Clothing designer instills confidence and empowerment with her creations.
By Sondra Barr
Photos by Chadwick Fowler
Growing up in Kazakhstan while it was still part of the Soviet Union, Lyudmila Aspeleider experienced the country collapsing around her. Food was scarce and new clothing was hard to come by, so her mother would painstakingly tear her own clothes apart and repurpose the fabric to make clothing for the family to wear.
It was watching her mother create beautiful clothing from these old scraps of fabric that inspired Aspeleider, who changed her name to Mila Watson after marrying and moving to the United States in 2012, to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
“I started making clothes for my Barbie doll. I was 16 years old. The second trigger came along a year later when I watched my mom making my prom dress out of her wedding dress,” says Watson. “The dress was stunning. That was it, that very moment I knew I will make my own designs for myself and other people one day and since then I have made clothing for my family, neighbors, and friends.”
While living in Kentucky, Watson was wearing one of her own designs in a store when a woman approached her and asked where she’d purchased her outfit. “She was shopping for her 30th birthday party outfit and wanted to buy it from me right there. I gave her my number; she came to my house; I did her measurements and about a week later I made her an outfit for her party and since then I’ve made about a dozen dresses for all her friends,” says Watson.
Since moving to the Valley a year ago, Watson’s designs have grown a small but loyal following based on the work she does at Milo’s Alterations, where she designs and creates custom fit pieces.
Watson says her aesthetic can be described as stylish and urban with a sophisticated design for the modern woman. “I always listen to the feedback and suggestions of my clients and adjust them into new ideas,” she says.
“We are so caught up in our society rules and social media representations of how we should look like, we don’t know who we are anymore,” says Watson. “I want women to wear my clothes and say, ‘Wow! This is me!’ That is my main motivating drive. I want to give them confidence and empower them through my designs. Because there is a message to each of my pieces-No one is like you. Be you. Be Authentic.”
Watson eventually wants to design clothes full time, in the meantime she’s busy building her brand and putting more of her handcrafted garments on milawatson.com. On her website, visitors can see many of her designs for sale. “If you see a dress that you like, contact me to schedule measurements. I can do custom fit with specific requests or we can create a one-of-a-kind piece,” says Mila, whose path has brought her to a place that she’s excited about.
The future looks bright for Watson and it’s something she’s proud 0£ “If you dream it, you can make it. Expect to make mistakes but be ready to learn from them. Not trying is the biggest mistake.”
Sondra Barr is the managing editor for North Valley Magazine.
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