Meet Cindy, The Creator of Cindy Kirk Designs
On an early spring morning, we interviewed the visionary and CEO of Cindy Kirk Designs. Cindy is a female entrepreneur with a fearless heart and an eye for creativity. Through her work, she marries sustainable fashion with classic Idaho living. Without further ado, let’s meet Cindy.
I have always loved to sew and create, and I have consistently been intrigued by all kinds of fashion. For years, I had been in search of the ‘perfect’ handbag for me; one that was user-friendly, simple, and made out of fine leather. It seemed that all the designer handbags I found were either plastered with their logo or had too many zippers, snaps, studs, and pockets. In my experience in sewing, simplicity is key. The more frills and snaps and zippers and studs, the more likely they’ll break, fall off, or malfunction! I realized that there was nothing on the market that met my needs. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? That being said, I came up with my first design: The Cindy. One interior pocket, one exterior pocket and a simple, hidden magnetic closure! No bells and whistles, just classic, practical, quality, and easy to use.
2. What's been your favorite part of running CKD?
There are so many favorites for me! The process of starting and learning something new at my age has been equally challenging and rewarding. As a woman in her early 50s, I am so proud (and excited) that I am continuing to learn about the fashion industry. Furthermore, CKD is all mine. My entire adult life, I have been identified as George’s wife or Audrey and Izzy’s mom, and while those identities are a part of me, I’m also a business owner! Plus, I love being a small part of the fashion industry and creating pieces that make others happy. Another favorite part of mine is creative process and designing. Coming up with new designs and working with premium hides is exceptional work.
3. What's been the most challenging aspect of running your own business?
There are so many challenges. I think the hardest aspect is to remain true to myself and my commitment to my design concept; and, not to take others’ criticisms to heart. It is so easy to get off track and lose yourself in others’ suggestions. I have learned that there are many people out there who are never short of opinions; and, for that matter, they don’t think twice about sharing them! Another challenge is just simply marketing my products. When I started, I researched and identified boutiques that I thought would be a good fit for my product. I sent them postcards and look books in the mail, and then I would make follow up calls. The short story is that stores would rather find me! I recently participated in trade shows in NYC; however, now I am focusing on marketing via internet and social media. It is all a challenge. Sadly, many people want to carry the same brands or designers that everyone else is carrying. That said, my customer is the woman who appreciates quality and has the courage to carry something simply because she loves it and appreciates the workmanship and beauty of the piece.
4. What's your ideal CKD bag for running errands around town?
Admittedly, I’m a bit spoiled. I have two! Right now, I am loving the JAM because of the beautiful weaving detail on the front and it fits close to my body. I can just throw things in and go! But, I also keep a Betty ready to go with my gym shoes, socks, visor, etc.
5. What's your most coveted CKD bag for a night out with your girlfriends?
The Sam! It is the ideal size; it fits a small wallet, glasses, lipstick, and my phone! I have now modified it with an adjustable strap so I fits all sizes.
6. In the design and fashion world, who is your biggest inspiration or role model?
I was a kid, I loved everything Norma Kamali (and still do!). I had a girlfriend who would wear her mom’s pieces and they were so simple and edgy; I was a little bit jealous! Donna Karan and her Urban Zen line have been a favorite as I have evolved. I appreciate the interesting lines and design details. Also, Henry Cuir was definitely an inspiration in the beginning stages of CKD. His bags are also hand-stitched and made in Italy. He has such a long history of leather working and craftsmanship that is unparalleled. His are true masterpieces.
7. What's one piece of advice that you would tell young entrepreneurs?
Two things: if it were easy, everyone would be doing it! And, even more importantly, take the time and be disciplined enough to create a business plan. It was such a struggle for me to actually take the time to research and even learn about what a business plan is or does. However, once I actually did it, it was a turning point in my business. It gave me a very clear direction and vision of who my customer is as well as what I want my product to be. It showed me who my target audience is and reinforced why (and what) I am doing. It allowed me to speak confidently about my goals and vision. And, it has proved to be an invaluable tool and source of inspiration. My business plan helps me keep my eye on the prize!
8. What does the future hold for CKD?
It’s a wandering road and a process. I try not to hold things too tightly in order to grow and wander as time progresses. I tend to take whatever inspirational path leads me. CKD is more than a job for me. It is truly a passion.