“I have always been into fashion. When I was a kid, my mom would often find me reading Vogue, Glamour, or Seventeen. I would study the pictures and pay attention to the fashion trends and designers. I became very familiar with all the designers, Diane von Furstenberg, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Carolina Herrera were some of my favorites.”
As we dive further into Cindy’s story over the next few weeks, we hope that you enjoy learning about where her inspiration stems and what has brought her to where she is today. After all, Cindy Kirk Designs has grown and evolved over the last 6 years. But for now, let’s back up to where it all began: Sun Valley.
If you aren’t familiar with Sun Valley, it was the first ski resort in the US and is best described as a high desert, all season resort town. Cindy lives for summers so when she isn’t working, she’s hiking, biking, swimming or boating. Between her busy days in the studio designing and marketing, as well as filling her social calendar and summer adventures to be had, we were lucky to sit down and chat with Cindy about her bags.
When she was young, Cindy’s mom was her 4-H sewing leader who taught her how to sew. But for ages, Cindy hated it. Her mom made her sew because she was a home economics major and that’s “just what you do, besides, I think she saw I had a natural talent for it”. However, by the time Cindy got to high school, she realized sewing wasn’t half-bad. She understood that if she couldn’t buy something she wanted, she certainly could sew it. It was between her freshman and sophomore year – when she went back-to-school shopping – that it dawned on her: she could make whatever clothes or accessories she wanted. As Cindy said, “Despite the clothes I purchased, I wanted more. So, I started sewing more of my own wardrobe.” This was a life changing realization as Cindy spent the rest of her summer creating. She would “make freakin’ cool stuff and alter patterns, like (just deleted a whole bunch and reworking) attaching bloomers to short skirts.” This was a total game-changer for her. She would receive a compliment which gave her the courage to keep sewing and creating.
When it was time for Cindy to head off to college, her dad encouraged her to keep sewing. Her parents gave her a sewing machine for graduation – and spoiler alert – she still uses it today. He also told her, “I will buy all of your fabric as long as you sew.” Fabric can be very expensive so, Cindy jumped on the bandwagon, got his credit card and would get her shopping fix by visiting fabric stores and was able to “get some bitchin’ fabric, (never caring about the cost), and whip up whatever outfit I wanted”.
Post-college, newly married into her 20s, Cindy moved to Sun Valley with her husband, George. Still sewing and doing many alterations, Cindy started her own children’s clothing line, Silverlining. This was an endeavor that she took on once her oldest daughter, Audrey, was born. Frustrated at the lack of style and creativity of baby clothes (remember this was 27 years ago) she started making Audrey’s clothes. Her signature at the time was using large floral prints – adult fabric, if you will. The outfits were simple, just a “throw over your head, no zippers, no snaps, no fuss (the kids could easily dress themselves)” kind of look. Similar to her bags today, her children’s clothes had no extra frills but were all crinkles and trimmed with lace at the hem, which was simply her signature style. Silverlining was sold in 16 small children’s boutiques around the country. It was fun while it lasted, but the kiddos grew older and time was of the essence. Fast forward 20 years and handbags were calling . . .