Born in New York City, Dulce Capellan lived in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as a child but moved back to New York when she was 6. Since her mother was a seamstress, Dulce learned to sew early, and she has a bachelor’s degree in pattern-making and apparel production management from the Fashion Institute of Technology. After college, she got a job as a financial aid counselor at LIM College (formerly the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising), where she also assisted in the admissions department and taught the first-year experience (transition to college life) class. Partly as a result of that experience, Dulce got a master’s degree in school counseling from the College of New Rochelle; she’s currently working toward a certificate in bilingual school counseling from Manhattan College. A fan of cooking, dancing, and traveling, she joined the Juilliard Financial Aid Office in January 2011.
What do you remember about your first day at Juilliard?
Getting lost on the second floor: it seemed like a maze and I kept going in circles!
What’s the most memorable job you’ve ever had?
Teaching young girls how to sew at a community center in the Bronx many years ago. Every week, I would teach different sewing techniques. Since the community center didn’t have any sewing machines, I would teach them how to sew in a button, do a hem, and stitch by hand.
Do you still sew?
After completing my bachelor’s degree, the passion I had to sew was no longer there, and the industry was too fast-paced and aggressive for me. I gave all my patterns away, and I donated the samples I created because I didn’t have the time or space to sew as much. And then after I took a long break from sewing, about two years ago someone asked me to design, create, and construct a pair of flared sailor pants. It had been so long that I needed help from my mother to hem the pants!
Is there anything you miss about the fashion world?
Entering the fashion industry was by far the best choice I made at the time, but in my last internship, I realized I wanted to work with students. From time to time, I pick up Women’s Wear Daily just to have an idea about what’s going on in the fashion, beauty, and retail industries. And there are times I miss sewing, but I love what I do now more—that is, working with students.
What’s the craziest day at work you’ve ever had?
I was two semesters away from graduating from F.I.T., and a teacher asked if I could conduct pattern-making class while he was called in for a meeting. I had to explain how to make a skirt pattern, and nervous wasn’t the word; I was terrified! I knew that if I gave them incorrect information, the students would have ended up making the wrong pattern. Luckily, they did well on their projects.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Grab a blanket and head to the beach!
How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
I’m very passionate about beading jewelry and I try to fit it in between work and school. Although it may not work out as planned, I try to do it to release stress.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
My other hobby is collecting seashells. Whenever I travel, I always bring home a seashell to remind me of the trip.
What’s the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
My recent trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti: I hadn’t visited any of those islands since moving to New York City when I was little. I was approaching my 40th birthday, and it was a very rejuvenating trip. I’d love go back to Haiti and learn more about it and trace my family roots.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
An acquaintance of mine told me two years ago about mud racing [5K or 10K runs through obstacles in the mud called Down and Dirty Mud Runs] and I’ve been doing them ever since. The one in New York City takes place at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, and it’s been such a great experience. You have to climb over walls carrying heavy objects, do Marine hurdles, crawl in mud, walk on balance beams, etc., whereas with a regular race, you’re simply running with the occasional rush of going uphill. I don’t do too many [regular] races, but one that I really like is the Turkey Trot in Prospect Park on Thanksgiving Day. It’s super fun! I also do short races when I have the time.
What are your favorite things about New York City?
The food, the diversity, and the nightlife.
What book are you reading?
Amy Chua’s The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The professor in a bilingual cultural class I was taking mentioned it, and I was intrigued by what the book was about: a mother with two daughters who compares the differences in parenting between Chinese and Western parents. [Editor’s note: Chua’s husband is Juilliard drama alum Jed Rubenfeld and she was in part inspired by her daughter’s Pre-College audition to write the book.]
What social media do you followand why?
Honestly, I don’t follow Twitter and I deactivated my Facebook account almost three years ago. I don’t regret my decision at all—it was the best thing I did! I felt that it was taking too much of my time.