She Designs Scrubs With Plenty of Pockets. Cargo Pants? Why Not.

Allison Thielmann, 27, is an associate technical designer at Figs in Los Angeles.

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She Designs Scrubs With Plenty of Pockets. Cargo Pants? Why Not.
Patricia R. Olsen
, New York Times
Allison Thielmann, 27, is an associate technical designer at Figs in Los Angeles.
Q: What is your role?

A: We manufacture scrubs for medical workers. I incorporate things like pockets, zippers and elastic waists, and suggest new design elements after listening to our clients’ needs.

Q: What is your design background?

A: In high school, I took some courses in fashion design at West Valley College, a community college in Saratoga, in Northern California. Afterward, I started an associate’s degree in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, but I left after a year to start a gym in my garage with three partners.

We moved to a warehouse and eventually had three locations, but fitness wasn’t my passion. I started working part time for apparel companies as a freelance designer, and then went back and finished my degree. I joined Figs in 2017.

Q: How did you get interested in fashion?

A: My mom’s friend taught me how to knit when I was about 9. She also sewed quilts, which I admired, so my mom started taking me to a fabric store that had some. A group of women who sewed there taught me how to use a sewing machine and how to quilt.

The store owner said she had never seen anyone my age so passionate about sewing. She told my mother she should buy me a machine, which my mom did.

Q: How did you get this job?

A: I picked up technical design in several freelance assignments; you don’t really learn it in a fashion design program. I had just designed a menswear collection for a company and was looking for a new client when a recruiter found this for me.

Q: Do you follow any guidelines in your work?

A: A few. Scrubs are more fitted now than in the past, and placement of certain items is important. For example, pockets need to be positioned for these workers so that it’s easy to grab things from them.

Our customers are doctors, nurses, aestheticians — skin care specialists — and the like. Nurses need pockets everywhere because they carry so much. I suggested adding a cargo pant pocket on a new pant in our product line.

I also make sure that our scrubs for doctors have a pocket that a tablet or large phone will fit in.

Aestheticians don’t need as many pockets. They want their scrubs to be a little more fashionable, so I might add a peplum or a different neckline on theirs.

Q: What’s your favorite scrub?

A: I like our jogger scrub, one outside our core line. Instead of a loose pant leg, it’s tight at the bottom. I wear them myself, and women on the street have stopped me to ask about them. When guys wrote in wanting to order them, our customer service department asked us what women’s size to recommend. Recently we introduced a men’s version.

Q: How do you get feedback from those who wear your scrubs?

A: We bring in medical professionals to try them on. They also model the outfits on our website, and some recently traveled to Peru when we donated scrubs to the medical community there. We also hold quarterly focus groups and we get some helpful comments on social media.

Q: What does your mom say about your job?

A: My whole family’s thrilled. This is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life and I’m doing it. When I talked to my mom recently, she started crying because she’s so happy for me.

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