k.fisk … life’s fun, look great living it!

Meet k.fisk founder & designer, Kristen Blabey

Tucked in a sun-filled annex at the designer’s Park Shore home, the chic k.fisk showroom exudes happiness and beauty from the brightly colored aqua walls to the simply stylish clothing and accessories neatly displayed throughout. There are plenty of sassy, sophisticated and fun styles for women of any age and size to enjoy. Welcome to k.fisk.

For local designer, Kristen Blabey, a transplant originally from the northeast, creating her own fashion style is something that she has thought about and cultivated her entire life. As an Art History/Studio Art graduate from Tulane University in New Orleans, Kristen grew up in southern Connecticut spending most summers on Cape Cod and the Islands enjoying the beauty and ease of coastal living at an early age. The k.fisk concept was slowly developed through her artistic interests, eye for fashion and desire for a fun, easy style. After years of living in New York City post-college and then back to Connecticut working in the antiques and interior design business, it all came together when she moved with her young family to Naples in 2004. She realized her true love of sunshine, beach-living and staying active as she settled into the gorgeous gulf coast town. With this lifestyle came the overwhelming desire for easy, flattering clothing that make you feel beautiful, comfortable and ready for anything…feeling stylish with ease and elegance for an impromptu lunch outing at Campiello to watching your kids play tennis or heading to have beach cocktails at sunset. As a wife and busy mother of three young children, this need became more and more important!

A self-admitted sun-worshipper and fitness enthusiast, Kristen, loves the outdoors and often wears beachwear or workout clothes mostly because of their comfort and ease as she navigates between bootcamp workouts, work responsibilities and school pick ups. In reality, she’d much rather be looking more “put together”! She felt that the idea of comfortable clothing didn’t have to always be limited to yoga wear or a beach coverup. The k.fisk dream was born!

“There’s not a lot of time for fussing with my wardrobe,” she says. “We all live busy lives. The way I see it, dressing can really be as simple as wearing a cute, flattering dress. You can style it up with fun jewelry, lipstick and a super pair of heels or keep it casual with flip flops and a smile! I love effortless style…throw on and go. Keep it easy, make it fun! At k.fisk, I’ve designed a collection of stylish, fun pieces which include my favorite “dresses” as well as many other fabulous easy ‘go-tos’ to add to your wardrobe. Perfect for carpools to date night. They will have you looking and feeling great…and ready for anything!”

k.fisk is a sophisticated, stylish collection of pretty, ready-to-wear wardrobe essentials, all thoughtfully designed and manufactured in the USA, using fine, durable fabrics in bright, cheerful colors, personally researched and hand-selected by Kristen herself. The clothing collection includes a variety of Kristen’s “favorite” dresses as well as stylish tunic-tops, skirts and scarves, to name a few. Each style is meticulously developed by the designer and then sewn in manufacturing facilities in both New Orleans and in Brooklyn, NY, which happen to be two of the designer’s favorite cities. Kristen spends a good deal of time traveling to the various facilities working on each of the stages of production; starting from her preliminary sketches to fabric choices to sample making to fittings and final phases of manufacturing. You can say that each piece is made with lots of love and attention to detail…in true k.fisk style! The select textiles used, boast an array of fabulous, versatile, solid colors. They are all washer/dryer safe, have SPF protection and have just enough stretch for a soft, comfortable fit. It’s really like wearing workout clothes with loads of style! The soft, wrinkle-free fabrics also make each piece incredibly easy to pack when you’re on the go. That’s an added bonus!

The designer also scours the country in search of interesting accessories, such as fantastic necklaces, colorful bracelets, gorgeous handbags, as well as, tapping into current trends like shiny flash tattoos, to round out her classic k.fisk designs. The great thing is that each clothing style can be worn many different ways with a simple switch of accessories which make them extremely versatile, too. With her love of antiquing and good flea market hunting, Kristen also has created a personal treasure trove of fabulous one-of-a-kind pieces which occasionally pop up in her collections. All of her accessories are specially selected to add a unique flare to each of her simply elegant designs. There is always something new and exciting when you visit k.fisk!

Q & A

Q: What inspired you to launch your company?
A: Fashion has always been exciting to me…especially subtle, unfussy, flattering and appropriate styles. My style philosophy is to look put together and feel comfortable (not just comfy but feeling good in your own skin). I want to be noticed but not glaring, you know what I mean? I am always searching for the “perfect” pieces to round out my wardrobe. I really just like to have nice, simple things to go with outstanding shoes or fun accessories which can make “the outfit”! I like to draw and sew and have even been known to personally alter items in my own closet to be what I want. I eventually felt inspired to take a stab at making a business of it…bring to life the essentials I love! The true inspiration, however, came from my husband who has told me from day one that I can do it. My kids give me added encouragement, too. Their belief in me is what inspires me every day.”

Q: Tell me about your most unique k.fisk piece.
A: “I have several favorite pieces but I think the most unique and versatile is the “Cape Tunic” (pictured right in aqua). It is named for my love of Cape Cod but also the interesting “cape” which is attached to the classic tank-style tunic. It can be worn as a dress for some or simply over jeans or leggings. It’s a highly functional item with the ability to be worn many different ways. The “cape” acts like a shawl hanging over your shoulders with your arms exposed. It can also hang down like a cape, covering your shoulders. As well, the “cape” can actually be worn as a hoodie over your head! It’s a very fun piece.”

Q: What kind of feedback have you received about your line?
A: “The feedback has been very positive and I really appreciate the support and input I have received from my customers. It’s very rewarding to hear how happy people feel about their purchases and I love hearing about the compliments they get while wearing my designs. My favorite is when I hear from husbands telling me how terrific their wives look.”

Q: Why is it important to you to source and manufacture your clothes in the USA?
A: “I feel very passionately about supporting our country so all of my clothing pieces are developed and produced in the USA. It’s important to me to keep things local, too, because it makes things more personal. I often try to do business in areas that have meaning to me. You have a common bond. For example, I began my very first design development project several years ago in New Orleans, where I went to college, because I was concerned about the manufacturing population which had taken such hard hit after Hurricane Katrina. I had a contact who put me in touch with a small, up and coming production company right in New Orleans, operated by women who had been in the business for years but were displaced from the now closed sewing plants. New Orleans is also emerging on the fashion scene with its own Fashion Week! It’s exciting to work with other entrepreneurial spirits!
The accessories that I source for k.fisk are most often made in the USA, too. As mentioned, I like to support local business and emerging artisans. Many of my selections are hand-crafted pieces uniquely made in Miami, San Francisco, Brooklyn and Seattle. Some of my items are sourced from over seas as well, but nothing is mass-produced. I like the uniqueness that small quantities provide…you won’t see it everywhere. Some of my favorite pieces are hand-made in Nepal and Vietnam from local companies which are working to support their youth and communities.”

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your business launch to date?
A: “My biggest challenge has been managing my time. I love the research component of everything that I do. I feel it’s important to know about and be involved in every layer for a complete understanding. In this industry, there are so many factors such as design, fit, fabric, quality, timeliness, cost, marketing, photography, web design, just to name a few. I want to personally touch every step of the process. I also manage all my accounting because I’m a bit of a numbers freak! As well, I love to stay in touch with my clientele with hand-written notes, invitations to events and general information on social media. These things take a lot of time and I don’t like to skimp. Throw in my whole-hearted commitment to my family and it makes me wish that there were more than 24-hours in each day!”

Q: Where can people find your clothes?
A: “k.fisk items can always be found on our newly renovated website: k.fisk is also available at our Naples showroom by appointment. We also sell at a variety of trunk shows around the country, at personal homes, as well as, at select retailers. You can find us in New Canaan, CT, Boston, MA, Cape Cod and Nantucket this summer. Be in the know and follow k.fisk on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (k.fisk or @kfiskstyle).”

Born Kristen Fisk Bornemeier, prior to meeting then marrying Rob Blabey (also from Connecticut), the founder and designer of k.fisk grew up in a creative environment loving to draw, paint and even sew when she wasn’t running, riding horses or playing with her friends. Her maternal grandmother, Marion Gove Fisk, was a talented seamstress who often made fun, beautiful clothing for young Kristen and her sister, Holly, with matching outfits for their dolls, too. “I remember making a skirt out of a pillowcase once as a young girl with my Meem. It was such a cool project and I felt so proud wearing my own creation!” This was an obvious inspiration at an early age and is where the company name k.fisk comes from…honoring Kristen’s birth name and family heritage.

Kristen’s husband and their three children (Weston, 13, Kendall, 9, Townsend, 7) are her biggest fans and supporters. Not only is it exciting to see mom doing something she loves and is passionate about, they also think she looks pretty good doing it all!

k.fisk was officially established in 2013 with its first collection launched to the public in August 2014. Be on the lookout for new colors and styles this summer on the company’s recently rebuilt website. There is much, much more to come from this high rising fashion business.

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