Local fashion designer and retailer Carine Wang describes herself as a “tough cookie.” At 15, she learned sewing and pattern-making, and at 20, she left her native Singapore to attend the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, then affiliated with New York City’s Parsons School of Design.
After graduating, Wang married, had two children and then divorced. “I walked out with nothing,” she says. To survive, she worked at a Valley high-end clothing boutique, but kept dreaming about opening her own shop. “I was a top sales lady even though my English is broken,” she says. “I saved $50,000.”
Wang, a certified master tailor, opened a boutique with her savings. “Nobody wanted to rent a store to me with no credit,” she says. But after 9/11 many shops went out of business, and Wang secured an affordable storefront at The Seville in Scottsdale. “After a month, I was able to pay my rent. After three years, I doubled in size, and after three more years I opened a second store at Gainey Ranch.”
Since then, Wang has opened stores in Old Town Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Quarter (now closed) and in late March, a boutique at Camelback Road and 44th Street. She also designs clothes for and operates a wholesale clothing business that sells to companies across the United States and Canada.
Wang’s designs are tailored for “real” women, not celebrities and models, she says. Her colorful and comfortable designs resonate with her loyal customers, some of whom have been with her for 15 years. “My customers are like part of my family,” she says. “I give one-to-one service.”
For traveling, Wang’s designs can’t be beat. They’re made from a lightweight cotton/rayon blend that’s breathable and doesn’t require ironing. Her clothing can be rolled up like a pair of socks and tucked into a suitcase. When unpacking, simply unroll and hang up. “My clothes travel so well and they will last for many years and still look like new,” she says.
Ultimately, Wang’s main goal is to help make her customers’ lives better by using her fashion sense and many years of retail experience. “My fashion comes from the heart. It’s my passion,” she says. “And I enjoy every day.”
Visit carineapparel.com for store information.
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