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The Fashion Designer Who Launched Her Career at 57


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Camilla Olson is my new hero! The former microbiologist launched her fashion design career in 2010 at the age of 57, after completing her MFA in fashion and textile from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Designer Camilla Olson
Designer Camilla Olson in her textile studio in Belmont, CA

With $200,000 of her savings, she launched Camilla Olson LLC in Palo Alto, California. She premiered her first collection as part of Mercedes Benz fashion week in New York City in 2010.

Her sophisticated and classic designs feature natural and luxurious fabrics. She often incorporates silk layers and an innovative, environmentally friendly proprietary printing technique, called “iron transfer” to create one-of-a-kind looks.

Her designs target modern women who need to take their clothing from day to night, including baby boomers.  Her design career received a major boost when she dressed Betsy Franco, mother of James Franco, for the 2011 Oscars.

Her Spring 2013 collection, is inspired by historical and contemporary music. Influences range from the design and details of an instrument, to sheet music and even speakers. Actress Tanna Frederick is the face of her 2013 collection.

Her success thus far has earned her an award as a distinguished alumna from the University of Maryland. She also received honorable mention as “Best Second Act Reinvention” from digital publisher SecondAct.com.

This goes to show you that it’s never too late to launch a new career.


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Model wearing a Camilla Olson sheath dress
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Model wearing hand printed coat and gabardine white shift designed by Camilla Olson
Camilla Olson scarf that was provided as a press sample from Camilla Olson LLC

Images for Camilla Olson LLC provided by RacerMediaInc.
Ossie took my photo!

XoXo, Natasha


About Natasha Samuels

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  1. Thank you Natasha.
    I loved reading your post on our work. You clearly take an interest in your work and your passion shows. I am honored to have caught your attention and to be introduced to your followers.
    Julia Farr Boutique in Washington DC carries some of our pieces. I wish they carried our scarves.

    We are moving in a direction to focus on creating the best shirts and tops. If you have any thoughts on what you would like to wear, do let us know.

    If ever you are out in the SF Bay area …
    Thank you again. Loved learning about you.

    • Mrs. Olson,
      I want to thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for also leaving a comment. You are an inspiration for myself and many of the women who read your story. I also think you are an amazing designer and I am looking forward to the growth of your brand in the years to come.

      Thanks also for letting us know where we can find your pieces here on the east coast. As far as tops are concerned I think most women prefer feminine blouses that can go from day to evening, can be worn under a blazer but is fancy or dramatic enough to be worn as a standalone piece. Versatility is also very important, especially if it is an investment type piece.

      Natasha (-:

  2. Great Post! Her influences are very interesting.
    Ambitious Curls recently posted..The Extra MileMy Profile

  3. That’s impressive – and it makes me feel better about all the things I worry about not having accomplished yet. Good for her!
    Jess recently posted..Photo Safari-ing at the Lincoln Park ZooMy Profile

  4. Yesterday was my 45th! There is still hope for me!

    • Hi Michelle. Happy belated birthday and thanks for stopping by the blog. Don’t even get me started. When I turned 40 I had a major meltdown that lasted for weeks because I started thinking the same thing (no hope left). I actually came across a site called secondact.com when I was writing this post. The site features people who are launching new careers/paths after 40. I am gonna subscribe. I personally need more stories like this to keep me motivated. (-;

  5. Great looking stuff and she’s an inspiration!
    Jen Seiderer recently posted..Mourning a lossMy Profile

  6. Great story! I always adored NY Fashion week, and always wanted to be a designer! I’m glad Camilla never gave her dream up! 🙂
    Jenny recently posted..Food Should Taste Good!!My Profile

  7. j timothy quirk

    That’s a great story! I’m so glad I read it!

  8. The scarf is beautiful and the color is amazing. I’m a firm believer that it’s never too late to re-invent oneself! This proves it.
    Bonnie recently posted..Connecticut Open House Day June 8 2013My Profile

    • I was soooo surprised when I reviewed the press release. I feel silly now that I had that entire freak out when I turned 40. Clearly Mrs. Olson did not feel limited by her age. She has really amazing designs also. I watched the video from her NY Fashion Week presentation and it was very edgy and chic.