Everyone has dreams, but not everyone puts in the work to make them come true. Jenni Riccetti (@jenni.riccetti) is the 22-year-old designer from San Francisco on this season of Project Runway.

If you’re not laughing along with her, you’re probably checking out her sexy streetwear looks inspiring your hypebae mood boards.

So about the show

Jenni Ricetti: I watched Project Runway when I was a kid, but it wasn’t really something I was interested in. When people find out you’re a fashion designer, they just assume you want to be on Project Runway. Besides, I wasn’t even old enough! But this year I thought yeah, you know why not just apply? Fuck it.

Which proved to be the right choice…

JR: I heard back from them when I was at my house. I had just gotten home from work & they emailed me saying they wanted to give me a call. When the call came, they told me that I made the semi-finals! I packed my clothes, flew to Seattle, auditioned, & the rest is history.

& as far as being on the show…

JR: It is definitely constant work—like every hour there is something happening. But if you work really well under pressure it is definitely an environment you can succeed in. The time restraint isn’t too bad because I can sew pretty fast.

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& it all felt real when…

JR: I met Tim Gunn. I was there for a couple of days of filming but hadn’t met Heidi or Tim yet. Then all of a sudden they both just walked in at the same time. Looking back, I was just in awe…

Like the, “am I being Punk’d” feeling?

JR: Right! Like what did I just sign up for? These are people I’ve been watching on TV since I was a kid.

But as far as the judges go

JR: Nina & Zac were actually a lot nicer than I anticipated & definitely different off-camera. But just like you see on the show, they tell you how it is.

You started your journey at

JR: Seven years old. I first discovered the sewing needle & began making clothes for my Barbie. At about nine, my parents bought me some cheap Singer because they thought it was just a hobby. That was really the catalyst. I continued sewing throughout high school & entered the Women in Arts Program where I really began to see designing as my career path. From there I went to FIDM, then I started my own line.

San Francisco is a source of inspiration because

JR: I was raised in the Outer Mission before it was ever hipster-fied. It was a really diverse neighborhood that helped develop my point of view just by seeing what customers want & how I can reach the masses. Real people who just want to be stylish.

But it’s bigger than just the city

JR: It’s funny because even though I’m from San Francisco, people always tell me I have a New York vibe. But I always say San Francisco is a little New York. I really love the culture & the diversity so I think that helped me transition to designing for the masses.

But the work never stops…

JR: I recently just quit my part-time job because I’m taking this on full-time. Which is crazy & not necessarily the most comfortable feeling. But, in order to achieve something, you really want, you have to focus 100% of your time on it.

Staying positive always comes down to…

JR: A lot of family support. My boyfriend is really supportive. Also the excitement from when I create things & finish a project because it is different & something not everyone can create.

The biggest challenge to overcome has always been…

JR: My Dyslexia. Growing up with a learning disability was really challenging, especially in school. I’m used to a lot of failures, but I remind myself that even if one thing doesn’t work, there is always another outlet where I can just go & let me do me. I know it’s super cliché, but everything happens for a reason & when one door closes, it definitely doesn’t mean the next one won’t open.

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Looking forward

JR: I’ve been preparing for San Francisco Fashion Week. I have to make 24 looks, 12 men’s & 12 women’s, in two weeks. We’re going to be showing at Bloomingdale’s. My next goal is to contact manufacturers.

This collection is focused on

JR: Melding men’s & women’s wear. I know that women do have different bodies so clearly I have to create two different silhouettes. But the gender fluidity is about the shapes, sizes, & colors. I feel my womenswear has evolved as I began creating masculine silhouettes fit to a woman’s body. Even I do a lot of my own shopping in the men’s section. Right now I’m wearing an extra-large t-shirt as a dress.

But to be an independent designer in 2016 is…

JR: Really difficult. Especially in the age of fast-fashion. A lot of people prefer to spend $12 on a shirt from H&M. I hand pick my fabric & I only make one of each size. My designs are handmade in San Francisco, not by children in a distant country.

Jenni is ushering in the future of fashion: a look that has her name written all over it.

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You can shop Jenni’s work at  riccetticlothing.com  & check out her collection this San Francisco Fashion Week on October 2nd.

& make sure to catch #designerJenni on Project Runway airing Thursdays @ 9/8c on Lifetime!

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