Kingpins Stories: Anatt Finkler – Bitten by the Blue Bug

Anatt Finkler is the Creative Director for Global Denim

My denim journey is relatively short — but it’s just the beginning.

I have always been passionate about the world of fashion and design, but not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would end up in denim, a world I didn’t even know existed.

But I have always been extremely curious about how things were made, how they worked and the creative process works, which is why I studied Industrial Design in Mexico City, where I am from. 

After graduating, I decided to give the work life a little trial first. My father always says “the best teacher is practice, and you only learn while working,” which I have found to be one of the most valuable pieces of advice. There is no better way to expand your knowledge and learn your path.

Like everyone getting out there in business, it wasn’t easy (which tends to be a little demotivating). I went from one job in design to another, but I didn’t find my path. I decided to look for a little more motivation and follow a dream I had since I was young. I opted to study for a PD in Visual Communications at FIDM in Los Angeles. 

While at FIDM, I began an internship with the school’s visual department. The job was unpaid and not for course credit, but it gave me a space to keep learning while working and involved managing FIDM campuses’ communications as well as the FIDM Museum & Galleries.

The last project I worked on in the Museum was the design and production of an exhibition, which was a collaboration project between FIDM’s International Manufacturing and Product Development (IMPD) program and Italian denim mill Candiani. I remember how amazed I was by the pictures of the mill I mounted on the walls and the fabric rolls I put on the wooden display structures I made, and the amazing stories I read on the vinyl cuts I printed.

When I returned to Mexico, I got a very good job at a company that had many business arms, from exterior furniture design, to pharmaceutical products, to medical stores to cell phone accessories manufacturing. I was doing it all — graphic design, product design, store design, layouts, remodels etc. The job seemed perfect. I had a few people working under me and I was going somewhere.

But one day everything changed. I had been to another state to redesign a store. But when it came time to return home, I ran into difficulty. Fortunately, my father had a friend who frequently traveled to that state to visit his business. I remembered hearing about “the jeans business man” when I was young and recalled stories my dad told me about how the jeans were made and how different brands used the same fabric.  

I called my father’s friend, who very nicely offered me a ride back. But he was extremely busy, so while I waited he asked someone to give me a tour of his factory, Global Denim. This turned out to be my life-changing moment. The tour opened my eyes to how denim was made. I was a kid in a denim candy store.

On the ride back to Mexico City, I talked with my dad’s friend about denim. I was so passionately talking about what I learned that he offered me a job, which I respectfully declined. For some months after, he asked me to come interview, but I was very comfortable and inclined to succeed in my job. One day, however, I woke up and realized that those who don’t take risks will never win.  Even if it didn’t work out, it would be a learning ability. So I went for it, agreeing to take a job that didn’t pay more, that had no contract and that was just a three-month trial to see if it would work out. But I was so passionate and so excited to do my best to succeed and prove my worth.

That’s how I got my start in the denim business and at Global Denim. It wasn’t an easy transition. Like everything in life, it required time to adapt and a lot of willingness to learn and succeed. But I had the benefit of joining a very kind and warm family business.

I started working as a design associate under the guidance of my former boss, Michelle Branch, with whom I remain friends. She truly changed my professional life and taught me a lot of what I know. Under Michelle’s mentorship, I was “bitten by the blue bug,” as she always loves to say.

And once you are bitten by the blue bug — and many will no doubt agree — you never turn back. Denim is so inspiring that it becomes your lifestyle.

Through the years, I had the opportunity to visit many of the denim trade shows around the world, which made me realize how small the denim community is and how warm and friendly it is. This is part of what fuels my passion for the industry: People actually wanting to work together to make a change. That’s what the world needs and denim is leading the way within the textile sector. I have been working in Global Denim for the past 6 years now and have been Creative Director for the past 4.5 years. Working for a top leading denim mill in Mexico carries a lot of responsibility, pride and prestige. Mexico holds a leading position in the denim industry in this hemisphere and in the world. My job not only requires me to be design- and trend-forward, but also innovative and very informed about everything that’s happening, as top denim brands come to us for help, support and advice. Challenges are always present, but the way we responsibly address them is what really determines the character of a person and the company

I manage everything from communications, marketing, jeans collection design, samples, the showrooms in Mexico City, Puebla and Los Angeles, graphic design, photoshoots, client presentations, storytelling and much more. All my design background has been put to good use. I can honestly say I have used all the tools I was taught in my education — and in my career along the way.  

Working towards more responsible design and consumption has led me to be part of and co-manage the sustainability and compliance area of Global Denim, an entire new world on its own, but the most important one there is to follow right now.

For the past year, I have been giving educational presentations. I believe to really make a difference, we really need to teach our consumers better practices and to explain new technology and innovations. Like Benjamin Franklin said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that I am lucky to have found my true calling. The denim industry is my place to be. It is not true that if you love what you do you never have to work a day in your life. Even if you love what you do, like I do, you still have to work hard. But loving it and remaining passionate about it makes it all worthwhile.

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