I get so excited when I meet designers who work in the fashion industry in Los Angeles. Supporting home-grown designers is important to me. Designers that make a difference, the ones that make high quality product rather than mass quantity. In todays fashion world that is a rarity when the American designers we look up to most were the first to move their million dollar companies to China to make faster and cheaper production.
With just a handful of designers doing this almost two decades ago our economy in the US took a huge dive for the worst. No it was not just the stock market. It was the billion dollar companies that moved over to China along with taking hundreds of thousands of jobs away overnight. It's no secret that a big chunk of the fashion industry is made in China today. It was not always like this, but it's hard to look back because it seems so long ago. I cringe at the thought of how long I have been resisting and going against buying made in China after realizing the problem while working at the designer section in a high end department many years ago. After that enlightenment, it was a nightmare to shop with me....I was obnoxiously checking labels and pulling things out of my friends hands and telling them not to buy into evil...(wink, wink- Holli !). Back then at the start was a significantly fast rise in the made in China phenomenon.
There are many designers that I love who work hard to balance out the fact that they moved their factories to China. For example, they do a lot of giving to counteract the issues that they came to face, and they either bring back some of the work or at least they make sure that there are ethical standards and regularity at the factories that produce for them.
These days, more American designers, especially the new ones are making serious changes to the industry. If they do outsource they are doing it consciously at responsible factories that employ adults specialized in the fashion industry.
I am so excited that our profile today is on a company that does not make in China. She is hands on, designs the patterns and textiles herself, and knows the path they go on before they come back to her as a finished product.
Caitlyn Chase's company is called Caviar & Cashmere, her designs made in LA, and produced beautifully in India. The factory that she works with employs over 200 people, in a positive and hard working environment, with designers there who have MFA in design, and most are from UK Universities. Though they started an NGO (non-government organization) with the family who owns the factory called PROUD which brings in talented artisans from the villages to their factory in New Delhi where they learn a trade and get paid apprenticeship and full housing for a year, then after a year they can have a full time job at the factory or go back to their village and teach the artisanship to the people.
Caitlyn herself is an attractive, eloquent, calm yet sociable personality, with sparkling eyes, elegant and mature beyond her years, and worldly demeanor. Her voice is crisp but with a kittenish tone. After many scheduling conflicts for us both, we finally met and had a chat over drinks at my favorite local spot, White Harte Pub. While getting to know her I quickly realized she is sweet and humble as well as sharp and witty which play a great part in her success. One can really tell that she adores her family, and as modern as she is there is a wholesome-ness to her that is endearing. She is her own muse and and who better than herself to model the lovely scarves she makes. We learn more about her and her company below with my interview of her below the photo's.
Caitlyn, you are a Pepperdine graduate and a successful gutsy business woman! So how did Caviar & Cashmere start?
Caviar & Cashmere started as a luxury lifestyle blog. I was working for a well-known fashion magazine at the time as an editor, but did not get to write about the things I was really interested in. I started a blog as another creative outlet to talk about all the things I loved about life. I named it Caviar & Cashmere because those two things were items I truly loved. I would post about my travels, art, architecture, and fashion on the blog... basically everything that inspired me.
The blog gained a lot of traction quickly, which I did not expect. I had all these visitors from around the world, asking me when I was going to curate a sellable collection of the things I posted about. I asked myself, why not design my own line of things I love? And so I did.
I feel you're line is very luxurious but what was the concept behind the line?
The concept is at its core is luxury, however, my designs are meant to be enjoyed by everyone. I started with very high-end, high-quality cashmere home items, which were inherently more expensive. Shortly after, I introduced a fashion accessory category (cashmere and cashmere blended scarves), which was more accessible. I want everyone to have access to luxury and to just feel good.
Where did the ideas come together and production start?
I teamed up with my mom, who was an interior designer. We decided we would like to design cashmere due to the lack on the market at the time. It was very tough for her to find high-quality cashmere home items at that middle price point. We wanted to fill that gap in the market, and began designing and then sourcing factories to produce the line.
You traveled to India for designing and production of your line, tell me about your trip and experience and how that came about?
When we started with only home accessories (throws, robes, travel sets) we found a factory in Mongolia, which excelled at producing knitted and woven cashmere. We worked with them on the home line, which we still have, but still needed a factory to produce our line of scarves and wraps.
We then serendipitously met a beautiful Indian family through some friends, who were fourth generation Kashmiri. They knew absolutely all there was to know about cashmere, and wanted to help us with our vision for a beautiful collection of cashmere and cashmere blended scarves and wraps.
We decided the best thing to do was to visit them in India to see their entire factory and meet the team we'd be working with. We stayed for three weeks, designing our collection, as well as traveling all around the country with the family. They were incredible hosts to us and had faith in us from the get go. We're still very close with them, and consider them not only our partners, but also family.
How would you describe the core of your line?
The core of Caviar & Cashmere is high quality luxury that is accessible to most. We have a price point for almost everyone. We have Silk/Cashmere scarves starting at $69 all the way up to $995 hand woven cashmere throws.
Your truest inspiration is....?
I am inspired every day, as I try to see the beauty in everything. Most of my original design inspiration has come from my travels. I drew inspiration for prints and knits from photos and the journals I kept while traveling. Today, I do not get to travel as often due to my busy work schedule, so I try to draw inspiration from every day life. The beautiful tree-lined street I never noticed, or the art deco building, down the street from my office that I just cannot help but stare at.
What is your favorite clothing designer?
I have many different designers that I love. My current favorites are Philip Lim, Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, and Rag & Bone.
What is the color that you find most appealing?
I have always been drawn to the color turquoise. I have some sort of emotional connection to it. I grew up on the beach in Malibu, so the color of the ocean mixed with the color of the sky on a clear day is by far my favorite. I am also a Cancer, a water sign, so I am drawn to shades of blue.
What's your pets name?
I had two yellow labs that both lived to 16-years-old, who recently passed away. They were both named after my favorite book, Huckleberry Finn (Huck and Finn.) I still have my 10-year-old Maltese whom I got in high school who I named Pablo Escobar, because he is white!
If you were an Old Hollywood icon who would you be?
I love Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She had such an air of elegance and poise about her.
When you travel - what is something you must take with you?
I always take the Caviar & Cashmere Jet Set Travel Set (the blanket, eye mask, and pillow case come in handy on cold planes.) I also always take a journal so I can chronicle my adventures.
Where is your favorite place to stay in NY?
I visit NYC frequently, as I go to the trade shows twice a year, and I also have a showroom there in the fashion district. I also have many great friends in the city. If I go for work, I like to stay in midtown at the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South. If I am there for fun, I usually stay downtown in Soho at the James.
Where is your favorite place to vacation?
My favorite vacation destination is the Greek Islands. I love sailing and being on the water there, and hopping from island to island. I am also dying to visit Africa and go on safari.
Are you currently in a relationship? How do you feel about dating in LA? - is it fun or perplexing?
I am currently single. I was in a long-term relationship that ended a little bit ago, and have since stayed single. I have found dating in Los Angeles to be very interesting, to say the least. I am not one to recreationally date, so I will probably stay single and focus on work until I meet someone I'd like to be serious with and build something with.
What is your heritage? Do you draw inspiration from your background?
My father's side is Russian, Spanish and Polish, and my mother's side is English, French, and Native American. I have done quite a bit of research on both sides of the family tree, and definitely have drawn inspiration from stories I heard and photos I've found.
Who makes your favorite shoes?
I think Giussepe Zanotti and Sergio Rossi both make the best classic shoes that you can keep forever.
Where do you love to meet up with friends & dine out?
I have a great group of girlfriends who all make a concerted effort to get together on a weekly basis for girls nights. We like trying new restaurants in Los Angeles, so we try to go to a new place every week. If we're feeling lazy and just want to go somewhere we know, Soho House is the best go-to spot.
What is your sport of choice?
I have been practicing Yoga since I was a child, and absolutely love it. I do not think there is another sport I could do that would allow me to feel so at peace - mind, body, and spirit.
Who would you love to put your wrap or scarves on?
I would love to see Kate Middleton wear one of my dressier wraps; I think she would look beautiful in the Cashmere and Chantilly Lace design.
When was your proudest press moment?
Olay asked to feature my mother and I in their ad campaign last year, which was such an awesome experience. We not only appeared in the ads, but we also shared our beauty secrets and spoke about Caviar & Cashmere.
What slang or foreign word do you like to use most?
My parents both lived in Mexico when they first were married, and made it a point to teach my sister and I Spanish, since we visited Mexico so often. I oftentimes integrate Spanish words into my daily vernacular... I am pretty sure that's just called "Spanglish".
What was your favorite film this past year?
I really enjoyed Before Midnight, which was part of the "Before Trilogy", written by Julie Delpy. I think she is a genius.
What is your favorite dish? Do you cook yourself?
I love to cook and am always interested in adding more dishes to my repertoire. I recently learned how to make traditional Provençal bouillabaisse as well as Thai curry. When I go out to a restaurant, I like to go eat sushi.
How do you define style?
I think style is an expression of who you are. It is individualism mixed with confidence and charisma.
What is next for you?
Professionally, I would love to see Caviar & Cashmere grow, hopefully by introducing new categories like jewelry and clothing, as well as expanding our retail selling points around the world. Personally, I'd like to spend more time traveling, enjoying my twenties and appreciating what I have been blessed with.
(all photos are used with permissions and supplied by Caitlyn herself)
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