Hanky Panky Design Intern Tessa with her award-winning design at the Femmy Gala.
The process began many months before I even saw the lavender walls of the Hanky Panky headquarters, back in the fall of my seventh semester at The Fashion Institute of Technology, where I am finishing up my Bachelors Degree as an intimate apparel student. I was excited that Hanky Panky was a participating company on the extensive list of names, where I could complete my 120 hour mandatory internship.
After a few nervous interviews, I was happy to be accepted as the new Hanky Panky design intern for Spring 2013. I was greeted on my first day with my own desk and my own purple Hanky Panky cup, that let me now I was a part of the team. Everyone from the sewers, the marketing team, the graphic designers and even the owners of the company were so welcoming, that I began to look forward to coming in to intern more so than going to my classes.
Everything about the working environment seemed inviting; the large open rooms allowed for each department to have its own space but never be cut off from one another, the large windows let in all the light and sun that I never imagined an office building would have, and the abundance of fabric and sewing supplies made me happy and comfortable to actually get to work with the materials of my trade.
Because Hanky Panky produces domestically, I was granted the unique experience of working alongside the pattern maker, cutters, and sewers in addition to just designing. This experience is invaluable to me, because most other companies produce overseas and never get to actually watch every step of their product being created.
While working with various members of the design and production team, I was presented with many different tasks—but never once was I asked to get coffee. At first I was surprised that this traditionally-accepted intern errand was never asked of me, but as I got to know the designers, I understood why. The two talented women responsible for creating the many successful lines at Hanky Panky were everything I never expected at an internship. They were patient and always took time to explain things to me, they were concerned and never even thought twice about giving me days off when I needed more time for school, and they were generous in providing me with a well-rounded experience that even included my privileged inclusion in their weekly design meetings.
In addition to observing design meetings, some of my other responsibilities included keeping the design boards up to date with flat sketches (which I am so glad are hand-drawn instead of computer-created), scanning in new lace prints and organizing their binders, cutting swatches for different swatch cards, cutting pattern pieces for garment samples, and choosing thread and trim colors to go with new thong patterns. My greatest triumph though, was the creation of a master collection of bow binders in which every bow that could be found is contained and thoroughly organized for easy reference.
Overall, my internship experience as a Hanky Panky design intern has not only taught me skills that I will use for the rest of my life, but also that I have the ability to succeed in this sometimes ruthless profession. My last few days here are bittersweet because unfortunately there are no available permanent positions for which I can apply, but I will always be grateful to every member of the Hanky Panky team for making me feel confident and empowered to go forth into the world of design and start my career.