NN: Thanks for accepting our invitation, we’re stoked to feature MANIMAL! Now can you give us a little background on Kristen Lombardi the designer,how you came up with the name MANIMAL for the line, and how long MANIMAL has been around?
KL: My mother has a business making curtains and worked from home while my brother, sister and I were growing up. My father is also artistic, and they both taught me to be creative and crafty early on. I studied fashion design in college and afterwards worked odd jobs sometimes related, and sometimes not, to my major. Manimal came to be in 2002 after a life changing visit to the American Southwest. A good friend and I rented a tic tac sized car and drove all around those deserts and canyons. While there we both looked for a good, authentic pair of moccasins to take home, but nothing suited us. When we returned, I checked a book out at the library and set to make a pair as a gift for my traveling companion. I made that pair, then another and another. Somehow that turned into a company…it was all slow going, and a very natural progression.
NN: I was so delighted to read that your another environmentally conscious gal! You use alot of recycled and organic fabrics for your collections, where do you find them and what types of fabrics do you prefer to work with?
KL:I have to say that though I’ve been a vegetarian since I was thirteen, I do love working in leather. The body and texture is so beautiful. I have recently (and finally) found a suede alternative which is pretty close to the real thing, so I offer both and let people decide which they prefer. Thankfully, as more people want to be buying green and environmentally conscious items, the raw materials are easier and easier to find.
NN:The Manimal jeans are so fly from the fit to the style to the cut! What kind of things are running through your head when your hand-making & creating all of these detailed unique pieces?
KL: For inspiration, I look to the traditional costuming and clothing of other cultures and try to interpret them into current looks. It’s a challenge that keeps the design process interesting. I never tire of museums and books. (and thank god for this Internet thing, right?!?!)
NN: I just skipped right over the moccasins which is how this whole thing started for you correct? You made your first pair from a boy scout book, tell us a little bit about that experience?
KL:I guess I jumped the gun and answered this question already up above…
NN: Your studio is your apartment in Jamaica Plain Massachusetts, describe to us a typical day for you from your inspirations to a finished product?
KL:This is every day of my life:
coffee and blogs (lenacorwin.blogspot.com, dianepernet.typepad.com, lovemelovemebaby.blogspot.com, misscrew.com, nothingisnew.wordpress.com, thesartorialist.blogspot.com)
work and NPR.
work and the Colbert Report
NN: I’d like to think that all designers have a goal in mind when they decide to become designers! What is your ultimate goal for MANIMAL?
KL: Cowboy boots!
NN: 3 accomplishments that your are most proud of yourself for, since launching Manimal?
KL: Accomplishment #1: My first press piece was in the premier issue of Martha Stewart’s Blueprint magazine. I was completely shocked when they contacted me, and so so excited. Martha Stewart is the real deal!
Accomplishment #2: Pool Trade show. Last August, I attended my first trade show. I’m pretty shy, so to go and represent myself and not hide away from the world in my workroom was a point of pride, and a good life lesson for me.
Accomplishment #3: Leaving my “day job”. I had work which I loved as the studio manager in the fashion design department at the Massachusetts College of Art. It was a part time position, and I managed to balance both manimal and that job until things with manimal got too busy.
It was a hard decision to leave, but it was time, and I was ready to finally and happily belong to myself.