What was your relationship with fashion when you were young?
It became an interest because I’m an only child and moved around a lot with my mom. I started to identify through fashion. I would use fashion to identity with different music or surroundings since I was always switching schools. I’ve always been a stylist in a way. It was pre-Internet and things weren’t homogenized. You really had to seek out cool fashion.
You studied philosophy before fashion design, how did that influence you?
It just kind of opened a passage in my mind that made me think about creating more. I would fantasize about philosophical references and then I’d be daydreaming about all this weird clothing. But I decided I didn’t want to sit at a coffee shop philosophizing the rest of my life, so I went to design school.
So what was your first design experience like?
Throughout college I worked at a boutique that produced clothing and was wholesale. They were the edgy store of Santa Barbara. Then after design school I started my own dress company called Fabric. It was very early 2000’s Cali. It was very sheer silk and circle skirts. I earned enough money doing that label that I was able to move to New York in 2003.
So how did the cloaks come about?
Well when I got to New York I was working on Fabric and assisting One Odd Ruby. I could never afford a winter jacket that I liked. I bought a Scottish walking cape out of Sky Mall or something random. It was a very raw form cloak that wasn’t lined and it was cheap wool. Very rogue. I used it all winter and would layer up and wrap myself with it. I started to like that silhouette and the incubation. That same winter I went to Peru and was really inspired by the highlanders. I hadn’t gone seeking fashion inspiration, but I was struck by the patterns and style. All of it is tribal; the little nuances identify people with different tribes. When I was at Machu Pichu I had a revelation that these people built this structure as a monument around the sun, and it took them 100 years to build. They had to pass it down from generations. So then I realized that I don’t have to think about the end but one brick at a time.
So what did you do in New York when you got back?
I focused on creating these cloaks. I was thinking about tribal identifications with the different women in Peru. It made so much sense in an urban environment. So I thought a lot about prints and Pendleton blankets and started developing the cloaks. I
When did you start designing under your own name?
Judy Rosen of The Good The Bad The Ugly was selling my cloaks and was like, ‘You have to brand yourself.” So in 2006, I started designing under my own name.
Was there a turning point?
They just kept selling and selling. I only made five at a time, because they aren’t cheap to make. There were only less than 20 in the world, and then in November 2008 the Times Sunday Style put a cloak on the front cover. Everything changed. I was a girl working out of my apartment and then I was getting hundreds of emails. I immediately set up a website, which was before everyone had a web store.