Sewing SuperSHEro - Kechantra Ward
Can you tell us a little bit about the moment you realized you were an artist?
I’ve been artistic and creative pretty much all of my life. I hand sewed my first pillow at 5 years old out of an old t shirt, collected rocks to paint them, and made jewelry.
How did you learn your necessary skills?
I would always watch my mother sew growing up. She taught me to sew by hand until I got my first machine in middle school. After graduating high school, I attended Kent State University and got my bachelors in Fashion Design. I also learned a lot from studying abroad and “YouTube University”.
Are there specific opportunities or challenges that focused your career?
I think the opportunity that shaped my career the most was being able to study Technical Design in depth while in college. It’s helped me pay attention to all the small details when sewing, creating patterns, focusing on fit, designing garments, etc.
Who do you consider as your most influential mentor?
At the moment I currently don’t have any mentors, but I’m open to them. I wouldn’t consider my mom my mentor but anytime I have a sewing problem I can’t figure out, I go to her.
Artists are extremely resourceful and often create multiple streams of income. How do you generate income to support yourself and artistic practice?
Since graduating college, I’ve been taking custom orders and have made over 150 garments for different clients. I also offer freelancing services for different fashion companies doing brand development, tech packs, pattern making, and sample making.
How do you measure success in your work?
Success in my work is determined by how clean my execution is and a positive reaction from my clients. I’m extremely technical and precise when sewing so it’s always a great feeling when others acknowledge my hard work.
What artist inspires you the most?
My inspiration comes from a lot of different places and people, so I can’t really pinpoint who inspires me the most.
Do you have a creative hour, or a time/ place/ or activity that inspires your creativity?
My creativity usually sparks either super early in the morning or late at night when it’s nice and quiet and I can get lost in my thoughts.
Do you have a ritual or do you set specific assignments for yourself?
Before I can start sewing, I have to have my snacks and a good YouTube video to watch. Normally when working on tasks I can’t finish in a day, I’ll set a schedule to have certain parts done at specific times to stay on track.
As a kid what did you see yourself doing as a career?
Surprisingly I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger, but I would always draw sketches, come up with different outfits, and do mini living room fashion shows.
What told you ‘this is the life for me’? (and when)
I think my “this is for me” moments were in 2014 when I won the Stuck at Prom scholarship contest for making prom attire out of duct tape and when I participated in my first fashion show in 2017. The amount of positive feedback I received reassured me of my talents.
What compromises have you had to make in order to succeed?Has it been worth all of your effort?
I worked at a retail store for about a year and a half until they closed for good and I always felt like I could be using that time to sew instead of being at work.
What do you love about being a creative in Memphis?
I love that Memphis gives creatives the opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities and we are given the chance to network with other creatives.