NN- Your a lady that wears many hats Linda, Boutique owner and Designer to name a few! Where are you originally from and how did you transplant to philly and why?
LS-Well, originally I am from Virginia, born in Arlington but spent most of my life in Richmond. After high school I spent a couple of years in Washington DC at The Corcoran School of Art as a photography major. In 1999 I decided that DC just wasn’t for me, too much government and not enough city, so I decided to drop out of school and move on up the east coast ladder. I had heard so many good things about Philly that I decided to go for it without even ever going there. I took a visit and fell in love with the city of brotherly love, with all its urban grittiness, history and artistic potential. I then moved up in March of ’99 right before I turned 19. I started sewing and making jewelry and it just took off for me. It started as a fun side project and content for my photographs but when it started selling I decided to take it more seriously and went back to school after a couple of years of dabbling in it. I ended up finishing school at The University of the Arts in 2004 with a BFA in metal smithing and jewelry making.
NN-As a designer I’m sure that your constantly creating, testing ideas and exploring new concepts…Do current trends influence your designs?
LS-Not so much, perhaps in color stories, but I can’t even commit to that, I simply make what I love and hope that the appreciation will follow. I feel more so that trends are finally catching up to the aesthetics and designs that I have always been influenced by and am really excited about current trends because it makes it much easier for me to shop for what I really want to be wearing.
NN-Feather/Leather earrings are popping up everywhere these days…How do you to stay fresh and relevant amongst your competitors?
LS-Well like I said before I am thankful for some of the trends, I feel that it makes my jewelry more approachable by a larger mass of shoppers that would ordinarily not necessarily understand leather jewelry. I’ve been making leather feathers and hoops since 2003 and have watched a lot of customers simply just “not get it”. At this point I am able to make my designs more involved and getting really into the materials in my accessories such as hand printed leather, colored chains, hoops and jump rings. As well as the intricacy of my designs in how they are cut or hang from chains and lay on top of each other; things that make it harder to do in mass production. I am at a point where I can get as wild as I want with colors, shapes and patterns and that is what people are responding the most to.
NN-A few up n coming indie artists(Nikki Jean,Santogold) have been known to rock Fleathers and some of your other designs…How did you link up?
LS-Well another hat I wear is that of a stylist and was doing some work for Two One Five magazine here in Philly. Of course I use a lot of my jewelry in shoots and by default they just can’t get enough and end up coming to my store for more.
NN-What do you do to keep yourself grounded and balanced while juggling being a boutique owner/designer, both are very demanding?
LS-They feed each other. The store, Topstitch, definitely keeps me grounded with all the responsibilities, “balanced on my toes” I would say. Designing is my creative outlet and it keeps the store stocked, so it helps that I can make a lot of what I want to be carrying within the shop. Plus I have a business partner and store manager to help keep things organized and running smoothly as well as giving me time to produce it all. Yoga helps me a great deal too along with the support of my friends and devoted customers.
NN- Can you recommend a few indie spots(fashion,music,art) to check out in philly and why? (wink,wink starting with your shop=)
LS- Topstitch Boutique (my shop) is a great place to go if you’re looking to see what the most talented of local designers are putting out in terms of clothing and accessories for women and men. There is also a fabulous collection of vintage wares for sale, vintage jewelry that has been rescued from the melt down and a cute little gallery with very affordable art. Grasshopper Project is another great shop where I sell my jewelry as well. There is an amazing selection of newer, cutting edge designers from the fashion industry. Wonderfully chosen pieces for men and women too that won’t burn you’re wallet out. Art Star is Philly’s go to place for fun indie art products and great art shows. They also host an annual indie craft fair called the art star bazaar.
NN-Your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and designers?
LS- Follow your dreams and don’t give up!