Valencia James

Degree: MFA Fashion Design
Contact: LinkedIn | Email
Graduation Year: 2021

I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland (I currently live in Los Angeles). My maternal family is from a teeny tiny town called Lexington, Virginia. I became involved in fashion design because it’s in my bloodline. My mother sewed, my grandmother sewed, and my great-grandmother sewed, making it a part of my DNA. Though none of these women taught me how to sew. I learned once I attended classes at a local community college in Baltimore City.

Living in Madagascar as a Peace Corps Volunteer and seeing all of the vibrant colors and mixed and matched textiles, and open-air markets greatly influenced my inspiration. When I returned to Baltimore, I decided to go back to school and study Fashion. I already had a BS in psychology from Morgan State University I wanted to explore my creative side more and a friend convinced me to attend the local community college because at the time they were the only ones that offered fashion design in Baltimore City. I used my AmeriCorps Education Award to take classes and get a degree in Fashion and a certificate in Pattern making. I later became an adjunct instructor in said school’s Fashion Design Department. I taught in the Fashion Design program from 2008- 2017.

I came to the Academy of Art after researching various art schools with Fashion MFA programs. I originally wanted to attend the school onsite in San Francisco but I later decided to attend the online program after getting an Arts administration job at Maryland Institute College of Art. I decided to attend the school online because they seemed to be leaders in the arts online industry especially with Fashion Design. I was ready to go deeper into my design process and I figured grad school would help me do that.

My design achievements include being an adjunct in a fashion design program, successfully coordinating a fashion show (showcasing my designs) at Artscape 2 years in a row and being a stylist for a local band called The Love Peace Project and other local artists, educators entrepreneurs in the DMV. My goals are to work on a successful collection by using my design skills and working with women in Madagascar to eventually do manufacturing as a way to collaborate, put my line out there and bridge the gap in fair wages for women in developing countries.