Alisa Tovmanyan, ’15, was born to fashion –- although, to get technical about it, she might allow that it skipped a generation. While her parents had visions of something a bit more conventional than a career in fashion design, turns out that her grandparents were her earliest fashion muse.
“Fashion has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” she says. “As a kid, I would drape big pieces of fabric over me and pretend I was wearing a gown I designed. My grandparents noticed my passion for clothing — my grandmother would bring over leftover fabric from her seamstress friend so I could sew dresses for my Barbie dolls, and my grandfather taught me how to draw human figures at age four. I would play dress up with cousins and co-ordinate their outfits, telling them what to wear and develop their style. I was literally reading Vogue and fashion magazines over assigned readings in school. It was pretty funny.”
Parental nudging being a powerful thing, however, Alisa enrolled at Woodbury as a business administration major. “I would finish my homework from my businesses classes in the Fashion Department with the dress forms,” she recalls. “I felt the need to be there, and I knew I belonged there. One day, I gathered all my strength and decided that I needed to do what I love.” She changed her major to Fashion Design.
“I immediately felt like I made the right choice,” she says. “I was in a sewing classroom the next day. I still remember my excitement. I was finally able to express myself through what I loved.” Her take on fashion is anything but fabric-deep: “I find fashion interesting because it’s used to express who we are as human beings—it’s very personal and intimate, and it’s always changing depending on our mood, our surroundings or what’s happening to us. I live every day with that appreciation.”
Leveraging the connections she forged at Woodbury, Alisa secured private clients even before graduation. “People loved my style and aesthetic, and it was being noticed by my friends, family and people all around me.”
To support the family business, “J’Adore Les Fleurs,” a popular upscale floral boutique in L.A. that combines the worlds of fashion and flowers, she put her fashion career on pause – briefly – but doing so proved fortuitous. “As J’Adore Les Fleurs started to expand and grow, it was time for me to create my own clothing line,” she says. “I had learned so much about running a business.” She launched Tovmali,her very own ready-to-wear fashion line, characterized by playful and posh designs with feminine silhouettes. Her first design for the brand was, of course, inspired by the flower boutique.
Barely three months into the new venture, Tovmali became a known brand, selling nationwide and even worldwide. As Alisa describes the company persona, “The Tovmali Girl lives in a contemporary fairytale wherever she is, changing the perception of fashion anywhere she goes. Her style combines freshness with a classical twine. She is not afraid to be bold, adding her own twist of fun to her femininity and her playful character. Her outfits are as cheerful, colorful, and eccentric, as her personality! Tovmali is here to remind us that life is colorful.”
And for those long-term career aspirations? Do big things: own a huge couture atelier. Go into massive product development: designing, interpreting designs, draping, drafting, sample making. But fashion isn’t the only thing on her mind: “I’ve been dealing with two businesses, a husband and a two-year-old,” she says. “It hasn’t been easy but I am a go-getter.”
Do what you love, so the advice goes. Alisa Tovmanyan has taken that to heart. “Fashion is the language I speak,” she says. “I was born to do this and I’m where I need to be. And my father is happy with my choices in life.”