On everyday metamorphosis
On everyday metamorphosis
Words: Nasrin Jafari @mixed_bynasrin
Photographer: Phoebe Cheong @welcometothejunglehome & Lara Kaur @lara_kaur
Stylist: Vida Jafari @mollikyul
Model: Ana Verde, Albany Andaluz @albanyandaluz, Gabrielle Widjaja @gentle.oriental, Coy Griffin @coygriffin_, Ben West-Weyner @djbobbywater, KP Mendoza @ayykaypee, Tyra Preston @tyrasmiless
My apartment has become a mini warehouse—hundreds of boxes have taken over the space where my coffee table belongs and racks of clothing line the living room. I’m tiptoeing around hangers sprawled across the floor and untangling long ribbons of shipping labels stretched across the counter. It’s hard to trace Mixed’s debut apparel collection back to its beginnings when it was just a blurry vision swirling around in my mind. Even harder is thinking back to who I was before this collection. The creative process is a metamorphosis—of your vision and yourself. It’s a time of intense work and learning that changes you bit by bit in small imperceptible ways every day.
I launched Mixed at the beginning of the pandemic with no grand vision of what it would become. But a few months in, I was cranking out masks every day—I’d cut fabric, sew, iron, and ship orders morning to night. At some point, the fantasy of launching a clothing line out of my prints crossed my mind. Making masks had started to feel natural, easy and honestly, a little boring. But clothing? I had no idea how I’d do that—the challenge thrilled me.
I bought a home sewing pattern from a local Joann Fabric. I sifted through drawers of paper patterns and picked out a midi dress design with a v-neckline and ruffled sleeves. I took it home and excitedly pulled the delicate pieces of pattern paper out of the packaging. I laid my fabric on the floor, read the directions over and over, taped the papers to a window, and began cutting out my pattern pieces. I sewed pieces backwards, ripped them apart, and got about halfway into the dress before realizing that this wasn’t a skill I’d be able to master anytime soon. So I reached out to a pattern maker I had connected with on Instagram. Her name was Sasha and she lived in Texas. We hopped on the phone and she excitedly agreed to make my samples. And just like that, there was a team. I couldn’t do everything myself anymore—now there was another person who I needed to trust, communicate with, answer to, and rely on.
Over the next 8 months, I scoured Google for manufacturers, sent emails, and made calls. I ventured out into New York’s garment district where I discovered countless hidden fabric stores tucked away in the old brick buildings of midtown Manhattan. I rummaged through mountains of fabric, grabbing every bit that attracted me until I found the right ones for our collection.
With zero technical skill, I started sketching the garment designs. I scribbled quick and messy lines that captured the flow and silhouettes of each piece. I began to add details—a sleeve, a ruffle, a zipper—but my initial sketches came out looking sad and lopsided. I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually, I scraped together something more acceptable—not up to any professional standard, but it was good enough.
Once the designs were finalized and the fabric was sourced, Sasha was ready to work her magic and bring the sketches to life. Through many hours-long video calls, we discussed each piece—how it should flow, where it should sit on the body, what feeling it should evoke. We directed each piece forward, keeping the concepts and styles alive as she navigated the practical constraints that the fabric imposed on the original sketches. She traced, cut, sewed, and pulled pieces apart more times than I know. Sample development is all about precision and iteration. Ruffle ratio too tight? Pull it out and do it over again. Slit too high? Reconstruct the skirt pattern. Elastic waistline getting bunched up? Trim down the elastic.
After nearly a year of grinding through design and development it was time to hand off our samples to the factory to produce the entire collection. But of course it didn’t go off without a hitch—we ran into fabric production delays, we changed factories last minute, I purchased the wrong kinds of zippers. Eventually, we were ready to start production. I held my breath, hoping our samples, materials, and preparation were up to par.
A few weeks later, I was called to the factory to check the pieces from the top of the production line. My breath grew shallow as I made my way over—this moment was going to make or break me. I opened the door, saw the garment, and let out a yelp of relief and excitement. It was more beautiful than I’d imagined. I quickly tried it on, took pictures, and sent it to Sasha. It was proof that what we had been working on for so many months was real. I walked home that day in a dream state. The following weeks were dizzying. We held our photoshoot, launched to our eager community, and sold out within weeks.
Today when I sit in my mess of an apartment, having emerged from the metamorphosis of Mixed’s first collection, I still have to remind myself that all of this has actually happened. Ideas in my mind ended up on masks and clothing worn by thousands of people across the country. A home sewer from Texas became a professional pattern maker for a budding brand. I became a business owner, who now manages the design, development, manufacturing, sales, and marketing of multiple seasons of garments at once. It’s been a lot of hard work. But also, every individual thing that I committed to, learned, and accomplished was just whatever demanded itself in the moment to be figured out next: How to design a fit-friendly silhouette. The difference between open- and closed-end zippers. Knowing what paperwork to fill out when your fabric is held up in customs. How to store, process, and ship orders for nearly 100 SKUs without it taking all damn day.
The metamorphosis takes place in every step of the creative process—when you put one foot in front of the other and work your way through uncertainty, the vision develops itself, and you along with it.