JUKI Designer Ambassador: Megan Smith

Joining us as a new JUKI Designer Ambassador is Megan Smith, creator and founder of Megan Renee, a sustainable women’s contemporary brand. We are so excited to introduce Megan to you, JUKI Lovers! Follow along below through our interview with Megan and her journey in sewing.

Megan’s story starts like many of ours; she joined the sewing world because of her love for fashion and art. The ability to create her garments and showcase her personality led to the fashion and designs she shares today. Contemporary and lively, her designs are inspired by women, the arts, and traveling. Finding inspiration in her experiences, she can create pieces that truly speak from her soul and love of color. Using the art of sewing to relax, she loves the peace it brings when she’s creating.

“It’s a stress reliever, and I love having the ability to create something beautiful.”

Her love of sewing and designing has brought her great success in the fashion industry like having the chance to compete on Amazon Prime’s “Making the Cut.” Proud of the work she created while on the show, she was impressed with how quickly she put together her designs and brought them to life in such a short time in each episode. Her favorite tool to keep on hand while on the show? Her snipping scissors! With the speed she was creating, this tool was perfect for keeping up. Finishing as a top 4 finalist, her work was praised by Naomi Campbell and other judges for her edgy looks. Amazing!

Since “Making the Cut,” Megan has focused on her fashion line “Megan Renee,” a line that empowers and celebrates bold and unapologetic femininity. The contemporary brand focuses on reducing waste after witnessing the effects of fast fashion in the industry. For example, her first collection, created out of sustainable deadstock fabric, was perfect for her vision. Using her own originally designed prints, she was able to digitally print the fabric and reduce the ink and water needed for traditional printing. Her favorite trend, which can be found in her designs, is patchworking and color blocking, radiating the boldness she strives for, Megan’s had the opportunity to work with celebrities like Issa Rae, Becky G, and Dominique Fishback.

As Megan continues to take the fashion industry by a storm, she’s most excited about finishing and launching her new fall collection. Megan’s time in the fashion industry has been as challenging as it has been rewarding. With the experience she obtained from working in other fashion companies to her time on “Making the Cut,” she’s been able to learn new tricks in sewing and launched her clothing line. Her motivation to continue creating is honest, “it’s the feeling I get once I complete a design. I love seeing how my garments make my customers feel, and I like doing photoshoots after we’ve finished a collection.”

We are so excited to see Megan’s new fall collection and her future work! We hope you enjoyed getting to know Megan more with us, and we’ll leave here with some parting advice from Megan herself to new sewers out there, “Practice, practice, and practice. Keep going and learning no matter how hard it may seem.”

JUKI Designer Ambassador: Samantha Rei

Joining us in our JUKI Designer Ambassador Program is Samantha Rei! Samantha is the owner and founder of the clothing line “Samantha Rei,” a style that embodies sweetness, femininity, and attention to detail that Samantha is known for. You can see her inspiration in her work; she finds designs in everyday life and turns to music and stories when creating. Her recent collections have embodied themes from Vanitas painting and celestial-themed prints. Creating comes as second nature to Samantha, stating that creating is in her.

“It’s a primal thing. I don’t know why, but I’m driven to create. Even when it’s hard, I try to make myself because I know I’ll be happier on the other side, having made something beautiful.”

Samantha’s journey started not in sewing but comic book art! After pursuing her degree in illustrating and painting, she moved her art into a new medium and attended Minneapolis Community and Technical College for Apparel Technologies. After graduating, she created her first fashion label, “Blasphemina’s Closet” one of the first Lolita lines in the US, in 2000. Since starting her new brand, “Samantha Rei,” in 2013, she’s been featured in  Huffington Post, Shojo Beat, the American Gothic and Lolita Bible, Gothic Beauty, Glamour UK, and Vogue UK. Samantha’s love for sewing over her 20+ years as a professional designer has come from the challenges and new skills she’s continued to gain. As she states, “I am constantly trying to learn new techniques. I love gaining new knowledge.”

In 2015, Samantha authored and illustrated a how-to-book on style for Steampunk and Cosplay fashion! Her favorite projects to create are those where she can fully be dramatic. It’s no secret why cosplay would be a fun hobby in fashion to her! Recently, while creating fashion designs for weddings, she’s found herself placing dramatic capes on the gowns, creating a look that is eye-catching and special on its own. Her most tremendous recent success has been designing and creating fashion looks for Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan for her inauguration and wedding.

Samantha’s experience in sewing has been one of growth. Her drive to learn has led Samantha to where she is now, and she continues to acknowledge that she doesn’t know everything and neither do others. Because of this, she strives to do better with each project and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. What once felt like a world of gatekeeping trade fashion secrets has turned into a world where knowledge is more openly shared. Social media has allowed newcomers to feel invited. Her best advice for new sewers, and one she shares with her interns, “Ask as many questions as possible and watch tutorials. And a weirdly specific tip, the Readers Digest Guide to Sewing, is the book I recommend to everyone from new sewers to my interns. Easy to follow with tons of info.”

Samantha’s next venture is exciting JUKI Lovers! You’ll be able to join Samantha soon, and in her favorite hobby, on her new YouTube series where she critiques costumes in science fiction media.

“I’m a huge geek, always have been, and I love analyzing story and world-building through what the people in the stories are wearing. I started the channel at the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s been so much fun!”

We’re so excited to have Samantha on board and can’t wait for the next project! Follow along with her sewing journey and more on our JUKI Ambassador site today here!