After having spent 6 months in the city of New York with a lot of time to dream and get lost in my thoughts, I came back to India with a purpose. Having quit my first job with a fashion house, to working backstage at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), attending a costume design course at FIT, I was determined to do something. Inspired, I wanted to create something from all my recent experiences and knowledge.
Getting a job as a fashion designer is hard, especially when you're starting out. Companies don’t always have the time to respond to your emails or call you back. Internships don’t always give you the most relevant of work experience, at least this was the case with some of the internships I had done.
There was so much in me that I was desperately looking for an outlet to express myself creatively. To show the fashion world what I was capable of, I decided to create that opportunity for myself. The idea initially was never to start a clothing 'brand'. It was more to create a collection that I could add to my portfolio and in turn would help me get a good job working for a designer/brand.
I collected all my savings from my first job, a grand total of INR.60,000 and bought my very first sewing machine. A Juki home sewing machine, little did I know this would be the first step I'd take to starting my brand - K.Kristina.
Having no funds to hire a full time tailor or pattern master, I appointed myself to work both positions. I always hated pattern drafting in college and it was a huge challenge for me to take on and create all the patterns myself. I'm so glad that this happened because I feel like it helped strengthen my foundation and made me a better designer today.
Once the patterns were ready, it was time to sew! Sewing was something I've always loved, maybe not when I was learning it at first but once I got the hang of it, man! Oh man! I could sit at the machine for hours on end. I began sewing the muslin samples, doing fittings on myself, and once all was approved I would move onto making the final pieces.
Garment test fits on the mannequin
It was more than a year since I had sewn myself, not since back in college and it took me a while to get a hold of it and reach the level of finishing I wanted my pieces to have. This whole process took me about 6 months; from finding the best fabric, a digital printer to help me put my illustrations onto fabric. It was the first time I was working with digital prints and wow! I sure learnt a lot. Once the collection of 20 pieces was ready, it was time to figure out the next steps.
Hand sewing K.Kristina (block printed) labels onto the finished garments.
I was and still am, lucky enough to have a photographer father – Harmit Singh (https://www.harmitsingh.com/), who was more than excited to shoot my first collection for me! We worked together to find the perfect model and team to execute K.Kristina's very first shoot. I was thrilled with the outcome!
Our launch teaser video for Hate to Grow Up
Alongside, I had a really close friend from college, Bhushan Raj (http://bhushanraj.com/) help me with the branding and website for K.Kristina. When my website was ready, it hit me....this was way more than just a collection for my portfolio. It was a part of my identity, my very own brand and I had to own it.
All of this combined lead to 'Hate to Grow Up', my very first exclusive collection of one piece per style. Made to order and completely handcrafted, by me.
Images from our first campaign shoot for out collection - Hate To Grow Up
An ex-colleague and friend of mine Shahin Ansari had opened her own multi designer store earlier that year, in Chennai. The place was beautiful and I decided to ask her if I could sell my collection at her store. She loved the idea and we decided to do something fun for the launch.
The website, the collection and MaalGaadi together, brought a lot of media attention. I had newspapers calling me to ask about me and the collection, clients writing in to place orders.
Here's a link to one of the articles from The Hindu:
It was a beautiful feeling, I finally felt like I had released a part of me into the world. Something I was proud of, something people could relate to and make a part of their lives; that something had now become 'K.Kristina'.