Candace has been sewing clothing for over 15 years. She creates lovely wearable art from her studio in Lexington, Massachusetts. She runs an extraordinary clothing business, without a lot of marketing, and is truly an inspirational designer.
What got you started sewing your own line of clothing?
What got me started was making my own dance costumes. I had been collecting antique clothing (and I mean antique, not vintage) for many years and had opened a small business selling Victorian and Edwardian gowns. Some of them fell apart and I saved every scrap I could and then applied the bits as trim to my costumes. So many people stopped me to ask where they could buy them, that I eventually changed my business from antique clothing to modern clothing, using antique styles as inspiration and aging the materials to get the same feel as the antique pieces.
What are the inspirations for the lines you sell? Does the season matter?
The inspiration is the past...faded grandeur. The season does matter, although in the fashion world, the seasons are all mixed up. When civilians are thinking about tweeds and sweaters, we’re completely involved in pale chiffons and imagining how things will feel in the dead of summer. We’re so out of synch with the actual weather that sometimes I forget that people are looking for something for the holidays...for me it’s almost fall again.
Do you draft your own patterns?
We draft all our own patterns.
What couture techniques do you apply?
We do quite a bit of draping and hand sewing, especially for the one-of-a-kind gowns. Most of our gowns are cut on the bias and because we use such difficult fabrics, they pretty much have to be completely constructed by hand to get them perfect. We also use many of our own techniques for aging and softening fabric and much of it is hand-dyed.
How did you first market your business? I read that people saw what you were wearing and wanted to know where to buy the clothes you had.
I never did market the business, it’s been growing by word of mouth.
Where is the clothing line manufactured?
We make everything in Lexington, Massachusetts and that includes our sweaters and knitwear.
What is your personal time investment? It would seem that you sew and design a great deal.
I’m at the studio all day, every day...and sometimes into the night!
What sorts of materials go into your clothing line? I see a lot of silks and velvets; very luxurious!
That’s it, silk velvets, silk chiffons, silk jersey, and lots of washed linen for our newest knitwear.
Was it a huge step opening up your store?
It was a huge step opening my dance studio with a tiny shop in the corner. After that, it’s been one huge step after another. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I weren’t taking huge steps all the time. It would be so peaceful, I’d probably sit down and never get up again.
Do you have help or support from family members or friends?
My boyfriend, Hans, is very helpful with everything and he has a great eye so I rely on him for feedback. Also, I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful and photogenic daughter who models for me. She has great style and ideas so I always listen to her. Jennifer, the shop manager, is also right there designing with me and I wouldn’t do a thing without getting her opinion. I would be lost without the three of them and Thuy, who interprets our ideas and makes samples.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other people who find you an inspiration?
Hmmm, yes...find your own style, it’s the only thing that comes easily. Then stick to it, no matter what.