Amy SimAge 53, Portland, OR

This former cheerleader is friendly, confident and ultra-competitive, and at 53 she has more energy than designers half her age. Amy references classic American sportswear in her flawlessly constructed garments, paying careful attention to fabric and detail.

Raised with a twin brother in a family of boys, Amy was a pretty blonde tomboy from the very beginning. Her mother taught her to sew when she was in the fourth grade, and Amy soon started making her own clothes, constructing cooler versions of the garments her better-off friends were buying at department stores. When a college instructor talked her out of pursuing a degree in fashion, she studied Home Economics instead, got married, had kids, and started her own Jazzercise franchise. But she always kept one foot in the fashion world, working as a catalogue and commercial model for 30 years. After nearly losing her college-football-player son to a sudden illness, Amy realized life is short. She returned to school, finally earning her fashion degree at age 49.

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