Behind the Seams of the Princess Awesome x Spoonflower Design Challenge Dress

DEC 5, 2018

When Princess Awesome was looking to source a new design for their signature twirly dresses, they knew Spoonflower was just the place to go. After all, their current designer, Elishka Jepson, was no stranger to the Marketplace – Elishka is the designer behind Spoonflower shop robyriker!

Nearly 600 designers entered the Princess Awesome Design Challenge for a chance to have their design featured on a Princess Awesome dress and after four long months, we are so excited to share the dress featuring the winning design, Deep She Exploration by littleknids. Get to know more about the winning designer, Larrea Young, what it’s like to design for a product and how Princess Awesome chose the winning design.  

What inspired your Princess Awesome Design Challenge entry, Deep She Exploration?

Littleknids: “My design was inspired by love of mystery of the deep sea and the amazing discoveries made my female ocean scientists like Edith Widder.

As a seven year old I was obsessed with horses and ponies, as many young girls are. So my parents agreed to take me on a trip to an island off the coast of Virginia called Chincoteague, where a herd of wild ponies still live. After touring the beautiful landscape and watching ponies running free in the distance, we left the island and continued on our trip up the coast to visit relatives. I cannot recall where we were or why we stopped at a gift shop, but it was at that shop that I first discovered the giant squid. He was sitting there, covered in soft red fur with his ten tentacles dangling off the shelf, and I remember picking him up and staring in wonder at this strange creature. His giant acrylic eyes gazed back at me, and it was love at first sight.

As I grew older, my interest in the ocean and its mysterious creatures grew. I read every book I could find about ocean animals, dreamed of descending into that alien world, and watched with excitement as technology continued to open the window wider and wider into the deep sea. But the real life version on my plush, the giant squid, still remained a mystery, and wasn’t until 2012 when Edith Widder and her team finally caught the first giant squid on film. Through the ingenious approach of attracting animals rather than hunting them, she was able to use only an underwater camera and a simple “Ejelly” of LEDs to lure the last known un-filmed megafauna right to her. I remember seeing the footage for the first time after it was released, watching in absolute awe as the giant silvery tentacles slid in the range of the camera over and over, until finally the body came into view. This was my moon landing, a moment in human history that represented our achievement as a species and beautifully demonstrated our passion for exploration and discovery. This creature, which had remained a mysterious monster for hundreds of years, had finally been caught by a brilliant scientist and her inventions. Widder’s sheer brilliance as a scientist and engineer, her passion, and her love for the ocean has been an inspiration in my work ever since. When I designed my print, I hoped to share that same excitement for exploration and the ocean that Widder and other ocean scientists shared with me.”

What was the design process for your entry like?

“I always begin by pulling inspiration photos (in this case a lot of sea animal and vintage dive suit images), and then start with sketches. The hardest part for me is getting the repeat to flow, so I spend some time playing with different design elements and how I could fit them together in a way that would work on a dress. Then I dive in (no pun intended) to painting the final design using brushes in Photoshop.”

When you created your design were you thinking of what it would look like on a Princess Awesome dress?

“Absolutely! The first step in my process was to look at what other designs Princess Awesome had done before, and see what their dresses looked like so that I could make sure my print would fit well with their collection.”

Most of your projects for clients are focused on children’s growth, development and education in the health and science fields. When you saw that Spoonflower partnered with Princess Awesome, did it feel like the perfect challenge for you?

“YES! I was so excited when I read about the Princess Awesome challenge. I had never heard of Princess Awesome before, and I was so pumped to not only learn about this amazing company but then to also have a chance to design for them! I love making designs that I feel go beyond looking pretty. I want them to have some impact on those using them and this was the perfect challenge for that. “

What is your favorite part about Spoonflower’s weekly design challenges?

“The Spoonflower community. These people are just incredible! They are kind, extremely talented and a wonderful group to be a part of. Out of all the art/design competitions I have been a part of, Spoonflowers are hands down my favorite and it is because of the people.”

See more of Larrea’s design challenge entries in her Spoonflower shop.

What advice would you give to designers who want to design for products like kid’s clothing?

“Think of your designs as an opportunity to distill and share something that really inspires you or that you feel is important. I love working on kid’s educational products because you have to take something that might be complex, challenging, or even boring and make it simple and fun.”

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I wanted to be either a marine biologist, an entomologist, or a unicorn. Hey, there’s still time right? :)”

Larrea’s Storm Ponies collection is a nod to her childhood career goals!

With over 600 entries in the Princess Awesome Design Challenge, how did you choose Deep She Exploration as the winning design?

Princess Awesome: “We loved so many of the designs from the challenge! There are some amazingly talented people designing on Spoonflower, and we were floored by the entries. Ultimately, we chose Deep She Exploration because it was unique – a truly different approach to showing ocean life than we’d ever seen. We also loved the vibrancy of the colors, the intricacy of the design, the adorable little sea creatures, and the awesome women ocean explorers. At the time, we did not have an ocean themed dress, so it also expanded the kind of themes we offer.”

Why do you think little girls will want to wear the Deep She Exploration dress?

“Girls aspire to be marine biologists. Girls love the ocean. Girls love sea creatures. We think little girls (and big girls! We have sizes up to 16) will love wearing this dress because it’s a beautiful, joyful depiction of sea life and awesome women exploring the depths of the ocean. We’ve also heard from parents that girls love finding and sharing little details from the more intricate patterns we offer. Girls will love discovering sharks, octopuses, fish, and the other sea creatures all over the dress.”

After you chose the winning design, what was the process like to turn a design into a dress?

“First, we arrange the original design in a repeat that shows all of the images clearly and in an interesting manner. Then we consolidate some of the colors – there is a limit to the number of colors you can use if you are screen printing fabric. The original design had 16 different colors. When we had 11 colors, we selected the actual Pantone number that we wanted for each color. Because color shows up differently when printed or dyed on cotton fabric than it does on a computer screen, we have to choose the colors from the Pantone Cotton Passport book. It has little samples of colors dyed on cotton fabric. Then we send the finalized file with all the Pantones to our factory in Hong Kong. They print a sample of the fabric for us – called a strike-off- and send it to us for approval. Often the colors don’t come out exactly as we thought they would, so we have to see multiple strike-offs before final approval. This print actually came out correctly the first time and looked amazing! The factory went into production right away and shipped us the dresses just a few weeks ago – in plenty of time to release them for the holidays.”

Spoonflower’s Weekly Design Challenges encourage creativity by inviting our community to submit designs around fun themes and vote on favorites to win prizes. See our upcoming themes for your chance to be featured.



Recommended Posts

fabric design showing a busy street with animals crossing the sidewalk and a taxi in the center

See Where You Ranked in the Seek and Find Playmats Design Challenge

See Where You Ranked in the Stone Fruit Design Challenge

See Where You Ranked in the Gnomes Design Challenge

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • What an informative interview. I especially liked the peek into how Princess Awesome knew this was the pattern for them. Congratulations, Larrea! Your design really shines!