Proprietor: Sarah-Maria Vischer
Located In: Phoenicia, NY
Art Star: When did you first learn to sew? Are you professionally trained or self taught?
Sarah-Maria Vischer: I’m mostly self taught, though I did get some sewing and other crafting skills in elementary and middle school – they were considered important parts of education in Switzerland (at least for the girls). My mom also helped me enormously and then I took some pattern making and draping classes in the past few years. One must have the technique to deliver the quality…
AS: You were born & raised in Switzerland. What made you decide to move to the US?
SMV: I always felt that Switzerland wasn’t quite my place in the world. When I got the opportunity to be an exchange student in the U.S., I ran and never looked back…
AS: When did your craft turn into a business?
SMV: I started selling a couple of years ago in a small shop in Woodstock. The store is no longer there, but the love of seeing other people wear my creations stayed.
AS: Where does the name Meerwiibli come from?
SMV: Meerwiibli means mermaid in Swiss-German – it’s been the name I’ve sewn onto my clothes for many years now. My family crest is the two-tailed mermaid I use as my logo, I love that she has the two tails – it’s so much more powerful (though I do love all mermaids).
AS: I love the way you combine textures, colors, & pattern in each of your pieces. What inspires your clothing designs? Do you follow fashion trends at all?
SMV: My day job is working at a photo agency where we have huge historical archives. I find a lot of inspirations browsing through those images, though the biggest inspiration for me are the fabrics. Once I hold them in my hand, the creations start to emerge.
AS: Tell us a bit about your creative process. Do you plan out each piece from the start? Do you work from a sketch?
SMV: I rarely sketch. I’m not very secure with my drawing abilities! I visualize everything in my head or sometimes just start draping the fabric on my dress form and see where it takes me.
AS: You are also a photographer. Do you shoot all the photos of the clothing? Is your photography another side business?
SMV: I used to take self-portraits in all my designs. I love that my little line has let me live all my daydreams and use the many skills I’ve acquired throughout my life. I get to be a fashion designer, seamstress, graphic designer, model, photographer, etc. Though now, since I’m so busy making the clothes themselves, most of the photos of my clothing are taken by other photographers, though I still model them myself.
AS: Do you work on Meerwiibli full time or do you have a day job?
SMV: My line has begun demanding more and more of my time. I do have a day job, but fortunately I’ve been able to cut back a bit. Soon I hope to be able to spend even more time working on my clothing line. I do love having the balance between the two jobs though. I enjoy going to the office and working with a cool team. I’m a photo researcher in my other life, which is a nice job. I get to look at images all day.
AS: Aside from Art Star, where can we purchase your clothes.
SMV: Well, at the moment there really is just my Etsy shop (meerwiibli.etsy.com). Art Star has been such an amazing experience that it’s hard to find other stores that live up to it. But I am working on securing additional outlets. I’ve just finished my Spring/Summer 2012 collection and I’m shopping it around quite a bit.
AS: What will we see at your ASCB booth?
SMV: All your favorites and some new items too (hello scalloped hoodie!). I will have belts, hats and fuzzy muffs, as well as winter coats and lots of cozy and elegant and colorful clothes.