Rosemarie Umetsu is a fashion designer and owner of Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu, who creates unique pieces worn by countless performing artists and celebrities. Before achieving the name recognition that Umetsu currently has, there were many trials and errors in establishing the business that it is today. In fact, her company experienced a year and a half with no returns on their investment. Nevertheless, with persistence and perseverance, things changed and took off with revenues started proliferating.
In 2007 the company realized that over 50% of their client base was in the performing arts, and that initiated a focus to cater to this demographic. Having the luck to work with some well-known icons marked the beginning of her ever-lasting success. Nowadays, she even works with theatre companies where her efforts were recognized through award nominations, such as the Dora’s in 2011. Besides fashion, Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu is also known for helping emerging artists by providing them with a great network and a solid platform should they want it.
What type of clientele do you currently serve the most?
Right now, we are working with a lot of exclusive clients. We provide them with a full-class service that involves a wide breadth of luxury pieces. Also, since a lot of our clients are popular, our meeting locations tend to be remote. Meaning, we travel to meet with them and accommodate them in that way. Although it sounds fairly straightforward, it requires my associates, and I do a lot of planning and strategizing. Just consider the sheer amount of items and accessories that we need to bring to complete our pieces.
Besides fashion, is there anything else that your company provides?
Absolutely! Although fashion is our primary focus, we developed a brand that serves emerging artists with an amazing network of people. Our goal is to connect established individuals with emerging artists. Often times, we are able to facilitate long-term relationships and assist young artists who are just starting their career.
What does a typical piece that you make for one of your clients look like?
We do not actually have any typical pieces. Everything that we create is based on a lot of factors, and we never make the same piece for two people. For example, we work with certain artists that must retain their ability to move during the performance. That means that we have to cater to such need and create a performing design that is as functional as it is beautiful. The general pattern that we try to focus on is based on high quality and durable items from fabric to design.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
One thing that comes to mind is the fact that we work with a lot of classical artists. Most of my direct competitors do not accommodate this market. The focus is on Hollywood or pop stars and not classical artists. The upper hand that sets us apart here, is that I was a classical pianist and as the designer I have the inside experience of know that you not only need to look spectacular but your clothes need to be functional, comfortable, easy to maintain, be reflective of the repertoire being performed and stand the test of time. This definitely sets us apart.
Since you travel to your clients, do you maintain a physical location for your business?
Yes. In fact, our store serves as a networking venue for artists. As I mentioned, one of our goals is to connect new performers with those that are already successful. To that end, we do have a store where people can meet and get to know one another. It also helps us serve clients that can come to us and do not require us to travel. Ultimately, it is a place where our operations are headquartered and a lot of the back-end, administrative work is done.
Do you believe that fashion requires formal education or can talent be enough to succeed?
It varies on a case-to-case basis. I know a lot of individuals who were extremely successful without any formal education. Then again, some of the greatest names in this business went to fashion schools. Personally, I studied the classical piano performances at first. Afterward, I got a diploma from the International Academy of Fashion Design and Merchandising. Doing so enabled me to learn the basics and the main ins and outs of the industry. So, although it is not necessary, education can definitely make it easier to get started in such a competitive world. However, the experience is the greatest education and had I not had the fortune to work for some of the top brands in the industry, I may not have the success that I do today.
What affects your designs when it comes to individual artists?
First, I look at the industry that the artist is in. Since we provide retail-like options, we have to take into account a lot of different factors. For example, we look at how active the artist is during their performance. For String players, per se, we make sure that the back and arms area have more flexibility. Also, we focus on the type of art that is performed. To help the artists with visual aids, we try to color-match the pieces to the overall tone of the performance. Eventually, all of our creations are designed to tell a story of their own and complement both the artist and the performance.