One of the many friends I made during my time at SCAD is Liz Frandsen.
A beautiful, young fashion design major from Lancaster, PA, we met in our Intro to Fashion Design class Sophomore year. I remember admiring her first project, a pretty black dress with polka dot fabric. We became fast friends, spending more and more time together having dinner parties, GIRLS marathons and shopping days.
Fast forward almost four years later, Liz is now happily married and living her dream of designing.
I am thrilled to introduce you to Liz and her first handbag collection, MNML. An incredible line of pretty little totes and clutches that belong in every girl's closet.
Get to know one of my favorite friends, today on Soul in Stilettos.
LF: I’m Liz Frandsen a fashion designer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I design a line of leather goods under my maiden name, LIZ RIDEN alongside my husband who does all of the photography and “behind the scenes” work!
SIS: We’ve been friends for a long time, first meeting at SCAD sophomore year in Intro to Fashion and we’ve both grown so much since then. What are you up to now?
LF: Yes! I remember the first time I met you, I was obsessed with your style…and already followed you on Twitter! It was a friendship that was meant to be! Since college, i’ve been working hard to find my voice as both an individual and as a brand. Fashion is such a competitive industry, that it can be intimidating to break into - especially with your own brand! I really wanted to take time to make a product of which I could be proud while staying true to myself. My LIZ RIDEN brand just launched this week, so now I am am truly doing what I love! I’m designing new styles for next season, sewing orders to be shipped to customers, and meeting with boutiques and stores to carry my bags!
SIS: You’re coming out with a collection called ‘MNML.’ Tell us a bit about that. What made you want to do this?
LF: My first collection is called MNML which is the phonetic description of the collection - "minimal", and it really is just that! The bags are all simple in design and made to be worn season after season and not go out of style. They are made well of great material, but still, "minimal" from a desgn point of view. I love classic, timeless style and have really been inspired by bloggers creating a “capsule wardrobe” of buying fewer, better things. I wanted to create a product that met that challenge, stood the test of time and fit the needs of my (and hopefully other women's) every day life!
"I wanted to create a product that stood the test of time, and fit into the needs of my every day life!"
LF: It’s hard to narrow it down to a few things! I get inspired by so many different sources. I absolutely love meeting new people and just watching what people are buying, wearing, and talking about. It’s so important to know what women want in a bag or dress before creating a full line! I absolutely love digging through vintage photographs, blogs, and of course Pinterest!
SIS: Aside from designing, you rock at photography and you have one of the best Instagram accounts to follow. What other hobbies do you like to do in your free time?
LF: Thank you! I absolutely love vintage, flea market, and thrift shopping in my free time. My husband might even say it’s a little bit out of control! I love finding unique pieces for our home, and collecting vintage bar ware. I also just love exploring new places, meeting and learning about and from new people, and getting coffee with friends. We are always working, so my free time is spent relaxing!
SIS: What has it been like designing a collection of handbags? How has it been hard and how has it been fun?
LF: It’s been such a fun adventure designing my line and figuring out what works, and what definitely doesn’t. I never knew I wanted to go into working with leather, and it’s very different than sewing fabric. I had to do a lot of research about the type of tools I needed to be using, and there was a lot of trial and error that went into the first prototypes. The challenges for me in my design work are comparison. There will always be someone cooler and better in your field, but that has also driven me to do my absolute best work! It has been so much fun just diving in and taking a risk with something i’m so passionate about. My husband and I have been up late at night working together, and it’s so rewarding to see that work come to life!
LF: That’s such a tough question, because I'm always up to something new! My big dream is to have my own collaborative studio space. I would love to be producing LIZ RIDEN with a team, and have a space to teach workshops, host events, and work alongside other creatives in the area. As for short term, I have already started designing the next two seasons of bags, and we will be launching clothing as well! There is even talk of men’s leather goods as well. I am dreaming big and keeping all of my options open!
SIS: Your hubby Jeff, who is just as creative and talented, shoots weddings and you tag along. How has that helped your career? I can see that it is very easy to be inspired next to him.
LF: Being married to a photographer definitely has its perks! Jeff is not only a photographer, but does brand design, graphic and hand type art and is very good with business. He’s worked so hard making my brand happen, and I really couldn’t have done it without him. He developed all of my branding, photographed my cookbook, and has been behind the scenes working on shipping orders and setting up legal documents! It’s really been so helpful for me to have him running the business side of LIZ RIDEN while i’m designing, it can be hard to balance it all! Working with him so closely adds a new dimension to the love we share.
SIS: Who are your role models when it comes to design and fashion?
LF: I have a lot of role models and people that inspire me in the industry. I absolutely love Jenna Lyons and what she has done for J.crew. I have the biggest girl crush on Garance Dore, and would kill to be a part of her team!
SIS: Last but not least, the pair of shoes you cannot live without?
LF: If I had to pick just one pair, they would be black ankle booties with a little bit of a heel!