This post is the first of what I hope will be many dedicated to the individuals making the goods that will be sold at Hazel & Rose.
Kathryn Sieve and I worked our former day jobs at the same company for years, happened to ride the same bus route to work, and left said former job one week apart from each other, yet we didn't actually meet until two months ago. We both have friends who still work at our former job, and it was those mutual friends who encouraged us to meet, since our new ventures were aligned. I am so glad that we did.
Kathryn is the founder of WINSOME, a collection of handmade clothing and goods based here in Minneapolis. After our initial meeting at Spyhouse in Uptown, I had to see her studio. Kathryn walked me through the pieces she was working on and her process, which is somewhat unconventional.
"I am most inspired by fabric, and so I will go fabric shopping before I have an idea of a design, and I will take that home, and I will design something off of that fabric. And when I buy fabric, I will buy the whole bolt of something ... I typically get my fabric either here at home at SR Harris, or in all of the traveling that I do. And so I will buy the whole bolt, and I will bring it home, and I will design something, and I will create as many as I can out of that one bolt of fabric, which usually ends up being about ten to twenty. And then, when they're gone, they're gone. So, when people purchase it, they need to know that they're buying one of a very small batch of clothing, and they know that it's unique. And when it ships, it ships with a card that has my signature on it when I sew it, and a '1 of ...' however many; so '1 of 20,' or '1 of 15'. "
What really drew me to Kathryn's work, aside from how minimal, modern, and gorgeous it is, is her commitment to transparency throughout her process. She wants her customers to know what goes into what she's making, and part of that means doing everything in her studio in Minneapolis.
"...[W]hat I appreciate most about WINSOME, and the work that I do, is that everyone can have visibility to what's being created, and where it's being created, and where the fabric comes from. So, I try to stay super active on social media, posting the process and what I'm up to. I want everyone to ... understand how it's made and how long it takes to make it. ... And I like that connection with customers. So, going forward, what I'm most excited about is just finding other ways to create more visibility to the work that I'm doing, but then also to find other ways to connect with customers, because I sell things all over the world. And so, even though people can't come physically see the space, how can I still interact with customers, and how can I just offer them the most visibility to the design process here at WINSOME?"
"[It's] super important to me is that everything is created here in the studio, so the whole process happens here. I'll bring the fabric in, all the patternmaking happens here, all the production happens here, and then I'll ship from here. And that's super important to me, because I have visibility to what's going on with my clothing, and that way I can control, you know, the working conditions of anyone that's helping me out, but then I can also really control the quality. And so I physically touch everything that goes out the door, which is super important to me. And that's another aspect of, like, connecting with the customer. Even if we don't connect face to face, or even online, like, touching the garment that's going to someone is kind of fun!"
Finally, I asked Kathryn what made her decide to build WINSOME with this business model, rather than one where she would send things out for production. I loved her answer, because it was absolutely embodied in her work:
"Honestly, mostly because I enjoy it! Like, I'm super happy here and I think that I'm really lucky in that what I really enjoy doing can also be a business. But I totally zen out when I'm here producing things, and I love that aspect of it."