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Designer Q+A – Kristin Glenn

I first met Kristin four years ago via a very brief email exchange. She had just launched her then brand, Revolution Apparel, and I was about to begin studying at Parsons. Fast forward time and as fate would have it we ended up sharing a studio in Brooklyn this past summer. Kristin is one of those special kinds of people that truly lives their life from their heart and from their soul and I am grateful to now call her a friend.

About Kristin:

Kristin is the founder of Seamly.co, a responsibly made clothing line that focuses on versatility. For example, The Versalette is one garment that can be worn 30 over different ways and The Convertible Pantsuit (shown above) is a wide leg pant that transform into multiple styles. Kristin works only with fabrics that are surplus (excess fabrics from factories or designers ), are knitted in the USA, or are sustainably and responsibly made overseas. All of her garments are sewn in Denver, Colorado.

What does the name Seamly mean?

Seamly is a seamstress’ play on the word ‘seemly’ which is an adjective for “good taste.” I came up with it as I was starting the business, and thought it was fitting to have seams tied in with this idea of beauty – both in the clothes, and in the responsible making of the clothes.

Do you have an ideal customer or muse? Who is she?

The #seamlygal is, above all, thoughtful. I wrote this manifesto earlier this year, and I think it sums her up perfectly:

Seamly is for the woman who stands up for her beliefs. The woman who values honesty, vulnerability, and soul. Her possessions are few but cherished; her belongings are her stories. She craves adventure, whether it’s exploring a new neighborhood or a new continent.

Her spirit is curious, and kind. She is a maker — of art, of food, of a home, of a business. Movement is a meaningful part of her existence. Nature is, too. No matter where she is in life, she seeks alignment — between her beliefs, her actions, her purpose, her purchases.

She is an advocate for positive change. She appreciates realness. She gets it. And we couldn’t be more grateful to have her as part of our community.

Tell us a little bit about your creative process. How do you come up with a new design or collection?

Most of it comes from holes I notice in my own wardrobe, or lingering thoughts I’ve had about a piece of clothing over the years. It’s hard to pinpoint! Next year, I’ll be heading a bit of a new direction — more durable, long-lasting pieces that are a little higher priced, too. I’ve been noticing a desire for clothes that take all of my needs into consideration — fit, style, fabric, function — so that’s what we’ll be digging into!

What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

I don’t think that truly “sustainable” fashion really exists. Everything created has at least SOME negative impact on the environment. Sustainability is more aspirational, to me — it’s striving to lessen the impacts our clothes have on people and planet, and constantly evolving based on what’s available.

Seamly.co is all about versatility and living with less. How do those two concepts translate into your own life?

A few years ago, I did Project333‘s three-month challenge, and that was the beginning of my small wardrobe transition. I wear mostly black and hardly ever buy things new. My closet is definitely still a work in progress, but I’m always trying to pare and combine!

If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Well, I’d obviously be in a warm locale, so a black shift dress with short sleeves would likely be it!

Complete this sentence. Simplicity is:

A state of mind.

Kristin is currently raising money on Kickstarter to produce her new utility jacket, which converts into 4 different styles from 1. Check it out here.

Keep Showing Up

The last few months have been full of change. My studio mate, Kristin, and I decided to move out of our big Brooklyn work space. She’s moving to the west coast and I moved into a cozy (tiny) office closer to home. It’s fully fall. The webstore is about to launch. New winter samples are almost finished and I’m in the midst of designing spring pieces. Up, down, left, right, go, stop, change. Its always like this, but regardless, how do you deal?

When Kristin and I moved into our studio last spring, we wanted to come up with words to put on the wall. Words that would get us there everyday and inspire is to keep going. At some point this summer, she told me she that she was saying the words, “keep showing up” everyday. I’ve been saying them everyday now, too.

Keep Showing Up. Physically, mentally and every single day for that thing that truly inspires you, even if only for a little bit. Even if you don’t get much done. Even if what you do feels like a waste of time (is complete shit).

Any true creative will tell you this. You have to keep making things everyday, because the truly beautiful moments and work only come from a massive amount of time put in and not beautiful work. Picasso said this well: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

So in case you’re in need of words for your wall, for fall, for today, for everyday, to help you deal:

Keep showing up.

DESIGNER Q+A – ANGELA TSAI

In honor of this Sunday (it’s Mother’s Day – get on it!), we’d like to introduce our friend and fellow designer, Angela Tsai. Angela is not only an entrepreneur, but also a mother of two little kiddos and a full-time traveler (her husband is Scar in the musical, The Lion King). Angela has designed a product intended to simplify and inspire new moms, but that can worn by anyone. Learn more below.

About Angela:

Angela is the founder and designer of Mamachic Co., whose first piece is an all-in-one scarf designed for new mothers, but to be worn by all. Made with sustainable bamboo fabric and strategically-placed snap buttons, the Mamachic can be used to nurse, burp and swaddle babies; though its wearability goes far beyond it’s function. As a TV host turned mom who travels full-time with her family, Angela saw a need for a product that helped to minimize baby gear while still letting a mother’s beauty and confidence shine through.

What is the meaning behind the name Mamachic?

Mamachic is my earnest, straightforward mission to literally make mamas of the world feel more confident, beautiful and chic. There’s a funny thing that happens when you have babies — those abs you worked so hard in Crossfit to sculpt? Gone. Most cute tops and dresses collect dust during the breastfeeding years, unless their necks are elastic, v-ed or button-down. With lack of sleep, the energy it takes to maintain your appearance is suddenly secondary to caring for your baby.  But it doesn’t have to be that way! I want mothers to reclaim their swag. I want them to embrace their new, strong role with positivity. I want mamas to know they’re beautiful — not in spite of being a mama, but because they’re a mama.

Do you have an ideal customer or muse? Who is he or she?

My muse is Jessica Alba! She’s the outspoken natural mama who seems so effortlessly chic, even when she’s toting her children around. My customers are women who are driven, conscientious about how their purchases affect their kids and the environment. They care deeply about both style and function, and aren’t afraid to pay more for quality. They don’t want ‘stuff’ just for stuff’s sake and are always looking for creative ways to do more with less. They appreciate beauty and define it on their own terms.

Tell us a little about your creative process. How do you come up with new ideas or designs?

I love collaborating creatively. There was something so wonderful about working with my husband Mike, a truly conceptual person, on our first few scarf designs. He’s an actor and I was a graphic designer and TV host previously. Neither of us had any fashion design background, but it didn’t matter — we were trying to solve a problem. Mike felt he needed something foolproof to protect his clothes when our baby would spit-up on him. We brainstormed together on everything. Then I would tweak little details along the way. We were psyched that the Mamachic evolved into something that solved many problems and looked great. Most recently with Factory45, I was able to get off the lonely island of entrepreneurship and bounce ideas off of other like-minded creatives. That’s when the most recent design fell into place and just ‘clicked’.

What does sustainable design mean to you?

Sustainable design to me is the creation of items or processes that will help us all — humans, creatures, the earth — stand the test of time. Whether it be sourcing materials that minimally damage the environment, creating jobs locally to give your community a fair chance at survival, or making a garment that’s durable and can be used in multiple ways; there are so many things we can do every day to make our lives last a little while longer.

You’ve got quite a full and exciting lifestyle! How do you manage to stay so balanced while launching a business, raising your kiddos and constantly moving your family across the country?

Ah, that work-life balance is a constant struggle!  I surely don’t have it perfected. However, my very extreme lifestyle forces me live minimally. We try not to accumulate too much stuff, since we move constantly and travel in our car. Without this ‘stuff’ there’s less to worry about day to day. So that’s nice. We’re truly thoughtful about our purchases. Further, my husband’s job with The Lion King is fairly easy schedule-wise, so he’s able to spend a lot of time with our kids during the day if I’ve got to crank on work. My kids — Max is 4 and Eva is 1 — are pretty adaptable, although transitioning between cities with them and our cat can push the boundaries of sanity at times. But the experience of seeing so much of the country is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This convertible pantsuit from Seamly.co. So many customizable looks, so comfy, so versatile! And of course, the Mamachic scarf would accompany me everywhere!

Finish this sentence. Simplicity is:

Surprisingly easy to achieve if we just stop overthinking so much!

Angela is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for her first production run. Check it out here.

POST LAUNCH FEELINGS

The past two weeks have been a wild ride. As the shock of hitting our goal so quickly has slowly worn off, I’ve found myself in a weird place. People starting talking about Eenvoud. Friends I haven’t seen in years thoughtfully posted about us on Facebook. Strangers pledged to our campaign and sent me beautiful messages (thank you!). And, all that I wanted to do was hide. To pull the covers over my head and ignore the noise. And to not work. At all.

I was equally as shocked by this complete lack of motivation as I was by our success. Was I burnt out? Maybe. Was it relief? Definitely. But after some reflection, I think what was really going on was that I hit a hard ceiling I had set for myself. I had my sights set on our $10,000 goal, but nothing more. Well, we smashed through that ceiling pretty quickly and it left me feeling unworthy. It overwhelmed me. It made me want to hide, and I did for about a week. It’s a strange feeling – getting what you’ve worked so hard for and having it scare the shit (yeah, shit) out of you. It was a first for me.

Marie Forleo recently posted about this exact topic (ironically on the day that we hit our goal) and I highly recommend giving it a watch – Stop Self Sabotage: How To Handle Your Upper Limit Problem.

I’m back in my groove again and feeling excited about where we’re going. We just signed on a studio space with our friend and fellow designer Kristin of Seamly Co. Everything is blooming outside. It’s all good.

Have you ever experienced hitting an ‘upper limit’? I’d love to hear your thoughts.