Meet the Designers: Keren Longkumer and Valerie Quant of LOQ

Sole mates and BFFs, Keren Longkumer and Valerie Quant approach shoe design with a new, modern perspective on the classics. A boot, a mule or a loafer feel totally fresh in their hands. Hailing from Nagaland and Los Angeles respectively, the duo combines influences from every aspect of their life and always land in minimalism. And we love them for it. Obviously we had to find out more, so we asked and they answered.

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HOW DID YOU GUYS MEET? We met at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles during the Footwear Design Program in 2011. We collaborated on a few projects and realized that we had a similar eye for design and the rest is history.

Meet the Designer: Kelsy Parkhouse of Carleen

Though she’s based in Brooklyn, designer Kelsy Parkhouse continues to find inspiration in her southern California roots for Carleen, her line of cool, quirky women’s wear. Folk-art motifs, fine art and domestic manufacturing are also mainstays for the emerging designer. After her thesis collection at the Pratt Institute found rave reviews in 2012 and receiving the inaugural Liz Clairborne Concept to Product Award, Kelsy ventured out on her own straight out of school and never looked back. We caught up with the emerging designer to quiz her on her inspiration and all her favorite things.

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WHAT PART OF THE DESIGN PROCESS DO YOU LOVE THE MOST? I love pattern making the most. I love making little adjustments and discoveries as I work and having that sense of adaptability. I also love fitting and seeing initial muslins on a real body.

 

Meet the Boutique: SWORDS-SMITH

Everything we love about Williamsburg is in this boutique. Housed in a former factory with original brick and steel juxtaposed against neon accents and diagonal lines, SWORDS-SMITH hosts art installations, parties and pop-ups on the regular, and is stocked with an always inspiring curation of emerging and established designers. Briana Swords and R. Smith opened up shop in 2013 with a vision to create a different kind of retail concept and one that celebrates the independent spirit of Brooklyn. With former careers in interactive and fashion design, the husband and wife duo’s interests, aesthetics and values converge at SWORDS-SMITH. We caught up with Briana to get a peek behind the scenes.

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WHAT’S THE BEST PART AND THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF RUNNING A STORE WITH YOUR PARTNER? The best part of working together is the collaborative, creative work of building something together that we both believe in. The most challenging part is hitting the off switch and not discussing the business during everyday life.

Meet the Boutique: Parc in Minneapolis

Is it just us, or are the best friendships made via Instagram and a glass of rosé? That’s how it all began in New York City with the amazing Thao Nguyen, founder and owner of Parc, and we instantly fell in love with her pared-down, beautiful aesthetic and expert curation of brands we love like Kowtow, Lacausa, Oak, Miranda Bennett and more. We caught up with her to find out more about what she loves about living in the Twin Cities, how she got her start and all of her favorite things.

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DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO OWN A BOUTIQUE? While working my corporate 9 to 5, I spent my weekends hitting up the local shops in San Francisco. I honestly wasn’t sure that I wanted to own a boutique, but I was inspired by the local retail scene and wanted to bring that vibe to Minneapolis. Parc now has two brick-and-mortar locations and I can’t imagine myself doing anything but this.

Meet the team at Vancouver’s lululemon lab

Inspired by traditional Japanese hakama and ovoidal shapes, The Agawa Holiday Collection, the latest capsule from Vancouver’s lululemon lab is now available! This time, we went behind the scenes to get to know all the rad people making magic happen at the retail space and experimental design lab. Everyone, meet lululemon lab. lululemon lab, meet everyone.

Meet the Designer: Mandy Kordal

Sweater weather is better because of this Brooklyn babe. After studying in Cincinnati Mandy Kordal worked in the studios of Travota, J. Crew and Doo.ri before venturing out on her own to focus on ethical and sustainable knitwear. She launched her namesake line in 2012 and is now expanding into other weaves and women’s wear. A move that is making our closets very happy. Mandy also happens to be one of the coolest, sweetest women we know. As she worked on an exclusive sweater for our holiday collection, we went behind the scenes to find out more.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROCESS. WHAT PART DO YOU LOVE THE MOST? Our process starts with a general mood or inspiration and, from there, we start to source our fabrications and textiles. Sometimes we source based on an idea for a garment and other times we let the textiles drive our designs. From there, we start to sketch and also create knitted swatches to see how the yarn is going to react to certain textures and patterns. We then photograph and show the collection at market. Last step is putting our styles into production with our vendors based in New York and Peru.
My favorite part of this process is seeing the collection come together. It’s hard to imagine all of the pieces falling into place at the very beginning, but once the samples start arriving and you see it all styled together, it’s like the picture has finally come into focus and it feels so good!

Meet the Designer: Shahla Karimi

We don’t use the hashtag #girlcrush lightly, but there’s really no better way to describe how we feel about this designer. Plus we share it with Lena Dunham, Gigi Hadid, Grimes and more. We’ve got a serious crush on New York-based jewelry designer Shahla Karimi. The kind, talented and business-savvy woman designs some seriously unique pieces. We sat down with her to talk business, 3D printing and quiz her on all her favorite things.

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HOW DID YOU END UP RUNNING YOUR OWN JEWELRY LINE AFTER WORKING IN THE MUSIC BIZ? I’ve worked on diverse aspects of production for a decade: from planning events as a personal assistant for the rapper Nas and singer Kelis to digital production at a record label (getting the Rolling Stones on iTunes), followed by merchandise product management and production for Warner Music Group and then President Obama’s 2012 election campaign. After the campaign I was hired by various agencies to do both digital and physical production, including a 60-piece apparel line for Vogue, where I got to work with 22 amazing designers like Victoria Beckham, Isabel Marant and Tory Burch.

The Vogue project marked my last big freelance gig. I had done every part of running a business, just never all at the same time and for my own brand. I learned how to turn No’s into Yes’s being a personal assistant. I became tech and e-commerce savvy working for record labels (transitioning into the digital world at the time) and digital agencies. And I built up my skills and network for production and marketing on the campaign and Vogue projects. There have been a lot of bumps in the road, but all of my past careers seemed to piece together like a jigsaw puzzle when I started my own company.

Meet the Designer: Marisa Howard of Seaworthy

There’s something about the fluid jewelry from Seaworthy that hints at a bigger story behind a minimalist piece. We went behind the scenes with self-taught jewelry designer Marisa Howard to find out more.

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TELL US HOW YOU BECAME A JEWELRY DESIGNER. I studied Journalism and Communications at University of Oregon, with a focus on magazine writing. I thought I was going to write long feature stories and learn about people’s lives, but once I was out in the “real world”, I learned that I didn’t like pressing people for their stories and I didn’t like the publishing industry in general. So I moved into Marketing and PR and worked my way into the lighting industry somehow. My “career” before starting Seaworthy was in the commercial lighting industry. I worked with clients like Nordstrom and Costco and worked on casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, as well as other large projects all over the US. I traveled constantly. I can see now that all my random jobs prepared me to run this small creative business.

In the lighting industry, I worked as an operations manager for a couple years. So I hired and fired, I managed a budget, I did sales and customer service. I also managed a warehouse and implemented shipping schedules and inventory management. I also learned the creative side of lighting design and layout. In that career though, I could see the end of what I wanted to learn and accomplish. I had burned out and I knew I needed a change. In January of 2010, I just quit. I had a couple part time things lined up: a retail job and a freelance editing job for a Canadian publication, but I really had no idea what I was going to do. I was making a little jewelry as a creative outlet and a way to build community. Eighteen months after I quit my “career”, I was making jewelry full time. That was four years ago in August.

Meet the Designer: Tara Elwin of TARA 4779

There’s nothing simple about the minimalist jewelry from New York City’s TARA 4779. Even the most delicate, pared-down metal band has a complex story behind it ranging from percentages of precious metals to mathematics. Originally from New Orleans, designer Tara Elwin draws on her background in fine art and galleries for inspiration for each seasonal collection. We went behind the scenes in her studio to get to know the woman behind the emerging brand.

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Meet the Designer: California’s Ali Golden

Fashion design for Oakland-based designer Ali Golden has always been about the process of actually making clothes. Trained in graphic design and fine arts, her first garments were constructed and sewn in her spare time, as a hobby. But in 2011, she discovered that what she loved doing for fun could actually be a career. Today Ali runs her own fashion line alongside two eponymous boutiques stocked with her own designs alongside like-minded brands like First Rite, Creatures of Comfort, Ilana Kohn and Dusen Dusen, one in Oakland and another in Los Angeles that just opened its doors on Sunset Boulevard. It’s easy to see how the California native’s approach to design leads in to the clothes themselves. Her easy dresses and separates are cut to fit everybody and every lifestyle.

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YOU STARTED OFF YOUR CAREER IN GRAPHIC DESIGN. HOW DID YOU END UP RUNNING YOUR OWN FASHION LINE? I got really sick of sitting in front of the computer all day and I wanted to spend my time moving around and making something that was tangible. As I started making clothing for fun, I realized how difficult it was. The idea of “fast fashion” and the extremely low value we attribute to clothing really pissed me off. I thought I would like to start a line that celebrated the craft of making a garment (and was also capable of functioning in the global economy) and it helped that I really loved pattern-making and sewing.