Kindred Black

Last week I had the chance to meet with Alice & Jennifer, the founders of Kindred Black, and learn about their backgrounds and the process that led them to start their own shop. I was blown away when I first came across the site earlier this fall (& wrote about it!), and meeting them and learning about their dedication to selling thoughtful, responsible products was incredibly inspiring. Read on to learn more about Alice & Jennifer, and check out their site to see my holiday picks! It was quite difficult to narrow down my favorites…


We both had been at our jobs for a long time and for the most part loved what we were doing––creating products and a brand experience, the storytelling involved, the gratification of seeing a business run and be successful––but we wanted to do it in our own way, with our own vision behind it. We were both in fashion and getting sick of all of the waste, the crazy disposability of a seasonal wardrobe, the thousands of plastic bags and harmful chemicals. We wanted to find a way to combine our background and love of good design with our desire to do something more sustainable and better for the environment.

We both worked in the fashion industry for years. Jenn had her own band merchandise company and then oversaw design and production for several accessories companies. Alice has a background in photography, design, and branding. We worked together for the past 8 years basically running a company – Jenn as COO, Alice as Creative Director. We have a complimentary set of skills where there’s a healthy overlap, so between the two of us, we can tackle a lot.

Having a chance to do what we love on our own terms, it’s a dream for both of us. We’ve been involved with developing companies before, but there were always constraints based on who we worked for, what their aesthetic was, or which direction they chose for their company. They were amazing learning experiences but to truly dive in and own every decision and aspect of what you’re doing, it’s wonderful and eye-opening at the same time. Also, the overwhelmingly positive response from our customers has been so motivating…we started the company thinking – we’re going to do something in fashion that is sustainable and kinder to the earth and the people behind the manufacturing, and we’re going to do it whether people care about that or not. We won’t be in their face about it but we want that to be part of the experience, if only for us. But people have been so supportive and so positive and have written in just the nicest comments. It’s made us even more committed knowing that there are so many people out there that do care about doing the right thing for this world.


We have so many plans. Expanded categories, more collaborations and partnerships with non-profits, more travel to find special products, and especially new Kindred Black brand pieces. We’ve always planned to manufacture our own line, in fact that was how we had planned to start the company, but we need to decide when the timing is right for that. In the meantime, we’re looking for physical space because it would be super fun to have a small spot that’s a showroom and where we can meet some of our customers face to face.

We’re really excited for our first full year of business. We launched in October, after most designers were deep into fall and the holidays were nearly upon us. We had to hit the ground running and then it’s rush, rush, rush, to get gifts to people. We’re really looking forward to full ready-to-wear seasons and having some time to more fully develop our categories and a lot of the ideas that we’ve been storing up for so long.

We try to travel as much as possible for our shopping, that was one of the reasons we started Kindred Black – discovering regional specialities and coming across off-beat products with great history is something we both love. The holiday season grounded us a bit and we actually discovered that day or weekend trips to places nearby that we’ve been taking for granted can be just as exciting. The Hudson Valley, Connecticut, Pennsylvania…there’s some great craft going on right in our own backyard.

Manufacturing was once one of the foundations of the American economy. Nowadays working factories are few and far between, and often the craftsmen working in them are in their 60s and 70s. One company we work with – Lotuff Leather – has set out to train a new group of artisans to continue their heritage quality process. We’re always looking for scenarios like this, otherwise there won’t be anyone left to foster American craftsmanship. A good example is cowboy boots. There used to be an abundance of small workshops and cobblers all across the west creating the symbolic American shoe. Now there are only 3 factories left in the US making them, and not for long…

That being said, just because something is made in America doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the environment. We were looking for leather and found a great old tannery right in Chicago. After doing a bit of research we realized that that tannery was a major polluter of the surrounding area and that local residents had been trying to years to get them out because of all of the chemicals they were dumping into the area’s groundwater. It’s never simple but if we’re going to try to bring back American manufacturing in a big way, we have to be mindful of how that’s going to impact our environment.

It’s what we know best. We have experience in both, but we never really paused to decide which way to take it – online felt like the natural way to begin. We can reach a much larger audience online and completely control the experience – the imagery, the stories, the customer service. We would, of course, love to have both – brick and mortar, it’s in the stars for us, it’s just a matter of when and where.


We started talking about doing something a few years back. There were a lot of ideas, but it was all very loose and we never could commit to any concrete plans. A little under a year ago, with some new year resolutions weighing on us, we decided to take the first step. And that was coming up with a name, doing all the paperwork, getting our domain and social media handles – which collected dust for another few months while we got up the nerve to leave our jobs. By June we knew what Kindred Black was going to be, we starting doing studio visits, traveling to find product, placing orders left and right. August and September were crazy – photoshoots, building the site, sourcing eco-packaging, copywriting, retouching – and then we launched in early October. So really the bulk of it was done over 5 months.

We didn’t know and that was scary at first! We know what we love and we tested product assortments out on friends and family. There are always things that we both love, but say ‘who the hell is going to want to buy this but us?’ – but then it sells. We have such a varied product range from ready-to-wear and accessories to apothecary goods to one-of-a-kind objects, it’s impossible to know for sure about every single thing. But in general, if we both like it, we figure someone else is bound to too. Sometimes you just have to trust your own taste.

It pretty much influences everything we do. For almost every scenario we find ourselves in we can reference our past life, a situation that gave us the experience to know the right way, and more importantly, the wrong way to move forward. Working in-house for a brand, we really got to sink our teeth into every aspect of running a business – the importance of the little dirty details, how vital good customer service is, how important it is to stick to your guns.


We have a set of guidelines we run every product by and it has to meet at least one of them (but preferably more). For clothing – is it made local to the designer? Are they responsibly sourcing materials? When it comes to beauty, we look for natural, organic ingredients and low-waste packaging. Home goods – is it craftsman made? Is it something that you’d pass down to your grandkids? We also carry a large collection of one-of-a-kind vintage and antique pieces – there are already so many beautiful things in the world, why buy new when you can have something that already exists and is of higher quality than a newer, more disposable version. It really helps to have a set of rules, with so many designers creating incredible things that we love, it would be completely overwhelming to narrow down an assortment.


Be sure to visit KINDRED BLACK and check out my holiday picks!

(images c/o Kindred Black)

The Introduction: No. 6 Clogs

It took a while, but I’m finally on the clog bandwagon.

No. 6 clogs are handmade right here in Minnesota but for many years, I just couldn’t see my Converse & high heel wearing-self rocking a wooden shoe. Lisa & Erin of Hackwith Design House took me to the clog outlet earlier this fall and I tried on a few pairs… and then I got the joke. They are comfortable, warm, and No. 6 has figured out how to make them super cool (if I do say so myself!…). I ended up with these boots, and I don’t really see myself taking them off this winter.

If possible, I definitely recommend trying clogs on first – I found the sizing to be a bit inconsistent, which is not uncommon with handmade products and natural materials. If you are ordering online and are typically a half size, I’d size up.

Shop No.6 clogs at Bird, Mille (10% off through December!), and Steven Alan.



Celebrating Local Pride with Target & Todd Snyder

My love of travel is well-documented; there are few experiences I value more than the opportunity to try and learn new things and immerse myself in different cultures. Getting out of town is always an adventure, but can be exhausting and expensive, so over the past year I’ve made a commitment to actually spend time exploring – and acting like a tourist – in my own city. I’ve wandered around new neighborhoods and lakes, visited museums I always told people about but never went to, and even attempted some cold weather sports! These activities require a bit more time and thought than my typical routine, but have greatly increased my appreciation for the city that has become my home.

Target Todd Snyder Local Pride

In an effort to celebrate my hometown (as well as other cities across the country), Target – a Minnesota-based company (and, as you know, the reason I originally moved to Minneapolis!) launched a Local Pride collection with menswear designer Todd Snyder. To celebrate the collection, Target invited me to spend the day touring Minneapolis with Todd, visiting the places that inspired his collection. I’ve always been a huge fan of Todd Snyder’s work, his commitment to domestic production, and his appreciation for his Midwest roots (he’s from Iowa) and I love the work Target does to support smaller, American made brands (via Made to Matter and the Target Collective) and the community, so I jumped at the chance to join him and play tourist for the day.

We had a blast. We threw on our American made, super soft Local Pride t-shirts and visited:

Spyhouse Coffee – I visit the North Loop and Uptown locations almost daily, so starting at the Northeast location was a nice change of scenery.

Target Todd Snyder Local Pride

612 Brewery – where I found a beer that I actually liked!

Target Todd Snyder Local Pride

The Guthrie Endless Bridge – one of those places I always tell people to visit but never do.

Target Todd Snyder Local Pride

The Nook – where we bowled and enjoyed cheese curds and a delicious juicy lucy (Todd) and grilled cheese (me!).

Target Todd Snyder Local Pride

And at each place, we met with the owners or makers and learned about their story and their process – from the complicated process 612 Brew uses to ensure their beer is delicious to the various owners and celebrated guests of the Nook throughout the years. I started this site because I love a good story, and the day I spent with Todd was a wonderful reminder that you don’t have to go far to find one… you just have to take the time to ask a question!

To see a bit more from our day, head over to Target’s blog, A Bullseye View, or shop the collection!

DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored post – I received compensation from Target in order to promote this collection. I believe in the collection and that the products I’ve chosen to share align with the goals of The American Edit. Thank you for supporting the partners that support TAE. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to EMAIL ME.

The Introduction: American Made Wrapping Paper

Who doesn’t love a beautifully wrapped present? I wish this was an area where I excelled, but truthfully, it’s not. I give great gifts (if I may say so myself), but they arrive in cardboard boxes (shipped directly from shop to recipient) or in reusable canvas totes – because if the presentation can’t be beautiful it may as well be useful!

For those of you who can manage to wrap a present without taping your fingers together, Christine Wisnieski just launched a beautiful new collection of matte black paper with gold patterns… this would be just as good as wall paper as it is as wrapping paper! There’s still time to order if you’d like to see this under your tree this season…
american made wrapping paper

Over the last five years, I’ve spent my days developing American made brands for clients I adore. I’ve handpick clients who I believe in, share common goals with and who inspire me.

This fall, my Cleveland-based studio began creating products of our own. We wanted to work with remarkable materials and like-minded manufacturers to produce memorable well-made moments for all to enjoy. The first product — gift wrap. As someone who believes in tactile experiences, each year I hand paint found paper to wrap up gifts for family and friends. This fall, I evolved those original patterns into gift wrap perfect for any time of the year. Each pattern is printed in metallic gold ink on a recycled matte black paper. The printed wrap is 18” x 24” and folded two sheets per pack.

Shop the collection.
american made wrapping paper

A few more American made wrapping paper options: Black & White Marble, Oil Pastel , pink & gold.