June 16, 2024

Fashion Design

Fashion Designs that Enlighten the Soul.

Fashion designer, Ohio State alum Mety Choa returns to campus to speak to students

4 min read

Mety Choa has designed haute couture for singers Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani and Nicole Scherzinger as well as supermodel Gigi Hadid, actress Kat Graham (“The Vampire Diaries”) and other global superstars. She says her bachelor’s degree in marketing from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business enabled her to live her dreams.

During a recent return visit to Ohio State, Choa discussed her career trajectory and offered advice to students who aspire to emulate her success. She spoke to a group of students in fashion-related majors on Dec. 18 during a visit hosted by the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE).

Although she ultimately gravitated to fashion design, she said graduating in 1997 with a marketing degree provided her with the business savvy and confidence to interact with famous clients and give speeches at major events around the world.

“It makes it easier because I was a marketing major. When you see clients, you know how to talk to your client,” she said. “Marketing definitely helped, so I have to give a lot of credit to Ohio State.”

Mety Choa (center) began her career as a designer of bridal dresses and evening gowns.Choa is a native of Indonesia, where she, her husband and their three children currently live and where the headquarters of her fashion house, Maison, is based. She attended Ohio State through the United States-Indonesian Teacher Consortium, said Adrian Rogers, an associate professor of teaching and learning. The consortium aims to support access to teaching, research and service in scholarship between the U.S. and Indonesia.   

“A lot of people don’t know that the first connection between Ohio State and Indonesia occurred in 1971, when Ohio State accepted the first Fulbright student from Indonesia,” Rogers said, “and since then, it’s been going strong.”

During Choa’s visit, Angelina Laurino, an Ohio State student majoring in operations management, introduced the designer’s presentation. Laurino said she was inspired when she visited Choa’s boutique in Jakarta, Indonesia, during an academic trip organized by EHE last summer.

“She’s really talented,” Laurino said, “and we’re so honored to have her here and to welcome her back home.”

Over the course of the 19 years that she has been a designer, Choa has continually expanded her business. In addition to her Jakarta boutique, she operates a retail location in Central Java. Her designs have been featured during New York’s Couture Fashion Week and at other prestigious venues.  

She said she started as a designer of evening gowns and bridal dresses in 2004, with the assistance of just one seamstress. She now oversees a team of professionals who help her turn her designs into reality.

Her advice to students who dream of one day heading up their own teams in fashion and other industries is to lead by example.

“Being a leader is definitely not the same thing as being a boss,” she said. “Never claim, ‘This is my work.’ I always say, ‘This is me and my team.’ I treat them like a family, and I always make sure they know if they have any trouble, they always can come to me. That’s very important.”

Choa said she also advises fashion students to allow their creativity to flourish and to work with various fabrics to discover which materials fuel inspiration.

“Try and see what you like. Don’t be afraid to experiment,” she said. “It takes time.”

Choa said she gradually established her reputation in the industry over the past two decades through professionalism and a commitment to excellence – ensuring every bead, thread and seam is flawless. Her famous clients find her through referrals from existing clients and via recommendations from stylists who create red-carpet looks.

“For me, transforming people is not just about, ‘This is my design,’ it’s about how you make people feel good and empower them,” she said. “It’s not about the money, it’s more that you’re creating something that’s really meaningful and is kind of a statement.”  

After her campus visit, EHE faculty accompanied Choa and her family on a tour of the Idea Foundry Columbus. The sprawling facility in Franklinton is home to the Columbus Fashion Alliance (CFA).

The alliance provides support to Columbus-based designers, including up-and-coming talent who are working to establish international brands like Choa’s, said CFA Executive Director Yohannan Terrell.

“That’s the magic of this place,” he said. “You can think freely and move fashion forward.”

Choa said she plans to return to Columbus in the near future to network with CFA and local designers, and to visit her alma mater again. She said her affiliation with Ohio State is one of her most meaningful connections.

“For me to come this far, I’ve been very blessed,” she said. “I believe dreams come true for those people who truly believe and really work hard.”


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