We had the good fortune of connecting with Isa Kriegeskotte and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Isa, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
“Fake it ’til you make it!” This phrase has always bugged me because I think it can be misinterpreted to imply you should do things you are not qualified to do in a professional setting. I think growth opportunities are all around us and are much more productive when they are mutually supported and not faked on one side.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think a lot of what drives us and makes us who we are comes from our circumstances whether directly in or out of our control, and how we choose to or are able to react. I don’t believe this is a linear concept, this changes over time as we age, grow, adapt, and journey through life. Much like the magnificent pearl, becoming more and more beautiful and dynamic with each gentle layer of growth, every experience in life creates new shape and prepares us with a new layer of luminescent armor and beauty with which we are gifted to bring to the next phase of this life. Lucky for me, I was taught the skills that eventually became my career as I have known it so far at a very young age by my wonderful grandmother (who was an incredible professional and master of her craft as a lead pattern maker in the fashion industry having been the go to to big names like Norma Kamali and Bijan), and was encouraged and supported by the rest of my creative and unique family and friends. My grandmother used to tell me I was gifted, perhaps that’s why she spent so much time with me training me to make patterns and teaching me about fabrics and design starting at a very young age. She saw something special in me and she used to tell me that she ‘couldn’t do what I do’. To hear that from someone I looked up to was bound to make an impact, and it did. It gave me the unique perspective that I always had a lot to learn, but also that I had something special to offer that was unique only to me. I think this is a tricky balance and I feel lucky that I learned the way that I did, so I was able to have and keep this perspective. In a lot of ways I think it has allowed me to be open to opportunities in my career, while in others, I think it kept me from relating to other professionals who may have misunderstood my well meaning intentions as intent to compete or that I had motives other than what lay right before us (which to me was to create beautiful things together and to learn). I’ve had an exciting career. I’ve worked on gowns for every red carpet event you can name spanning the globe. Most A-list celebrities, important cultural icons, and politicians have asked for me by name to be their personal tailor or custom clothier at some point or another. It’s been rewarding in so many ways working with couturiers from Paris being one of the highlights for sure. At one point professionally feeling like I had done so much, I remember being so tired and thinking I wasn’t sure what might be next, and then getting a call to see someone I would need to address as “her royal highness”, I was humbled quite quickly and realized “the top” didn’t exist and the journey was mine to make. I’ve also had moments on sets where I was instructed to “not look her in the eye”, and “you will thank me later, just leave”, just leaving me confused and with no idea who to trust. The fashion/celebrity/’the biz’ world has a lot of glamorous moments, but as we all learned from tragic stories like Marilyn Monroe’s and many others before and after her, it’s not all lipstick and rainbows and champagne. I’ve loved every minute of it, and being able to hone my skills and talents and work, and be a part of the most celebrated bodies, artists, performers, minds, influential people, couturiers, and teams in the world was a privilege and an honor. One thing less forgiving in this industry was the concept of boundaries and rest. By the time 2020 rolled around I had been working in Fashion as a tailor and custom clothier for about 15 years, and although still loving working with my clients and wonderful stylists and on the beautiful clothes, I was tired, and no matter how much time I could manage to scrape together to rest, nothing ever felt like enough. The Covid-19 pandemic allowed me a long overdue and otherwise impossible sabbatical that also gave me the time to launch a new venture that I named Living Pearl. The name representing just as I have aforementioned. Pearls form naturally, layer by layer, each slowly acquiring its own unique glow and symmetry – a wild beauty hidden inside the shell of a living mollusk. Living Pearl is a carefully crafted and curated expanding line of jewelry and free flowing garments that stand apart from seasonal fashion trends. Like its namesake, Living Pearl has a quirky charm, timeless and unique – a fierce and quiet beauty all its own. Unique, ever evolving, and growing with the seeds and circumstances that have made you who you are. The idea behind my brand is that the wearer is in charge, you wear Living Pearl, the brand does not wear you. I hope you love my story, I hope it inspires you to slow down, think about who you are, what makes you, you, and reminds you to appreciate each moment- the good along with the bad, I believe they all can lead us to joy and growth!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since covid began my work and my circumstances have totally changed. I’ve been living in flux and have ended up splitting my time between Houston, Texas (a city that is totally new to me), and Upstate, NY (a very special place to me that I LOVE but is very different than the lifestyle I have been living full time for most of my adult life), when I’m not in either of those places I am traveling with my boyfriend or doing gig work mostly in NYC or LA. Because of this, this question is very hard to answer! I’m going to throw it back to one of my favorite places to visit! I love a relaxing and inspirational trip, and on the west coast, I just love the central coast. From driving the windy and perfectly tree canopied sleepy roads between wineries, drinking chilly white wine in the sunshine and eating al fresco at the amazing restaurants often paired at some of those amazing vineyards, tasting olive oil, and all in the California sunshine!! Topping that all off by visiting the most fabulous and eccentric garden that I just love called Ganna Walska Land in Montecito! This amazing garden is the product of the most fabulous traveler who lived life to the fullest and did things her own way. You can read all about her here (https://www.lotusland.org/). Essentially she collected from all over the world and her property now consists of a collection of gardens where at least at one portion of her property is blooming at all times throughout the year. She was a woman of many talents and interests and now her legacy lives on through this amazing property that is open to the public. If I’m with my friends, I would want to share the joys of this space and place, and experience the delicious food and wine of this region with them.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shoutout to my friend Marquita Pring! She’s always been the person who reminded me I am where I am because I am ME, because I have worked hard, and because I stayed true to myself, my values and own path. It’s hard sometimes to not get distracted by people or businesses trying to tell you to do things their way, or the way the industry dictates. Marquita leads by example, and I truly am inspired by her energy, passion, dedication, intelligence, attitude, kindness, and beauty inside and out!
Instagram: @thelivingpearl, @isastitches
Living Pearl Jewelry Photography by Carlton Davis, Modeled by Marquita Pring.