Keeping up with Manuel, the Rhinestone Rembrandt

Manuel on video

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Once Upon An Intern ---


As I anticipated school starting at the beginning of my junior year, I thought about how I was now at the halfway point of my high school experience. I had spent my freshmen and sophomore years learning how to manage my schedule between school and free time, and now, as an entering junior, I was ready to apply those skills, challenging myself with more labor-intensive AP classes. However, when it came to extra-curricular activities, I realized that most of the things I was involved in were clubs and organizations. One of my biggest time commitments was to cheerleading—a sport which had brought me to some of closest friends and most fond memories’, but, that being said, I knew that cheerleading was a temporary passion—once I left high school, I would be leaving cheerleading too. Therefore, I wanted to find something to get involved in that could be a little more permanent and contribute a little more to my future.

In expressing these concerns to one of my teachers, she suggested to me that I look to get involved in the fashion industry, in which she knew I held serious interest, and informed me that there was a designer worked a few blocks away from the school. Wasting no time, I searched the address of the studio and decided to spend that day’s free period harnessing what would be my new dream internship. I walked straight up to the stairs, knocked on the door, asked if internships were offered, and if so, how I could get one. I was greeted by the both popular and famous Morelia Cuevas, daughter of the legendary designer Manuel, who told me that although interns usually were required to be at least 21, I should set up an interview and try my luck anyway. Two weeks later, I became both the newest and youngest intern at Manuel Couture American Designs.

Though at the time I began I didn’t know much about clothing-construction or Manuel himself, I quickly learned. Immediately, I was thrust into the operation, and spent my first day putting thousands of rhinestones on a shirt for country-music singer Marty Stuart and listening to Manuel tell stories about memories of his good friend “John”. By the end of the first month of my internship, I had answered not a single telephone nor gone to get a single cup of coffee—I had, however, learned how to apply rhinestones, weave leather, sew a hem by-hand, and create typical western-wear arrow embroideries. I also learned that the infamous “John” I had now heard so many stories about was in fact both Manuel’s dear friend and the Man-in-Black himself, Johnny Cash.

Now, as a senior, I’ve spent nearly a year and a half interning with Manuel. Of all the knowledge I’ve gained about both production of clothing as well as the business of fashion in general, I feel that the most valuable knowledge I’ve gained is what I’ve learned about myself. I’ve realized that no one else can achieve my goals for me, and that if I want something for myself it is up to me alone to seek it out and attain it…and, of course, put a few rhinestones on it.

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