Experience may be the best teacher, but it’s certainly not the only one. Take Sophia Webster, Heaven Tanudiredja and Tonya Hawkes, rising design stars with loads of talent, years of design work behind them—and, perhaps most critically, brilliant mentors. After spending two years working for footwear titan Nicholas Kirkwood—and with his help and support—Webster, a graduate of the prestigious Royal College of Art, debuted an ambitious line of playful, daring heels and flats for resort. Hawkes, meanwhile, steps out from under the elegant wing of Donna Karan with a collection of eye-catching, mod-inspired box clutches in boldly colored viper snakeskin and faux tortoise, with Lucite details. Tanudiredja, who makes colorful statement jewelry, has worked for both Dries Van Noten and Dior Couture. Of course, what’s truly fascinating about these up-and-comers isn’t where they came from (it never is) but, rather, where they’re going. Buyers from Kirna Zabête, Colette and Bergdorf Goodman have swooped up Hawkes’ and Webster’s collections, already tastemaker favorites. The lesson? It pays to do your homework.