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Kids Learn the Ins and Outs of Fashion Design at Camp Fashionista

By Marina I. Jokic

Camp Fashionista in San Jose, California teaches aspiring young and adult designers the skills necessary to enter the world of fashion design. Having worked in L.A. as a professional designer for quite some time, founder Dori Duncan decided to impart her knowledge of fashion to the next generation of designers.

A designer for over thirty years, Duncan has been steeped in the world of fashion for most of her life. Entrepreneur, teacher, and mother, she has been pulled in different directions but has always come back to fashion design, her life's vocation. Having studied fashion design and pattern-making at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles and ESMOD in Paris, France, Duncan laid the foundation for her future career.

Deciding to move from her home city, Duncan relocated to the Bay Area to raise her daughters. After they grew up, she returned to her career and started teaching fashion design to kids at a few local art schools. One thing led to another, and the classes became very popular. She soon realized her business idea had materialized and shortly after, Camp Fashionista became a reality.

Camp Fashionista's classes are especially tailored to benefit young people who want to pursue design professionally. Moreover, they can learn the skills necessary in the fashion industry at a young age, which will set them up for success. They learn to sew, use patterns and do fashion illustrations, Duncan adds. She also points out that she has had numerous students continue on to premier fashion schools such as FIDM in Los Angeles and Parsons in New York.

Duncan models her curriculum based on what she learned at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). "Even those not interested in fashion as a career path can benefit from the sense of accomplishment and pride they feel as they learn a life skill," Duncan says. Through her classes, Duncan wants to let her students experience the feeling of making something with their hands without the aid of a computer. "Making something with your hands is very fun and empowering," she says.

Among the classes offered at the camp are hand sewing for ages six to seven, beginning sewing for ages eight and up, fashion illustration, and a dresses, tops and skirts in velvet and lace class for the Holidays. The classes are taught as a four part series or one-off project classes. Additionally, the Summer Camps are half or full-day week-long camps that offer more of an immersion experience. Winter and spring have standalone classes and multi-day camps. After learning foundational skills, the classes and camps offer pajama pants, skirts, purses and dresses to the students for a job well done. The camp's Fashion Design Birthday Parties are also a hit with kids.

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