I studied theatrical design in college, which included costume design. Studying a time period in depth like that – clothing, accessories, furniture, and architecture – really helps you get a sense of creating a world through design.
It allowed me a way to express myself creatively. I could see how design influences the way people see me and themselves. In some ways, fashion is the most personal kind of design and I wanted to use it to explore those things.
Strangely enough, after I started working with leather and canvas, I found out that my mom’s great-grandfather Christen Hansen, who immigrated to the States from Denmark, owned his own horse tack and boot shop in Elk Horn, Iowa. He made all the goods on site and sold it to local Danish immigrants. I recently found a picture of him from 1922, standing in the middle of his shop surrounded by all of his harnesses, tack, boots and tools. The link between the past and the present has always been strong for me. Seeing that photograph made what I am doing now more meaningful.
I’m inspired by things that stand the test of time. Utility pieces that have lasted generations give us a sense of history and trust – we know it will last through this journey and the next.
Bags are our everyday companions. We take them everywhere and they hold our whole life. I like thinking about how to create a bag to complement a lifestyle. Hiking trips in the mountains, day trips to other cities, jaunts to the farmers’ market – all of these activities have different needs. My pieces have their origin in bags I designed for myself or for those close to me. I like problem solving and designing bags for specific purposes is a tangible way for me to do that.
There was, really, no other choice; this is the place to work in theatre, art, and fashion. So many of those industries are based here and I knew I needed to be at the center of it. Making the move was easy, I had good connections through my school and had worked several summers as an assistant for a couple set designers during college, so I had things a bit set up before graduating and making the leap. Plus, the visual contrast was intriguing. I’ve have always valued an east coast dense urban landscape as much as the empty prairies and open skies of the Midwest.
Things happen so fast here, I had to learn to make decisions quicker and not get paralyzed by analysis; a “shoot from the hip” approach can give you some powerful results.
I worked as a designer for Ralph Lauren, designing and directing the installation of the window displays at their flagship stores in Manhattan. Working at such a huge label gave me a lot of insight into how the fashion industry works and how their solid reputation has transformed the line into a heritage brand, which helped me a lot when I struck out on my own.
We source all of our hardware and materials from suppliers in the United States, with most of it coming from the East Coast. I’m a tactile person – I need to touch and feel materials before I am willing to work with them; sourcing locally, logistically makes it a lot easier. I work closely with a family-owned factory in the New York City area – They have been around for about 30 years now and continue to grow. I visit a few times a week to work with the owner to develop final samples and patterns. We then hand it off to his team of dedicated and skilled craftsmen / women, who cut and sew all of our products with great care.
I like providing sustainable jobs for people in this industry, especially after such a mass exodus of the garment industry to China. This kind of skilled labor is vanishing in NYC, that's why it is so important to me to help preserve and rebuild it.
We are in about 12 stores in the NY area and about 6 other stores outside in the states. We recently have just sold to a company in Australia and have been in Japan’s Journal Standard stores for about a year.
I envision TM1985 as a fully formed lifestyle brand. In the next few years, I see our line expanding into outerwear and denim, with furniture, lighting and home accessories not far down the line after that. It goes back to my training in “world-building” – I want to create the full TM1985 experience.