Designer Builds Loyal Following With Her “Warrior” Creations

By Mike Irwin
The Wenatchee World, Wash.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Tonya Bautista’s one-woman company, “Free Warrior Designs”, focuses on comfortable, tropical-style clothing for both men and women. Her lines include around 45 items, but she mostly concentrates on producing 12 to 15 popular styles.

EAST WENATCHEE

Sexy off-the-shoulder-swimwear hangs side-by-side with bead-and-feather tribal costumes in designer Tonya Bautista’s basement studio.

She says both colorful clothing lines — along with a series of fantastical masks inspired by totem animals — aim to empower women of all ages, sizes and attitudes to seek what makes them strong and embrace their warrior spirit.

“That inspiration could be tropical, could be tribal, could be the mystery woman behind the mask,” said Bautista, 39, who designs, sews, markets and sells her creations all on her own. “They seek what makes them happy — and life is better when the heart is happy.”

Bautista’s one-woman company, Free Warrior Designs, focuses on comfortable, tropical-style clothing for both men and women.

Her lines include around 45 items, but she mostly concentrates on producing 12 to 15 popular styles.

Following her own simple patterns of sometimes just two pieces, Bautista uses soft and stretchy fabrics (most made in U.S. mills) sewn to minimize seams and follow body contours. Think shorts, pants, skirts, tops, dresses, hoodies and kimonos.

“It’s all about customer comfort,” she said. “Finding comfort in what they wear and how they wear it. And finding comfort in themselves.”

Her designs of tribal and warrior costumes — headdresses, breastplates, loin cloths — and parallel lines of animal masks emerge from a mixed ethnic background, said Bautista. Part Native American, part Hawaiian islander and part Dutch, she has a feel for “primal artistry” that’s inspired by “the power and energy of the natural world.”

Raised in East Wenatchee, Bautista said she’s been drawing and designing since she was kid. After graduating from Cashmere High School, she attended ITT Technical Institute in Spokane and, from there, nabbed a design job in Seattle.

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