Finding something you are passionate about and actually turning it into a career is a dream come true. But what if you have multiple paths you are drawn to? It can feel overwhelming to have to make a choice between two careers that you love. That's why these days, many people are deciding to take on both. In fact, more than half of millennials are now reaping in extra cash creating their own side hustles.
One woman who decided to take on a second career? Adaeze Cadet. An architect by trade, she decided to break off and create her own business that tapped into another creative passion — fashion. She now balances running her line House of LVA while also staying employed full time at HKS Architects, where she works on projects like designing the Edition Hotel and Residences on the famous Sunset Strip. On the side, she mentors women in her field and serves as a member of HKS’ equity diversity and inclusion committee called Better Together.
Taking the chance to follow a new goal — while also maintaining another career — is no easy feat. Yet Cadet knew she couldn't ignore this path. As she maintains her role as a vice president at HKS and founder of House of LVA, she's working to achieve both professional and creative success.
Want to learn how Cadet found her way to her two incredible careers? Read ahead to read our interview with the multi-talented designer.
Lonny: Can you share your background and how you came to become an architect?
Adaeze Cadet: I’m born and raised in Sacramento, CA with my twin sister and two younger brothers. Ever since I can remember I’ve loved playing with blocks and Legos, mixing that in with my Barbies that I would make clothes for — which in hindsight is so on the nose. In Kindergarten, I would organize the other kids to build a playhouse out of blocks, so we could play house in it. I’d also ask my mom to take me to open houses and I would reorganize the furniture at home to have a better flow. So, I’d have to say it’s been in my blood.
My mom told me about architecture when I was nine and that’s when I decided I wanted to be an architect. I dove into it head first reading about it and taking a drafting class in high school. In college got my B.S. and Masters in just five years, started working for HKS as a designer, and got my license when I was 28. It was a lot of work, but I love architecture so much that I found a way to push through the grueling all-nighters and other forms of hazing this field puts us through.
What is your favorite part of working in that field?
AC: I still get a rush when I walk through a completed project. No matter how stressful the job might have been it all melts away the moment step into the building. Then seeing how the building is used as people inhabit the space adds to my excitement, especially when it works as planned. I also like working on different types of projects. It helps keep things interesting with a new client, site and new design challenges to solve. And when the challenge is solved with a functional and beautifully designed building it’s like striking gold.
When did you realized that you wanted to start something new outside of architecture?
AC: The realization came after I moved to Los Angeles. My mom taught me how to sew as a kid and I enjoyed it, but as my passion for architecture grew I stopped sewing. When I moved to our Los Angeles office in 2013, I learned that it competed in an annual charity fashion show between top architecture and interior design firms in the city. I joined our team and it reignited my love of creating clothes. I started to make clothes for myself again, then family and friends. As the request grew, I decided to open an Etsy shop which lead to me creating my own online boutique.
While I love architecture, it has a lot of constraints to it. In addition to working with my clients, I must incorporate code requirements, city planning commissions comments, and building systems. All of those things change the way the building looks and functions. Fashion design doesn’t have those constraints, especially when I’m the boss. It’s a place where she can truly express my designs without the necessary restrictions in architecture
What is the mission behind your clothing line House of LVA?
AC: The name LVA stands for "Le Vrai Adaezé" which is French for "The True Adaezé.” I chose that name because this brand is a place where I can truly express my designs. I strive to create clothes that are interesting, unique, and make women feel like the power houses they are. We also offer custom sizes on a lot of our pieces because our uniqueness shouldn’t stop us from wearing fabulous clothes. I’ve got long arms and legs and struggle finding clothes that fit, so I wanted to make sure my line embraced all shapes.
How do you hope to see the company grow as you still pursue architecture?
AC: As I continue to practice architecture, I would like my company to continue to grow through online sales. Having an online boutique gives me more flexibility to balance the demands at my firm with running my company and making clothes. But I realize there will be a tipping point when I must decide on which area I want to focus on. When that happens, I will shift my focus to my company full time. I think it’s important to take a leap, be the true Adaezé, and invest in my own creation. From there I would love to see my line carried in various boutiques across the U.S., and then the world. I think the ultimate “I’ve really made it” moment would be seeing my designs worn by my idol, Beyoncé. I strive to reach her level of business savvy, strength, confidence, intelligence, and all-around fierceness.
Why do you think is it important to foster your passions through a side hustle?
AC: I think it helps keep my creative juices flowing. As I said earlier, there can be requirements in architecture that take away from my pure passion for design. Having a side hustle in fashion gives me the ability to flex my design muscles in a different way which has influenced my architectural designs and vice versa. It’s helped reignite my passion for both fields which is a pretty great win-win.
When I got back into designing clothes, I started to realize how much it had in common with designing buildings. Both play on manipulating space and shapes and have ability to create a mood. Whether it’s for a building or a dress, my design sketches need to be analyzed, deconstructed into parts, and documented so that it can be constructed. Now I’m not sure if my years of being an architect influenced how I create my clothes, but I believe these synergies fuel my passion for both architecture and fashion.