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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Trend Alert: How to style Over-sized Sweaters

Over-sized sweaters have become one of our favorite fashion trends this fall.  This cozy, cold weather essential can take your look from day to night by simply mixing up your favorite accessories. Start your look by selecting your favorite over-sized sweater — add flats and a beanie for a more casual look or swap out those pieces with booties, a fedora and a cross-body hand bag for the perfect evening look.  Read on to check out three looks we styled to inspire you to wear your over-sized sweaters this season (and next).

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Shop the Look:
Soft Cable Sweater
Tomgirl Jean
Slouchy Marled Beanie (Similar Style)
Suede Bootie

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Shop the Look:
Shawl Collar Cable Knit Sweater (Similar Style)
Vegan Leather Hi-Rise Jegging
Glory Hats Fedora

OVERSIZED_SWEATER_3_19306Shop the Look:
Cable Knit Sweater
Denim X Jegging
Slouchy Perforated Bag (Similar Style)
Open Side Flat

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6 different ways to wear Leggings

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Leggings, ahhhh, every girl’s dream come true… style, warmth and comfort come together for your wardrobe must-have for the fall and winter seasons. If your’e anything like us, then you probably own multiple pairs of the same exact legging and wear them over and over again. To keep your legging style updated and on trend, we came up with six different legging looks for outfit inspiration that you can rock all year long.

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Look One: The run errands, go-anywhere look. Pure comfort meets style in our Printed Legging (similar style), Jegging Hoodie and Reebok Classic Sneaker.

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Look Two: The perfect night on the town look. You’ll be the the life of the party in our Mixed Print Leggings, Henley Sweater, Vegan Leather Moto Jacket, Fitted Baseball Cap and Lace-Up Harness Boot.

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Look Three: Lattes and lunch, anyone? This may be our favorite of the looks. Pair our Ankle Zip Legging and Blanket Knit Cardigan back to our Slouchy Suede Bootie and Glory Hats Fedora.

LEGGINGS_1_8606Look Four: Friday night football game. Hi-Rise Legging, Classic Denim Jacket worn over our Long Sleeve T-shirt, and Textured Zip Bootie.

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Look Five: The campus look. Turn heads this school year in our Zig Zag Legging, Jegging Sweatshirt, Hooded Parka, Riding Boot, Knit Beanie and Geo Pattern Tote Bag.

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Look Six: The Sunday brunch look. Dine with friends in our Floral Legging, Over-sized Cardigan, Chunky Knit Loop Scarf and Double Zip Bootie.

Which legging look is your fave? Tell us in the comments below.

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Trend Tuesday: the Romantic Lace Bralette

What to wear when fall is in the air, but leaves are still on the trees? Transitional weather calls for some layering magic, and our Romantic Lace Bralette is the pretty layer you’ll need under tees and tanks now, and cozy sweaters later. Aerie buyers Ann and Emily are here to show how they style our newest bralette to jump start your #OOTD brainstorming!

Emily rocks her favorite Cable Knit joggers with a henley and an arm party of gold accessories for an easy, no-fuss look.

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Shop the look:

Romantic Lace Bralette

Cable Knit Skinny Jogger

Henley Popover

AEO Bracelet Watch

Ann has created the perfect recipe for Girls’ Night Out style: one part sheer, plus one part peekaboo, plus a splash of lace equals a flirty look that’s totally wearable.

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Shop the look:

Romantic Lace Bralette

AEO Jeggings

How do you layer your bralettes? Tell us below or show us on Instagram or Twitter with #AerieREAL!

Xoxo,

Aerie

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Wear America x Pommes Frites Candle Co.

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Introduce yourself, your business name and where you are from.
My name is Kristen and I’m half owner of Pommes Frites Candle Co. I grew up in Northern Virginia, but I currently live in downtown Los Angeles. By the way… our business name, Pommes Frites may translate to belgian fries, but it’s actually just a goofy play on my last name (Pumphrey). That’s what happens when you start a business at age 22!

You made your first candle at the age of 12, what inspired you to do that?
My sister brought a candle-making kit home from Michael’s craft store, to make and sell candles for a home economics fair. In true little sister, “me too!!” style, I learned to make candles and continued to make them for easy gifts throughout high school. When I started my business after college, it was a no-brainer to make candles again, I already had the tools!

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Tom and Kristen in their studio 

What does the day in the life of Kristen Pumphrey entail?
During the week I usually work from 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. or so. Work usually entails emailing with the shops that stock us (both independent boutiques and our national brands), developing new scents, making sure all the orders are heading out and receiving supplies. I usually take time each day to post on our instagram (@pfcandleco), play with our dog (an Italian greyhound named Max), and go for an iced coffee. Weekends, I love to explore our neighborhood in DTLA, or get away from it all on a quick camping trip.

Your candles smell amazing, what inspires your scents and how do you know which scents to combine?
Thank you! There’s two ways we go about picking scents: brainstorming sessions and direct inspiration. We do a scent brainstorming session once or twice a month, where we will pull out all the oils we have on hand, dip blotting strips, and just start smelling combinations together. A little bit of this, add some of that, mix the oils together. Then the whole team will stop what they’re doing and smell the results. For direct inspiration, we may think something like “we want to create a scent inspired by Big Sur” and we will take a trip to that location and smell everything we can, just taking it all in, and taking notes. This usually gives us a base to start with, a few notes that were prominent to us, then we will take that inspiration to our brainstorming sessions for further development.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Travel and nature are huge inspirations, visiting national parks, camping, or even visiting a nearby botanical garden. We want to produce scents that invoke feeling or meaning and that also smell really, really good.

Can you share the making of a soy candle with us?

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Our soy candles are poured in small batches, but we work from a larger batch to get there. We will melt anywhere from 50-150 lbs. of soy wax at a time. Once the soy wax is melted and has come up to temperature, we add fragrance oil into our giant wax melters.

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From there, the wax is poured off into metal pitchers, allowed to cool, and then poured in into pre-wicked jars in batches of 8-9 (or 12-16 for the mini size). We use the same method I used when I started making candles, just with fancier equipment and on a much larger scale.

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What inspired the packaging for PF candles?
My design skills are pretty limited, having never taken a class in graphic design, but I wanted to make something that felt authentic to me. I loved interchangeable stamps and used them in packaging across the board (when our company used to make more than just candles), so one day, after feeling frustrated with designing on the computer, I went back to basics and just started hand stamping our labels. I wanted the candles to be simple enough that they can exist in your space every day without being too fussy, toeing the line between rustic and clean design.

What is the one scent that we will always find burning in your home?
It depends on the room! For our living room, I like Neroli & Eucalyptus and Summer Breeze. Sweet Grapefruit is always either uncapped or burning in the bathroom. When I’m at work, I like to burn Campfire on my desk.

Have you ever mixed a scent that made you say ‘what was I thinking’?
Absolutely! Luckily with our brainstorming session, it usually doesn’t get past the initial phase. There have been a few combinations that I’ve smelled and said “NOPE!”. My biggest no-no when it comes to a scent is if it gives me or any of our crew here a headache then it gets eliminated from the list. We work hard to make sure our candles can be enjoyed by even those with fragrance sensitivities.

Besides candle-making, what other hobbies/interests do you have?
Camping, bike riding, tending to my ever growing plant collection. And as I said before, traveling and experiencing new places. We try to take a weekend trip at least once a month. We live and work in the heart of downtown LA, so escaping from city life is awesome.

Describe your personal style.
Mostly utilitarian with a little bit of California hippie thrown in. My job is always hands on. You can find me unloading a pallet or unpacking wax or mixing fragrances, so I tend to wear things I don’t mind getting messy. In the summer I wear simple cotton dresses and Vans sneakers. In the winter, I’m all about jeans (including AEO jeggings!) and a simple tee shirt. I usually always wear little stacking rings and copper or bronze skinny cuff bracelets. But my favorite thing to wear, hands down, is a poncho. I can’t wear them at work,just not practical enough, but on a camping trip I usually don’t change out of one. I have this awesome one my dad gave to me when I was a kid; it’s from Argentina. It’s one of those things I didn’t appreciate until I was older.

Tell us something surprising about you that no one would guess!
I may be a candle maker, but I actually studied to become an actor. I did 4 years of rigorous training at NYU’s Tisch School, and right before graduating, I realized it wasn’t the right choice as a career for me. I got involved in the DIY community, and haven’t looked back since. In school, they constantly told us that you have to make your own work – sometimes there wouldn’t be somebody who would want to give it to you or take a chance on you. It was a really important lesson to learn – and one I clearly applied when starting PF.

Anything else you would like to share?
We’re so happy to be able to partner with AEO for their Wear America initiative! It’s awesome to us that the candles that are handmade in our studio by our crew of six can be enjoyed by a wider audience, and that handmade on a larger scale is possible!

What is your favorite scent from PF Candle Co?  Tell us in the comments below!

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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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