The Interview: Christy Lynn, Founder Christy Lynn Collection

Christy Lynn launched her namesake collection, Christy Lynn Collection in 2019. Designed in Texas and produced in Brooklyn, the collection embraces Christy's natural talent and disciplined eye for delicate craftsmanship and attention to detail. Expect timeless, feminine silhouettes in luxe silk, organic linen, and elegant florals that you will reach for time and again. We are HUGE fans of the collection. Follow along as we speak with Christy Lynn on her experience in the fashion industry and what motivates her.

PDV: You spent more than a decade in the fashion industry in NYC before launching Christy Lynn Collection, tell us about that experience and how it shaped you into the designer you are today.

Christy: I started my professional career in NYC in 2006, but I’ve dreamt of being a fashion designer since I was 6 yrs. old. I’ve been interested in fine arts and design since I was young. 

I am probably the poster child for everything you imagined as a starving designer/artist living in NYC. After graduating from RISD in Providence, RI I moved into the tiniest walk up apartment right in the heart of the East Village. I’ve juggled several unpaid internships, and waitressed during the nights and weekends to make ends meet.

I remember finding my first job on craigslist, that paid $7/hour working out of a basement of a wedding dress designer’s shop, tracing patterns all day long and selling wedding dresses.

I’ve had many random freelance jobs, creating tech packs or line sheets, sample sewing, sketching, mostly really low paid hourly jobs found through craigslist. It wasn’t glamorous at all, but that’s how much I wanted to be a designer. No matter how small the job or hard the day was, I always woke up the next day feeling optimistic to pursue my dreams.

In 2008 I was randomly called by a recruiter and had 2 hours to prepare for an interview with Nanette Lepore. I remember running to my tiny apartment in the East Village, grabbing my portfolio. I ran back up to 36th Street where her first studio was located, and found myself sitting outside of her office. I didn’t even have time to be nervous.

At the time I was freelancing for a childrenswear company, and during my interview, I remember Nanette asking me, “your sketches are beautiful, so why are you working at a children’s company?” And I remember responding, “I’m just trying to pay my bills.” I made her laugh, and was hired 2 hours later that same day. That’s how I got my foot in the door.

Catherine Malandrino, Parker, and Elie Tahari all came naturally after that.

I believe the first 2 years of relentless job searching, never giving up, and never taking any job too small or big for granted is what got me to where I am today.

In our industry where competition is always just around the corner, and everything is so subjective, the one thing that’s irreplaceable is your experience.

I have had over 12 years of experience that has been nurtured from the very worst days to the very best in this industry. 

PDV: What's the creative process like for you? 

Christy: Everything is hands on and visual during my process. I spend a lot of time researching and developing, I believe it’s a crucial process that needs time to nurture.

The simplest silhouette can become so magical when the fabrication or treatment is mature. I’m not much when it comes to complicated silhouettes, or being overly detailed. I much rather prefer a complex fabric or technique, something unexpected to the most modern silhouette.

I spend a lot of time in the studio with the team playing with fabrics, and creating shapes. It’s my favorite part of the process.

PDV: Who have you learned the most from in your career thus far? Do you have mentors?

Christy: I would say myself, as I am the hardest critic to my own work. I don’t like to ever be comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m taking a vacation when I shouldn’t be.

I’ve learned that once you are comfortable and enjoying the ride of where your collection or business is, someone else is creating something even more interesting.

Each designer I have worked for has been a mentor for me. I would say Catherine Malandrino and Elie Tahari had the biggest impact in my career as mentors. Catherine fulfilled my biggest fantasy learning to create beautiful, romantic, mouth-watering clothing. But in 2016, when I met Elie Tahari, he stripped away everything that I knew about design and re-taught me how to construct proper, tailored dresses suits, and bottoms.

PDV: With the challenges we've seen in 2020 and the shift in business and retail, how have you responded in the way you plan for the future?

Christy: It’s interesting to think about this question because it’s only been 1 year since I’ve founded my business, but spent over 12 years working for other small businesses. 

While I am still learning as a new business owner, what I do understand is that retail is changing rapidly, and the customer’s mindset of shopping has completely changed. It’s actually exciting learning to adapt to a new generation of retail! 

Our motto is to be transparent and genuine with our customers, wholesale and retail.

We’ve been fortunate that our business has picked up since Covid has hit, and I believe this is due to our genuine approach to how we design and produce our garments. 

There is a lot of care that goes into making our garments, especially in the U.S., using the best quality fabrics we can afford, and telling the story of the process of creating the collection.

It’s not enough to be behind the camera anymore, or to think that obtaining the partnership of a huge department store is a win. It’s actually the opposite.

It’s not okay to mass produce clothes where in just a few months things will be marked down heavily, and to keep pushing massive amounts of collections month after month. It’s just not sustainable. Our goal, and mindset is to create timeless but modern pieces in one’s closet that can be kept for years, worn throughout every season if possible. That’s why we have pieces in our collection that are still relevant since we first put out our capsule. Those pieces never go on sale, and we will always bring them back every season.

PDV: What's the biggest lesson you've learned as a business owner?

Christy: How important it is to have a team that supports each other. Starting a company is very lonely, there are many nights where I stay up late doing the grind of data entry, or just cleaning.

But it’s all worth it when, the team comes into our small home office every day and we create magic. I am so lucky and honored to have an amazing team of strong, independent women that are so driven, talented, and love what we do every day to build this company, and the Christy Lynn Brand. It truly feels like a family.

PDV: What motivates you as a designer?

Christy: Our customers. The biggest compliment and achievement I feel as a designer is when our customers reach out to say thank you for creating the most beautiful dress or item and that they will keep it forever. It makes me feel that we are doing something right.