Have you always loved fashion?
[Laughs] Yes! I used to shop from my mother’s closet as a child and I was very inspired by her. She is a landscape architect and travelled a lot and she would always bring back interesting and beautiful finds from her travels – mukluks from Northern Canada and clogs, as well as a great collection of vintage kimonos, so I was used to seeing different types of cultural apparel while growing up. She had UGGs ages before anyone else and couldn’t work out why everyone started wearing a surfer’s shoe during the winter. She knew them as a beach shoe. And then I grew up with Vogue and have always loved fashion and looking at the work of Steven Meisel, Richard Avedon and their cast of muses.
How did Brother Vellies come about?
I was travelling around Africa (Nigeria and Morocco) and I fell in love with many of the traditional items that people were wearing and making . So much so that I wanted to find a way to help them preserve these incredible artisanal techniques that are a part of their culture, and to integrate them into fashion in a way that was meaningful and would help sustain jobs for those workers.
In just three years, starting out from your Brooklyn apartment, you have built an impressive roster of fans. Who you are most tickled by?
I love Beyoncé. I was the first person she ever put on www.beyonce.com that wasn’t herself. That was incredibly flattering.
Did you work in fashion before?
I’d been to journalism school for two years and then I worked in fashion show production, but I had become a bit jaded with the industry: I wanted to be part of the solution not the problem. So the year before I started Brother Vellies I was at a gardening company called Woolly Pocket where we started a school gardening programme and built around 1,000 school gardens across America.