We had the good fortune of connecting with Lakyn Carlton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lakyn, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
As cliche as it sounds, I truly couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Of course, the five or six “regular” jobs I got fired from before deciding to really pursue my craft definitely helped solidify the decision. I’d always been creative growing up, but, I think once it seemed unlikely for me to be able to become a fashion designer in any conventional sort of way, I did get discouraged, and then, obviously, my focus became just making money however I could. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I finally dropped the “aspiring” and just became a designer, and threw a lot of–stuff–at the walls to see what would stick to make the dream I’ve had in the back of my head since I was a kid a reality. It’s still a struggle at times, but, it’s the best kind of struggle.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I first started creating out of necessity. I couldn’t afford the cute clothes my classmates were wearing, so I’d go to Value Village on 50 Cent Saturdays and find stuff that I could make my own. Funnily enough, through taking clothes apart, I found such an appreciation for how they were put together, and learning how to make even my simple T-shirts and circle skirts (made from $1/yd Wal-Mart fabric) into high quality garments became my focus, which it remains to this day. It definitely hasn’t been easy to make a living going against what seems to be a very disposable idea of fashion these days. I had to go through many different “looks” at first, trying to keep up with what was trendy on Instagram. Of course, that never worked, because it wasn’t really me. I had to take time away to figure out what my own style was, and what my own design philosophy is, before I was able to channel that into something I can both grow and maintain without burning out. I’m still on the uphill part. I’ve already had a relaunch, and now a re-relaunch. But, creating something that will last generations is my goal, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to start over, especially when your ambitions are larger than life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite thing about LA is how many different lives you can live just traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood, so I would take a Vibe a Day approach. We’d start day one in Venice, grab brunch at The Rose and take some cliche pictures on the Boardwalk. Day two, we head to Beverly Hills, do some window shopping, have lunch at Avra, and then drinks at the Beverly Wilshire, ending the night at Above Sixty. Day three we head to WeHo and…WeHo it up: drinks at Pump, dinner at Sur, shots at The Abbey. Day four, we explore Hollywood: Ideally, there’s a show going on at Bardot, then drinks at Sassafras, or BLACK, or The Well…or all three. Day five, we hit Echo Park/Silverlake, grab some tacos from a truck, get jostled around Tenants of the Trees at night for a bit then ditch it for Short Stop to dance and shoot pool. Day six, we head to DTLA where we check out the fashion district for sequined fabrics and neon faux fur, have lunch at Pattern Bar and dinner at 71 Above. And finally, day seven, we head up to Pasadena, do a little shopping in Old Town then walk around the Huntington Gardens to “connect with nature” after a week of connecting with cocktails. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have been so lucky to have friends–both real life, and “social media” friends–that truly believe in me and go above and beyond to support my business. From my friend Shaun, who has commissioned pieces from me, and even gifted me a dressform to work on; my best friend Austyn who was my very first order when I launched my website; Thressa, who has inspired over half of my collection and constantly serves as a sounding board; Tora, who gave me and my sewing machine a place to stay. I truly wouldn’t be here without them, and, as someone without much family to speak of, even having such loving people around me has been more than enough encouragement to keep going.