Turning neckties into a career

Sewing is in Ana Adina Ispas' blood. As a little girl, she sat with her Romanian grandmother who taught her how to crochet, knit, use a sewing machine and to sew by hand.

Now, more than 20 years later, the Pasadena resident is one of three semi-finalists in the fashion Accessories Designer division for the Los Angeles RAWards, an event that seeks to support new and independent artists from film and fashion to music, performing arts and makeup artists.

Ispas designs unique, circular neckties for women and men. They are made from recycled, traditional men's 100% silk ties, which are then pleated and adorned with buttons, pearls and studs to “provide a feminine touch to the masculine tie.”

Ispas, who is 33, moved from Romania to the States when she was 18. Her interest in sewing took a back seat while she “adjusted to the new life.”

She received a bachelor's degree in Fashion Design from the International Academy of Design, in Tampa, Fla., in 2001, moved to California to intern with BCBG Max Azria, and then took jobs in retail to earn a living. Her foray into fashion took hold when she saw a pleated necktie on Pinterest a year and a half ago, and was “delightfully inspired.” She bought the tie, hand sewed it into a circular neck piece, and stitched a button on.

“It brought me so much joy to be creating and sewing again,” Ispas said.

In May, a RAW producer came across Ispas' etsy.com store and invited her to showcase her work at the RAW: natural born artists event in Los Angeles in June. From there, she entered the RAW contest, making it to the semifinals through peer votes. One person will be chosen from each category by live community votes at the Nov. 14 awards show at the Belasco theatre in Los Angeles, and judges will choose the final winners to be announced in December.

Winners will receive career support in distribution and store placement of their products, studio time, gallery placement and consultations with industry executives and professionals.

Ispas has strong support from the community of RAW — founder Heidi Luerra purchased one of her ties at the organization’s June event.

Ispas would like to eventually expand her line, but for the time being, wants to focus on her MyTies. “One of my goals with the MyTies is to send one of them to Ellen DeGeneres. I think she'll look awesome rockin' it.”

--LAURA TATE is a regular contributor to Marquee.

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