store and some scrap fabric I had in my possession. The earrings (by Warren Steven Scott) helped elevate the look to a contemporary level. I have a big heart for sustainable and ethical fashion! A few other ways I incorporate sustainability into my designs, or processes of designs is recycling my fabric scraps, incorporating sustainable fabrics (tencel is one of my favourites), using end of the roll or reject fabrics that may otherwise be sent to landfills, and deconstructing thrifted garments to utilize the textile or transform the garment.
Q: Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve made? Any plans to re-create it?
A: Currently my favourite garment is the dress and mesh bodysuit I created. To make it more wearable I would consider heming it to a t-length (mid-calf length) dress! Additionally, I created a simple jumpsuit for myself last summer, there are a few things I wanted to tweak, so I will be getting that ready for the coming sunny season!
Q: What’s next?
A: I aim to be at Launchpad every weekend that I am free so that I can complete my mini collection. I also am excited to release a few new video’s on my channel!