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Lindsay Mason of French Knot: 5 Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career In The Fashion Industry

Find a job you love so much that you’d do it even if you weren’t getting paid. I think about this all the time. My very first job was at a Roy Rogers truck stop. I cried before my mom dropped me off at work. I wasn’t old enough to work the registers and I cleaned the bathrooms and cafeteria. I couldn’t wait to be done with my shifts.

As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Mason.

French Knot is the creation of designer Lindsay Mason, whose work emphasizes a playful blend of color, texture and embellishments. Lindsay graduated from Syracuse University’s Fashion and Textiles Design program. She has since worked in the fashion and textiles industry, designing for companies such as Simplicity, Free People, and Icelandic Design. Lindsay started French Knot nine years ago, after moving back to her hometown in Massachusetts. Then, in 2017, Lindsay and her husband relocated to Lafayette, Indiana for Dan’s job. Lindsay moved the business and is happily adjusting to life in Indiana. Lindsay enjoys: exploring her new Indiana surroundings, DIY projects, and she’s still trying to find a good spot for hiking with her husband Dan and their dog, Wilbur.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for choosing to help share our story! I think it all goes back to my job at the GAP when I was 16 years old. Our uniform (in 2000!) was a plain white button up shirt over khakis. I would “customize” my uniform by adding embellishments and changing out the buttons!

My growing love for textiles, fabric, and creating drew me to Syracuse University, where I majored in Fashion and Textile design. I was most inspired by my class in Knit Design. I loved making swatches on the hand-knitting machine and never wanted to leave class.

One of my jobs after school was as a design assistant at Free People. They couldn’t decide which department to put me in and I ended up in both accessories and sweaters. After that, I became an Accessories Designer for knit accessories. I worked closely with artisans in Nepal and Peru, and at that point, I had found my niche. I loved the process of knit accessories so much, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

I was laid off from my job as a knitwear designer in 2012 and moved back home with my parents in Massachusetts. I knew I wanted to start a business and my Dad built me a small office in his barn. I had just enough money saved to pay for my design program, the smallest trade show booth available, and travel to the show. I worked a lot of late nights to pull my first collection together. My parents helped me build and paint the tradeshow booth! We ended up with approx.. $230K in sales our first year, which shows you don’t need investors or a ton of money to start a business! Having industry experience, a design background, and drive to make it happen certainly all helped.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh goodness…maybe how we did everything the hardest way possible the first few years! We thought we could ship 12,000 pieces from my parent’s barn and we hit obstacle after obstacle.

When the goods came in, they arrived in giant burlap sacks that weigh about 70 lbs each. We had to drag them down across my parents backyard into the barn. Over forty of them! I sometimes wonder if that’s why the neighbors moved…

After weeks of sorting thousands of items on a ping pong table with my Grammy and retired parents of friends, we had the shipment all boxed up and ready to put on palettes. We realized a giant semi-truck wouldn’t fit down my parents’ street to pick up the palettes, so we needed to bring the shipment somewhere. We ended up renting a uhaul to pack up all the boxes and borrowed space in my friend’s Dad’s business down the street because he had a loading dock and a fork lift. Thanks Mr. Grimes!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our point of view makes the brand stand out. We embrace how items used to be made 100 years ago. Everything was handmade, beautifully designed, and made to last. Women’s hats were a part of what they wore every day and reflected an individual’s personality. Think of beautifully embellished 1920’s clothes. We hope French Knot hats are loved and passed down for 100 years like many vintage hats you still see around.

I also think the authenticity of our brand sets us apart. Not only are all the designs original and all the knit patterns hand-draw, but so much detail goes into every aspect of the product. The yarn is hand spun, hand dyed, handknit, and then hand embroidered. We truly admire the people we work with in Nepal and appreciate all the hands that go into making one item.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

It’s really rewarding to see our Nepalese partners grow with us. We chose to have our items made by people and not machines. Being able to combine my design vision with the talent of the artisans and have our customers love the products feels really special. I also hope my business can help inspire others to pursue their passion.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

Find a job you love so much that you’d do it even if you weren’t getting paid. I think about this all the time. My very first job was at a Roy Rogers truck stop. I cried before my mom dropped me off at work. I wasn’t old enough to work the registers and I cleaned the bathrooms and cafeteria. I couldn’t wait to be done with my shifts.

I think because of this, I worked extra hard in college to make sure I could pursue something I was passionate about.

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

I think customers are starting to understand the negative effects of fast fashion. We are seeing more and more large companies collaborate with small slow fashion companies and I think that’s really exciting!

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Have a passion for the process, not just the end result
  2. Be detail-oriented
  3. Find your niche
  4. Understand how each role plays a part in the business running smoothly.
  5. Remember that good design will always win over fast fashion trends

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

Finding ways to produce less waste and also making sure factory workers are paid fairly are two major issues the fashion industry is facing. The more large companies and influential people talk about sustainable, slow fashion, the more consumers will be aware.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would love to both inspire and give women the confidence to pursue their dreams. There are many budding change-makers and entrepreneurs out there that need an extra boost of encouragement! Support of this kind has a domino effect of positive change.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We are @myfrenchknot 😊

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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