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Academy Duo Launch Eumeríka

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Nesha Lee. Photo by Steven Harvey.

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Tina Christianson. Courtesy of Tina Christianson.

Academy of Art University alums Nesha Lee and Tina Christianson met at an Urban Knights basketball game in 2007. Lee was a cheerleader for the recently launched team; Christianson was a resident assistant at 620 Sutter who organized outings to the games. The two young women soon discovered they shared a mutual love of fashion and sketching design ideas. They became even better friends when they were in the same English class.

Growing up in Minnesota, Christianson enjoyed putting together outfits and doing runway shows for her mom. By high school, she was an accomplished seamstress considering a career in fashion. She also dreamed of leaving her chilly home state for California. After high school, she stayed with her cousin in San Jose and attended an open house at the Academy.

“Everyone was really nice and I liked the diversity,” she said. “The teachers I met were amazing. They were honest about the hard work but said it was worth it because I’d end up with great portfolio—they were right.”

Christianson enrolled in the Academy’s School of Fashion and moved to San Francisco where she’s lived ever since. She graduated with a B.A. in 2013.

Like Christianson, Lee—who was born in Stuttgart, Germany and currently lives in Los Angeles—caught the fashion bug at a young age. She loved dressing up in her glamorous mother’s clothes and jewelry.

“When I was about five, I told my mom I wanted my own clothing line,” explained Lee, who earned a B.A. in multimedia communications in 2012. “She bought me coloring books so I could sketch my designs. As I got older, I’d have ideas for clothes I wanted and I’d get frustrated because stores didn’t have them. I kept telling myself that one day that wouldn’t be a problem, because I’d make them.”

 

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Sporty by Eumeríka. Photo by Kevin Davis.

After graduating, Lee’s prediction came true. She had started to build a brand, Eumeríka, which bears her middle name—her mother and father coined the word to reflect their daughter’s mixed heritage. Leveraging her communications education, she also worked behind the scenes on several TV shows, including the new ABC series The Whispers. Meanwhile, Christianson continued to hone her fashion skills at an internship with local designer Gus Harput.

Working together, the two friends recently launched their website, Eumerikallc.com, which features their first collection, a line of sophisticated, sexy swimsuits. Unexpected touches like zippers or wrapped bikini bottoms that can be worn different ways give the swimwear a subtle edge for the style-conscious woman who wants to stand out from the crowd. The line also includes chic cover-ups.

“We wanted to keep the collection limited and special, especially the first season,” said Christianson. “For fall, we’ll have a few skirts, pants, tops and dresses. We want to grow the brand slowly to avoid imploding.”

Lee added that the fall collection will be “clean and sleek.”

The Eumeríka brand caters to what she and Christianson call the “interchangeable woman”; a customer who is confident, loves clothing, and seeks versatile pieces that work for many different occasions.    

Although the duo collaborates on designs and has similar tastes, their individual strengths are also key to the success of their partnership. A self-described “director” who likes structure and is good at getting things done, Lee said Christianson’s strong construction abilities and keen attention to colors and fabrics complement her skillset.

“We consult each other on everything,” Lee remarked. “Our relationship is based on mutual respect, love and understanding. We’re not just partners—we have a sisterhood.”