This Woman with Dyslexia is Using Fashion Design as an Entry Point for Girls in STEM

Marissa Lucero — Founder, My Fashion Design Kit & Maker Studio SF

Marissa Lucero launched My Fashion Design Kit in 2015, out of desire to do something meaningful with her skills and use fashion as a means to teach math and engineering to young makers. Most recently, this has culminated in a project called Maker Studio SF, a physical space in Ghirardelli Square (San Francisco) for girls ages 8–16 to learn about math, technology, and engineering through FASHION DESIGN. Maker Studio SF aims to rebrand engineering as a female-focused field and de-stigmatize fashion design at the same time. It’s their mission to use fashion design as an entry point for STEM.

How did you get to where you are today?

How did I get here. It was a journey, and it was a struggle, but it started when I took a class that challenged me to give back to my community. The class was taught at Landmark Education and was a leadership development course built around doing a community project. The only thing I could think to offer was my fashion drawing skills, and that’s how I began teaching. Before that happened though, I had been fired from my job in New York, moved back to my parents house in California with my tail between my legs and left a high-paying job that I hated. At the start of that Landmark Education class, I was lost.I knew that I loved designing and was good at the technical aspect, but I didn’t want to put my creative work out there anymore for fear of being judged and criticized, and I had a feeling that I didn’t want to work for someone. When I put my first class together at the Hayward Recreation Center, I found a new love, this time for teaching and seeing my students’ dreams and ideas come to life. Their excitement about making things brought back my own creative confidence.As I continued to grow my workshops, I noticed a reoccurring trend with my students: their lack of confidence in math. As a trained designer, it’s my job to notice trends and find solutions to solve for people’s needs. I saw that my classes were a creative way to teach my students math and engineering, and demonstrate the correlation between art and engineering in a practical and relatable way. At the same time, they started seeing fashion design in a new light. A year ago I took the plunge and went all into this idea, and I left my full-time job at Gap to pursue this idea of using fashion to change the world.

What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?

My toughest obstacle is that I am Dyslexic and I thought for the longest time that I had to hide it out of shame, however, it’s what’s allowed me to be creative and to think outside the box! To find solutions and avenues that most wouldn’t think of. In seeing my students develop this notions that “they weren’t good at math” — I knew all too well what that stigma can do, and I wanted to change that.

What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?

The key to staying focused and motivated is to have a mission and purpose for what you see needs to be changed in the world. For me, it’s my mission of using fashion as means to teach math and engineering while destigmatizing fashion design and it as an entry point to STEM.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

The best advice I’ve heard recently is that women won’t be able to fully break the glass ceiling for many more years. So, rather than wait, let’s build a new building in the meantime!

What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start a new venture?

Go for it, test your theories, find solutions, go back to the drawing table, ask questions, and think like a designer. Be fearless!

How do we get more women leaders?

I think to get more women leaders, women need to continue to come together and provide mentorship to younger generations. We need to show up as leaders to young girls for them to create the future for women leaders.

Originally published at by Meral Arik on June 6, 2017.

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