Marlborough Alumna, fashion designer Rie Yamagata ’00, in looking back on her Marlborough education, credits the School for influencing her character and career success. Yamagata established her company RHIÉ in 2011, gearing her clothes towards the modern women’s wardrobe. She takes pride in designing clothes she considers sophisticated elegant.
Yamagata’s driven and determined personality has helped her business thrive. She believes the environment and community at Marlborough shaped her into the woman she is today.
“Marlborough had a close knit community of intelligent strong girls [and] that was empowering to be around. We were always encouraged to question everything and to be independent thinkers,” Yamagata explained.
Yamagata also explained that she loved both the art classes she took during her years at Marlborough and the support from her teachers. “I didn’t get into art until my junior year at Marlborough, but I liked chemistry and physics. I had Mrs. Woodruff as my art teacher at the time, and she was very supportive,” Yamagata said.
Visual Arts Department Head Gina Woodruff taught Yamagata in her ceramics class. “She was kind of quiet, but serious and a hard worker, so I’m not surprised she’s done well” said Woodruff.
As a designer, Yamagata faces many challenges, including deadlines and a tight schedule, especially between the September to February fashion week shows. However, all the obstacles she faces become worth it when she sees the final result of her hard work.
“I love seeing the end result of the design process. It can be very gratifying,” Yamagata said.
Yamagata explained that in the fashion industry it is important to create connections and to use them to your advantage.
“You should meet as many people as you can in the industry, and then maintain those relationships. You never know when someone can be of help. It’s a very specific industry,” Yamagata explained.
Being the creative director of a fashion brand, and the CEO, requires several hours of work. As a small business owner, Yamagata needs to schedule appointments, create invoices, and even come up with marketing ideas.
“You have to really love it and be okay with doing other types of work other than solely design,” Yamagata added.