Q: Tell us about yourself? What do you do, where are you from, where do you live? All that good stuff.
A: My name is Daisy Hartmann, and I'm a tailor, chainstitcher and fashion designer. I grew up on the east coast, just outside of D.C., but moved to New York City when I was 17 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. In 2011, I graduated with my BFA in intimate apparel design and just a month later teamed up with a close friend, Elizabeth, to launch a lingerie line which we quite creatively named Daisy & Elizabeth. We soon realized, (though not quickly enough) that it was costing us more money to produce the lingerie than we were making. So after about 5 years of that, we moved onto our next venture together which was opening a modern western-wear boutique in Brooklyn. That lasted all of a year, before we closed up shop, and I decided to move to California with my husband and Elizabeth made her way to Texas. So after packing up our lives in Brooklyn, and driving cross-country, my husband, Blaine and I landed in Fairfax-- and that was just over 2 years ago. Up until COVID hit, I worked part-time at Levi's HQ in SF, as a tailor and then on my days off, worked on personal projects, chainstitch embroidery commissions and starting my latest entrepreneurial undertaking, Kambric Goods.
Q: Tell us about how you started your clothing line, Kambric Goods. What inspired it? Tell us your path to its inception… including your path always as a creative to Levis to now and all in between.
A: About 5 or 6 years ago, I came across my paternal grandmother's textile portfolios in the basement of my childhood home. My grandmother, Katarina, or Kati as we called her, passed away when I was really little so I don't have many memories of her but from what I'm told, I've followed most closely in her footsteps, as she was a textile designer, seamstress and artist, among other things. Anyhow, my dad let me keep all of her hand painted textiles because he knew they would be better off in my hands than sitting in a basement collecting dust. I was immediately so inspired by them, I just wanted to find a way to properly honor her and do the right thing with them. At the time, I was still working on the lingerie line and they didn't quite fit with our aesthetic so I just kind of put them on the back burner until I could really pay them the attention they deserved. Fast forward a few years later and I found an online fabric printing service so I decided to digitize a few of her patterns and have them printed onto fabrics. I thought because of their mid-century nature they would do well as home goods, like napkins, placemats and dish towels. So I did the whole thing and built a website and came up with the moniker 'Kambric Goods'. But having a background in fashion design, made me feel like this wasn't a creative enough outlet for me and I just didn't feel fulfilled enough by selling rectangles of fabric. So then I decided to change course and make clothing with her textiles.
Q: How about your family? Your partner?
A: I'm a first generation American; my parents are both European (my father from Romania and my mother from England but grew up in Germany and Belgium), and came to the states together about 40 years ago. They settled in DC but are now both semi-retired and moved out to Sonoma about a year before I came out West. I have 2 older sisters and 7 nieces and nephews between them and my sister-in-law. My eldest sister lives in Rwanda with her husband and 3 kids-- though they are taking a sabbatical here in the Bay Area to be near our family during COVID and my middle sister still lives back east with her husband and 2 kids.
Blaine is my life partner and husband-- we met while I was bartending in Brooklyn just over 9 years ago and we've been together pretty much ever since. He's a musician first and foremost-- he plays pedal steel guitar among other instruments, but works as a director of engineering during the day to pay the bills. Oh we also have a very cute shaggy mutt named Gilda (after Gilda Radner; my favorite movie is Haunted Honeymoon-- a must watch if you've never seen it!). We got her from a rescue in the East Bay, and she's a little bit kooky but she's honestly made me a more patient person and Blaine and I are both so in love with her, we probably spend half our conversations talking about how cute she is.
Q: How has this past year been for you? How has it affected your creative outlets? Your design?
A: Ooof, I know this year has just felt like a never ending, constant barrage of crap for everyone, and obviously I've felt every ounce of that too, but i'm also trying to acknowledge how fortunate I am, despite the setbacks. For starters, I was furloughed from my part-time job at Levi's back in April. But I have to say I do not miss commuting into the city during rush hour, so apart from the financial hit, it's been kind of a blessing in that regard. Blaine and I also get to spend our days working from home together, which is really nice, and we haven't gotten sick of eachother yet!
In terms of how this year affected my creativity and outlets-- I think because I was forced to pause and take a step back (I had multiple events and commissions cancelled over the spring and summer) I was given the opportunity to re-evaluate what I wanted to focus on with Kambric and even though some of that is still on hold, I was able to really take my time-- or as some might say, "the longway"-- with my plans. Most notably, I've realized the fashion cycle and calendar is something I really don't need to pay any heed. In my opinion, it's becoming something of the past, especially with the uptick in direct-to-consumer brands and the demand for slow-fashion, I'm feeling less compelled to churn things out on a specific calendar and more just as it feels natural to do so.
Q: Is there any driving philosophy that you have that gets you through the day or challenging times, including this year?
A: I don't really have a philosophy or mantra that I live by. But I always want to be open to learning new things-- skills, philosophies, history, languages. The older I get, the more I realize I know nothing.
I also don't like to compare myself to others--- that's something I think a lot of people do especially as teenagers and young adults and now with social media it's almost impossible not to. But I think it's important to remind oneself that life isn't a race and you're not beholden to anyone or anything; making yourself happy and being a good person should always be your top priorities.
Q: Are there any challenges you face personally or professionally? How do you handle it or work through them?
A: Being a small business owner is challenging in so many ways. But generally, the most difficult thing for me is delegating work to outside parties. Because once something leaves your hands, you have such little control over the outcome. It's like the old adage goes-- if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. That rings so true for me, I don't think of myself as a control freak (maybe it's the virgo in me?) but that's usually where I hit roadblocks.
Q: Is there anything you feel vulnerable about as a woman or individual? If so, would you mind sharing?
A: Oh gosh, I remember as a kid, thinking how badass women were, because I lived in a house full of boisterous, opinionated, confident women. My mom did and still does practice international law, so when I was a kid she was this high-powered business lady wearing suits and traveling overseas constantly. She was already fairly tall at 5'9" but always wore heels to work and I remember she usually towered over most of her colleagues, men included. So I used to think being a woman meant you were this big, strong, powerful being and I still believe that, but when you become an adult you realize just how tipped the scale is and just how much harder women have to work to get where men get so much more easily. I don't know that that answers your question but to put it simply, yes there are a million ways that I feel vulnerable as a woman, but I've always found solace in the things that set me apart, because I believe anything that makes you work a bit harder means you usually end up stronger for it.
Q: How do you try to make creativity a part of your everyday life? Do you sometimes want to not be creative at all to take a break?
A: Oh definitely. Sometimes I have to force myself to carve out time to do creative things, when I'd rather be lying on the couch watching stupid TV or reading in bed. I've come to learn that I like having certain things in order. That's not to say I don't make messes, I just like my mess a certain way and I don't want anyone else coming in and touching it. I can't live without a physical daily planner and I have to write To Do lists every day and that helps me organize and in turn be more creative somehow.
Q: How do you practice self care or treat yourself?
A: Well, I'm horrible about drinking water and it absolutely stupefies my husband who drinks, what seems like gallons upon gallons of water each day. I, on the other hand, will go an entire day and realize I've had maybe a sip of water. So recently I've started a little morning ritual where I make myself a cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice and maple syrup before I have anything else and it just kind of motivates me to continue drinking water for the rest of the day. Also I've definitely upped my skincare routine during COVID-- like i actually have one now, with multiple steps and products. I've never been big on makeup or hair, mostly because I don't really know how to do either (I'm mostly a lip balm and mascara kinda gal if i'm really feeling fancy), but I can get behind taking care of my skin. I also try to do something active everyday even if it's just for 20 minutes-- hiking, yoga, pilates, boxing (we keep a heavy bag in our garage).
Q: What is your go to outfit day to day? (this doesn't have to be anything of your brand....)
A: Straight or wide leg jeans, probably a tshirt I picked up at Goodwill with cowboy boots and usually a couple rings and a small pair of gold hoops.
Q: Anything else we should know about you? Anything you have wanted to tell the world?
A: I feel like that covers it unless you just want some fun facts?