In less than a year, St. Lifer’s one-time hobby turned business venture has” blossomed into a reality right before my eyes.” Humbled by her own success, the Ocean Beach resident admits that “my dream evolved into a successful assembly line of artisan professionals who are dedicated to supporting each other.” Encouraged by “the environment” and “fellow artisans” the former New Yorker describes her journey as a step-by-step process that began with kudos.
Within weeks of arriving in the coastal city, the “artisan shop gal” immersed herself in San Diego’s “maker’s culture,” a scene she describes as “big,” to learn everything she could about the local artisan ethos.
“San Diego’s a small big city that hosts a large maker’s scene,” she said. “Artisans support artisans and local makers support each other. After creating my first jacket for fun, everyone encouraged me to pursue designing more.”
St. Lifer designed her first jacket with a “deconstructed Banjara belt that I found in a flea market in Santa Cruz.” An instant hit, she fabricated more with vestiges from thrifting excursions – Afghan beads, Indian elephant designs and reconstructed handbags – “found in my closet.” Encouraged by the positive feedback, she tested her next batch on Instagram. When the entire inventory sold out within 48 hours, the budding fashionista knew she found her niche.
The Maryland native quickly put her passion into action. Always “obsessed” with thrifting, St. Lifer continued her “treasure hunts” in Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, consignment shops, flea and farmer’s markets and second-hand boutique stores.
“The magic really begins with thrifting through every consignment shop imaginable,” she continued. “Thrifting’s a passion. I’ve accumulated quite the unique collection of statement pieces – vintage band tee’s, ’80s denims, designer handbags, fabrics and textiles.”
While honeymooning in Thailand, she “fell in love” with the country’s myriad of colored and patterned textiles and fabrics. African Mud Cloth became the lightbulb moment for making her brand “cohesive.”
African Mud Cloth, a popular textile from Mali Africa, is made with fermented mud, a time-consuming process described as strange and cumbersome. The fabric contains a tapestry of colorful, detailed patterns popular in fashion, design and art.
“African Mud Cloth speaks to my heart,” she said. “The hearty cloth is funky, versatile and beautiful. The colors are simple but the textile’s filled with intricate details. Pillows and throws are often made from huge pieces of this fabric. African Mud Cloth won’t fall off the trending bandwagon. It’s too classic and timeless.”
St. Lifer’s refusal to use anything but vintage Levi jackets, makes production “more difficult because I don’t have a lot of inventory all at once.” However, St. Lifer has no plans to change jacket brand because “Levi’s a classic, great, American denim brand.”
“Every Annie Margot Design jacket is a quality, handmade product,” she explained. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
While surprised by her instant success, St. Lifer’s not shocked. Annie Margot Designs has been “years in the making.” Touting a fashion and merchandising degree from West Virginia University, the Mountaineer has been thrifting since college, garnering ideas, inspirations and all things vintage.
She moved to the Big Apple in 2009 to pursue a career in fashion, landing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as an intern in Fendi’ s Visual Merchandising Department. The tour-de-force turned employee became an assistant store manager within six years. New York City became a haven for collecting “precious possessions.”
“I’m surprised, proud and excited by my success,” she said. “But I’m not shocked. I’ve put a lot of everything into Annie Margot Designs. My visions to create became distracted by life until I moved to San Diego. Despite working for an extraordinary company like Fendi in New York, here I focus on what I wanted to do among my people - other artisans.
“I learned who I was in Morgantown,” she concluded. “In New York City I became her. Now I’m building my dream in Ocean Beach. Every stage along the way has made me more comfortable with who I am; designer Annie Margot St. Lifer – that’s who I am!”
Annie Margot Designs also include zip pouches. Embellished jeans will soon follow. Custom orders are available. Annie Margot Designer jackets can be purchased in Ocean Beach’s Often Wander at Noon and Costal Natives; La Jolla’s Totem Boutique and Trilogy Sanctuary, as well as online at www.anniemargotdesigns.com.