steph beard and i met about four years ago while both working at converse. she's been like a big sister and mentor ever since. now steph lives in austin and runs esby apparel, a clothing line for women with a menswear mentality that's made in the usa. each step of steph's journey to make esby happen continues to inspire me. last spring, i helped launch her tumblr, which was a fun process. i've always admired steph's personal aesthetic and i love her easy-going yet go-getter attitude. excited to watch steph and her brand keep growing!
more about steph / esby apparel below:
cultureisland: tell us more about you.
steph beard: i grew up in north carolina with a strong interest in art and fashion. i studied fashion design at appalachian state university, as well as marketing and studio art. i got a job at tommy hilfiger with one college course to go, so I moved to nyc and finished class while working at tommy. my experience as a technical designer helped make me a better designer. after tommy, i worked a short stint at levi's designing men's shirts and later worked for converse. it was my time at converse that made me the most interested in going out on my own and launching an american-made womenswear label.
cultureisland: tell us more about esby apparel. where did the name esby come from?
steph beard: esby apparel is a womenswear brand that rides the fine line of having long-lasting appeal while remaining relevant. we want our clothing to be that favorite piece you wear again and again. your go-to. we concentrate on styles that are chic and wearable, flattering and comfortable. we make everything here in the united states and we pre-wash our natural fabrics. esby is the phonetic pronunciation of my initials, sb, turned into a word.
cultureisland: who is the esby customer?
steph beard: she is confident and educated in the world she lives in. she's conscious of the decisions she makes for every purchase. she cares about style and the way that she looks, but she knows that comfort is key and less is more. when she gets dressed in the morning, it's easiest for her to grab her go-to esby pieces.
cultureisland: how has esby grown since you started? what plans do you have to continue growing it?
steph beard: we’ve been growing at a great pace. we’re in more and more stores across the country and our third collection is about to launch. we are introducing new fabrications, such as linen and silk, and we’re also launching our first few pieces of outerwear this fall. we hope to launch a small menswear capsule next year. we’re also going to collaborate with a few other apparel lines…stay tuned!
cultureisland: tell us more about your collection featured here. what involved it and how has it evolved from your first season?
steph beard: this is our second collection that launched late last year. we experimented with more stylish silhouettes with the intention to be on trend, but remain relevant for years to come. the jumpsuit trend inspired us to create a piece anyone can wear. it was such a successful style for us, we’ll continue to run it in future season. the dresses this collection were inspired by easy, over-sized pieces that were still flattering. for our first collection, we played it a little more safe so it was exciting to take more risks with season two.
cultureisland: the photos were shot by jackie lee young. how did that collaboration come about and where did the inspiration for the shoot come from?
steph beard: jackie is a friend of ours and we've been long admirers of her amazing work. she scouted the botanical gardens at zilker park for its lush vegetation and contrast to our indigo blues, grays and blacks. our models were lauren kirby and duffy stone. lauren is now employed with esby apparel as our production, marketing and sales assistant. duffy just launched an independent interior design company, studio duffy.
cultureisland: where do you find inspiration? what are some of your favorite magazines or websites for inspiration?
steph beard: from vintage and modern sources. from classic menswear to the runways. i find a lot of colored inspiration from my natural surroundings. austin is filled with sun-faded, muted colored palettes. favorite magazines + websites include darling magazine, w magazine, kinfolk and jjjjound.
cultureisland: where can we find esby apparel in stores?
steph beard: you can shop our current season online and our next season, spring/summer 2015, will be available at these stores in may: sunroom, olive and kickpleat in austin, broome street general in la, old north in asheville, and hawthorne in oakland.
cultureisland: what are your favorite places to see art, shop, get coffee, eat and hang out around austin?
steph beard: for art, common house, the contemporary and billy reid art shows. favorite shops include sunroom, olive, kickpleat and stag. for coffee, seventh flag, friends and neighbors. for eats, curras for tex-mex breakfast and buffalina for wine and pizza. for hanging out, hotel san jose, weather up, yellow jacket social club and by the pool.