When I decided to forge ahead and get my networking hat on, to track down subjects for these New York interviews, Kelly Reid was at the top of my list. A year or so ago I had spotted a little mention about her Brooklyn based leather handbag line; Reid Damnit in a Frankie Magazine, which had led me to hunt her down online and subsequently post about her. Luckily for me, she is not only supremely nice she is also really well connected and it was on her referral that many other interviews were made possible.
I arrived at the front door of her tidy little brick duplex in a bit of a lather. The wisdom of my iPhone maps app had me walk the “long way” via an industrial, noisy and slightly dodgy route. But my marathon was rewarded with us sitting down to chat over a delicious little pie and colourful parrots (to my total surprise!) flitting around outside her window. With her beautiful strawberry blonde curls, pixie face and red lips she looked every inch the Brooklyn based creative. Fresh, sparky and totally unique.
Kelly lives in an apartment on the top floor of a compact 3 storied building, typical of the East Williamsburg streets in her area. Everything was so supremely tidy and ordered and like most apartments in NYC, spaces are required to have multiple “personalities”. The kitchen table, while perfect for our pie eating, was also a hardy surface used for cutting leather. Beside the sofa was a wall of inspiration, to-do lists and an industrial sewing machine with metal storage drawers tucked beside. Her lovely light filled bedroom and its cupboards stored her clothes, rolls of leather, prototype bags, belts and aprons. So much going on, but so incredibly ordered! (made me blush when thinking about the sprawling mess I live in…)
In 2002 Kelly struck off from Stratford, Taranaki for London with the singular aim to work for Peter Gordon – something she actually achieved gaining a position at The Providores for 2 years. With her Visa rapidly running out she began looking at the globe and planning on her next move, but her connections jumped in and she was invited to go to New York with top chef Brad Farmerie to assist in the setup of Public in Nolita, Manhattan. She was part of the establishment for 3.5 years before moving on and now works at the super popular Marlow and Son’s in Williamsburg.
So at this point, we have established that Kelly Reid is somewhat of a foodie and fine dining service veteran. But all this proves to me is that she is one focused, motivated woman who has worked full time while indulging her creative brain on a project which has led to her own burgeoning business.
The first seed of Reid Damnit was planted when she popped into a Lower East Side fabric store and on a whim took home a parcel of leather which she wrestled into the form of a wallet. Friends loved it and started to put in their orders, which she obliged and began to experiment with technique and form. Now Kelly is no novice in the design stakes. She studied Fashion and Design at Wellington Polytech and one of her first jobs was Visual Merchandising for Country Road, all providing her with a solid basis of technical skills to plough ahead and indulge what was quickly becoming an obsession! Between YouTube tutorials and buying, then pulling apart bags to examine their construction she progressed and perfected her own designs to set up her Etsy store and brand Reid Damnit in 2008.
With the help of Jessica Goldfond of The Shiny Squirrel (who picked her up in 2010) Reid Damnit bags and belts are now stocked in stores across the West Coast, Canada and strong online sales through her Etsy store. All this achieved while still working 5 nights a week at a busy top notch restaurant.
I think it’s fair to say that Kelly and her brand are on the precipice of hitting the big time! And oh so deserving of it! I personally would LOVE to see her work stocked down under!
Kelly + NYC 101:
Lives : East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
What she loves the most about NYC:
-it is ever evolving and changing
-such a positive city !
-endlessly meeting like-minded people
What she misses most about NZ:
-favourite junk foods eg: crunchie bars and burger rings
Favourite NYC haunts:
– Marlow and Son’s
– Atlantis Attic – thrift store
– White Castle – awesome fast food with “sliders” which are tiny burgers
– Variety Café
– Bakeri Café
– rooftop at the Wythe Hotel.
What I learnt from Kelly:
Good ideas are supported by hard work, a reliable income and a wicked smile.
They do not fly on their own.
Yes ..but wait there is more!!
You can win yourself one of these gorgeous Reid Damnit wallets worth US $85 and allll you have to do is tell me in the comments below if you would like it in Forest, Wine or Gold! We have one of each to giveaway!!
(just note that if you visit the Reid Damnit Etsy store you will notice is closed at the moment while Kelly is on holiday in NZ. Sign up so you get the notificiation when it opens again!)
Wine = Melita
Gold = Prue
Forest = Michaela
Thanks to everyone for entering!!!