Cheri Chagollan

As she stands in front of a tailored leather jacket and perfectly-shaped corsets, Cheri Chagollan says, “Ten years ago I couldn’t sew a button!” After years of being a stay-at-home mom, Cheri decided that she would like to learn how to sew and enrolled in basic fashion courses at Saddleback College. Now, Cheri, an Orange County native, owns her own business – Wonderland Studios -- and creates clothes that have appeared in operas, international fashion shows, and on the covers of magazines.

Because she had to care for her children, Cheri was only able to take one or two classes each semester, but this was enough time for her professors to recognize her talent. Diane McGroarty, associate professor of fashion merchandising, was the instructor in Cheri’s first class and encouraged her to continue honing her sewing skills through the unique offerings of the fashion department.

“What I love about Saddleback is the specialty courses. I am able to master items like tutus and corsets and then move on to another topic that interests me.”  The skills she learned in these classes led to Cheri being commissioned by the Hollywood Palladium, a music and theater venue, to create the wardrobe for the lead in the Spanish opera Luisa Fernanda, which in turn led to a full-time career in costume design.

Cheri ChagollanCheri Chagollan

“I love what I do! I had no idea I’d be here and I don’t know where I will be six months from now. I’m excited!”

While Cheri says she loved costume design, her real passion was sewing her own designs, so she decided to start her own business. Wonderland Studios is a one-of-a-kind site where photographers, models, stylists, and makeup artists can rent Cheri’s designs and shoot at one of several backdrops that are inside the Anaheim location.  In just two months, Wonderland Studios is defying the norm of small businesses and is already turning a profit. Cheri has become so busy that she has brought on other Saddleback College alumni to create clothing, design the photo-shoot sets, and create her logo.

With all her success, Cheri is still not ruling out future classes at Saddleback, saying she is always keeping an eye on the class offerings.  “If I could tell Saddleback students one thing, it would be to find your thumbprint. Find your talent that makes you unique and just keep pushing.”


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