Tour Poppy + Pima's Colorful Brooklyn Design Studio
For emerging designer Gina Röckenwagner making things is what keeps her inspired. Enter today’s featured studio chat which digs deeper into the origins of her artisan-made, sustainable fashion brand Poppy + Pima.
As a lifelong maker, Gina first (and perhaps unknowingly) immersed herself in fashion at the tender age of 10 where she fell in love with the art of knitting. “I love that designing knitwear gives you the opportunity to start with the fiber and actually design the fabric your garment will be made from,” Gina told us, “Many see this as a challenge, but choosing the exact yarn, down to the composition and the twist, and designing the stitch is my favorite part of the process.”
With that sense of challenge came great reward as Gina laid the foundation for what would soon become the bright, quirky and responsible brand that we know and love today. In fact, Poppy + Pima’s attention to detail and love of collaboration shined through at our recent LA market where Gina recently participated as an exhibitor. From her experiences at market to her day-to-day as a one-woman show read on to meet Gina and also visit The Style Line for an exclusive follow up to our chat.
Please introduce yourself!
Hola! I'm Gina Fama Röckenwagner. As an artist and full time creative person, I find it impossible to separate my profession from my everyday life. I find inspiration everywhere, in the air I breathe, the food I eat, and the places I go. I value living a life that makes me happy and feel creatively fulfilled. I've been told I exude creativity from every pore (that's the best compliment I've ever received). I enjoy making things (knitting, sewing, cooking) and spending time with family and friends. I love color and art. I've always considered myself more at home in the art world than in the fashion world. I have a socially conscious world view, so I value supporting women, especially in the developing world, the environment, and forging my own path to a sustainable future.
Our community of emerging designers who engage with sustainability is growing which we’re excited about! What advice can you offer to your designer peers who are looking to implement sustainability without compromising aesthetic?
My number one piece of advice is to shift your focus to using natural materials whenever possible! This is the single greatest impact we can have as designers: choosing our raw materials with sustainability as the priority. Plus, the natural world has so many fabulous options. When you have wonderful wool, alpaca, cotton, linen, silk, what more do you need?
We love your penchant for knitwear. Talk to us more about why this is such an important aspect of the Poppy + Pima brand and walk us through your design process. What are some unique challenges and rewards of working in this medium?
I've been knitting since I was 10 years old, so I always knew knitwear would be my focus. I love that designing knitwear gives you the opportunity to start with the fiber and actually design the fabric your garment will be made from. Many see this as a challenge, but choosing the exact yarn, down to the composition and the twist, and designing the stitch is my favorite part of the process. I get to geek out and be super technical when I design, which I love. The long lead times are not fun, but that’s the price you pay for micromanaging every minute detail!
How has being part of the Brand Assembly community furthered your brand and how do you plan to leverage your involvement on a local level?
The people I've met through the Brand Assembly community have been so invaluable. It's rare to walk into a space filled with absolute gems, but that's how I felt participating in Brand Assembly LA! Designers and entrepreneurs are so busy. Sometimes we only get to socialize during market. It's a wonderful pleasure to get to socialize with such amazingly talented folks!
When it comes to managing the other aspects of building the brand what have you come to love the most and what are some things you hope to improve upon in the coming months?
I love working on our social media presence and managing the visual face of our brand, although I struggle with how much to reveal at times. I don't want to give away all the cards in my deck! Photoshoots can be grueling but are ultimately the best opportunity to show what we do. I look forward to collaborating with talented photographers on fun photoshoots in the coming year!
What do you assemble daily?
I'm always assembling my projects, whether it's my next knitting project or an outfit I have in my head that I want to make, or putting together a fabulous dinner for close friends. I make piles in my studio and home of things that go nicely together and should become permanent "friends" (i.e. become part of the same finished object) I love making things, that's what keeps me engaged and inspired.