“Standing next to Esther in the very final judgment was the most gut-wrenching moment of my life,” says “Making the Cut” designer Jonny Cota about waiting for the judges’ verdicts with Esther Perbandt at the very end of the first season finale of the Amazon series. “The thing is, I love Esther. I don’t want her to not win, I just want myself to win, so all time stopped and we just waited and waited. It felt like it was the longest decision ever. But wow, it was thrilling.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Cota above.
The judges were divided, but Cota emerged victorious, which meant that he won the $1 million grand prize and a mentorship with Amazon Fashion. On top of that, his winning looks were made available to purchase exclusively on Amazon. But he didn’t just win for his final fashion show collection. He also had to make a business pitch to Christine Beauchamp, the president of Amazon Fashion.
“It was the most difficult challenge in the entire season,” says Cota about that pitch meeting. “I come off as a confident person, but really it’s just very practiced anxiety … I was shaking in my boots. But as soon as I walked in the room, Christine Beauchamp had such a warm energy. It was really exciting. You could see the whole Manhattan skyline. And I was like, this is one of the biggest opportunities of my career, I cannot mess this up. And that pressure was the perfect pressure to encourage me to stand up and deliver.”
Cota almost didn’t make the finale at all. In “Brand Evolution” it was a close call between him and Megan Smith to advance to the final three. Cota got the nod, but “I kind of had my tail between my legs a little bit,” he remembers. “I knew I just inched in. I knew that the judgment was so close between Megan and myself, and we both deserved it. I was thrilled that I got to go to the finale, but I was a little timid.” But ultimately he said to himself, “You’ve made it this far for a reason … It’s not about how you stumble, it’s how you get back up.”