Founder spotlight: Thea Pérez
We recently sat down with our founder and creative director, Thea Pérez, to find out more about her and what prompted her to start Polychrome. This the first post in our new #AskMeAnything series where we will be getting some of the back story about our founder and our brand.
Jessica: Hey, Thea! Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to take a closer look at Polychrome and to get to know you, too. We’re all really excited to hear what you have to say! To start off, can you talk about your start in the fashion industry and what you do now?
Thea: Thank you! I’m thrilled to be starting this series to give everyone a closer look into how Polychrome came to be. Probably the best way to answer that is to tell you what drew me to fashion in the first place. I can honestly say that I have loved fashion for as long as I can remember. Seeing the individual styles of all the women in my family, looking at fashion magazines, and playing dress up with my grandmother's costume jewelry were all early influences. Even as a young child, I was always enrolled in private art classes, mostly painting. It became clear to me by the time I was in 5th grade that I wanted to do something in the fashion world. I love everything to do with surface design and embellishment and I am also fascinated with how fashion reflects society and culture - that’s what drew me into this industry. Currently, I am the founder and creative director of Polychrome and I am also the founder and lead organizer of a networking group for fashion designers called the Apparel Designers Network; it is so fantastic to have a group of like-minded peers!
Jessica: So what exactly is Polychrome?
Thea: Polychrome is an online marketplace for original print artwork and trend forecasts specifically for the fashion apparel industry. We help fashion brands streamline their development process so that their in-house designers can focus more on making beautiful product. It’s our passion to help alleviate some of the common bottlenecks in the design process so that our clients can spend more time and energy doing more of what they love with less stress.
Jessica: What prompted you to start your own business? What was the inspiration behind it?
Thea: I have worked in various positions in the fashion industry for a long time now - full time employee, freelancer, consultant, shoulder to cry on (just kidding!) - I found that in many of the companies I was working for certain parts of the development process just seemed so inefficient. One of the places a lot of time and energy is spent is developing prints each season. I was often tasked with buying prints for whatever company I was working for. Aside from making sure the prints met the design plans we had set, one of the most important factors was that the print hit an emotional cue - I had to fall in love with it. Honestly, though, that wasn’t the biggest challenge; it was no problem finding artwork I was excited about. But I found that what print studios weren't fulfilling was that when I would bring the piece of print artwork that I had purchased back to the office, it just wasn’t the working tool that we needed it to be.
Jessica: What do you mean by that?
Thea: Well, not so long ago when you bought a print, that original artwork would only be on a fabric swatch or a piece of paper. No matter how much you loved the print 95% of the time you’d have to change something about it - additional colorways, removing a motif, or creating a complimentary print. That usually meant a lot of work for someone in your department, especially if you are dealing with many prints in a season. If you were lucky, you had a designated CAD person to do this, but many offices don’t have someone on staff and they are either hiring freelance help or the designers are getting it done themselves as best they can. Even if you do have a CAD person in-house, that editing stage can easily become the bottleneck in the design process as the projects pile up on their desk.
Revisions should have been made more efficient once many studios started delivering a digital file of the artwork, but often that file was just a flat JPG or PDF, which meant they had only saved us the trouble of scanning a physical swatch. There was still so much work to be done before we could send the artwork to a mill for printing - such a waste of time. I was looking at this bottleneck and thinking “This is so frustrating. It doesn’t have to be this way!” That’s why I decided there was room in the market for another print studio - because there is simply no time to waste in the typical design development calendar, and no reason to as far as print revision is concerned.