About Crystalyn Kae Brennan
Creative Director at Crystalyn Kae Accessories
I am inspired by taking a beautiful thing from the past, and infusing it with modern functionality, transforming it into something that will be useful again.
My first encounter with the magic of unconventional style began at an early age. I spent most summer Saturdays with my grandfather Jack. Dressed to the nines with his own odd flair for fashion, mixing red plaid with yellow argyle, paired with white perforated leather shoes and matching belt, Grandpa's effortlessly off-putting way of mixing prints resonated with my 5 year old self.
By my teens, I could be found working with my dad - learning how to restore 1960's-era muscle cars. We'd find a diamond in the rough: then spent every spare moment wet-sanding, painting and my favorite: re-upholstering. It was around this time that I took my first Home-Ec class, and instead of following the assignment of creating pajama pants - I chose to make a duffle bag with zipper.
After earning my degree in Apparel Merchandising and Textiles, with a year abroad doing a life-changing internship at Liberty of London, I found a way to meld my love for retro upholstery, with Grandpa's anachronistic pattern-mixing influence. I launched my first collection of handbags in 2001. Which I took door to door to boutiques in Seattle, San Francisco and New York- and a company was born.
Today, 20 years later, I design and lead production for Crystalyn Kae Accessories, splitting my time between my Seattle workshop and production partners in New York City's Garment Center. I glean inspiration from an array of artful materials: opulent velvets, textural tweeds, and naturally bold ethical leather, with an emphasis on sustainability.
In my *spare* time I am obsessed with restoring vintage industrial sewing machines, gardening, drawing and hunting for fabrics at vintage shops and flea markets across the USA.
Speaking + Teaching + Podcasts + Interviews
Crystalyn Brennan is a pioneer in both vegan leather and zero waste up-cycled leather accessories. Her company, Crystalyn Kae Accessories, fights to reduce the huge amount of material waste in the fashion industry by preventing discarded textiles and vintage items from ending up in landfills.
Crystalyn is passionate about sharing mindful and innovative ways to keep our planet clean without sacrificing style, joining conversations re: why made in USA is so crucial to responsible manufacturing, and strategizing with entrepreneurs about how to incorporate sustainable business practices into every facet of their business model.
Crystalyn is most eager to share insight and join conversations regarding:
- Sustainable product design and sourcing
- Is vegan leather really eco-friendly?
- Upcycling post-production leather scrap into new designs
- Vegetable-Tanned Leather: pros and cons
- Vintage industrial sewing machines and production equipment
- Made in USA production: specializing in working with manufacturers in Manhattan's Garment District
- Entrepreneurship, tenacity, and making it for the long-haul
- Burnout, distraction and imposter syndrome
- How to prepare for
- How to balance multi-channel sales (wholesale, in-person craft & trade shows, website)
- Creative product photography on a shoestring
Crystalyn has served as a guest speaker, mentor or consultant in the following capacities:
Speaker: Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons, Yale: School of Environmental Studies, Pratt institute, Washington State University, Mississippi State University, Girl Scouts.
In-Person & Virtual teaching: Pierce College, Brooklyn Fashion Design Accelerator, Sewing and Stitchery Expo,
Featured artisan: Vegetable-tanned leather Consortium in San Miniato, Italy
Board member: Apparel Merchandising and Textiles at Washington State University, Northwest Art Alliance
Member: New York Fashion Workforce Development Coalition (NYFWDC)
To book Crystalyn for your event, conference, school tour, or podcast: please get in touch here.
Consulting + Strategy Sessions + New Product Prototypes and Testing
Crystalyn has advised and mentored brands to move past road blocks, and she has also helped test new (top-secret!) sustainable materials before they go to market. She can help develop samples and prototypes for sustainable and efficient American production. Crystalyn offers one-on-one consulting and strategy sessions for a fee. Please reach out for more details on hiring Crystalyn to help with your next project.