Hi there! My name is Monica Hankins and I am a Fashion & Costume designer based in Los Angeles, California.
Ever since I was six years old I’ve been interested in fashion, specifically dresses and costumes. I saw the movie Titanic and fell in love with not only Leonardo DiCaprio, but also the stunning gowns Kate Winslet wore! After that, I began dabbling with hand needles trying to make new skirts and dresses for my Barbies that would rival those of Rose (at least in the eyes of a seven year old…) Well before I was born, my grandmother had given my Mother an in-table Singer sewing machine from the 1940’s. Mama always told me not to mess with it, but one day the eight year old me could not resist finding out the mystery of the machine in the table! Once I realized it was a sewing machine, albeit broken, I was determined to fix it, and from then on began teaching myself how to use it.
Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I have made Halloween costumes and clothes for myself, and even tutus for my dog Pierre (He loved his tutus!) When high school came around I became very involved with Germantown High School’s notorious theatre department, starting out in the costume room making hats and hemming pants and petticoats for the musical production, Ragtime. I then went on to work four plus large productions all varying in time periods, allowing me to broaden my range of construction. In my senior year I was the Costume Chairman and, of course, I also made my own prom dresses! It was obvious to me at that point what I was going to do with my life and that I needed to truly take my talent to a new level.
After high school I moved out to Los Angeles from Memphis, Tennessee, to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising for an Associate of Arts degree in Fashion Design. I learned a bunch of useful information that I hadn’t already taught myself like draping structured garments on a dress form, drafting a pattern from measurements, and grading said pattern to different sizes. I graduated in 2011 and then immediately continued at FIDM and graduated again in December of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Two years and several dead end jobs later, I finally decided I wanted to start my own costuming business specializing in historical undergarments and custom costumes and gowns and so, Boxcar Boutique was born! Ever since, I’ve been designing and creating so many different costumes, for clients as well as theatrical productions, that have all taught me new and exciting things about my trade; I wouldn’t have it any other way!