Being a designer in New York City consists of constant movement, connection, and hustle. Sometimes it can be easy to forget to take time to slow down and see how far you’ve come. Sabrina has continually evolved and is living proof that if you put your mind to something you will succeed. As Sabrina is constantly moving forward and growing, she takes time to reflect on a past interview for Elle Magazine with Naomi Rougeau:
What first made you fall in love with fashion? The first time I came to the U.S., I saw my adoptive mom wearing pants. This was shocking. She picked us up from the airport and hopped onto the driver's seat and started to drive. I had never seen a woman drive before! This was also the first time I had seen a woman wearing pants, not a dress, and driving a car! That was the day I realized the power of wearing pants. I thought it was the most high- fashion stylish clothing I could ever wear. This was love at first sight for me. I wanted to be an American girl; free, powerful, and chic, wearing pants and driving a car. Even to this day, I get chills when sitting in the driver's seat with my sunglasses on and wearing pants. I feel like I am on top of the world.
What prompted you to try out for Project Runway? When COVID hit, I lost my corporate designer job, sold everything I had, and drove back to Michigan from Florida. I also had to give up my Standard Poodle, Sophie. I went into a depression; with no job, no money, no honey, and my dog with a new family. I applied to over 200 jobs, with multiple interviews and 100% rejections. It was only then I realized, life repeats in cycles and unless I break this cycle I will continue hitting a dead end. Project Runway was my form of redirection in life; to start again from zero and rebuild myself for truly what I was meant to do.
What has been your biggest challenge as a designer? And what has kept you going? My biggest challenge was finding myself and being authentically me, an Afghan-American designer. My mission in life, which is bigger than clothing, has helped me continue fighting and waking up every day and doing what I do. My mission is to help women to be powerful, not powerless, and clothing has been the form I use to translate that mission into reality.
What do you love about fashion now? My mindset has shifted since I moved to New York. This is the most diverse city I have seen in the United States. People want to be seen, people want to be heard, and people want to feel special- We express this through clothing. I used to think more about creating and designing, which is grand. But I think the power behind fashion and its connection to individuality is vital in today’s world.
Talk about your experience on Project Runway. Project Runway was such an amazing experience. Being on a TV show and learning about the film side of fashion was incredible. Most of all, I learned about myself as a person and realized my self worth. After the show, I came back a better person and designer. If it had not been for Project Runway, I would not be where I am today. Sabrina Spanta the brand has been in many publications, raised awareness about Afghanistan, and expanded to New York. I couldn’t be anymore proud to be an Afghan-American woman building the American dream and representing that for millions of women around the world. Project runway was a part of my life journey and this is only the beginning.
What are some recent challenges you are facing? What has kept you going? There are many challenges that I face. Everything that I have done has been self-built. My life has not been easy and I do everything out of my own pocket. I work my job, make money, and run my business in hopes of one day being a household name. It is not easy working full-time, building a brand and constantly hustling. It is a humbling experience. Another challenge as a brand owner is you must be on top of everything. You must know when to re-invent and how to find an audience. Since I was a little girl, my one intention was to help women through fashion. I was gifted at a young age of being creative and I needed to share that with the world. This mission is what keeps me going. I need to raise awareness for the minority and for the underdog, and I believe I am doing that through fashion, one X-Pant at a time.
Each step you take is another closer to your life's purpose. So, for any aspiring designer out there, follow your intuition, keep dreaming, and never lose hope. Do what you’re good at and everything else will fall into place. Before you know it, you’ll fall into what you’re meant to do. It’s scary to go into the creative world, and it sure isn’t easy. But, no matter what you do, if you do a good job, you’ll always succeed. The more beauty and creativity you put into your mind, the more that’s going to come out to the world — and the world’s going to give it right back to you. You can do anything, don’t ever stop dreaming!
If you are looking for mentorship we would love to help out and give advice! You can email Sabrina at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is known for answering Instagram DM's too!
Cover page photo designed by Carmella Contesti. Inspired by the article from Elle Magazine written by Naomi Rougeau on October 14, 2021. https://www.elle.com/fashion/g37885399/project-runway-season-19-cast-designers/