Maker Profile: Krysta McDaniel, Clothing Designer and Owner of Frond - Portland, OR
Hi Krysta! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Krysta McDaniel. I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and moved out to Portland, Oregon about 2 years ago. I make clothing and work part time in a plant and floral shop called Solabee. A few of my main interests include learning about and taking care of plants, reading, watching films, drinking coffee, loving animals, collecting vintage, and being outside and exploring new places.
What lead you to begin Frond?
I had been sewing and making my own clothing for years and never knew what steps I wanted to take to move forward with it or even how to go about it (if I wanted to start a clothing line, if I just wanted to do it as a hobby for fun, if I even had what it takes to start my own business, etc). I love vintage and re-purposing + re-using it to make something new from something old and that's where the original interest started for me. I kept up with posting about the work I was doing or what I was making on social media and eventually it slowly just started to take off in a way. Once that started happening and I had gained more support it just felt like the right direction for me creatively and also felt very encouraging to keep me going and pushed me forward with starting a small business.
Tell us more about the origins of you brand’s name.
I can be such an indecisive person and had so much trouble choosing a name that felt right. I basically had talked about it with some friends a little while back and it just seemed to click and stuck with me. What I do is very much so inspired by nature and I like the name to reflect that. I also am very interested in botany in general and was happy to adopt a botanical term as a name. I want my work to reflect sustainability and choosing environmentally conscious methods, so the name fits in with that too.
How do you source your materials and what inspires your designs?
My favorite way to source materials is definitely second hand. I really prefer re-purposing over all else. It's giving something a new life and wasting less. I have been a vintage picker and collector for a long time, so it's really fun for me to search for special fabrics that stand out to me and are more rare or dead stock material. Vintage designs in general are one of my main inspirations. Taking that inspiration and putting a more minimal and modern twist on it is what I have been really into. Sometimes I don't even know what I want to make, and then I find the fabric and it calls me to make a certain item with it based on it's texture and feel, color, or pattern. I am very drawn to fun shapes and colors, as well as botanical prints. I definitely have a color palette I look for, which right now is a lot of neutrals and pastels. I think since I have been frequenting thrift stores as my main form of shopping for so long now, I've developed a certain eye and taste for what I like (which is heavily influenced by items and material from the 50s-90s). I tend to look for designs that are playful, or that feel like they are printed artwork.
Of course with more production and orders comes the need to not only re-purpose but to also make items that are available all the time and can be staples in the clothing collection. This option is definitely important to me and something I'm still refining. As far as new material, I choose to only work with natural fibers like linen and silk which I love using. They have so many benefits over synthetic material. The feel, durability, quality, and environmental impact with how they are produced are all much better. It has taken a lot of trial and error, but I've found a few great sources online now I really like to get my material from. I am always striving to do better with my sourcing and would love to only use organic material (which can be a lot harder to find) and explore using more of fabrics like hemp as well.
How do you connect with your customers and community?
The main way I connect is definitely through social media via Instagram. It just kind of happened that way. I love the engagement and the support and it truly does keep me going. It takes a lot to put yourself out there, especially to a lot of people you've never met - but I always try to keep things real and honest about how I'm feeling or what I'm doing, and to just try and be my best self (also I think it's important sometimes to not take it all so seriously). I had thought about making two separate accounts for business/brand and for personal, but ultimately decided that merging the two and having it all in one place feels better for me. It's easier for me to connect and be more personal and that's really important to me. I want to keep things really transparent and open with my making, process, and parts of my life.
What are some brands/designers that you are excited about that we should know of?
Ohh dang, this is a tough question for me. There are so many! I'll just name some I've been really into lately. There seem to be a lot of designers in Melbourne that are doing really cool stuff. One of the main things I love about their work is how fun it is and the use of patterns and vibrant colors. Two of my favorites are Abbey Rich (@abbey_rich) and Caitlin She (@caitlin_she). I also adore all designs by Lykke Wullf. The fit and vintage inspiration are so good. To name just a few more - Jamie and the Jones, Hackwith Design House, Sevilla Smith, and of course Paloma Wool. The list could go on and on.
Why do you think it’s important to shop small and support local makers?
I feel like with shopping small and local you're supporting people. It's about investing in your community. You're giving to the local economy, and ethically speaking you know where your money is going more so. You're supporting someone who's trying to make a living off of what they are passionate about creating or doing. I really value supporting other makers and building community. I made a decision a few years ago to only either thrift my clothing, make my own, or buy handmade (and I try to be conscious about everything else I buy as well). The more I grow my business, the more it makes me understanding shopping small and handmade and what's behind that.
You also work in a flower/plant shop that looks absolutely dreamy. What are your favorite aspects of your work there?
It is soo dreamy. I love working at Solabee. I'm only there a few days a week, but it helps me get out of the work from home zone and to be around plants and flowers is really good for my inspiration and mental health. One of my favorite things about working there is that I'm constantly learning new things. Every day I'm there, a new flower comes in that I've never heard of, or we'll get a new plant I have to research and find out the care it needs. I love that kind of environment. I'm also slowly learning the art of floral design which is really exciting for me. Customer service is super enjoyable there because I love talking about plants. The best thing is probably working alongside so many amazing and talented women.
What role has Portland played in the development of Frond?
It's hard to say for sure, but the support I've found here is pretty awesome. I think being around so many other makers has helped me feel fueled as well. The city is driven by creativity for sure. I haven't gotten as involved in local events and markets as I would like to, but that's something I'm hoping to take on in the future. There are also so many local shops that do such a great job at stocking beautiful handmade clothing and goods. I do feel like the work I do is very appreciated in this city and there are many opportunities for makers and small business.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I really enjoy working with my hands. The fact that I get to do that and then finish and create something that goes out into the world and forms a relationship with whoever wears it - can be pretty mind blowing to me sometimes. And then even more so, those pieces make whoever wear them feel good about themselves, and confident and comfortable makes me so happy. I feel passionate about where the slow fashion movement seems to be going, and how more and more people are choosing to support small and local makers and companies over fast fashion retailers like forever21 or h&m. I see a huge difference in the way people are shopping and spending and thinking about the clothing that they wear. Who made your clothing, was it under fair working conditions with living wages, what is the environmental impact of fast fashion? All really important questions. I think what makes me the most passionate is knowing that even if it's in a very small way, I get to be apart of the change in the way we think about clothing.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you faced when starting Frond?
I have had my fair share of these. Fabric sourcing at first was more difficult. I think ultimately my biggest challenge has been time, stress, and pressure from myself. For some reason I never feel like there's enough time in the day. My lists are always endless. I am just one person and can only do so much, but sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the things I want to make or do that I haven't gotten to yet. I have so many ideas. I think this is just how it goes when you own a business (and mine is very small so I can't imagine). I put out things as I feel inspired and have a small collection and sometimes I wish I had a more serious line of clothing. It's something I'm working towards and that's totally okay. It's good to have goals and acknowledge how far you've come. I'm just learning to take things day by day and week by week and be content with where I'm at and what I'm doing. For awhile I didn't have days off. Figuring out a more consistent weekly routine with orders and sewing has really helped. I've been focusing on making sure I give myself time off, outside, and with people I care about.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support other women?
I don't know where I would be without the many incredible women I have in my life. Seriously. So much love, understanding, and support. I couldn't do what I do without those relationships keeping me afloat. In today's world, especially post election - it's so important to come together and support each other. I think society has trained a lot of women to compare and compete, and those ideals and standards need to be broken down. Beauty standards need to be broken down. I am all about uplifting, empowering, and encouraging one another.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I have so many answers for this question. Literally everyone woman in my life. They are a constant source of inspiration. Instead of listing all my friends I'm just going to keep it simple and name someone who's doing what I would one day ideally like to do something similar with business wise. Elizabeth Suzann - I think she is definitely one of the top leaders of the slow fashion movement, making quality garments that are beautiful, stylish, and seasonless - and with so much transparency about her business and practices all the time. It's awesome.
What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
Summertime! Going to the river. Having picnics. Picking berries. Hopefully traveling. As far as my business goes, I'm looking forward to continuing to release new pieces and make more summer items. Summer is my favorite season clothing wise. I am also really looking forward to collaborations. They are something I want to do more of. I have a few planned with friends coming up that I'm really excited to put out.
What do you wish more people knew about you?
Probably that I am super silly. I am a very goofy and giggly person and easily excited. If I was an animal I would be a golden retriever (personality wise). I love making clothing but I don't want my identity to only be that of course. To quote Walt Whitman "I am large, I contain multitudes."
How do you manage a work/life balance?
That's something I'm still figuring out, but getting a lot better at over time. I make so many lists and write everything down. I wake up really early every day. I try to keep in touch with my feelings, level of stress, and what I can realistically do in a day. Lately I've just been making sure I allow myself 2 full days off and that has helped me feel a lot more balanced. It's so easy to just keep working on free days. Saying yes whenever friends ask me to hangout, going on hikes, squeezing breakfast or coffee with someone in before a full day, taking time to do other creative pursuits just because, letting myself do nothing or just lay in bed and watch a movie.
What are some of your favorite places in Portland?
City wise I really like going out for breakfast. Vivienne Kitchen and Pantry is one of my new spots and right in the neighborhood. My favorite local shop lately is called Palace - they have such good stuff! I enjoy Forest Park and the Rose Garden in NW Portland. Nature wise, the Columbia River Gorge and it's endless hikes and waterfalls never ever get old.