June 5, 2005: Headlines: COS - Botswana: Fashion: Star Tribune: Botswana RPCV Joy Navrude is fashion designer

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Botswana: Peace Corps Botswana : The Peace Corps in Botswana: June 22, 2005: Headlines: COS - Botswana: Fashion: HGTV: Vintage Scarf Halter Top by Botswana RPCV Joy Teiken : June 5, 2005: Headlines: COS - Botswana: Fashion: Star Tribune: Botswana RPCV Joy Navrude is fashion designer

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Botswana RPCV Joy Navrude is fashion designer

Botswana RPCV Joy Navrude is fashion designer

Botswana RPCV Joy Navrude is fashion designer

Joy Navrude: Fashionably late
Susie Eaton Hopper
Star Tribune
Published June 4, 2005

Joy Noelle Navrude would lie on her parents' bed and watch beauty pageants when she was in grade school. She'd sketch flowing gowns and elaborate outfits, losing herself in dreams of being a fashion designer. Her practical mother, Jane, had different ideas. She wanted Joy to pursue a career that was a sure thing, like her own as a nurse.

So Joy left Sioux City for the University of Iowa, where she pursued a degree in teaching.

Back home, though, her mom needed her. Jane had fought breast cancer for more than a decade and seemed to be hanging on until her son's wedding. A proud and beautiful woman, Jane wanted to cover her baldness and planned to wear a hot, ugly synthetic wig. That just wouldn't do, Joy decided.

Although she'd never made anything before, Joy bought a vintage gown at a thrift store and fashioned it into a pale pink cloche for her mother to wear to the wedding, sans wig. Jane wore it again at her funeral three weeks later.

Sixteen years passed. Joy served with the Peace Corps in Botswana, taught in St. Paul for seven years, married Craig Teiken and settled in Minneapolis. And still, Joy Teiken knows one thing for sure -- those final weeks with her mother led her back to her passion.

Now that she has her own atelier in northeast Minneapolis, a growing list of clients and international design competitions on her résumé, her second full year as a fashion designer is happening in a big way.

"I'm doing things, but she's got my path figured out," said Teiken, who's now 37, of her late mother. "I'm only going along for the ride."

That's not entirely true. Teiken has had to make some decisions along the way.

One of the first was to literally get past the drawing board. At the Creative Arts High School in St. Paul, Teiken had begun teaching a popular fashion design class. Ten girls would design and sew their work and do fashion shows for family and friends under her direction. The catch? "Everyone else knew how to sew but me," Teiken said.

With a sewing machine borrowed from the school and a McCall's basic pattern for an A-line skirt, she set out to teach herself to sew. She mined secondhand stores for inexpensive patterns. She set in a sleeve here, put in a zipper there. And she started whipping up fun, funky hats.

The hats were what first got attention. When she and a friend wore them to local boutiques, she got orders on the spot from LaRue's and Local Motion. Barbara Heinrich, who owns Local Motion, says Teiken is "really down-to-earth, cute as can be and she looks fabulous in her own stuff. I've always thought her hats were amazing. Joy does stand out."

It wasn't long until she started making fabric handbags, too. Teiken rented a booth at the Uptown Art Fair in 2002 and was astonished when she made about $4,000 on her hats and bags. With that encouragement, she decided to teach part-time and concentrate more on her designs.

Then she heard a program on Minnesota Public Radio about 100 successful women. "Every single one of them had to make the decision to make 'the jump,' " Teiken said. So she took a leave of absence from her teaching job and never went back.

'High-fashion golf school'

Another big step was finding a place for her work. That problem was solved when she and Craig, the 35-year-old golf teacher she married in 1998, found a building in southeast Minneapolis, an easy commute from their south Minneapolis home. A wall divides the interior of the 1904 structure. His side is sports-guy spartan, with golf clubs leaning against the brick walls.

Her side is vintage-inspired, like many of her outfits, and furnished with some of her "junking" finds: a Pepto-Bismol-pink couch sits next to a gold brocade three-legged chair that's propped up with a stack of fashion magazines. Her designs are arranged artfully around the space, some on seamstress models, as if it were a turn-of-the-century department store. Rolls of richly textured velvets, glistening silks and lushly printed cottons lean against the walls.

"It's the only high-fashion golf school in the world," she said with a laugh. Teiken had considered starting her own store but didn't want all the hassles or financial demands of typical retail. Her husband was eager to go from being an assistant golf pro to teaching on his own. The building was the answer to both of their needs and they quickly signed a lease. JoyNoëlle, fulltime fashion design, was on its way. "She's the hardest worker I've ever seen," Craig says of his wife.

A fitting process

No longer working off others' patterns, Teiken now makes her own. She no longer sketches out her ideas, either. "My favorite thing is the creative process. I never feel like I'm completely married to an idea," she said.

That means her clients become part of the design process. A typical client wants a special outfit and an experience to match. She is willing to come to the studio for several fittings and has the money to pay for custom fashions. Teiken starts the process by interviewing the client. Is she looking for something to wear to an event that's fancy, formal or funky? Soon Teiken is draping the client in different types of fabric and considers the woman's age, personality and shape. They talk price. Bridal gowns cost from $900 to $4,000. Skirts range about $250 to $400. Dresses start at $300 and many cost $650 to $700.

People who buy her clothes are looking for something "elegant, classic, clean, not something trendy," Teiken said. She often goes through three fittings to get everything perfect.

One recent Saturday, she spent more than two hours fitting a bride and her mother, Carley and Barb Cutler. Dad Bruce was along from Aberdeen, S.D., to pick up some golf clubs from Craig.

Carley, who lives in the Twin Cities, and her fiancé, Andrew Crook, are getting married in Italy on June 30. Carley gave her mother a gift certificate to JoyNoëlle for Christmas.

"This feels absolutely wonderful," Cutler said as Teiken, holding pins in her teeth, worked her way around the hem of a green long dress and transparent overcoat, getting the lengths just right. "What is most amazing is that Joy combines listening to what people need and like and then making it work. It's two art forms, listening and creating," Cutler said.

Craig swings over after a lesson, just in time to make the deciding vote on Cutler's shoes for the wedding, at his wife's insistence.

From here?

The next day Teiken was off to New York for the first of two shows. In the first, the Gen Art Styles 2005 International Design Competition, she was one of 850 entrants from 26 countries. The competition, for designers with less than seven years in the business, has helped launch the careers of Zac Posen, Shoshanna, Chaiken and "Project Runway" winner Jay McCarroll. Judges for the finals included designer Norma Kamali and Carson Cressley from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

Gen Art fashion director Mary Gehlhar, a Prior Lake native, said Teiken's work in the eveningwear category stood out because it "is very elegant. It speaks to a lot of the trends with trim and beading. It shows a lot of creativity, yet is so wearable and viable." Although she didn't win her category, the exposure was enough to earn a query from Elle magazine about her next show, June 10 at ISE Art Foundation Gallery in New York City. Photos of her work will be displayed in the gallery's windows for six weeks, along with an installation of her designs That show is her prize for winning the B. Michael Design Competition. Teiken found out about both contests through a Google search and then spent a lot of time making sure they were legitimate.

Where it will all lead she doesn't know. She'd like to do her own runway show in the Twin Cities and, eventually, have "a few amazing stores." New York would be a logical next step, but Teiken plans to stay here. She doesn't want to design for anyone else's label or take partners. This is her deal. And although she's had offers that would give her more financial security, she's determined to listen to her own voice and maybe, just maybe, a little whisper from her mom every now and then.

Susie Eaton Hopper is at shopper@startribune.com.
© Copyright 2005 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.





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