An Interview With Hisako Nakaya

Hisako Nakaya received her BA from University of Washington. She has been teaching patternmaking, pattern grading and design development at Seattle Central College for the past 36 years. Her love for teaching has inspired many graduates to work successfully in the apparel industry.

Q: Tell us a bit about where you grew up and what brought you to Seattle? How did you get into your field of work? What was the moment in which you realized it was what you wanted to do?
A: I grew up in Seattle Washington after spending my first 3 years in Tule Lake, a relocation camp during WWII. All of my schooling was in Seattle and I received my BA at U of W, majoring in Apparel Design. During my senior year I did my internship at Sportscaster, a ski apparel company in Seattle and found it to be my calling. After graduating from U of W, I left for San Francisco in hopes of finding a job in the apparel industry. I worked for Koret of California, Levis and other clothing manufacturers during my 12 years in San Francisco as a designer, patternmaker and pattern grader. In the 70’s I was asked to teach apparel design at College of Alameda. After teaching there for 3 years, I moved back to Seattle with my husband and two children. I knew I wanted to continue teaching or work in the apparel industry, so I asked my sister-in-law to keep an eye out for any job opportunities. Seattle Central College just happened to be looking for someone in the apparel industry to teach. I was hired in 1978 to teach in the Apparel Design Department.

“The students. They are all special and bring me joy every day.”

Q: What is it that you love most about your work?
A: The students. They are all special and bring me joy every day.

Q: Do you have a daily or weekly ritual you partake in?
A: My weekly ritual is grading assignments. I also like to cook and go to our beach house to just get away. I have dinner each month with 7-10 girlfriends I’ve known since grade school.

Q: Anything unrelated to your craft you would like to tell us about yourself?
A: I use to play basketball every week, but I don’t think I could shoot those 3 point baskets anymore.

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