|Photo by Barbara Nitke|
CM: How did you get into fashion design?
V: I've been watching Project Runway since the very first season when I was 6 years old. I always sketched and I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but I never really did anything about it. But then I heard that Cleveland had a fashion week. The summer before, I started making T-shirts. I called the director and she reviewed some of my work and then they said that I could show, so I started working on my collection. That is when I really knew that I wanted to be a designer.
CM: Do you see the potential for a fashion industry in Cleveland?
V: When I go to New York, it's draining, and it's like a competition. In New York, a lot of people kind of get faded out but I feel like if I were able to bring a fashion scene to Cleveland, it would definitely catch a lot of attention because the people who will succeed and who have the passion — they're gonna shine. I identify with Cleveland. It just feels like home to me.
CM: How do you think your time on the show has influenced you as a designer and do you feel like your art has changed from it?
V: I think [designing] is definitely a part of my identity but being on the show, I think I found another side of myself. I don't ever want to be identified as just one thing. I have lots of ideas and I think I just need to take time to really define them. I think being on the show helped me find who I was and see kind of all of my creativity, rather than just 'I am this designer'.