By: Anne Vickman
EmersonMade is one fabulous fashion line that we (and an increasing number of others) are swooning over. New Hampshire residents Emerson and Ryan Fry oversee the making of apparel and accessories for their online shop, Emersonmade.com, while splitting their time between New York City and their fabulous farm, which we shot for our last issue of Boston Home. The ever-busy Emerson took some time (while traveling through India!) to chat with Bostonista about her style and inspiration.
You have a very put-together style that’s a balance of preppy, romantic, classic, and retro. Where did it come from?
The easiest way [to summarize] would be to say it’s a mix of my favorite things from travel, great old films, books, and five million glimpses of greatness around the world.
Walk me through a day in the life of Emerson and Ryan.
Well it’s more of a run these days, I’ll have to admit. Dang! We work from dawn to dusk, so we get up at around 5 a.m., which is great these days now that we have our Pomeranian, Pedro. he’s really something to look forward to. The early morning is time to go for a “think-run”: a good fast jog for about an hour, which is how long it takes to really get a good think in before the day starts. Then it’s into office to work on the line, process photos, and so on. We produce the clothing line in Manhattan, so we commute into the New York office frequently, which is a nice mix of farm and city. It’s a wonderful thing to get into the city just about every week. Now that it’s getting warm the peepers are singing at night at the farm, so thank God, I think it’s really spring.
Any plans to add never-before-seen items to your line, like hats or pajamas?
Yes! We’ve got pajamas — they’re just like men’s pajamas from the ’50s. And we’ve also got hats! Slouchy ones. The big items I’m looking forward to are our traditionally blocked prints from India, which are in development now. These are special, limited-edition pieces for our ILoveUIndia collection, and they are beautiful.
Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?
Yes, always. But recently I found a journal from when I was 11 years old, and within all the sketches there was a bit about being an environmentalist. That’s what I called it back then. So I think we’ll try to set up some things with EmersonMade in the next couple years to help the world a bit. I prefer to be my own taskmaster, which is why I now work around 18 hours a day for the most demanding boss there is…myself! Craaaaack goes the whip! Craaaaaaaaack!
You’re currently traveling through India. What sorts of things are you seeing and experiencing that inspire you?
India is extraordinary! In particular, the intricacy of the decoration that everyday people put into their lives. And the craftsmanship — it is amazing. Millions of tiny stitches on festival skirts and traditional dresses. Handpainted walls that look like the most intricate wallpaper. When I look at the handicrafts, traditional apparel, jewelry, and homes I am blown away by the creativity and inspired mind that creates these patterns. I also love the simplicity of traditional clothing worn in India and Nepal. The loosely wrapped clothing and tunics are not only beautiful, they also give a quiet mystery to the human form that is very elegant. And there’s nothing like a man wrapped in white from head to toe. It’s so striking. How can one not be captivated?
Do you hope to open your own retail shop or have your clothing available in stores?
We have plans to open a brick-and-mortar shop, but we’re waiting until [we find] the perfect spot in New York for a flagship, and then [we’ll] probably [open] several in cities beyond. Boston, of course, London would be great, Chicago, and somewhere in California.
What advice do you have for others who want to try and launch a business, whether it’s in fashion or not?
The first thing is to decide on the deepest level that the thing you love doing is worth doing, so much so that it is worthy of obsession. That’s the fire that starts the engine. After that, you must promise yourself to work extremely hard and do good work everyday, and that you will never give up, no matter what. Just say, “I will never give up, I will never give up, I will never give up,” like the little engine that could. When you decide this, everything you want is yours —it’s just a matter of working hard and pushing through the hard parts with a grin on your face. The grin comes from knowing you can do it because you decided you would.