Candice brings you back to the FDC Young Designers Award in October. Two up-and-coming designers competed for a chance to win the title of The Radical Designer of the Year 2019 and showcase their collections in New York! The evening was also filled with amazing creatives, makers, and industry professionals looking to network and connect. Candice chatted to some of them on the night.


About Joanna

So, my name is Joanna Marcella, and I’m the founder of the Young Designer’s Awards and various other awards connected to [them]. I studied art, so my background is in art. Apart from that (in regards to fashion), I’m self-taught. My mother taught me to knit, so when I first started my company, I was producing hand-knits for children. I would sell to boutiques and do small batches. It was really enjoyable and making the same profit as adult clothes. I could put a price to my work. It was a combination of doing some courses, taught by my mother, self teaching, and just developing from there.

About the Young Designer’s Awards

I started my first awards in 1995. We did that in the design centre in Islington, and we’ve done it almost every year since. Some occasions, we’ve been lucky to get sponsors, so we’ve managed to showcase in NYFW, Caribbean Fashion Week and Vancouver Fashion Week. One of the things I wanted to do was that sometimes we might have a winner, and for whatever reason, that winner might not be selected for the fashion weeks, so we wanted to still offer them an opportunity.

Because I’m raising awareness for this condition, Angelman Syndrome (AS), I’d love to do something in New York where our winners could showcase there. It’s a show that I’m putting on.

I’ve done three shows this year. One in the Hackney Attic, Pullman Hotel, and Birmingham, and I do a show every year in New York. But, I didn’t go to New York this year because I did three shows this year.

About the Show Preparation

It was hard putting on this event. We’ve had so many people come on board, and we tell press and start planning. Then we have to take names off because they drop out. That’s very stressful. I actually feel like some designers need mentoring.

Some designers are not aware of what it takes to put on a show. If there’s four of you on a team, just go to one show. If one person’s ill, they still have enough to attend.

There’s an opportunity here where industry professionals could really talk to new designers and really give them some guidance as to that commitment, being motivated, sticking to your word… it’s all part of not even the event but for your own business.

From the perspective of the organiser, that’s really difficult.

I see other people organise events and smile, but you hear that it’s stressful. I don’t want that to throw me off because I still enjoy what I do. I’m making an impact whether it’s big or small. Sometimes by giving one designer their first show ever, it’s like encouragement to go on. I do love it.

I work with designers from nine to twenty. I had winners that were as young as ten. It wasn’t baby work, and they did the work themselves. They have to attend progress meetings and explain to me the processes. I could tell they did the work themselves.

I do find that the people in America are a bit more excitable. I told a photographer that I was having an event, and he asked if there was anything he could do or help with. I was like, “I don’t have anything yet. I was just planning it.”

It’s just different. “Do you need help?” “Is there anything I can do?”

I find that creative people are actually quite selfish. If they’re part of something, they want to benefit, benefit, benefit, and do little videos and so on. They do little videos about them, but they help promote us as a result too.

The people here in comparison are a bit more reserved.

About this Event

In terms of this event, it’s a little different in comparison to the others. I wanted it to be more intimate and press to leave knowing the designers. I really wanted designers, whether they were in the awards or presenting, to really connect with bloggers or magazines and really have that one to one interview.

An informal gathering of designers coming to meet with the press. Press coming to meet the designers. I want to build on that. The awards are usually more formal, but it can be a part of an event like this.

I also want to do a writer’s awards. All of those that do come, the next event, I wanted to give an award to the most interesting writer. Again, I don’t know if I got that message across, but that’s what I want to work on.

About the Future of the Awards

My vision is just to take it to other countries. So far, I’ve been to America. I want to go back to America. I want to go to Australia.

Because I’m supporting this condition (AS), there are certain parts of the world where they have charities, so in America, in Illinois I think, they have a charity.

When I do my event in New York, the ticket sales will go there. There’s also a charity here (in London). This [event] wasn’t a fundraiser, but if it was, it would go there. There’s also a charity in Australia connected to the American one.

They have to be quite big so that we can feasibly go over. It’s a rare disease. Imagine like autism. It would be hard for me to promote if there are only a few people with the syndrome there. If it’s not known that there are people there with that condition, it won’t be as effective initially.

I’m old now though. I would continue these awards for as long as I’m healthy. I’m changing things. Eventually, it might be once every two years. I want to go on as long as possible but evolving it.

About Angelman Syndrome

My grandson is now eleven. When he was diagnosed with this condition, I just concentrated on this condition. He was about two when he was diagnosed.

This particular condition, they’re born with it. There isn’t much to indicate that it’s there, but as they develop when they get to a year or two, the parents see that they’re either not walking or saying the words. Sometimes they have seizures.

At that point, parents can tell that there’s a delay in the development, so when they’re born, you can’t see it. They just look like any other baby. Some doctors don’t know the condition either.

All the people laugh a lot. That’s one of the signs. They can’t walk, non-verbal, laugh a lot, have seizures, have difficulty sleeping— they have to be looked after because they don’t know danger.

This charity in Illinois is trying to find a cure, but how can you find a cure? They’re looking to have something to give to the people to wake up a dormant gene or put something in them to create something.

It’s part of the nervous system. Either a missing or dormant gene from the mother’s side.

They’re trying to find a cure. You don’t want to dismiss it. You want to encourage it.

I was able to join some of the groups and charities. When I do an event in New York, the charity sets up the ticket link, and it goes straight to the charity.

Image via FDC

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