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Meet Tomo Swan of TS Design Lab in Costa Mesa, Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tomo Swan.

Tomo, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am Japanese, born and raised in Japan, moved to California in 2005.

In Japanese culture “Takumi” refers to an artisan. Someone who has a profession or skill they have mastered over years of dedication, training, and practice. This way of life can be applied to all professions. From a sushi chef, a potter, carpenter, Maiko ladies, and kimono makers.

In my family, the philosophy of Takumi was part of my life. My mother is a seamstress. My grandmother was a kimono maker. And they became my teachers, and when I was five years old I started sewing.

However, at a young age, I never thought I would pursue my passion in the fashion & garment industry. All I knew was, I enjoyed drawing, being crafty & creative, and playing & dancing to MUSIC!!

My late father was a Japanese Bluegrass and Country singer. (YES, we have great Japanese pickers in Japan!!) The family environment included hosting Bluegrass festivals, traveling and camping at the music festivals, gathering with his great musician friends and hanging out with their kids at my age, etc…, it totally caught my heart. I eventually started playing music. I learned how to play trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, guitar, bass guitar, drums and percussion. Finally I learned saxophone and bass guitar, which became loves of my life. In my teenage years, I spent most of my time playing music of many varieties: Bluegrass, classic, jazz, rock, pop, all day, everyday. I was dreaming to make a life in the music one day.

At the same time, I never stopped creating garments despite my busy musical days. I eventually started designing and making original T-shirts and outfits for bands. My mother used to make my father and his band members their stage outfits, so it was very natural for me to start doing it for my own band.

In 2005, I moved to California to study Fashion Design and Merchandise and continued in the Takumi way. And since graduating from college I’ve spent over ten years of working in the fashion and garment industry. I really enjoyed it and I have learned a great deal in the industry. All the while, I always knew that designing and creating garments to mass market was never my intention and passion.

In 2010, in my personal time, I started learning Latin dance, mainly Salsa and Bachata. As a musician, I spent my college days playing Saxophone in a Latin Jazz Big Band. Every night, I was out to perform, or to see my friends’ gigs at local (LA and OC) Latin clubs when I wasn’t studying Fashion Design. Seeing people dancing with our music inspired me to learn those Latin dance steps!! Right after I started taking Salsa & Bachata classes, one of my instructors asked me if was interested in designing his team’s performance costumes. I WAS. That’s how I found out what I really wanted to do.

After I received my US permanent residential status in 2016, I launched my own designing and tailoring business. Now I’m making face masks with the advent of the Covid-19 Health crisis.

Has it been a smooth road?
No.

1. Working as an immigrant in the US
Until I became a permanent US resident, really didn’t leave much choice for my work options. As an immigrant, it was mandatory to belong to a company which sponsored my work visa. The year I graduated from college in 2007, was amidst the recession. A lot of companies didn’t want to spend extra time and money to be a sponsor of immigrants.

2. Having a balance being a mother, wife and business owner.
I believe that a lot of female entrepreneurs face these difficulties.

3. Myself
Being a business owner, requires me to be brave and strong to keep believing in myself.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
TS Design Lab has been providing high quality, local, custom made garments and accessories since 2016.
– Custom stage outfits for dancers and musicians (Latin Dance, Burlesque, Pole Dance, Belly Dance).
– One-of-a-kind custom bridal gowns.
– Alteration, repair, or transformation of your favorite clothing.

With the advent of the Covid-19 Health crises, I have steered production into specialized high-quality cotton masks and many custom order masks also. Customers have shared with me that my masks are comfortable, durable, and fun to wear! #WearMasksInStyle

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I definitely recommend starting a business in Costa Mesa, Orange County. The culture here provides so many inspirations and chances to meet local entrepreneurs.

Pricing:

  • Washable face mask, $20-$35
  • Customized, tailored garments $150-$500

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

MT Drones Pro, Felicidad De Lucas

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