I'M ALWAYS EXCITED to find fellow Filipino women in the creative arts and fashion scene, so I was happy to connect with Heidi of Ozma of California and style some pieces for her. We met up recently at the American Tea Room in Downtown LA and chatted over some delicious matcha iced tea. I love actually being able to interact with designers and create lasting relationships. It was fun to get to know Heidi, a laid-back surfer with a fashion background designing for Levi's. Her clothing is also so perfectly minimal and breezy, and you all know I can't resist linen. Her pieces are so easy to wear, and I get compliments whenever I wear them.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Wildlife Conservancy in Oak Glen with my sister Maya, my mom, and Harrison to see the poppies-- which my mom has been wanting to do for a while. It ended being the perfect place to shoot the A-frame Dress. Also styled in this post: the tie romper and washed silk bandana.
Heidi is the sweetest and is having me do a giveaway for one of her amazing dyed silk bandanas. This giveaway ends Thursday 6/16 and the winner will be announced on Friday 6/17.
How to enter:
1. Like this post and comment down below with what color bandana you'd love to win.
2. Go on my Instagram feed and like and comment on the giveaway post by tagging friends in the comments.
3. Follow @ozma_of_california and @melissasonico on Instagram.
How did you get started in design?
Out of boredom! I grew up in a small city in Southern Virginia where I was rolling my eyes at everything back then, especially the local mall. The best store, in my opinion, was a thrift stop called Love's Closet. It was a tiny storefront in the old downtown area full of heaps of clothing where you could fill up a plastic Kroger bag for $2. I was psyched to find massive plaid shirts, Dickies, and floral printed vintage dresses to alter into my perfect grungy outfits. In college I studied Marketing but continued the love of my self-taught little craft and was making some pretty hilarious open-backed hippie shirts and pieced maxi skirts (hey, it was college!). Once I graduated and moved to San Francisco. Thankfully, I went a little more modern and started a line of knit dresses and tube tops. The line was cool and sold to a great shop/gallery called Mimi Barr. One night I was bartending across the street and one of my regulars introduced me to an incredibly talented woman named Melissa, who at the time was the Design Director for Levi's. I don't know if she recognized some kind of kindred free-spirit in me or maybe I was just at the right place at the right time, but I was lucky because she saw potential. After a long interview with a huge stack of my designs, I was hired as an assistant designer on her team. Levi's was where I really grew and learned in the industry, under wonderful guidance by women who are still huge mentors for me. After 7 years with the company, I left as a Senior Designer which was such an achievement, but I really had my eye on a more creative and flexible life than a big company could ever offer.
What are your design inspirations?
I'm constantly taking cues from just about everything I come into contact with-- so much of it coming from nature these days. Sometimes this means color or silhouette inspiration, sometimes it means being inspired to design less and simplify.
I stop a lot to enjoy color and texture in the mountains where I live, the movements of the ocean, the poured-over but seemingly effortless composition in art and sculpture, unexpected rhythms and harmony in music. It influences my choices in fabrics, my obsession with textural weaves, the paired back palette I use, and the joy I get in the process of intuitive experimentation. My favorite designs and color choices often begin with mistakes that ended up beautiful.
I've also always been drawn to the sturdiness and timelessness of vintage workwear. Most recently, I've re-invented men's classics like the coverall, the button-down, and the bandana by giving them the fit and/or fabric that works for a woman. It's fun for me to take what is familiar and give it a twist. I'm always inspired by the attention to detail that the Japanese have. I love to notice the differences in my own work that a small construction detail or high quality fabric can make. When you see a great garment, it's sometimes hard to tell just why its beautiful. That's the key to great design, and it continuously pushes me to find a way to make things better.
How does Southern California influence your design aesthetic?
'm very fortunate to live in an amazing place called Topanga Canyon. I live in this pretty incredible yurt on a property that borders the state park and is just a ten-minute drive to the beach where I surf. I've always had a very minimal aesthetic, but living in a small space makes me think twice about what I own. It certainly influences me to design more thoughtfully because every day I'm reminded of just how amazing a well-made versatile piece can be!
What is your mission statement for OZMA?
ZMA is a curated line of women's essentials that reinvents the classics by blending natural textiles with beautiful craftsmanship in feminine, minimal, modern silhouettes. We offer a unique lens of uncomplicated beauty to our customers and are Made Responsibly in California.
What other creative outlets do you have?
've been doing these very organic abstract Micron pen drawings. They're always really repetitive which I love; its o calming to sit and get into.
Describe a typical day at work and also a day off.
Fortunately I get to work for myself now, whether it's on OZMA or doing design consulting for other brands. On my work days I wake up early, make coffee, throw on something easy (my current uniform is either the coverall or wide leg romper these days), toss my board in the car and head to Topanga Beach for a morning surf. Happy and salty, I head to my design studio in Venice. My space is just behind Another Kind of Sunrise on Abbott Kinney which is a really cool and cozy outdoor coffee shop, so I usually grab another coffee and breakfast there. If I don't visit my factory in downtown LA, the day is lots of loud music and dancing by myself while working, and lunch with a Venice friend or a visit to our friends' woodshop nearby. My favorite days off aren't really so different as there's always something to do with the brand, but usually begin with a hike in the state park, a long surf at Malibu, then a really amazing meal with too much red wine. The coast just north of Los Angeles has some incredible gems for surfing and camping which I intend to spend tons of time at this summer now that the days are long and weather is warming up!
What's next for your line?
ore texture, more volume, more tomboy vibes. I'm feeling deep pleats and oversized harem shapes right now . I've got a really really really good romper that I'm working on now that I plan to never take off when its done.