As one half of design duo Reece Hudson (the other being her partner Max Stein), Reece Solomon knows how to get things done–and done well. Since graduating from Parsons just three years ago, Reece has turned her line of expertly crafted leather handbags into one to watch. And the industry has taken notice in a major way. Last summer, the CFDA chose Reece Hudson as one of latest recipients to occupy its Fashion Incubator Studios in NYC garment district, along with receiving free business consultations from NYU. We’ve been dying to know what’s happening for Reece now that she’s settling into life as a CFDA incubatee–as well as what’s next for Reece Hudson– so we grilled her on how she’s “making it” in fashion today.
What was the inspiration behind starting your own brand?
Since I was little I have always wanted to have my own brand, and I knew that it was something I wanted to start at a young age, not later in my career. Also, when I graduated Parsons in 2009, the economy was terrible and thus the job market. So I kind of felt that if I couldn’t find the job I wanted I might as well try to create it for myself.
How did you first become interested in design?
I can’t pinpoint exactly when in my childhood I became interested in design, but I remember having an endless stack of the dresses I drew. I think at first I was trying to replicate the princess dresses I saw in Disney movies I watched, and as I got a little older I would try to sketch designs of things I would want to wear or that I could imagine each of my friends wearing. My grandmother, Kay, also really piqued my interested in fashion and design at a young age. She loved luxurious things and took such great care and pride not only in her appearance, but in maintaining and caring for her possessions. She really taught me an appreciation for beautiful fashion and craftsmanship, and its ability to transform.
What is your design background?
After college I completed an Associate Degree in fashion design at Parsons, and interned for Proenza Schouler and Rag & Bone. I also did an internship with the French magazine L’Officiel while studying abroad in Paris.
Why did you choose to work in handbags and leather goods?
When we began Reece Hudson, my partner Max and I saw a void in the market for a independent, directional, high-quality handbag brand that wasn’t an already established designer fashion house attached to a RTW collection, and conversely wasn’t a mass contemporary brand that lacked a strong point of view. We aimed to fill that gap.
I’ve also always loved handbags (even more so than shoes) and their ability to transform an entire outfit. There’s also something very intriguing and mysterious about a handbag, because it conceals a woman’s personal possessions that she’d wish to carry around with her, which is one of the reasons I try to place as many hidden, functional pockets and divisions as possible within my bags.
What inspires you?
That’s an endless list as many of my inspirations come to me subconsciously. But specifically I am always inspired by the feeling and style of late 60s and early 70s, the decadence, finery and geometric patterns of the 20s and 30s’ flappers and Art Deco style, and the modern, urban lifestyle as predominately seen in New York and Paris (where I briefly lived during college). I also am always drawn to both naturally occurring and man-made textural and tonal contrasts, something that I heavily incorporate into my own designs.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
A good day would start with an early yoga class, then when I get to the office (along with my jumbo coffee) I first go through all my emails, focusing on production and sampling updates in Italy. Lately we’ve been having at least one, usually two meetings a day, at various times but usually in our own studio. In between meetings my work ranges depending on what’s going on, but includes rough sketching ideas in my sketchbook, doing carefully measured and detailed spec drawings that will be sent to our factories, compiling or arranging images, swatches and clippings on my mood board, and working on image layouts for various digital or printed materials on my computer. As the Spring/Summer collection is fast approaching, I am prepping materials for my upcoming production trip to Italy, as well as beginning to concept and plan our next brand video for the new season.
What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve faced?
Competing against major fashion houses in the handbag market.
What’s the biggest risk that you’ve taken business-wise?
Deciding to start my own company at the age of 23 would be the first one that comes to mind.
What is the experience like to be a part of the CFDA incubator?
It’s been an incredibly positive experience so far. To begin with, I was previously working out of my apartment with my business partner, Max, and so it’s such a pleasure to have a proper office and showroom. But even though we have our own designated, private space on the Incubator floor, there is still a sense of community among all the deisgners in the program. It’s really nice to be able to commiserate and shoot ideas around with people are in your same position and understand all of the things you’re going through. But the best and most valuable part of being in the Incubator has to be the mentorship aspect. We are so lucky to be working with some incredibly talented and experienced industry professionals who provide us with invaluable advice and guidance. Our mentors include Steven Alan, Roopal Patel, Kyle Andrew of Kate Spade, Paul Donaher of Laird and Partners, and Ari Bloom.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
It’s such an incredible luxury to have complete creative freedom and control in your job, and it’s so rewarding to see not only my designs take physical form, but to see my vision emerge as our overall brand develops. The most fulfilling aspect of my job, however, is seeing my bags being worn by a variety of women, all of whom favor different styles and incorporate them into their own looks in various and original ways.
Who is your dream customer, living, dead, or imaginary?
Margot Tennenbaum [from] The Royal Tennenbaums.
What do you see in store for your brand in the future?
I envision Reece Hudson growing into a full accessories and lifestyle brand. But in the near future I want to keep building our handbags and belts as our core product while we continue to build or brand organically and further establish our place in the market.