Meet Making the Cut’s Sienna Li

by Eddie Roche
Sienna Li

Warning! Making the Cut spoilers ahead!! Prime Video’s beloved fashion competition show is back for season 3, which is available to watch today. The season’s very first winner is designer Sienna Li, who will be the first designer to have her look available for viewers to buy on Amazon. Born and raised in China, the Brooklyn-based talent studied at Parsons and has helmed her namesake label since 2015. She tells us why she wanted to be on the show and why she’s really not looking forward to seeing herself on television. 

Congratulations on being the first winner of the season. What made you want to do the show?
To be honest, I just wanted to show my work and showcase the brand identity in front of people. We’ve done New York Fashion Week a lot, but we wanted to reach out to more people that are not just in the fashion industry.

Were you a fan of Making the Cut? Had you watched it before or did they find you?  
I’d watched the show before I joined. I was surprised by how people can make things so fast.

Did you audition for it or did the casting people come to you?
They actually came to me a year before we filmed the show and, at that time, I was really not ready. I was not ready to be on a reality show that would expose my privacy and who I am. The key point was that I could show my work.

Did you have any fears going into the show?  
Oh my gosh, of course. I felt anxious. I didn’t know how I would present myself and my personality. I thought, would they like me? Or will that actually matter to me? I thought a lot.

How do you feel that people might recognize you now and that you might become a little famous?
I don’t expect to become famous, I really cannot expect that. I just hope people don’t hate me!

Making the Cut designers

What is the aesthetic of your brand and the vibe that you go for?
My brand celebrates beauty. It’s not about trends, it’s about beauty for beauty’s sake. I get inspiration from nature and art a lot. I don’t like to follow what other designers do. I like to explore from my own aesthetic and spiritual world; what I see, what I experience. So, that’s my brand identity—being feminine, high-end, and glamorous.

How long have you been in business for?
I’ve been doing this for seven years and have also had private clients the whole time.

What’s interesting about Making the Cut is that you can be a really talented designer, but you have to really know a lot about the business side of fashion as well. Do you consider yourself a pretty good business woman?
I am more of a designer than a business woman. But, for my brand to survive, I definitely need to manage my brand in a very commercial way. I keep doing what I love to do, but I always think, how can I sell this? How can I promote this to my clients? Will my clients like this?

What are your goals for the brand?  
My goal is to build a long-lasting brand. That’s the key. Maybe it doesn’t make much money in the short term, but, long-term, it will last.

What was it like working with Heidi, Tim, and Jeremy? 
You know, with COVID, we couldn’t get too close to each other. They do the critiques at the end of every episode and Tim would join us in the middle in the workroom when he would talk to each of us. He was super nice and very encouraging. And Heidi and Jeremy would give us critiques at the end of the episode.

Has this been hard for you to keep a secret from your friends all these months during filming?
It’s hard and it’s not hard. It’s hard because I want to tell people, ‘Hey, I won the first episode of the show!’ But, it’s also not hard because I want to watch the entire show myself before I tell people.

Have you watched the first episode yet?
Not yet, I’m waiting to watch it with the other two designers in Brooklyn. Curtis has organized a whole viewing party. It’s exciting! He rented a place and he invited a bunch of people to come, so I’m happy to join them. Emily will also be there, so we will watch it together.

Nice! How do you think you will feel about watching yourself on TV?  
I really don’t want to see it.

Ha! I guess you could leave the room during your parts! You come off great, though. Why do you say that?
Even looking into the mirror, I never look at myself that closely. Every pore on the screen will be so big. Every subtle facial expression will be amplified somehow to the entire world!!

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