Feb 152011
Authors: Bonnie Cleveland

The snow-capped mountains, a sunset on the beach, the escape of a grassy park, the uniqueness of people-watching: All of these things inspire CSU alumna Kristen Nuttall.

She uses simple inspirations to create art in the form of clothing. After majoring in apparel design and production, Nuttall is now an assistant designer for Macy’s in New York City.

“I enjoy being creative and making my work more than an idea,” Nuttall said. “In design, you can make it anything you want it to be.”

Colors, fabrics, the inspiration of others and the pursuit of organic elements ignite the inspirational flames to Nuttall’s designing fire.

In a city where crowded streets can rain on the sparks of inspiration, the raw organics of the outdoors can be a challenge to find, she said. And so events like the Reclaim Project are born.

The Reclaim Project is a design contest in Colorado between three aspiring outerwear designers hand-picked from across the country, sponsored by 686 and Snow Industries of America.

Competitors use “reclaimed” fabric, scraps leftover from previous designs that would otherwise have been thrown out, to design new outerwear.

Nuttall’s passion for the design process, as well as the natural-focused “go green initiative” won her a spot as a Reclaim Project designer in late January. She won second place with a ski jacket, an accomplishment she is proud of.

Eventually Nuttall hopes to create her own line, but until then, she wants to travel. More than half of design production is done overseas. Learning how to communicate and work in that environment is crucial, she said.

But Nuttall has already had an adventure of her own.

New York City has been an adjustment from Fort Collins. Fort Collins is a friendly town where a lot of people know each other, said Nuttall. Moving to New York has made Nuttall appreciate the college life, as New York is a harder city where people are highly competitive.

“The balance between working hard and enjoying the city is challenging,” Nuttall said.

CSU offers students a great experience and prepares students for the office. Looking back, Nuttall said the design program is similar to what she does now in the workplace, although school is different from work.

Nuttall said the support she received at the university was priceless. The professors were always pushing for success, especially associate professor in design and merchandising Eulanda Sanders and Internship Coordinator Carol Engel-Enright.

The encouragement and support has allowed Nuttall to do more than merchandising.

Learning how to sew and working through the design process evokes the supreme sense of accomplishment in Nuttall. This hands-on creativity provides the opportunity to make anything.

“Creativity is the opportunity to inspire others,” she said.

Staff writer Bonnie Cleveland can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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