I’ve always loved a gorgeous leather weekender bag… I even remember trying to convince my parents that I needed one for Christmas when I was 13! (they disagreed.) When I learned about Dina Epstein’s LA-based line, Clark and Madison, where she combines vintage fabrics (think, Navajo blankets and Moroccan rugs!) with gorgeous leather to create the most unique weekenders I’d ever seen, I knew I had to learn more! Read on for an interview with Dina and for more information about their current storefront as a part of Arts reSTORE LA!
Nature, I love going on walks and making time to take in everything that is around me. Its a great time to think. Expert craftsmen, chefs, designers, builders. . .people that are incredible at what they do and take pride in everything they put into this world. There are so many people I admire.
WHAT MADE YOU START?
The two of us [Dina and her partner in Clark & Madison, Frosti] had been traveling across the country to see each other for six months, living out of carry on bags. There was one bag I always took that had been passed down to me from my late grandmother. I really believe in things that last. Well made, timeless pieces never go out of style. I still have that bag hanging in our studio, it reminds me to put good things into the world.
WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR LINE?
Well, the name Clark & Madison originated from the story of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. I was inspired with their efforts to explore and map America. Upon completing the expedition, Clark was appointed and the governor of the Missouri Territory by President Madison. Clark & Madison is a depiction of adventure and American heritage.
WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE ESSENTIALS?
Tods loafers, J-Brand jeans, a soft T, cashmere sweater, and a Clark & Madison tote (this is more like my everyday wardrobe!).
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MAKERS?
Don’t be scared, be excited. There’s no better time to start making the life you want for yourself than right now. Getting to wake up each day and make products that I am proud of is extremely rewarding.
WHERE DO YOU ESCAPE?
We love to travel, we were in Baja last weekend and we’re running up to Canada soon for my birthday but most of the time you’ll find us on Sawtelle st. for dumplings or noodles.
WHY DO YOU MANUFACTURE IN AMERICA?
We built this company around the idea of making high quality products locally. By making things here, the products travel less before they reach the consumer, bringing them closer to the source.
WHY IS AMERICAN MADE IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I think it is important to create jobs here in in the US.
WHY IS YOUR COLLECTION SPECIAL?
All of our bags are made in limited quantities from materials that have been hand selected. I can name 90% of all the people that touch our bags before they make it into the consumers hands. It is more about a lifestyle choice. It is wonderful to be able to know the story behind the products you have, to know that every piece is significant and has exceptional quality. Our bags will last you a lifetime or more. They are meant to go on vacations and adventures with you! When you pack it up you should be excited for the journey your about to embark on. It will stay with you through all your journeys and hopefully like my trusted bag from my grandmother carry not just clothes but many memories. Take away all other luxuries in life but if have the ability to make someone happy, that is the most special gift, and those trips are our happy times.
You can always support Clark & Madison via their site, but they are also currently available at Arts ReSTORE LA: Westwood, an effort that aims to re-energize Westwood Village with the creative force of local Angeleno artisans and craftspeople. For over a decade, the once vibrant Village has fallen on hard times and has lost the unique luster that made it a destination neighborhood on LA’s westside. This fall, from November 1 to 24, the Hammer will fill empty storefront spaces donated by landlords with artisan vendors, setting the stage for a new retail experience in the neighborhood and an opportunity to revitalize the Village community.
If you make it, let me know – I’m so sad that I don’t have a trip to LA planned this month! Thanks Dina for sharing your story with us!