We had the good fortune of connecting with Deborah Lindquist and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deborah, how do you think about risk?
Risks for me have mostly shown up as opportunities to learn incredible things. Of course there are times that it may have been smarter not to take a particular risk, but those times are minimal. I have a fearless, even survival quality in my approach to life that helps me make the best of opportunities that come up that I feel I need to say “yes” to. Here are 4 risks that felt huge at the time and started me on the path to where I am today as an eco conscious clothing designer. A big opportunity came up during my education as a clothing designer. I was studying Fashion Design at the University of Minnesota at the time I got invited to Parsons School of Design to attend their summer program. I was then accepted into the fall program which was scheduled to start soon after the summer program ended. I returned to Minneapolis, sold my car, found a way to move all my belongings, and left my friends and family to start a new life in NYC as a student at Parsons and then a clothing designer in that magnificient city that I love very much. I had been working as a designer for approx 3 yrs when I had an idea for my own line. I would often visualize seeing my work on runways, in magazines, in stores. I didn’t know exactly how it would happen or what my line would look like exactly, and was a bit surprised when I had an idea for belts. It was 1983 and the economy was strong, accessories were huge, and stores were enthusiastic about unique indie brands. My father had died a couple of years prior and left me a bit of money which I decided to invest in materials, equipment, and my first tradeshow. This choice did not make my family happy at all. I was only 26, I was told I would fail, I wasn’t smart enough. But I believed in myself, I already knew “why” I wanted to do my own thing, and was confident that I would figure out the “how”. And I did. It was a good time to start for the reasons I indicated and soon I was selling to the best boutiques in the US and internationally. What is certain in life is that things change. I loved New York but growing up as a farmer’s daughter, I loved nature more. I moved to Los Angeles in 1989, driving across the US alone with my cat Fraidy. While she lived up to her name initially (she had been a feral cat and afraid of a lot of things), she soon decided that we’d be in the car for awhile and she may as well enjoy it. I settled into LA fairly quickly. I have wonderful relatives in the area who were welcoming and helpful. I also immediately landed a part time gig in the garment center which helped me find stores to sell my work to. This risk seemed like a good one to say “yes” to. What I didn’t expect is for a brand to knock off my work and do it so badly. I had a very unique product and brand which was a mix of vintage and new materials. I had no choice but to switch directions quickly and take the risk of starting a brand new idea. I started making one of a kind and limited edition jackets made of vintage curtain fabrics and sold them to better boutiques. This was the start of a new direction and a new way to use vintage materials which I loved to “rescue” and turn into a new design. Upcycled/vintage materials are important to my brand as well as organic, sustainable, and deadstock fabrics.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an artist at my core but also an entrepreneur and business owner for 37 years. Fortunately I’ve been able to continually reinvent what I’m doing, and during this time of Covid, reinvention and resourcefulness have been mandatory skills to draw on. I hadn’t considered that this year I would be making masks! Masks have turned into a unique accessory category for my brand. I use vintage and leftover production fabrics to make custom, made to order masks for my private clients, brides, and retailers. I sell them direct to consumer on my website, and earlier this year created masks for charity and domestic abuse shelters. I also create mask necklace chains using findings from my archive of jewelry supplies. Fortunately I have the structure of being a classically trained fashion designer which makes it easy for me to get things done myself if necessary, as it was in the early time of Covid. I started sewing when I was 5 so have had plenty of years of practice and while I’m good at sewing, I can honestly say its not my favorite thing to do all day. I studied fashion design at the University of Minnesota and Parsons School of Design in NYC, then designed for brands in the 80’s before starting my own business. I have always felt that the strong skills and capabilities I learned at both schools have been key in my ability to create an upscale independent ethical fashion brand that has survived the many ups and downs of the world economy and consumer buying habits for over 3 decades. But everything changes quickly so I’m always learning new things. Has it been easy? Not exactly! First of all, I started my business in a cute 3rd floor walkup studio apartment in Manhattan which I redecorated with a cutting table, industrial sewing machine, and kickpress. I had to pack orders on my bed.. There are times it seems easy-when the economy is doing well, when photos of celebrities wearing my clothes are published in magazines and seen on IG, when design, sales, production, and shipping all stay on target. And those times really need to be celebrated. Usually there is something to deal with. Problems have to be solved and its my job to figure it out. I typically overcome challenges by sheer stubbornness and and an unwillingness to give up. But I have also learned to reach out for help when I’m stuck, collaborate with talented individuals, try new ideas, say yes to opportunities that help to get me out of a stuck place. We need each other and by creating a community of people who get us we can find solutions. I know that people feel better about life when they are using their talents to do something they love and can be proud of. I’ve learned that I have to do what is right for me and stick to my core values. I also have worked with many international interns for about a decade who came to study with me. I found that I love teaching my process so teaching online classes is actually a new idea I’m working on. Very exciting, to be announced.. My mission with both of my brands is to make women look and feel beautiful and to promote a healthy lifestyle. I love unique, flattering clothing made of beautiful fabrics and don’t think ethical fashion is or should be boring. I use organic, sustainable, upcycled, and deadstock fabrics to create limited edition and one of a kind collections in my Deborah Lindquist brand. My Green Queen Clothing brand is a sustainable vegan brand based on basics, athleisure, and active in organic and sustainable fabrics.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We love cooking so would shop at my favorite farmers markets for organic produce and make some of the meals. I love supporting small businesses, organic growers and farmers. I love hiking the Farmdale area hike to the Griffith Observatory. The view, architecture, and exhibits at the Observatory are incredible. I like finding indie coffee shops for a snack and matcha when Im out enjoying the day. I would happily go to the Getty Museum because I love the art and the concept. Its a beautiful location to have lunch too. Malibu because of the beach and the vibe. Fish tacos at Neptunes Net would be a perfect lunch, Nobu for dinner. Hollywood Bowl and The Greek Theater for concerts once they are again allowed. I love both of these historical venues for intimate concert experiences. Hollywood for everything Hollywood. Mel’s diner for the nostalgia. Beverly Hills for shopping Ocean air and sunshine- a bikeride from the Palisades to Redondo Beach on the bikepath.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I make wedding dresses and have found an amazing group of wedding professionals called Rising Tide that I have met and collaborated with for several years. We’ve done photoshoots together that get featured in magazines and blogs, hold monthly meetings, recommend and support each other. I’m recommended a lot for bridal alterations and have become the “bustle whisperer”! I’m very greatful to this talented group of creative people.
Other: My vegan Green Queen Clothing brand has its own IG: https://www.instagram.com/greenqueenclothing/
Photographers: Me: Arezoo Jalai Underwater photo: Justin Lutsky Group dresses (nudes) photo: Ruben Domingo 2 Women mixed prints Raesgib Aggerwhil Group photo men and women: Udo Spreitzenbarth Girl in mask photo: Natalie Olson