Crystalyn's interview is up on the Urban Craft Uprising blog- if you scroll to the bottom and leave a comment - you will be entered to win a $25 gift certificate! http://www.urbancraftuprising.com/meet-the-vendor-crystalyn-kae-accessories/#comments
Who are you and what do you do?
I make hobos, totes, and cross-body bags with a unique blend of sustainable materials. The main core of my designs are made with glazed fabric – which is a coated canvas that looks and feels like leather – but is vegan and machine washable. From there I infuse each bag with some personality: sometimes it’s a vintage silk from a men’s tie factory, other times it’s a ornate velvet upholstery fabric. You never know what I”ll come up with next and I get a thrill out of hunting for new inspiring prints and materials to create with.
What’s the latest thing you’ve been working on?
A new little cross-body bag that is made entirely from reclaimed or upcycled materials!
I have partnered with local design houses in NYC to collect their unused swatches & fabrics to cut up and turn into new bags! Each bag is a colorful mix of leather, fabric, trim so each is totally one of a kind. I find the challenge of making a Zero Waste bag incredibly inspiring. And am happy that this process is not only eco-friendly but also allows for an affordable price point for my customers – while keeping my designs Made in the USA.
What was your first memory of making something?
Since kindergarten my mom sewed all of my clothes. Dresses, pants, jackets – you name it. Partly because Mom is a prolific seamstress, and partly because we were a family of 6 on a schoolteacher’s salary. Each school year we’d come up with a color palette, select fabrics at the fabric store and she’d make my clothes. By the time I was 7 or 8 she let me try the sewing machine and it and I was hooked! By the time I was 12 – I made my first bag: a barrel-shaped duffel bag with neon pink straps and a zipper. I guess I haven’t stopped making bags since.
How far will you be traveling to come to UCU?
I will be traveling from NYC! I’m originally from the Seattle area, but moved to Manhattan a little over two years ago. I love the inspiration and fashion resources that the city life provides – but I miss the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I’m taking a nice long trip and staying for 2 weeks, so I have plenty of time to hang out with friend & family, and get some quality hikes and coastline-wandering.
How did you get started in your business?
I’ve always done crafting and sewing as a hobby since I was in jr. high – but it wasn’t until after I’d earned my fashion degree and was designing for another company that I really wanted to break out and do my own thing. I was working really long hours and mass-producing clothing: it was really soul-sucking. At the time I had been making skirts out of vintage fabric pants and selling them to co-workers and they encouraged me to try a booth at the Fremont Sunday Market and Pike Place market. By 2002, I found an old retail space near Greenlake that I could live in the back of – So I cashed out my 401K and opened my store. (This was years before Etsy existed.) I sold my designs and creations of other indie crafters that I had met at the markets. As my business grew – I chose to focus solely on handbags. One particular batch of bags I had begun to make: crafted from vintage plaid golf pants like my Grandpa used to wear – were such a hit that I hit the road with them! I filled two suitcases with bags and went door to door to boutiques in San Francisco, and then New York. . .and full-fledged handbag company was born. This June, I am celebrating my 14th year in business and am so excited about where my entreprenurial dreams have taken me!