Ever wonder what it’s like being a young fashion designer fresh out of college? Melissa Murray, a recent graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, took her passion for design and creativity and created Podge Design, which creates “one-of-a-kind looks for individuals who are as unique as their style.”

L20: How long have you been designing?

MM: I have been designing since I can remember. To give you a clue as to how old I was, I started with Barbie clothes. Having a mother who was very creative and a family consumer science teacher also helped. She is the one who really got me into sewing and made it a hobby that her and I could share. I started doing doll clothes and quilts as a kid, and then as I grew older and entered into high school, it became a way to have some really neat pieces without spending a bunch of money.

L20: What made you want to get into fashion design?

MM: What made me want to get into fashion design. This is a very interesting question. Hobbies are a hard thing to explain. I feel as though you either are going to have a passion for something, or you are not. My brother is really into music, playing guitar, and finding the latest and greatest on Spotify is a natural thing for him. He’s has always sought that out and will continue to do it until the day he dies. I always thought to myself, “I should get into that too.” You either have a passion for something or you don’t. If you have enough interest in it, you will pursue it.

Now my interest in fashion is a very odd and quirky thing to describe to people. I am not 6 foot tall and not a natural person for the fashion industry. Being 5’2, and measuring in at a size less fit for a runway, I am kind of a odd duck. I have always loved the creative process, and watching my work grow from start to finish has always been a passion of mine. I love art, I love to be innovative with what I have been given, and am obsessed with color. I think I developed my love for fabric and eye for design from my mother. She is my greatest inspiration.

L20: What inspires your pieces?

MM: Inspiration is a funny thing to describe. It will hit me at odd times, sometimes at 3 a.m., where I will be laying in bed and come up with an idea and have to sketch it out. Yet sometimes it is nonexistent when you need it the most. What inspires my designs the most is fabric shopping. I am the type of designer who will change my design a million times before actually implementing it. Sure, I’ll sketch and mess around with a few ideas, but it is the fabric that has to “speak” to me in a way. I have to look at it, play around with it, and “sit” on the idea for awhile. After that, it is a matter of trusting yourself on the design and then just going for it.

L20: When did you decide to create Podge and how did it get its name?

MM: Podge was created after I walked into a DIY store called “Vitae” in Des Moines, Iowa last winter. I had always created clothing and had a bunch of designs hanging in my closet that I wasn’t wearing and just really needed the extra cash in college. After my visit to “Vitae,” I looked around and realized how my dream of designing could very much be possible, even in my home state of Iowa. I got really excited after that visit. I had messed around with website designs in college as part of my major, and decided I would get a website up and running and feature my designs on it. The name “Podge” came from the idea of “Hodge Podge,” a cluster of a variety of things. When I think of how I would describe myself to a stranger, it can be wrapped up in those words. I am a mixture of a lot of amazing things, and my designs reflect that. I don’t have a particular style, I am just myself. I want my designs to inspire others to dress with that same idea–as themselves.

L20: What makes Podge different than other design companies?

MM: I think what makes Podge unique from other clothing companies is that it has that “little business with big aspirations” idea. Podge is an Iowa-based business, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. When creating this company, I wanted the number one mission to be to allow myself to escape from my everyday responsibilities. Someday I may venture into a bigger city with a bigger market for fashion and more career opportunities, but for now, Iowa is a great start to my career. I think that Podge’s home-base in Iowa is what gives it it’s edge, quirk and character. Designing in a state that doesn’t expect to grow many fashion designers is unexpected, and undeniably fun!

Want to check out Podge? Visit Podge Design to shop and view the full collection, and be sure to “like” Podge on Facebook! Have questions for Melissa? Comment below!