we had thanksgiving and hanukkah with josh’s family in cape cod. his aunt cilla is a ceramicist, and i spent the whole visit poking around looking at dishes, bowls, cups, platters, etc… we stopped in the studio/shop where she makes her ceramics too.
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my job at girbaud was really exciting, even though i was mostly doing “CAD” work illustrating specs for clothing, and my boss had daily meltdowns and yelled at everyone. i made friends with a graphic designer in the office down the hall, anthony goicolea, and he was my first friend who lived in brooklyn. he and his boyfriend had turned a storefront in williamsburg into an amazing apartment where everything was white (this is his current home).
a freelancer named karen who sometimes worked at girbaud told me about the fashion temp agency 24/seven, which sent her on short term jobs paying $20-40/hour. so i left girbaud to be a freelance CAD artist. I loved the flexibility and getting to peek into different companies without making a commitment to work there full-time. at every job people would complain incessantly, and it was nice to just observe from the periphery. i worked at the limited, tocca, and calvin klein. at calvin klein i freelanced for over a year and then was hired as the women’s graphic designer for the denim line. the head of HR had been reluctant to hire me full-time because i didn’t have a college degree, and i’m still thankful to my two bosses who pushed her to overlook it.
working for the CK jeans line was not the most creatively fulfilling job, but my bosses and co-workers were incredibly talented. it felt like a rigorous art school (in fact, they paid for their employees to take one class a semester if it was work-related, and i took courses at parsons and FIT in the evenings). i worked insane hours and made friends i’m really close with today– hi! the company sent us traveling to do market research and i loved going to london and LA (to shop!).
a lot of my inspiration at that time came from international magazines, especially japanese fashion mags. i followed the british/japanese clothing line eley kishimoto like a cult– their patterns made me want to be a textile designer. i loved sofia coppola’s clothing line milkfed, which mostly sold in japan. i’d see chloe sevigny on the subway sometimes and i loved her style. there were lots of small shops in the east village and lower east side that carried collections by independent designers. we shopped at TG170, johnson, alife, built by wendy, and the first steven alan store was in a small space on east 11th, and then later on wooster (where i was introduced to lines like katayone adeli and vanessa bruno). i met cal patch at her shop on rivington, patch 155, and a group of friends and i took a crochet class from her and it reignited my love for handcrafts. i also took classes at the make workshop– a quilting class with denyse schmidt felt life changing.
i interviewed for a job at jill stuart and accepted a position of graphic and textile designer. my second day at the new job was 9/11/01. i stepped out our front door and started to turn right to walk up to 14th street and catch the train, but i saw people staring towards downtown so i turned to look. one of the twin towers had a gaping hole. it looked so surreal. i ran back upstairs and told josh to look out the window. over the next hour we watched from our fire escape as both towers fell and hundreds of people walked up hudson street covered in debris. it was horrible…
the west village changed so much during the seven years we lived there. sex and the city started filming and then perry street became a tourist destination. magnolia bakery, a block from our place, had insane lines. we still loved living there, but basic amenities were disappearing… our laundromat became an expensive eyeglass store and our favorite chinese restaurant became a bank. the meat packing district changed even more drastically. florent closed.
my job at jill stuart turned out to be a disappointment. i wasn’t working directly for jill, but rather for a strange company that licensed her denim line, so i left after 9 months. i returned to freelancing and mainly worked for a small husband-and-wife company, angel textiles. there i learned to expertly make repeat patterns of the most complex designs. i loved the technicality of it and being surrounded by textile patterns all day– i felt like i had found my passion in textile design. i started designing and producing my own fabric, and making pillows under my own label.
most of our friends had moved to brooklyn by 2004. we were hesitant to leave manhattan and our cheap, cute apartment but we started looking at real estate listings. we didn’t know brooklyn well– just williamsburg and parts of park slope. we rented a zipcar and drove around for a day to check it out. we loved fort greene.
(top photo: snowy hudson street in 2001, bottom photos: photographing my own textiles in 2004)
this blog has always been a catalog of visual inspiration and a place for me to post about artists and designers i love, but with a big change coming soon, one that will really alter my visual landscape, i thought i would get some thoughts and memories written down here. with more people using instagram and pinterest lately, this blog actually feels quieter and more personal now. storytelling has never been a skill of mine (unlike jenna who writes about life so beautifully!) so these posts might be boring… but i want to get some details written down before i forget them.
we are moving to california next month! after 16 years in new york (and 18 for josh). we are taking the leap… leaving what we know and love to experience new things and be closer to my family. “life is short” we keep telling ourselves as we panic at the thought of leaving. i grew up in san francisco so this is a return home for me, but i moved here when i was 20 years old so i haven’t lived as an adult anywhere but NYC.
i impulsively left college the summer after my sophomore year and moved to manhattan. the university i attended in oregon was not the right fit for me, and even though i made some great friends i was mostly bored and sad there. my family had a small apartment in a high-rise in murray hill (midtown east, manhattan) used for business, and i pleaded my case to live there temporarily while i “took a semester off to figure out what i wanted to do”. i fell in love with new york immediately.
my first job here was working for a nanny temp agency, babysitting for wealthy families. then i was a salesperson and cashier at canal jeans– a huge, loud “urban” clothing store in soho. that stretch of broadway looked so different in ’97. canal jeans was eventually replaced by bloomingdales in ’03, then came topshop, uniqlo, muji, and H&M. but in the late 90s everyone talked about soho before, when it was all art galleries. josh and i were introduced earlier that summer by a mutual friend and he was living on macdougal and houston, and going to NYU.
in 1998 the internet was still fairly new (crazy) and people mostly found rental apartments in the village voice, the free weekly paper. the new copies came out wednesdays, but i noticed the classifieds posted online late tuesday evenings. i was able to snag our rent-stabilized apartment in the west village (pre-war with a working fireplace!) because i was first to call the broker. i wanted to live in the east village but the rent was so cheap. we loved that apartment and stayed there for 7 years.
we didn’t know it, but we had so much free time in those days. we ate at diners open 24 hours… at yaffa cafe on st. marks, caffe reggio, veselka, mamoun’s falafel, and john’s pizzeria. our friend nick worked at sacred chow, a vegan place, and he gave us lots of free tofu. there were so many music stores– mondo kim’s, bleecker street records, tower records, rocks in your head, other music, and rebel rebel. i would browse through racks of vintage clothes at starstruck, atomic passion, domsey’s, cheap jack’s, and the flea markets in chelsea. we’d see movies at angelika, or the NYU cantor film center, or a dirty theater in midtown that had showings of older releases for only $2. we saw bands play at arlene’s grocery, lakeside lounge, CBGB’s, tramps, brownies, and coney island high. most of those closed in the last decade as downtown NYC got fancier and wealthier and rents sky-rocketed.
with help from my dad, i got an interview for a “real job” in 1999, for an assistant positon at girbaud, a french denim line with a US office in the empire state building. i was hired, and when their graphic designer quit, i asked to stay late and take on extra work that was unfinished in his absence. they promoted me to junior graphic designer.
ok, i’m going to continue this in another post!
(top photo: josh on east 7th, bottom photo: outside our hudson street apartment)
recent zappos purchase
a friend of a friend opened a beautiful new online shop, flotsam + fork, filled with items from her travels abroad.
i love the styling for where i was from