Shaping in Action: Erica Domesek

The Shaping in Action series is where we get to know inspiring women who are pioneering and shaping what’s to come.

“I see it. I like it. I make it.” That’s the personal mantra of author and stylist Erica Domesek, an effervescent New Yorker with a flair for creating virtually anything she comes across.

But this sensei of self-made fashion and crafts stumbled into a second career by way of a “happy accident.” A friend asked Erica if she should purchase a feather necklace she’d been eyeing. Shocked by the $600 tag, Erica persuaded her friend to keep her purse closed and instead come over for a craft night. Together, they created a similar piece for a fraction of the cost — and triple the thrill.

Soon after, while Erica was wearing the freshly created feathered finery backstage at a fashion show, someone complimented her on the piece. Her response — “Thanks! P.S. I made this!” — triggered the launch of her new business enterprise.

Having worked in the jaded fashion industry for more than 10 years, Erica suddenly found a renewed spirit once she was designing and making her own creations. She channeled her “Aha!” moment into a blog, appropriately titled “P.S. I Made This.”

Another way to put Erica’s philosophy: elation through creation. “The end purpose of P.S. I Made This,” she says, “is to always help people make their lives more beautiful and fun by making things.”

Erica’s passion for DIY fashion proved contagious. Her blog — dedicated to teaching others how to craft everything from dripping chandeliers to modified sun hats — took off. P.S. I Made This garnered attention from craft novices and experts alike, and earned her appearances on “The Martha Stewart Show” and coverage in major fashion magazines. In the fall of 2010, she published a D.I.Y. book, also titled “P.S. I Made This” (now in its fourth printing).

“Ever since I was a kid, I was making things,” says Erica, recalling one of her first DIY projects, in which she transformed an oversized T-shirt into a ruched bubble-skirt dress. “I’ve been excited about showing people how to make things for a long time and it’s exciting that now it’s not just my friends or friends of friends, but a global thing.”

Erica’s zest for creating — and for life — has become her brand. Daily, she inspires women (her site attracts half a million visitors each month, and she has more than 17,000 followers onTwitter) to take control of their fashion by grabbing a glue gun and a pair of scissors and to make — instead of buy — the things they wear.

“I’m always snapping pictures wherever I go, capturing inspiration,” she explains. “That’s what my world is about — getting inspired by things. Whether it’s a pair of shoes or a jacket that I’m drawn to, all of a sudden something goes off in my brain and I say, ‘Wait. I can make this.’ It’s a natural progression of seeing something and liking it and feeling like you can make it.”

Though Erica appreciates all things DIY, she also enjoys fueling women’s desires to pursue their passions — whatever those passions may be.

“No matter what you do,” she notes, “whether it’s film, fashion, photography or architecture, making an effort to challenge yourself — and your mind — can make life fun.”

When it comes to crafting and finding your next idea, Erica offers a three-part strategy: “Look for a beginning, a middle and a neverending.” So, whether you’re wandering around a department store, down a graffiti-covered alley or along the streets in a foreign country, soak up your environment and let what you see spark your creative gene.

Then, allow your imagination to evolve into reality via a crafty invention. It may be
a necklace or a bag or a shoe embellishment. Whatever it is, the creation will remind you — and show the world — where you’ve been and who you are. And after your first project, what do you do for an encore? See more. Like more. Make more.

Photo credit: abramsbooks, YouTube.com