Dealtry

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Growing up in the U.K., Helen Dealtry started her painting career drawing birds alongside her grandfather. “I had a chalkboard, and he would rub out chunks of my drawings and say, ‘that needs work!’” she laughs. Coming from a family of creative people—her feathered-friend-depicting grandfather, carpenter brother, and costume-creating mother among them—she was met with nothing but support when she began an intensive textile, art, and design course at age 16.

Four years and a degree from Winchester School of Art later, she found herself in New York as a trainee textile designer, where her daily work involved hand-painting motifs directly onto silk and stretched organza. “I was surrounded by incredibly talented artists like Lourdes Sanchez,” she recalls. “I’d just want to cover my work every time they walked by my desk!”

But that insecurity was just pure silliness, and, in 2011 after many years of practice and a short stint back in London, Helen had the self-possession to launch Dealtry, a line of ultra-soft patterned scarves drawing inspiration from East Asian brush painting and a bunch of ranunculus scooped up at the Chelsea Flower Market. “Every design I do starts with a hand-painted piece of paper work,” she says. “It’s really important to me to maintain a hand-done feel to my work.” So, things haven’t changed that much—but she has spread her wings. genevieve ang

wokinggirldesigns.com

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Faircloth & Supply

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Phoebe Dahl thinks big. And if her name conjures up images of giant peaches and BFGs, well, you’re on the right track: She is the granddaughter of Roald Dahl and shares a certain penchant for whimsy and storytelling. “I have always lived with my head in the clouds, having dreams bigger than humanly possible,” she says. “I’m the product of growing up in a family that would say that no dream was ever too big.”

Instead of putting her tales down in novels, Phoebe tells them in clothes, in the form of the roomy dresses and the lounge-y overalls that make up her linen-centric line Faircloth & Supply, which she founded in Los Angeles in 2013 after conquering some major wanderlust. Hopping from FIDM in San Francisco to the London College of Fashion, Phoebe then worked as an assistant to a designer in Amsterdam. It was on a business trip to Japan that things clicked for her: “Touring around so many inspiring shops and beautiful linen mills, I left Tokyo with a reignited itch, stronger than ever, to start designing myself.”

And here’s where the story gets even more interesting: Phoebe is hardcore about supporting women’s groups around the world—she’s passionate about donating uniforms to schoolgirls in Nepal, and her next venture is sourcing fabrics hand-printed by artisans in Africa. She has some major plans for expansion, too. “Next could be woven backpacks and espadrilles from Mexico, and beautiful soaps and lotions from France!” she explains. “The options are endless, but one constant binds them together: Everything will be made by, or will benefit, women who live in economic strife and otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and into society.” That’s a narrative we can most definitely get behind. —carly pifer

fairclothsupply.com

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The Stowe

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There was a time, not so long ago, when Molly Spittal’s life felt like a giant puzzle—with one piece missing. She had gone to fashion school in Vancouver, had worked for various designers, and had considered starting her own apparel line, but, as she says, “It just never felt right.”

All it took was one crappy accessory for everything to fall into place. Molly had scored a leather belt that was perfect in every way except for its short lifespan, and when it fell apart, she went hunting for someone who could save it. “I brought it down to this leather shop, and the guy there basically showed me how to fix it,” she recalls. “It was the moment I fell in love with leather.”

Molly doesn’t have traditional training in that realm, but that’s hardly stopped her: She’s been making bags since 2011, and, in 2013, she went full-time on her impossibly slick, Toronto-based line The Stowe. As of now, each duffle, belt, and keychain is hand-cut and -stitched by Molly herself. “It is the most satisfying thing,” she says. “You have a really great idea that you can just translate into a new product—and it works.” jackie varriano

thestowe.com

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Wonderland Honolulu

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Talk about a happy accident: Jess Shedlock didn’t set out to create a line of island-influenced apparel, but when her denim experimentation started getting the attention of friends and complete strangers, she knew she stumbled onto something good. “I was reworking old jeans, and friends started asking me to make something for them,” she says. “I’d post pictures on Instagram, and people were really responding to them. It all took off from there.”

In 2012, while she was working as a bartender, her social-media-fueled extracurricular became Wonderland Honolulu. “At first, I was using repurposed and vintage fabrics out of necessity. My orders were too small for most factories,” explains Jess, who studied fashion merchandising at the University of Hawaii and learned apparel-construction skills along the way. But she soon discovered that working on small scale was not a limitation but a selling point: “I realized that I like having limited-run designs. It creates a buzz when you only have 50 pairs of shorts in a certain fabric.”

This doesn’t mean business isn’t booming, though. Her label has grown so much—and so quickly—that in 2013 Jess moved to Los Angeles to be closer to manufacturers. The change of scenery has also brought some West Coast cool to her bold shorts and flowy maxis. “I’ve always liked California boho style—and mixing it with Hawaiian influenced bright florals and prints,” she adds. The result: the wardrobe equivalent of an umbrella cocktail. —jane gauger

wonderlandhonolulu.com

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AANDD

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“Early on, I would make bags and clothing out of upholstery and wallpaper samples from the office,” says Adam Davidson, who got into the world of accessories—just for fun!—while he was working as an architect. That was, until shop-owner pals of his encouraged him to turn his extracurricular into a full-fledged business.

So, in 2010, Adam created a capsule collection of three pieces, including the core style—the overnight Sea Bag—that he originally designed as a gift for his boyfriend. The trio was a hit among men and women straightaway. “At first I was trying to make everything unisex, but it ended up being too constraining,” he says. “Now I just let unisex happen when it wants to. My aesthetic is always unadorned and minimalist, so silhouettes are left open to interpretation.”

Over the course of the past few years, Adam has drawn on his Seattle upbringing and current NYC locale to grow his made-in-the-U.S.A. line AANDD in a big way—we’re talking backpacks, cross-body satchels, and totes made with materials like Argentine leathers and custom hardware cast in Rhode Island. “Of course, I’m glossing over all of the sleepless nights that the early days entailed,” Adam says. “I would run down to the Garment District on my lunch break. At the time, one of my close friends diagnosed me with ‘bagxiety.’” —alisha prakash

adamanddavidson.com

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Melanie Abrantes

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Melanie Abrantes is, in her words, “a girly chick who likes woodwork.” But it took her some time to embrace that—starting in Texas, where she grew up feeling “like a weirdo,” and then at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where she fell in love with building things and ended up majoring in product design.

Post-graduation, while working as a graphic designer in L.A., she convinced her then-boss to let her attend the 2012 summer workshop at Domaine du Boisbuchet in France, where she initially registered for a cork product-design class—later cancelled because of poor sign-ups. But she was there! And there was cork in abundance! Her experimentation convinced her to get serious about her craft—and to participate in the design show West Coast Craft. Motivated by the $300 she’d dropped to rent a booth, she dove into making all sorts of amazingness to fill her table, from buttery wood bowls and cake stands to minimalist containers in her new fave material that sold out in a snap.

Now, she’s working on her namesake line full-time, and she recently moved up the coast to Oakland, California. There, she’s building her studio from-scratch—constructing a wall was one recent weekend activity. What’s next? “Furniture, I hope! And maybe lighting,” Melanie says. “I would love to do a whole room collection!” Yah, we’d love that, too. —genevieve ang

melanieabrantes.com

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Katie Diamond Jewelry

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Growing up—long before she married into a family of jewelers with the last name Diamond (yes, for real!)—Katie knew she had a knack for design. “When I was little, my favorite thing to do was make clothes for my sister,” she says. “Even before I knew how to sew, I would make things out of paper and tape them onto her.”

After graduating from FIT with a degree in fashion merchandising management, Katie decided to try her hand at the jewelry industry, studying under goldsmith Cecilia Bauer in 2001. A year later, with the basics under her belt and a ring on her finger, Katie, officially a Diamond, took the opportunity to learn the family biz from the inside. “I had access to these people who’ve been working in the business for years and years and were willing to help me learn,” she says.

Her husband sold his family’s nearly 40-year-old company a few years later, and, hard as it was, the timing was kind of perfect: Katie was now poised to carry on the tradition. She took her experience, built out her collection of dainty-yet-edgy pieces (a vibe she likes to call “wearable punk”), and launched Katie Diamond Jewelry in 2008. And she hasn’t looked back. –olivia seely

katiediamondjewelry.com

 

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Primecut

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Though Lizzie Falkenstein launched her pared-down accessories line in December 2013, she’s hardly a newbie: She started her first line, dubbed Lizbags, in the summer of 2008, while still in college studying architecture at University of Oregon. “At the time, I had just purchased a heavy-duty industrial sewing machine. I stumbled upon a beautiful scrap of cowhide on my first shopping trip for leather supplies and ended up making a bag for myself that I have used every day for the last two years,” says the Portland-based maker, who still puts her degree to use designing retail environments part-time.

Lizbags gave way to Primecuts when Lizzie herself felt that she had outgrown the line’s aesthetic and made a move toward something more minimalist. “My bags are purposefully simple to showcase the unique quality of the material,” she explains. And, boy, do those cowhides, sourced from the U.S., Brazil, and Europe, shine: Each clutch, wallet, cross-body bag, and pouch that Lizzie makes by-hand from her basement studio is different—and stand-out—thanks to the crazy-beautiful colors and textures of its main ingredient. “Living in Portland makes you appreciate natural forms and materials,” she notes. “So many things today are highly processed and disconnected from their origins. There’s a lot of natural beauty here that I try to translate in my designs.” —alisha prakash

primecutbags.com

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Lissy Verkade

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When it comes to change, Natasha Chambers doesn’t embrace it so much as she gives it a bear hug. Take this: She and her husband, Oliver Clegg, fell in love with NYC during a trip and decided, then and there, to make it their new home. “We moved from Cornwall, England, to New York City without knowing anyone really,” she says. And then, right on the heels of that big development in 2012, she decided to launch an accessories line Lissy Verkade, named after her Dutch mother.

In her previous life, Natasha worked as a model and then an artist, creating a series of prints influenced by her life in a small fishing village. Her fresh start felt like a killer opportunity to switch up her medium—to move away from pieces that hang on walls to ones that hang from necks.

So she took her multimedia illustrations and used them in a new context—colorful scarves, wraps, and beach cover-ups with strong ties to nature and her travels, including the six-month-long, life-changing adventure through India that Natasha took at 18. “I don’t like when things are supposed to be out-of-fashion or when clothing is called ‘last year.’ I like the idea of staple pieces,” she explains. And sometimes those come from totally unexpected places: “Very often it’s the mistakes or the things I didn’t expect that turn out the best.” —jane gauger

lissyverkade.com

 

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Carolyn A’Hearn

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When Carolyn A’Hearn first tried out jewelry-making while studying graphic design at the University of Iowa, she turned up her nose. “I just didn’t really like it,” she says, “I thought, ‘Welp, this definitely isn’t for me.’”

Fast-forward a few years, and this same woman is crafting ultra-sleek pendants and nearly futuristic earrings—and loving every minute of it. “I don’t really know what changed,” she says. “But a few years ago, I bought myself a jewelry class for my birthday.” Soon enough, she was apprenticing with Caroline Glemann of Liloveve Jewelry and was working on her debut collection, which sought to capture what archaeologists ages from now might find from excavations of the early 21st century. (Yeah, you read right.)

These days, Carolyn, who went official with her namesake line in 2013, can hardly walk down the street without some aggressively elegant shape or intersecting plane catching her attention. “When I get an idea for a design in my head, I draw it right away. My mind is pretty much always aligning and fitting things together in pleasant asymmetries and nice little arrangements,” she explains. In this way, her illustration education comes to the forefront. “I feel like the jewelry has been a very natural transition from two-dimensional work into 3D pieces!” Bet college-age Carolyn could get down with that. —jane-claire quigley

carolynahearn.com

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