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An Interview with Laura Brown (@prettysourlaura)

The first time I found Laura Brown's designs for her brand Pretty Sour, I thought that my daydreams had come to life. Her frilly, excessively sweet, pink and purple hued designs felt too perfect for me, too good to be true. A skunk applique dress? A cloud print dress with rainbow straps? Bags that look like piles of stuffed animals? Yes please! It was so delightfully whimsical I thought I had imagined it all. It was ethically made and the perfect mixture of kitschy and stylish. I mean, she even has clothing for FUR BABIES. Can you believe?

But my love for Laura's work and Pretty Sour extends beyond mere aesthetics. I have some trouble reconciling my love for frothy, girlish things with my desire to be seen as thoughtful and deep. I worry that when I wear pink dresses or ribbons in my hair, I'll be seen as frivolous and silly, and I won't be taken seriously. But when I look at Laura's Instagram or Pretty Sour's website, I don't see weakness and shallowness. I see the power in embracing traditionally feminine style. I see hard work and creativity. I see what I want to be.

With Laura as my inspiration, I've learned that I am still an intellectual regardless of whether I'm wearing a pantsuit or a frilly dress. I like how some of Pretty Sour's designs reflect this idea of turning vulnerability into power by embracing traditionally feminine (and therefore weak) behaviors, like the Don't Cry Clown Cat Breezy Summer Dress (my personal favorite item in the shop), which, via an insanely cute clown cat patch, encourages all of us to just feel our feelings no matter what others say. Not to mention, Pretty Sour makes clothing for all shapes and sizes and the inclusive ethos behind the brand makes me love it even more. Unfortunately, as a broke student, right now I can't afford to buy any pieces from Pretty Sour, but I'm just grateful for the confidence I've garnered by looking from afar.

Who are your inspirations? I’m very inspired by people who I see are further along in their business journey who also seem to hold the same values that I have, like trying to run an ethical business. One person that I really look up to is Amy Doan of Sugarpill Cosmetics. I’ve watched Amy go from an indie designer of DIY clothing to building a whole fucking empire of cosmetics. When I think of where I want to be in 5- 10 years I think of having my own little company with an office and employees and just making a full time living off of my art and seeing other people grow their businesses that way makes it seem like less of a pipe dream you know? Like it’s a goal that’s actually attainable because other people have done it. Using a metaphor, how would you describe your creative process? The best way I can describe my creative process, and maybe this will only make sense to me, is that the creative process is a reflection of life, or maybe more specifically the trajectory of life. I learned early that life doesn’t go in one upward direction, you could work 20 years for a company, make a great life for yourself, have a family and in a day lose everything and have to start all over. Life, in my experience, is chaotic and unpredictable and so is the creative process. Especially with something like fashion design because you could have the coolest freshest design idea and then after multiple rounds of patternmaking and preliminary samples you realize that you have no idea how to even execute it, maybe it’s not even possible to execute. If you’re lucky you have the adaptibility gene and you can take all of that frustrated energy and transform the idea into something even cooler that you never would have been able to think of if it hadn’t been for the struggle given to you by the failure of the original idea. What’s something people would never guess about you? I have a hard time imagining how other people perceive me to be honest. I think people probably assume I’ve had a pretty chill life because I’m currently living in LA pursuing my dreams which I’m so lucky to be able to do! But I’ve had some wild experiences that a lot of my peers didn’t have. For one, I was an orphan at 8 years old. People are usually pretty shocked by that! What does style mean to you? I think style is essentially what you wear to make yourself feel something. There are clothes that you put on your body because you legally have to wear clothes and then there are clothes that you wear because for some reason they resonate with who you are as a person. Style is an extension of yourself that you project to the outside world but at the end of the day it’s about you and your feelings. What are you most proud of? I don’t think I can choose just one thing I’m sorry!!  My proudest moment was in 2009 I was asked to make a dress for the Sanrio Hello Kitty’s 35th anniversary fashion show. I had just moved to LA and was only 1 year into fashion school at FIDM so being asked to make a dress for The Cat Herself!!! It was incredibly validating.

I think truly though my biggest accomplishment has been launching and operating Pretty Sour! Even though I’ve been making clothes for 10+ years I was not prepared for how difficult owning and operating a legitimate business would be but I’m here doing it and people like it! It is so much work and I have to make a lot of sacrifices (Hi social life, I miss you!) but I can’t think of anything I’ve ever been prouder of in my life

What’s been the most transformative experience of your life? When I was 16 I was booted from my foster home and I moved all the way from Louisiana to California to live with my brother. It was literally transformative in that I would be living a completely different life if I had remained in Louisiana. A month after I moved here I cut off my long black sad girl hair and dyed it pink and I never looked back!

What’s your favorite design you’ve made?

My favorite design at the moment is a dress I call “The Clown Cat” dress. This dress took almost 2 years to develop and I put so much work into it! I made everything from the actual dress pattern to the illustration of the cat that adorns the back. My experience as an indie “quirky brand” designer is that often you really have to compromise design elements if you want to make something that your target customer can afford which can be a bummer, but with this one I just went for it. It has so many fun elements: pink satin lace, embroidered collar, screen printed back patch. It’s a level of detail that I really hope to carry through to all of my future designs as well. That being said I have so many opportunities to improve my designs, my quality, my attention to detail! I think some of the products I have coming up on the horizon have the possibility of being my new favorites.


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