November 7, 2016
Maker Spotlight + Giveaway
Kordal Knitwear is a textile brand by designer Mandy Kordal, a Brooklyn entrepreneur whose mission is to create garments in an ethical manner by fairly paying workers, designing garments that are not trend focused, and using natural fibers when possible.
These knits will keep you warm all winter long, and Kordal has agreed to graciously giveaway one of their popular seed stitch hats! To enter, follow Kordal on Instagram and tag a friend in our giveaway post. The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, November 9th!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
Kordal is my last name. I remember trying to come up with a business name and couldn’t think of anything that sounded right, so I figured I’d just use my last name!
Have you always been passionate about design?
Yes, even when I was younger I loved going to thrift stores and re-creating things. My parents recently found some sketches from when I was around 10 years old of all of my favorite outfits from Clueless! So funny…
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
We are very considerate of our materials. We work very hard to ensure that all of our garments are created by people who are paid a fair wage. I also think we have a good balance of design and wearability. We produce 80% of our garments in NYC with experienced knitters who work with both handloom knitting machines and Shima Seki whole garment knitting machines. Both processes create a fully fashioned product, meaning no left over materials. Any yarn left over from previous seasons is recycled into other projects or donated to non-profits such as the Textile Arts Center.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
I think those would all be related to production. Not anything major, but little things that are very hard to control, like 60 pounds of yarn being dyed the wrong color, or hats coming in an inch too long. There are a lot of moving parts and I would say the hardest thing is keeping it all flowing and the designs accurate.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Perhaps time with family and friends at the beginning. It’s much better now but the first two years were pretty tough. Between freelancing, working on my own business and also doing some of the production myself, I was spread very thin.
What has been your proudest moment since creating your business?
I’d say it’s a toss up between our collaboration with Shinola, which I’m still so in awe that we were able to partner with such an awesome company, and the emails I receive from customers about loving their pieces. Those interactions mean so much to me.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
From a practicality standpoint, I’m always thinking about whether a garment would be easy to walk around in, or run to the subway, or keep someone warm during the winter… I also really value the mix of cultures and backgrounds in New York, it’s such a special place in that way, and is constantly inspiring.
What valuable experience did you have before starting your business?
The university I attended had a year and half long internship requirement broken up into 6 different 3 month long internships. I think learning how to secure a job, find housing, move to another city, and see other ways of living/cultures was incredibly important. Immediately after graduating from college I began working at Betsey Johnson as a designer.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I was laid off and figured, this is the time to try it, if it doesn’t work I can always go back to working as a designer at another company.
What are some inspirations for your work?
Films, art, dance, people.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Find your niche and don’t worry about what others are doing.
Anything else you want to tell us about your business?
We just hit our 4 years mark this September, yay!