Julieta Zavala

Philadelphia, USA

My name is Julieta Zavala I’m happily married, and a mother to a seven-year-old son. I was raised and born in Mexico City till the age of twenty. My childhood was incredibly happy, I enjoyed every part of it. One of my favorite things to do was to dress dolls with anything that I had available. That’s how my love for fashion started. Also, my aunt Maria has a sewing machine, and even though she never taught me how to use it I would watch her sewing, and she seemed to enjoy sewing.

One day I had the opportunity to come to the United States and I did, but in my mind, I only wanted to go to school and return back to my home in Mexico. I was so excited about this opportunity that I didn’t realize that there was a minor detail, I didn’t speak any English. So, I started going to any free English classes that were available in various places including church and there is where I met a good friend and teacher, Ms. Polly Marcus. She helped and encouraged me to get farther. First with my English, then with my High School Diploma. Then I started taking night classes and this is where I met my husband.

Finally, I went to school at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where I got my degree in Fashion Design. I had tried to go to fashion school in Mexico, but it was out of my reach. I took a course at Janet Klein School, but that was just a basic start. Prior to this, I worked many jobs that have taught me lots of things. I started cleaning houses, cleaning offices, I worked in Chick-fil-A for several years but the last job I got was at David’s Bridal where I started out by steaming dresses. Little by little my boss let me use the sewing machine to fix zippers and trivial things, then I was allowed to do it all. I worked as a seamstress for more than 2 years, and during the same time, I was attending school two days a week in Philadelphia. I enjoyed school, but it felt as I was only learning the basic skills, so I didn’t really like it. Many times, I doubted myself and questioned if I had the talent to be in this field but in my heart, I knew that I had something I needed to express through fashion and needed to trust in myself. However, I also realized not everyone is going to love your work, and only some will understand your vision.

At this point, I was missing my home country so much as it was a huge part of my upbringing. Growing up in Mexico everything seemed so normal such as our traditions, places, and all the food that was around me, it was quite different moving here. While I’m incredibly grateful for what I have right now, and for what this country offers me. I decided to take all those cultural things that I missed and use them as an inspiration. My first big hit was a dress that I made with a plastic tablecloth to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I created an unconventional look (skirt, corset top, and earrings) using oilcloth with Tehuana print. This plastic is traditionally used as a tablecloth in México in households and restaurants.

Last year I started collaborating with a great photographer from Dream Art Studio, named Manuel Flores. Today I work from home and most of my work is custom orders. I like representing my cultural roots with a contemporary view as well. I did lots of projects last past year that I’m proud of such as my Valentine dresses. I also did an International Women’s Day superwomen costume. I even made some looks for Mexican Independence Day.

My friend Ada Reyes and I worked really hard on the looks for the Catrinas (for Day of the Dead), and we got the opportunity to make a Catrina runway at Penn Museum, Fleisher Art, and the Day of the Dead Festival in Elton MD.

Lastly, I was part of the first Binational Journey for artists of Mexican origin based in the United States, which took place on the 5th and 6th of December 2019 in the City of Mexico. I and another thirty-six artists discussed the programs needing attention and outreach in the cultural, political, economic, and social actuality of Mexico, among other subjects. We also participated in artists’ meetings to build cross-border links that allow for expanding collaboration in the field of binational culture.

My goal is to continue making fashion a form of art, I’m aware of the climate changes and fashion is a big part of it. I would like to make more unconventional looks during the next few years using recycled materials.

Do you want to learn more about my art?

Please send me an email.

Julieta Zavala information

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