After taking one coding class as a freshman in software engineering, Phillip Sidberry ’08 decided to take a leap of faith and change his major to apparel design. He wanted a more
tangible major that would allow him to be artistic and creative.
This was a big decision to make, considering that computer tech jobs were in such high demand in the early 2000’s and employment was almost guaranteed. By changing his major, he was risking his chances of finding a job after college.
Taking that huge chance ended up being the best decision for Sidberry, as he is now a full-time technical designer for Carter’s Inc., a company that has made baby and children’s clothes since 1865.
He hasn’t stopped there, either. He spends his free time working on two clothing lines on the side, one by himself and one with the help of partners.
After changing his major, he got involved on campus in order to grow his list of skills and experience. He worked as a Camp War Eagle counselor and parent counselor, then served as a head counselor. He was also the director of t-shirts for the Student Government Association, where he designed all of the shirts for the organization.
“My involvement on campus made me very punctual, because being a counselor was very structured,” said Sidberry. “Camp War Eagle was a well-oiled machine and I always had to be on time. I’m also confident in completing things — I learned through experience how to make a plan and then complete it.”
His classes at Auburn shaped who he is as a designer, and he feels that his education prepared him for the real world better than a fine arts school could have.
“During my internships, I noticed other students from fine arts schools struggled a little more than I did because they didn’t have the well-rounded skills Auburn gave me. I learned how to do things from start to finish in my classes, not just the art side.”
Graduating from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in apparel merchandising, design and production management in 2008, he had a job offer on the table from a business in Los Angeles. However, because this was around the time of the recession, he decided his best bet would be to decline the offer and stick around for his master’s degree.
After earning his master’s in production management in 2011 and completing several internships and jobs in California, he determined that the cost of living in the West was not practical, so he made his way back down south.
After seeing an opening for a job at Carter’s, he applied for the position of associate tech designer. After about a month of waiting he was offered the job. In the end, it was worth it.
What Sidberry does now is the perfect mix of art and engineering — a combination of his two passions. Making sure clothes are functional when it comes to measurements, he looks at designs and determines the safest and most efficient way to construct the piece, then packages it all up and sends it back to the vendors.
Aside from his full-time job, he also works on designing two lines of clothing. He has one line of menswear that he works on solo, called Astorre Cut + Sew. This line of quality pieces has Sidberry staying up each night to find the best materials for the best prices. He is also working on a line with three other partners called Grail ATL that creates unique clothing for men and women.
“I love watching something go from an idea to a functional piece of art — turning it into something you can wear. It’s all about going from concept to reality. The best part is being able to compare a sketch to the real-life version.”
With a passion for creating and high hopes for his clothing lines, this is only the beginning of Sidberry’s career.
“I followed my passion and did what I knew I loved and it all worked out.”