A Closer Look at Brooklyn Makers:
Kate O'Riley, Owner, Creative Directer, Head Designer and mind behind all that is Greenpoint's Line and Label took a minute to tell us more about her story. This boutique/studio has a magical way of offering up just the right mixture of hard edged leather, 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!
Where are you from originally?
How long have you been in New York City?
Since June 2000, so just coming up on 19 years.
What Brought you here?
The Fashion industry - I graduated from SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and my professors strongly encouraged me to leave Chicago and move to New York.
Have you seen many changes/evolutions of the city?
Yes - especially since I was working in fashion during Sept. 11th, and the 2008 financial crisis. Both devastating, and really shook the fashion industry.
How would you say these have affected you/your field?
When the stocks tanked in 2008, many of the retailers that my employer sold to cut back, cancelled, or were just unable to pay for their wholesale orders. The retailer's customers were losing money in the market, and stopped their spending. This had a negative trickle down affect and eventually the designer I worked for filed for bankruptcy and eventually closed in 2011.
Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?
No, not at all! In fact I was totally happy being the right hand to a super talented and creative designer, which I was for about 10 years. But when that company closed in 2011, I had to start to think about what it was I could really do, or what I wanted to do. It was through the short lived jobs after this that I realized I wanted to start my own company.
How did you come to start a business?
I was working for another company, managing their design and production, realizing how much I had learned over the years. It was in a cab ride back from Paris Fashion week, on the phone with my Mom, dreading going back to work the following day. It was then that I thought why am I not giving this a shot myself? And if it doesn't work out, I can always go back and work for someone else. So I started doing research and thinking about what it was that I wanted to do.
How old is your business?
This summer it will be 6 years old.
What about Fashion vs another art or design field attracted you?
I've always loved clothes and how they can make a person look and ultimately feel - it is how we all express ourselves.
Why is it important to you that you keep a (physical) hand in everything produced by Line and Label?
Quality and control are very important to me because it has 'my name' on the product. I want everything I make to have an elevated / designer finish.
How are the designs you put out influenced by your customers? Neighborhood?
I think a lot about my customers and their lifestyles, and try and mix my aesthetic with their sensibility. For example our skirts, I was really only making mini skirts, and this season I made a skirt several inches longer - and they were the first skirts to sell. A lot of w omen are looking for pieces they can wear to work and outside work. I will always make mini skirts though because they are very Line & Label!
You wear a lot of hats at Line and Label, could you please tell us how they inform each other? Perhaps there are some you enjoy more than others?
Definitely some I enjoy more than others, I'd put bookkeeping on the bottom of the list and creating new pieces, looking for new jewelry vendors on the top. But everything is connected and equally important. I try and keep it as organized as possible, and depending on the week or month, certain things are more of a priority.
I'm sure you have met many interesting locals, makers and like minded people after opening your doors, any interesting anecdotes or influential people you'd like to mention?
Yes - I meet loads of interesting local people and makers! And I would say this is one of the best things about owning a retail space - you meet people that you would otherwise not necessarily meet. Local artists and makers, budding entrepreneurs, Brooklyn lifers, tourists, only here would I cross paths with these people.