Birthday: 05-30-1981
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Education: Rhode Island School of Design

The very last thing Katherine Gerdes, 24, could ever claim is to “have always dreamed about becoming a designer.” It’s quite the opposite. As a preschooler, growing up in Minnesota, her mother couldn’t even bribe her into a dress. While other little girls wore frilly “fancy nancy” clothes, her mother couldn’t beg her out of her nondescript jeans or overalls. In elementary school, while others begged their parents for the latest brand-name jeans, Katherine’s uniform was a basic T and black leggings.

And when her photography skills got her into the prestigious Minnesota State Arts High School, Katherine hated all the cool “must-have” clothes everyone else was wearing. To rebel against all the “sameness,” she simply started making her own clothes, and, in turn, developed her own style.

Katherine began her studies at Rhode Island School of Design as a Photography Major. She signed up for a clothing design class as a lark, but the turning point came when an instructor insisted she take a closer look at switching her major to Apparel Design. From that point, Katherine immersed herself in clothing design and found her true calling. Immediately upon graduation, she landed a plum job as Design Coordinator at Target Corporation’s headquarters in Minneapolis, and was then was promoted to Associate Textile Designer at the trend-defining retailer.

Katherine also produces her own line in her private studio tucked behind Hell’s Kitchen, a breakfast spot owned by her family. The Katherine Gerdes line sells at Design Collective, a Minneapolis showcase for local talent.

Katherine’s lines are focused, functional, and, above all, designed for real people and mandated to be comfortable. “When I'm designing,” explains Katherine, “I try to keep the thought ‘would I wear this?’ in the back of my mind. It's not that I design with the intention on making a new wardrobe for myself, but I think that if I would be uncomfortable wearing it, then maybe I should rethink the design.” Katherine currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Q & A

Question: Astrology Sign
Katherine: Gemini
Question: How would you describe your personal style?
Katherine: Casual, comfortable. I dress others, not myself.
Question: When did you first start to design clothes?
Katherine: I always made my own clothes – maybe because I wasn’t cool. 13ish but didn’t get into “fashion design” until college.
Question: Do you have any formal design training?
Katherine: I was originally a photography major but I took a fashion course at Rhode Island School of Design and was talked into switching.
Question: If you win, what are you planning to do with the money?
Katherine: I haven’t planned that. I’ll figure it out if/when it happens.
Question: What are some of your key fashion DO’s and DON’T’s?
Katherine: DO be comfortable. DO be yourself, no matter what designer you wear. DON’T follow trends just because they’re trendy or because others like it.
Question: Who do you think are the best-dressed celebrities? Worst-dressed? Why?
Katherine: I love Kirsten Dunst and Natalie Portman because they have their own style.
Question: Who do you think were the best fashion icons in past decades?
Katherine: Jackie O – she had a great sense of style
Question: What celebrities would you like to dress? Why?
Katherine: Kirsten Dunst, Natalie Portman, Pro-snowboarder Shaun White. They all seem nice and not high-strung.
Question: Where do you find the best items? Mall? Boutique? Thrift store? Sample sale? Where else?
Katherine: I make a lot of my own clothes. Boutique shops and some alternative stores too.
Question: What's the biggest mistake people make when shopping?
Katherine: They go to the mall.