As a young girl growing up in Poland, Alina Skiba used to thread her grandmother’s sewing needles and watch her make clothes for the family.
Looking back, it’s perhaps not surprising to that Skiba would turn out to be a clothing designer herself. Growing up she loved altering her clothes to make them unique, and even when she was pursuing a career with the forest service, sewing was hobby she never dropped.
“When I was picking a place to live, I needed to be in the mountains for skiing … and I needed to be close to a Fabricland for sewing,” she laughed.
With no formal training in clothing design, Skiba didn’t start to seriously consider it as a career until her best friend asked her to make a wedding dress for her.
“It’s such an intimate and special thing to do for someone. I realized I was something I was actually really good at it and enjoyed,” she said.
So with the help of Community Futures, Skiba opened Moja Designs in the winter of 2009. She continues to specialize in custom wedding dresses — making one or two each year — and this spring she even made her own wedding dress out of her material from her mother’s and sister in law’s dresses.
“Making someone’s wedding dress, you end up spending so much time with them between coming up with the original concept and then bringing them in for fittings,” she said. “I’ve actually becoming really good friends with everyone I’ve made a dress for. They always ask me to come to their wedding.”
Between making dresses, she also designs seasonal clothing lines, which are sold in local shops and at her Victoria Street studio. And she does clothing repairs and alterations.
“Basically I do the tailoring to pay the bills, so I can afford to be creative and take on more artistic projects,” she said. “I’d love to do nothing but create dresses all day, but it’s not realistic in a small place like Nelson.”
Moja Designs is located at 602 Josephine Street, above Basaba Thai Cafe. Drop in to see her latest designs on display. For more information see mojadesigns.ca.