COFFEE DATE WITH THE VERA WANG DESIGNER – JUULIA PEUHKURI

Home / Fashion / COFFEE DATE WITH THE VERA WANG DESIGNER – JUULIA PEUHKURI

If you were to run into Ms. Peuhkuri, you would never guess that she is 1/3 of the Vera Wang designer team.

She also manages her own clothing line, and lives in the busy city of New York. We found her to be one of the kindest, most humble girls out there! We cannot help but be amazed by her talents and how she is conquering all of her once-upon-a-time dreams, so of course we interviewed her during our time in New York.

Introducing Juulia Peuhkuri

I’m 26 years old and From Helsinki, Finland. My vocational studies started with a double-degree in high school. I did high school with vocational college and also got myself a Dressmakers Degree.  I studied in Helsinki. My studies took 3.5 years because I was in two schools at the same time. After I completed these degrees, I stayed in school and prepared for vocational skills competitions. I went on to get a Masters in Dressmaking.

After I graduated I went to London. I studied there for a year at London College of Fashion in their Fashion Design Undergrad Program. After that year in London I was not completely sure how I wanted to continue my route in Fashion; if I should study more design or technical design or even business perhaps, so I took a year off. Within this year I worked at a clothing shop and started to do work more with my own clients, making dresses and other outfits for different made-to-order customers. During this year, I also decided to apply for University in Jyväskylä and study Fashion Business. It felt like a good continuum from my previous design and construction experiences.

“Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it.”

I have always been super ambitious and competitive. So if anything felt like it was difficult, or a school felt like it was hard to get in, that’s what I wanted. SO- I decided, instead of choosing some exchange school that our school had partnership with, I wanted to go beyond that and apply to a nice fashion school in New York. I had to organise everything myself, but I was determined. Finally, I got a letter that I got in to Parson School of Design for their Fashion Design Program as an exchange student for one semester. This was going to be my second to last semester in school, after this I had only had Internship and Thesis left.

While I was studying at Parsons, I applied to internship places in NY; I really wanted to stay and I felt like there were many companies I saw myself working for, one specifically. I applied to a Design Internship at Vera Wang and after two interviews… I got in. I started working there as an intern in January, 2016. About a month in at my internship there, they offered me a design assistant position. Since then I have been here, now as an associate designer.

What did you want to be when you were a child

I had a lot of dreams, as I think every child has. The biggest and the one I had the longest, was to become an actress. I always wanted to be on a stage haha. This went on even so long that when we’re applying to high school, my first choice was a high school that was more based on acting and music studies. I was really active in these things in middle school but when the time came and we got our papers from the schools we got in, I didn’t get any notification from those schools. I think it was destiny, because my second choice was the double degree for dressmaking and, actually, I was never sad that I didn’t get in to my first choice, because this was how it was always meant to be!

“I applied to a Design Internship at Vera Wang and after two interviews… I got in.”

Juulia’s own designs found here: juuliapeuhkuri.com

What characteristics do you most admire in other creative women

I really admire ambitiousness and determination, but I think the most attractive thing, almost in any one, is modesty within those two things. I think people are really really talented at what they do when they actually don’t have to be too loud about it. It is hard to explain, but I hope you get my point. I don’t mean it by apologising about your abilities or anything, absolutely not, but especially within creative people, I feel modesty tells a lot about talent in itself.

Also women who don’t take no for an answer and push through, even in the craziest of situations are amazing. But when they do this while respecting others and knowing their abilities, it is really admirable. I hope to be more like that in the future!

What does success mean to you

It is a really important thing and I hope to be able to be successful in all the parts of my life, personal and work life. Because of my ambitiousness and success, it is a hard thing for me to define. I feel like I have been successful with my dreams so far, but I have so many bigger dreams to reach that it is hard to say when I have reached the success that I’m aiming for. After one goal, I always have the next one. We will see when I’m able to stop haha! But yes success means reaching for goals and succeeding in them. I think it is important to see success and feel successfulness even after small achievements, this way you are able to keep going towards the bigger goals.

What has been the best piece of business advice you have been given

My grandfather was amazing painter and house builder. He built a succesfull company from the scratch that my uncles run now. One of last things that he told me before he passed away was that “ Work should never end with working”. It has been on my mind ever since. This was about 4 years ago and he told me this after I was proudly telling him how much I was working. I think it is a good thing to remember, especially as entrepreneur, and in this industry that I’m in. You can always create more and more work and it will not end, because of this you need to remember to take breaks and ease up the pace sometimes.

Another piece of “advise” that I got early when I had just moved to New York and super eager and confident to do this, came from a Finnish lady who I met here and who also worked in the Fashion Industry. She told me that either you have it or you don’t. This made me really scared to the fact of ‘what if I don’t have it’. But it also made me work more and to make sure to show everyone that “ I have it”.

What is your personal or professional motto

I don’t know if I really have a specific motto, but what I have found myself saying to myself and to others within the past few years is that you never know if you don’t try, and don’t think about all the risks and “ what ifs” before you even try it because then you will never go for it, whether it is applying for a school or job of your dreams or traveling across the world. I always just try it first and then if I get in or get the job then I’ll see about the other logistics. This might have sometimes been a pain for my family and loved ones but I hope they have been able to bare with me with my crazy dreams! I never want to be saying ‘what if’, thats why I will always try everything. If I don’t get in, which has happened multiple times, then I can at least say I tried and I can move on for next thing.

What does the world need more of

This world has so much of everything already and that is definitely a controversy also within the industry I’m in. I think what the world needs is that all the people living in it would acknowledge the fact that we don’t need to consume as much and we would just need to make smarter choices. This kind of fights with what I’m doing but, my goal with my business that I had in Finland was always to get women and men in our generation to get made-to-order things and to go more for the slow fashion type. Kind of what your values in Fedited are as well.

“I never want to be saying ‘what if’, thats why I will always try everything.”

What’s the first thing in the morning you do to have a positive beginning for the day

My morning routines are fairly quick especially at home. I quickly do the necessary things and then I bike to work with music in my ears. This kind of sets up my mood for the day. I get to work about 30-45 minutes before everyone else and what I do is that I have my coffee and either start answering my emails in peace and quiet or then I chat with my friends in Finland because this is the time of day when they are actually awake at the same time as me. Biking and my little moment at work before everyone else has definitely become my favourite things in the mornings.

Name a woman whom you admire / look up to

I admire lot of women who have the characteristics we talked about earlier. But to mention a few people who I have not met (hopefully in the future I will) but who I feel has achieved something I’d want to achieve in the future are Katri Niskanen, Phoebe Philo and Maria Grazia Chiuri. Katri Niskanen has created an amazing brand from a Finnish base and I admire her as an entrepreneur, business women and designer. My admiration towards Phoebe Philo is pretty obvious, she created and uplifted Celine as a brand and worked there as a design director for a long time. Maria Grazia Chiuri being the first female design director at Dior, is of course amazing as well.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working at Vera Wang

I can’t really say one thing for this question. It has been a huge, really huge learning process. I do not even know where to start. Us being a surprisingly small company and a really small design team, has allowed me to be a part of lot of things that I never thought I’d be able to experience at this point in my life. I have learned amazing things about the whole industry, working in the U.S which definitely differs from Europe and Scandinavia. I also learned a lot about me. I have learned my strengths and weaknesses, learned to see what is important to me, and how I work. I think these have been the most valuable lessons. Of course, I have learned so much from my amazing colleagues design-wise and our extremely talented pattern-makers and sewers, but I do feel like the most valuable lessons I have made within myself.

Are you living your dream? What are your biggest dreams in your career

This, working at this company was my dream since our first evening wear class at college where I made a prom dress for my friend and few other dresses for myself. Within that semester, I decided that doing bridal and occasional wear clothes, thats my dream and only bridal brand I knew back then was Vera Wang. And from that point I knew I really really wanted to work for the brand, but I thought it might happen like 10 years from now, so this definitely surprised me! So yes, I have been living the dream for the past few years! But also because I’m forever moving and ambitious, we will see what the future will hold! I have lot of new dreams that have been formed within the past few years, because I had to reorganise my whole dream schedule because of being here came so quickly that I actually got little lost in thinking what would be the best next step! But it is okay to sometimes be a bit lost too so you can then built everything back and see if something has maybe changed. Can’t really reveal my biggest next biggest dreams yet too much, but I’ll make sure to tell you once they might be happening! In my whole career I can say that I’d like to be a creative director for an existing brand at one point but also maybe in the further future have something on my own as well. Will see how everything goes with these smaller dreams first 🙂

You can be a small town girl or a girl from a far away country as Finland is and still have it all. It’s about you and how you decide to chase your dreams. You have to be brave enough to take those big steps but not forget you and where you come from in the process. The most genuine and kind people with a great personality are the ones who will make it as fas as possible!

We at FEDITED wish you all the luck Juulia for achieving your dreams!

Xx

Follow Juulia on Instagram: @juuliaiida and if you’re interested in collaborating with her or buy her designs, contact her juulia.peuhkuri@gmail.com

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