Wear America X The Urban Smith.

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Please introduce yourself, your business name, and where you’re from.
Hello!  My name is Molly Cruit, and I am The Urban Smith, located in the heart of The Mission district in lovely San Francisco.

Tell us a little bit about your passions and how they’ve influenced your work.
It is a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.  I love what I do, and it was only in my dreams that I could spend everyday working with my hands to create what was in my head.  That dream started as something that I played with, and it became my drive.   When I am not designing and creating, I am learning.  I am passionate about figuring things out, and taking a spark of an idea and turning it into reality.  I want to live my life with the knowledge at my fingertips, and a hammer in my palms.

What’s it like starting your own business?
When something is your passion and the mere thought of doing it is the fuel to that creative fire, it is so fun what can you do! You don’t need a multi-million dollar budget, just an idea, a little creativity, and motivation.  I really was able to let the business evolve into who what it is today, and allowing it to grow naturally led to some amazing discoveries along the way.  Down time is nonexistent, but when it’s your own business you never turn it off.  It all gets tangled up together, and when you love it- it’s always worth it.

How did you get your start in designing jewelry?
I was that kid who was always doing something.  I always loved figuring things out, and absorbed any sort of “how-to”, I could.  I had no idea that I could do this for a career, it was always just a hobby for me.  When The Urban Smith began, it was a table at a flea market.  When I started selling at craft shows, I began to see what people were drawn to and I responded.  At one of the shows the nameplate necklaces I had made (I think 100 of them), had tangled into a large indistinguishable ball.  After hours of trying to untangle, I figured there had to be a better way.  Sometimes that idea light bulb is literally a tangled mess of chains.  I decided to hang my fun necklaces on a card, then into an envelope, then when it all came together the envelope completed the necklace.  It was a merging of so many things that I had learned, metal smithing, graphic and product design, and that became The Urban Smith.


How does it feel to see an idea come to fruition and progress into a fulfilling business?
It is something I have to pinch myself everyday about.  I still get giddy when I think of people I don’t know wearing my product.  It has evolved into a true brand now, and when I get orders from places like all over the US and then Dubai, Japan, and Singapore — for little old me, it still floors me!   I have been building my brand for over three years and have loved seeing it evolve and take shape.  I began the brand very grass roots, lots of samples to friends, lots and lots of trade shows, and many late nights! Knowing who my brand is, and showcasing that vision through my designs is something that is not only gratifying, but just plain awesome.

How does it feel to be able to see a piece of metal turn into a beautiful and meaningful product because of your talent?
It’s the true form of Alchemy — the process of transforming something simple into something special.  I hand cut, sand, and drill each piece that I make, and when it’s all finished and tied up pretty with a bow it still makes me smile.

Each order is custom made, what have been some of your favorite requests?
The Urban Smith is a brand forged from creativity and delicate simplicity, with a little bit of a naughty streak.  This allows me to have fun with the product, the packaging, and the brand identity.  I do everything from custom nameplates, rings, bracelets, and custom handwriting necklaces.  The handwriting necklaces are so personal and special, and capture a part of history in gold.  I really love when people make the items from the heart!  One of my favorites was when a group of 20-something boys got together to find a wedding gift for their gal friend from college.  They contacted me to see the best way to put the wedding date on the gold nameplate.  We added an arrow, the date and then one of them decided to add the Lat/Long of the wedding to the back.  I mean, how cute, right!  It truly makes each gift unique and from the heart.

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Molly Cruit, The Urban Smith

Where do you pull your inspiration from?
I pull inspiration from everywhere.  I love combining fun pop culture references with high end materials and fun graphics.  I am obsessed with packaging and love merging my designs with packaging that makes it sing.  Just being aware of what’s around me and drinking it in, and then of course being able to turn it into something tangible.  I enjoy the challenge of design and creating, and that is so inspiring for me.  When you let go of what the final outcome might be and just dive into that creative process, you never know what can happen.

You talk about the creative process being beautiful to you on your website. Explain!
The beauty in the creative process to me is the process.  I find such simple joy in creating something from that spark of an idea, and find the evolution to an actual product so beautiful.  The trials and errors, the successes, and then something will just click. Exploring playfully with words, graphics and materials has lead me to the work I do today.  I try to give that energy and process into every piece I do, and allow people that order my product that same exploration.  They get to choose their materials, the sayings, the cards, and then get to give or get something that is uniquely their own.  It is really fulfilling and fun!

How has building your business in the US become important to your brand?
The Urban Smith is a small company, attempting something big.  Being American Made is a badge of honor that The Urban Smith rocks proudly.  My brand is a throw-back to the days of working with your hands and the elements.  It’s an homage to the Smith’s of decades past, with a modern twist.  All my jewelry is hand-made in the USA, and all the items are created in my studio in San Francisco.  Being able to use all US made materials and to make each item right here in the US gives me a broad creative freedom and sense of pride in my product.  ( Insert USA-USA chant here :) )

What is your favorite product from The Urban Smith on ae.com?

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Music Monday: St. Lucia

This #MusicMonday, we’re bringing you an exclusive interview and behind the scenes photos of the super-talented, Peter Gabriel influenced and South African natives St. Lucia. Check out the interview below:

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Behind the scenes photos of St. Lucia on September 25th at Mr. Small’s Theater in Pittsburgh, PA

AEO:  People usually want to know what any artist’s influences are. But we’re going to make you narrow that down to the one album that truly affected your path in music.

St. Lucia:  I can easily say Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’. It was a turning point in the whole way that I thought about music, and it’s still an incredibly impressive album today. My parents got it for me one Christmas because of a recommendation of some guy at a mall that they asked what they should get their son, and I remember listening to it the first time and it sounded like noise. I’d never heard anything remotely like it, and so I wanted to return it, but all the ships were closed because of Christmas weekend. So, I was forced to listen to it a few more times, and it started to open up to me. Eventually, I was listening to it nearly every single day a few times. It made me realize that music can be accessible, catchy and can act in a deeper and more cerebral level as well.

AEO:  Being a musician means traveling to a lot of different cities and playing to a lot of different crowds. Which place was your favorite and why?

St. Lucia:  Playing in South Africa was pretty incredible to me because when we did it, I hadn’t played there since I left about 12 years ago. My family all still lives there, and so it was incredibly moving to see all of my old friends and family in the audience, and get to hang out with them afterwards.

AEO:  Where was your first show together and what was it like?

St. Lucia:  Our first show was a secret show at Union Hall in Brooklyn. It was terrifying. We already had a fair bit of hype at that point, and so we felt a lot of pressure to do something great. I think that at that point we were more-or-less standing completely still on stage, at least compared to now.

AEO:  If you could bring just three things on tour, other than your equipment, what would they be?

 St. Lucia: Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Zebra Shirt.

AEO:  Anyone who’s seen any movies about rock bands knows that the tour bus can be like an extension of a wild backstage party or a place for band antics. Tell us the craziest or funniest tour bus story to date.

St. Lucia:  Our craziest one, was when we forgot to close the door of our trailer in Minneapolis on our Winter tour earlier this year. It was the coldest day in 100 years there, -40F, and we ended up driving 30 minutes with the trailer open. Fortunately for us, the only things that fell out were two suitcases. Things could have ended VERY badly.

AEO:  Describe a day in your life in five words.

St. Lucia:  Coffee, Music, Food, Sleep, Try-to-work-out- (In no particular order).

Love St. Lucia as much as we do? Then check out our in-store playlist which features their song, Closer Than This.

 

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#AEOSTYLE Roundup

American Eagle Outfitters is all about expressing your individual style. Show us your original style with #AEOStyle on Instagram and Twitter for the chance to be featured on our blog so we can show the world how you take what we make and make it your own. Check out our favorite looks from this week below!

Shop the look:
Jegging

Shop the look:|
Hi-Rise Festival Shortie
Feather Light Open Cardigan (shop similar)

Shop the look:
Denim X Jegging
Real Soft Favorite Scoop T-Shirt
Plaid Jegging Shirt
Hooded Dolman Cardigan

Shop the look:
Vegan Leather Hi-Rise Jegging
Real Soft Favorite Scoop T-Shirt
Aviator Sunglasses

Use #AEOSTYLE on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram for the chance to see your photo on our AE.com Style Gallery, Instagram, Tumblr or on our blog!

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Wear America X Muses & Rebels

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We sat down with former AEO Women’s Wovens Design Director, Natasha Landenberger, the founder, owner and designer of Muses & Rebels to talk about daily inspiration, the pros and cons of starting your own business and balancing it all. When this Los Angeles native is not hard at work building her lifestyle brand empire, she is spending her weekends making frequent trips to the beach, the Rose Bowl and other local flea markets to find materials, vintage clothing and unusual objects for photo shoots. Basically, she does it all.

How did you start Muses & Rebels and where do you draw daily inspiration from?
I created Muses & Rebels in 2010 after spending a month in Japan with one of my best friends. She had made a beaded necklace that I loved which influenced me to make jewelry while I was staying with her & her family in Osaka. I made my first thread wrapped chain bracelet during this trip. When I returned home, my mom was extremely supportive of the pieces I had made (as most moms are) and told me I should sell them… that was the beginning of Muses & Rebels.  When I launched M&R, it was a new venture into accessories and I am completely self-taught when it comes to jewelry.

On a daily basis I am inspired by images on Tumblr, Pinterest, blogs and magazines. I have always loved the beach and my husband is a surfer, so I am naturally inspired by the surf/beach lifestyle.

You mentioned being completely self-taught when it comes to designing jewelry, can you describe that creative process?
Designing jewelry has been a very different process for me personally than designing clothing. With jewelry, I first find the materials and then design the styles. With clothing, it is the opposite – I design the styles and then find the fabrics and trims that best fit the design. As I am creating the jewelry for a specific collection, I draw from images I’ve curated, key colors for the season, and the overall concept of the collection. Being a self-taught jewelry designer means I am learning new techniques with each design and the collections are growing stronger with my knowledge.

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Muses and Rebels began selling jewelry and and has slowly transitioned to clothing, can you tell us about that natural progression and motivation behind your current assortment?
Coming from a fashion design background, I have always intended to add clothing to the line. I created Muses & Rebels with the idea that it will become a lifestyle brand, not only focusing on jewelry. I first grew the line with a small assortment of hand tie-dyed bikinis and screen printed tees. Adding a men’s jewelry line seemed like a natural progression and also a need in the market. More clothing for both women and men will be added to our online shop with a focus on vintage items that are trend right and pieces you just need to have.

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Can you tell us a little about Muses and Rebels’ “made for you” concept?
The Muses & Rebels’ “made for you” concept means our products are made to order. M&R styles are not mass produced – they are lovingly handmade for each customer in limited quantities. I also like to think of Muses & Rebels as a line with products that are perfect for the individual. These are pieces that are “made for you.”

You’re also a fashion illustrator for many American contemporary brands – how do you balance this, along with your M&R responsibilities?
M&R is my top priority, but I will always make time for fashion illustration opportunities because it is something I truly enjoy doing. In order to keep the business moving forward and take on additional projects, I tend to count every day of the week as a workday. I work a lot, but it is so worth it.

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Can you speak to the pros and cons of running your own company vs. designing for a large brand?
The great thing about running my own company is that I am my own boss. This is a good thing and also a bad thing. It’s great because I am ultimately the decision maker and get to envision and create a brand exactly as I want it to be. Creating a brand and watching it grow and become known is so gratifying and rewarding. It is tough being your own boss because you are completely responsible for all aspects of the business – meeting deadlines, growing the brand, sales, and production. The stress and pressure of the business side of owning a company can be a lot to handle while still motivating to be creative. When compared to designing for a large brand, the business pressure is quite minimal because you have the support of a large company. In many ways it seems easier to design and be creative when you have a team to help produce your designs. Large brands also provide the comfort of a salary, compensation, bonuses and benefits.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in starting their own company?
Don’t wait to start your own company if you have the passion and the idea – take advantage of the moment and dive in. My advice is to be very aware of your financial responsibility for the company, slowly build your brand in a way to minimize your expenses and learn from your customers. It is important to keep the big picture of your company in mind and to not get sidetracked by the minute details.

Want a chance to win a @musesandrebels necklace from our #WearAmerica collection? Follow and RT to enter! See Official Rules for complete details.

 

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AEO Associate Interview: Kai G.

At AEO, we have some pretty talented and amazing associates working behind the scenes to deliver the best  product to date. Senior Fabric Development Manager, Kai Gomes-Brown is no exception to this rule. Get to learn all about Kai and her daily responsibilities at AEO.

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Meet Kai, Senior Fabric Development Manager for AEO and aerie Knits.

Name:  Kai Gomes-Brown

Occupation:  Senior Fabric Development Manager – for AEO and aerie Knits

AEO:  Where are you from?
Kai: 
I’m originally from Fairfield, CT but I consider Queens my home!  I’ve lived in NYC for 20 years!

AEO:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do….
Kai:
  Growing up I always loved fashion!   My love for fashion began in the late 80’s when I started watching Style with Elsa Klensch, (a television show about fashion and design from around the world that aired from 1980 to 2001) with my parents on Saturday mornings.  I would watch the show to see designer runway shows presented during New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks.  I learned a lot about high fashion and the designers that created the collections.  In high school my favorite elective course was Home Economics where I learned to sew and then I attended F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) where I studied Merchandising.  I’ve worked in fashion since graduation for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. As a Fabric Developer it’s very important to stay in tune with the latest and upcoming trends in fabrics and silhouette so I am able to work with designers and fabric suppliers to interpret those trends into fabrics that are in line with the American Eagle Outfitter’s and aerie aesthetics and price structure.  Unfortunately, Style with Elsa Klensch is no longer on television but there are a number of resources like blogs and magazines that I use and are available to everyone to research the latest and upcoming fashion trends!

AEO:  What kind of projects do you find yourself working on from day to day?
Kai:  As I mentioned one of the most significant aspects of being a Fabric Developer is to research in order to stay in tune with the latest and upcoming trends. I work on weekly trend recap reports and competitive analysis reports to share with our designers and fabric suppliers.  Another important function of my day to day responsibilities is to maintain the fabric library that houses numerous types of knit fabrics including: jerseys, ribs, laces, waffles, jacquards and many more.  When a designer is in need of a fabric they can search the library to find a fabric that suits their needs.

AEO:  What do you love most about working with clothing?
Kai:  I love that what you wear is an expression of who you are. It’s really important to me that I develop fabrics that are great quality and on-trend so our customer feels confident when they wear our clothes.

AEO:  We’ve been hearing a lot about plush fabric. Tell us more!
Kai: I’m really excited about Plush!  This fabric is the softest fabric ever!  It’s super cozy and luxe but completely versatile to wear for both day and night!

AEO:  What differentiates plush fabric from other fabrics used in graphic t-shirts and tanks?
Kai:  The biggest difference is that Plush is a rib that is specially treated to get the cozy, plush surface whereas most (but not all) of the fabrics used for graphics, tanks and tees are jerseys with smooth surfaces.

AEO:  What are a few different ways that you can wear this plush fabric?
Kai:  Plush can pretty much be styled with anything!  A pair of AE distressed Hi-Rise Jeggings with AEO Buckle Strap Booties, a Sky High Suspender Skirt with AEO High Top sneakers or a pair of aerie printed Leggings with Riding Boots.  The styling combinations are endless!

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Introducing, Plush Fabric.

Shop the look:
Vintage Plush Heart Graphic T-Shirt
Ruffle Hem Skort
Shimmery Slip On Sneaker

AEO:  What are your top three items for this upcoming season?
Kai:  I can’t name just three!  My top four “most favorite, I can’t wait for fall” items are:  the AEO Sky-Hi Jegging and Vegan Leather Moto Jacket, aerie’s Skinny Jogger and of course, the Plush Long Sleeve T-Shirt!

AEO:  What’s your personal style like?
Kai:  I would describe my personal style as being relaxed, chic and edgy.  I get a lot of inspiration from runway shows and high end designers. I try to interpret that aesthetic into my look but within my budget through-my hair styles, clothing and accessories.  Some of my favorite places to shop are AEO, asos, Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M, Barney’s and Alchemist in Miami.

AEO:  Where do you draw your daily inspiration from?
Kai:  Blogs, magazines, fashion trend services and people watching!  Some of my daily blog reads include:   Stylesnooperdan, MajaWyh, TheyAllHateUs, WhoWhatWear and YahooStyle.  My favorite magazines are V, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Jalouse and Elle Decor.

AEO:  What is your favorite city that you’ve either traveled to or what to travel to?
Kai
:  My most favorite city that I’ve traveled to so far is Barcelona and I hope to visit Paris in the very near future.

Have you worn our new plush fabric yet? If so, tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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#AEOSTYLE Bloggers and Editors Love.

From Cosmopolitan to Refinery 29, we’ve seen #AEOSTYLE featured in some of our favorite magazines and websites. Check out where we’ve been spotted in this week’s Bloggers Editors Love.

Gone Girl’s Emily Ratajkowski was spotted wearing our Skinny Jeans. Also spotted in Cosmopolitan Magazine was our Knit Colorblock Crew Sweater in Fun, Fearless Finds under $50. Us Weekly showcased our Vegan Leather Moto Jacket spotted on Supermodel Lily Aldridge.

20141007_PR_LR Shop the look:
Skinny Jean
Vegan Leather Moto Jacket
Colorblock Crew Sweater

Refinery 29 featured our Quilted Moto Booties, a must- have for Fall.

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Shop the look:
Quilted Moto Booties

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