By Michelle Hua @MadeWithGlove
Chelsea Klukas was born with a passion for innovation, art, technology and design. Originating from a fine art background, she now works as a full-time creative professional specializing in community, mobile, and social e-commerce. Chelsea previously led as a Creative Director for body-positive fashion startup BeauCoo as well as a Director for Digital Alberta. She currently resides in Seattle as a design lead for Amazon Community. Chelsea is extremely enthusiastic about both technological innovation and arts and creativity, and sees MakeFashion as the perfect combination of both passions.
"Don’t be afraid of technology!"
Wearable Tech Fashion incorporates technology and fashion to make it wearable. How does your background in fine art come into the mix?
When I was in art school, I did a lot of work with textiles before switching over to study design. I’ve always been fascinated with how technology can assist art, and the relationship between traditional methods and new media.As my career moved towards user experience design, my focus has been on bringing human empathy and understanding to technology. This principle applies to software, object design, and fashion.
You are the CCO of MakeFashion. How did you get involved with MakeFashion?
I founded MakeFashion with Shannon Hoover and Maria Hoover over five years ago. The project started as a casual discussion on wearable technology, and we realized the three of us had the backgrounds and networks to produce a wearable technology show. Our first event was sold out within weeks, and since then we’ve grown exponentially.
What do you think are the next trends in fashion tech?
I predict we will see more wearable technology integrated into clothing, as opposed to just accessories. The first wave of consumer wearabletech has been primarily watches and wristbands.
You are based in Seattle. What is the wearable tech fashion scene like there?
I moved from Calgary, Canada (where I founded MakeFashion) about 2 1/2 years ago. In Calgary I was involved with a number of tech startups and art organizations, but it’s a smaller and more conservative city so the communities in those areas were very small. In Seattle there is a much larger arts scene, and tech is huge with the presence of Amazon and Microsoft. The opportunity and interest in Seattle is exciting, although I also enjoyed the smaller community: it really felt like family.
What is your advice for women who want to get involved in Wearable Tech Fashion?
I was required to embrace technology early in my career, but growing up I never thought it was something I could access. Today I’m very comfortable with technology, but only recently learned to sew. When I started using my sewing machine and understanding patterns, I found it way more challenging than any electronics I’ve worked with, and I had always assumed sewing was easy. There’s still a perception that there are “girls’ things” and “boys’ things” and that boys’ things are more challenging.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in Wearable Tech Fashion and why?
When we were first researching wearable tech, we came across work by Erina Kashihara. She has been producing fashion technology for decades, and was a huge inspiration for our first show. We now have the pleasure to work closely with Erina and showcase her work at our events regularly.
Eva Manolis my former VP at Amazon has been a big inspiration and has encouraged me to continue to commit myself to this fashion technology. Although she’s not specifically a wearable tech leader, she’s driven and shaped a number of fashion-related products. It’s extremely challenging to reach the same level of influence and leadership as she has in a male-dominated industry.
Although not specifically an individual, I’ve always admired how Kate Spade brand embraces technology and femininity. They were one of the first mainstream brands to produce technology-focused accessories like laptop bags with chargers, earmuff headphones, and charging accessories. I’ve had many moments of frustration trying to find laptop bags large enough to fit my 17” laptop, yet mens brands were always much easier.
What other projects are you involved in and how can people be involved?
At MakeFashion we’re branching out into some exciting new projects, including video content and wearable tech kits. Stay tuned to see what we have coming up!