...When Patricia Chan graduated from FIDM, one of her instructors gave her a heads-up call.Mattel
was going to be on campus in the FIDM Career Center
interviewing for summer interns.Patricia
had just competed the third-year Advanced Study Program in Fashion Design, culminating in the Debut fashion show where she
had sent her
premiere collection down the runway.She
went into the interview armed with her
portfolio and the video from Debut, hoping to gain a summer's worth of experience.Lo and behold, Mattel
back a few days later wanting to hire her
on as permanent staff!"This was my first job out of FIDM
, and still my current job," Patricia
says, several years later."It's a great company.You never get bored, because every project is so different.It's just like a dream job!"
Now, as a Project Designer under the Barbie Mainline Division at Mattel
responsible for coming up with different concepts for toy ideas and then making prototypes."It's the preliminary designer's job to work from concept to creation of the doll," she
says."This entails designing outfits, hair, face, accessories, graphics, and sometimes electronics.I work with sample makers, model makers, and other departments like the sculpting, electronics, hair department, and face department to make my designs come true altogether."She
goes on."It's a lot of work, but it's fun.I do the shopping for materials, trims, and anything that would be needed to make the prototype.I also need to design backdrops for presentations, so that involves shopping for materials, designing it, and making it happen."Originally born in Hong Kong, Patricia came to the U.S. when she was 12 years old.Her
parents were in the garment industry in Los Angeles, where they had a garment contracting business, and Patricia
sometimes helped out."With them having a factory, I was able to learn to operate all kinds of machines, and the whole process of production, from start to finish," she
recalls."But this was the production, the back end of it.It wasn't any of the designing."
"My first encounter with FIDM
was in high school," remembers Patricia
."I attended the annual Debut fashion show and I was amazed and awed by the talent of students and the fabulous show they put together."She
continues, "After seeing that show, I said to myself, I want to be one of them, to be on stage!"
didn't come straight to FIDM
.She spent a year at the University of California, Riverside, with an undeclared major.
"After one year there I decided to transfer to FIDM
to study what I love," she
, I could pursue my dream of being on that stage.
"I understood that only the cream of the crop get to do that show, so I worked really hard for my goals and finally my dream came true," says Patricia
, who won the Bischoff scholarship which provided $10,000 worth of Swiss embroidered textiles for use in her
Debut collection of eveningwear.Her
collection won the Debut award for originality.
Now, designing Barbies for Mattel
is able to use that flair for originality every day."It's a very creative job, and I get to do not only Fashion Design, which was my dream, but take it to the next level and incorporate toy design elements.The best part of it is," she
marvels, "is that you get to play with toys and design them, and you're getting paid for it!"Patricia
needed the specialized training that FIDM
supplies to launch her
provided the foundation that I need to do my job," she
says."Without the foundation, you wouldn't be able to do your day-to-day designing.You use the knowledge," she
notes the pleasant campus environment.
"From the beginning I said, 'I want to do my fashion show,'" says Patricia
, "and I did it.I accomplished what I wanted to do!Designing girls' toys is fulfilling too, because you make every girl happy in the whole world!When you go shopping and walk down the toy aisle, you see your product."Patricia enjoys staying connected to FIDM, and shows her enthusiasm for the school that helped her get where she is by serving on FIDM's Alumni Board of Directors, which offers help, guidance, and advice to graduating students and plans the fun events that bring former students together.
Who knows--perhaps one day you might be a FIDM grad, rubbing shoulders with Patricia!
FIDM Grads Rule Project Runway