Thursday, April 7, 2011

Voltage Designer Spotlight: Terri Martin

by Juleana Enright

Next up on our Voltage: Fashion Amplified spotlight is former Cincinnati designer, Terri Martin, whose independent clothing line, TM terrimartin, caters to chic, dauntless ladies looking for that extra “je nais se quoi” in an outfit. A recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, Martin has completed 6 separate internships including 4 consecutive summers in NYC as a sales associate at Ralph Lauren. These days, Martin extends her creative skills as in-house menswear designer at Target and splits her time between fashionable menswear and designing sophisticated women's apparel. Her voguish design aesthetic has allotted her the recipient of the General Motors Scholarship, the Saks 5th Avenue Award and – of course – the attention of Voltage producers.

We caught up with Terri to chat about her design position at Target, the style differences between her home state Ohioans and Minnesotans and why she has a soft spot for geometry.

l'etoile: Your line, TM terrimartin, launched in Cincinnati. What made you decide to make the move to Minnesota? Are there any significant style differences or trends you’ve noticed in designing for Minnesotans that vary from your home state’s?

Terri: I finished school at the University of Cincinnati in June and moved here to design at Target. The thriving and supportive design community here was a huge bonus. Minneapolis has a larger community of people who understand and appreciate independent designers. That would be the biggest difference between here and Cincinnati.

photo by Rachel Schwarz

l’etoile: As a designer for Target, your focus is mostly on affordable, yet fashion-forward menswear but it’s clear you have a honed aesthetic for chic women’s couture fashion. What inspires your collections? How do you keep abreast with the ever-evolving dernier cri in men’s and women’s wearables while keeping your fashions relevant to the everyday shopper?

Terri: Anything and everything has the potential to inspire. My current collection, proof, is inspired by geometry. Specifically, I start with circles and rotate them around axes to explore different ways of defining physical space with clothing.

Outside of my trend work for Target I don’t really follow fashion. It gets really hard to develop your own ideas when you can’t stop remembering other people’s collections. A good thing about being an independent designer is that I can easily connect with the people who wear my clothes. And they are very willing to let me know if something is not quite right.

photo by Rachel Schwarz

Voltage is a “runway rock show,” we have to ask: what role does music play in your design modus operandi? Are there certain bands or particular songs you put on to cure a design funk?

Terri: Music is always a source of inspiration. At the moment I listen to classical or electronic music most while designing. Lately, Richard Danielpour or Hot Chip. But I like to listen to podcasts as much as music. I LOVE Judge John Hodgman and RadioLab.

l’etoile: Your design career has already seen a heavy set of accomplishments including six internships with fashion bigwigs Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. What are your post-Voltage fashion plans?

Terri: I’ve spent so much time perfecting Voltage I admit I haven’t given very much thought to what will come next! First I’m going to take some time off and enjoy the lakes as much as possible. But I’ll start working on my fall collection pretty soon. It will definitely have more knitted pieces- which I enjoy creating more than any other type of clothing. Maybe I’ll try knitting while at a lake!

photo by Rachel Schwarz

l’etoile: From delineation and conception to construction and completed collection, do you find that your design inspiration is an external process, or something more instinctive? What is your typical method for bringing a concept from inception to a blossomed full collection?

Terri: My inspiration always comes from my environment which is why I’m always wiling to try new things! If I just followed my instincts I think the clothes would get repetitive and safe. The most important part in the process for me is finding a sustaining and meaningful inspiration. If it’s not, I just get bored and start over. After that it’s just a lot of hard work. It can get really difficult but it is always worth it when you get to see something that started as a sketch on paper walking down a runway.

l’etoile: Since its inception, Voltage: Fashion Amplified has only intensified in popularity and local talent. To what do you attribute Voltage's success and why do you think it continues to gain momentum?

Terri: I think Voltage does a fantastic job of delivering fashion directly to people. It’s free from a lot of the pretension that the industry can have and is therefore able to inspire and instantly serve its audience at the same time. I think the creative community really acts as its own incubator too. Voltage especially is so much fun- How can you see it and not be inspired?

For more info on Terri Martin visit her site at

V0ltage: Fashion Amplified happens Friday, April 15th at First Avenue Night Club. For more information and to purchase tickets visit

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