During New York Fashion Week, Ben and I attended a launch party that took place at the Downtown hotspot PH-D for a talented young handbag designer Crystal Kodada that took place at the Downtown hotspot PH-D. Born and raised in New York, Crystal graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and spent some time working for such brands as Botkier (you probably remember that I love this brand!), Nicole Miller, and Jessica Simpson. Crystal’s first independent collection of handbags called “The Experience” is targeted towards women that value quality, functionality, and sophisticated styles. In this exclusive interview, Crystal Kodada shared with the StyleSprinter readers her thoughts about the collection and the importance of being selfless.
Katya Bychkova: What is your background in fashion? Have you received a formal design education?
Crystal Kodada: I studied Accessories Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Both of my parents were FIT students too back in the 1970s. My father worked on the production side, while my mother studied fashion design. They met in college and fell in love. So fashion runs in my blood! I also studied abroad, at the London College of Fashion. While at FIT, I was interning for Betsey Johnson and Donna Karan.
KB: How did you get your first job as a designer?
CK: My senior thesis collection called “Seduced by Extravagance” was showcased at the FIT’s end of the year exhibition. A New York based handbag licensing company saw my collection and invited me for an interview. I landed my first design job in the fashion accessories industry before I even graduated! I am a strong believer that everything in our life happens for a reason, and I use this mantra for my business.
KB: Congratulations, it sounds very impressive! Did you collaborate with any brands prior to launching your brand?
CK: I’ve collaborated with Jessica Simpson, Nicole Miller, Cosmopolitan, and Botkier.
KB: When and why did you decide to open your business as opposed to working for someone else? What inspired you to create your collection?
CK: My first collection “The Experience” was inspired by those positive emotions that I envisioned my customers experiencing as they carried the Crystal Kodada handbags. Each handbag in the collection represents an emotion that I would like to embrace: Impulsive, Exhilarating, Intriguing, Fearless, and Limitless. For example, the Limitless Tote represents my positive experience of breaking free from working for someone else and following my passion by taking chances and starting my own designer brand. I knew that if I didn’t at least try, I would live a life of regret. This tote was the first in the collection, but it still inspires me. I designed this handbag to inspire women to follow their dreams no matter what. By having the Limitless by your side, you will get the feeling that everything is possible.
KB: How do you position your brand? How is Crystal Kodada different to other New York-based brands?
CK: My approach to designing my bags is to offer quality products to those customers that value functional and sophisticated style. I follow my mantra “Everything happens for a reason” while designing my bags. Every detail down to the last stitch has its meaning; I don’t believe in designing just for the sake of designing. My goal as a designer is to create products that make the lives of my customers more positive and productive.
KB: I know that Crystal Kodada brand supports many charitable organizations. Please explain why this aspect is so important for you.
CK: I am very passionate about helping people, and my brand reflects this approach too. There is an entire section on my website called “Positive Causes” where I provide links to many good causes that I support. I believe that being selfless is stylish, that is why I organized my first charitable auction. It was actually at a NYFW launch party for Crystal Kodada brand that took place at the PH-D Rooftop Lounge. I am very glad that we were able to raise money for Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital!