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Digital Discussions: A Closer Look at Brooklyn Makers | Line & Label

a woman standing in a store

Do you ever dream about opening your own fashion label or boutique? Watch this inspiring video with Kate O’Riley, Founder & Head Designer of Line & Label. She is interviewed by sustainable fashion designer and tour guide, Amalya Meira.

Line & Label is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It is a boutique and studio that has a magical way of offering up just the right mixture of hard edged leather, a delicate necklace and that mystical ring. It’s the shop that every urban woman wishes were on their corner. Let’s find out how it was dreamed up!

Post pandemic, take our small group Sustainable Fashion & Food Tour with Amalya, and experience Line & Label in person!

Here are some transcribed highlights from the interview:

Kate is a small business entrepreneur and an independent designer based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Line & Label store / studio was founded 7 years ago. How did you fall into design?

“I’ve always created and made things. My mom is an artist and she always did projects with us. From the time we were able to hold things. I feel like it’s in my DNA to be a creative. Why design vs art. I’ve always liked to make things that are somewhat practical. I feel like fashion is something that we all need so clothing, handbags, etc. There is something really utilitarian about clothes and I like that about designing clothes. I started most seriously getting into fashion when I was in middle school. I would go to Goodwill and buy things and come home and take them apart. You learn so much by taking things apart and redesigning them.”

That spacial thinking. I also come from a deconstruction and wearable art place. Working with Kate, I’ve seen her in action. The way she constructions patterns for her bags is very interesting because a lot of times they’re one flat piece and then folded. 

“I started making some of those bags as a challenge to myself. Can I make something with as little seam as possible and one piece of leather because it also makes it look so much cleaner.”

And that’s a good thing for durability as well and sustainability. Not having to buy so much. Because the less seams the less stress points in an article of clothing or a bag, and the less likely to wear out. So you’ve always been making, but how did this become a business?

“I went to the Art Institute of Chicago and I graduated in 2000 so by then I already know that I wanted to work in fashion. My professions at school said I needed to go to New York City. So I moved to New York and I had an internship lined up, a graduate from the school. And after three months they hired me.”

What was the job?

“I was the assistant designer, which really meant I cut out samples all day long. (laughs) It was a great way for me to learn patterns. And the same with the job I had after that. If you’re looking every day at pattern pieces and really focusing on what you’re doing, it helps develop this technical side and this eye that I have. It’s the same thing as being able to tell what size someone wears when they walk in the store.”

And also that professionalism and level of perfection that is necessary in certain production lines.

“After I worked for that first company for a year, I heard there was an opening for another designer that I had interned for earlier in college. And that’s who I really wanted to work for. So I was hired there and worked there for 10 years. And that’s where I think I really learned 90% of what I know now. He was such an amazing mentor. And it was a small enough company that I was able to learn so many different aspects of the business from creating samples to production to ordering fabric and trim to sales appointments and shipping.”

That’s a rare thing to get from one job. It really primed you for owning your own business.