Each day, Brad Schultz seamlessly transitions from a kindergarten teacher in Ocala to a local fashion designer in Gainesville, and he manages to keep both jobs separate.
“I have my days toward my day job, and then every other minute I have goes toward this (fashion design). Lucky for me, it’s what I love, so I enjoy doing it,” he said.
Although Schultz, who has been a teacher for eight years, started Brad Schultz Design about four years ago, he said he has been sewing forever. He grew up in Williston, working with his grandmother every Halloween to create his costumes.
“I’ve always loved fashion in general and clothes, and I love creativity and art, and I grew up painting and drawing and was always working with my hands, creating and making something,” Schultz said. “It was just part of who I was.”
Despite growing up making costumes, Schultz graduated from high school and studied elementary education at Saint Leo University. It was about seven years before he picked up sewing again, but when he did, it turned into more than just a hobby.
The topic of designing clothes came up for Schultz again when he was going to a concert with some friends and they joked about wanting matching shirts.
“They were like, ‘Brad, you make all kinds of things. You can make us matching shirts,’ so it was a big joke,” he said.
It may have been all laughs at the time, but Schultz did pull out his sewing machine. He may have not made those matching shirts after all, but he did fall in love with sewing again, learning and studying it as much as he could because he considers himself a perfectionist.
Schultz said his business “snowballed” after he was hired to design costumes for events, including Keith Watson Events for Sebastian Ferrero Foundation’s Noche de Gala, and as a designer and chairman for Stop Children’s Cancer.
Schultz specializes in special-occasion wear for women, including cocktail dresses. Creating the perfect item for his clients is so important to him, he creates custom patterns for each client so each dress is unique. When it comes to wedding dresses, he gives himself three months to create them, though it doesn’t always take him that long. He also goes through four separate dress fittings for the bride in order to ensure the dress fits perfectly.
“You know, everybody is different,” he said. “We can all be the same size and have the same measurements, but we all have our little quirks.”
Although Schultz has kept his teaching and design jobs separate, he plans to start teaching a sewing class for kids in Ocala within the next couple of months.
While he currently only does custom orders, he does maintain an Etsy shop, where he sells leftover designs he made for photoshoots.
He said he hopes to eventually show a collection and create ready-to-wear items he can sell. However, he said, “with everything, it’s time, especially with a full-time job.”
Keep up with Schultz’s future projects at Brad Schultz Design on Facebook.
[A version of this story ran on page 7 on 1/15/2015 under the headline “Brad Schultz: kindergarten teacher in Ocala, designer in GNV"]