Chicago-based fashion designer Katie Farnan executes her seasonal capsule collections and navigates her post-pandemic business like a cool Summer breeze.
Directed & Edited By: Tamara Boxx for LUXYMOM® | Photography: Tim Gibbons | Videography & 1st Camera Assistant: Ursula Gibbons | Wardrobe Styling: Libby Romano for LUXYMOM® | Models: Out of the Boxx Modeling Agency models Aniya Love and Kaeleigh Przybyski
Precision, planning, and the ability to pivot are all necessary elements to become a successful entrepreneur. Chicago-based fashion designer Katie Farnan weaves each into her business seamlessly, as she builds her namesake line of capsule wardrobe collections. I talked to Katie about what inspired her to start her line, what inspires her to keep going, and how she maintained her business during this past year that put so many out of business.
Katie and I met initially through Instagram about four years ago, when LUXYMOM® was just my little ol’ style blog – and we hit it off. I’ve featured her line a couple of times before, and have followed her story ever since our first in-person meeting during a memorable Chicago summer back in 2017.
As it goes with many fashion designers, Katie’s interest in this career path started when she was very young. She learned how to sew, knit, and crochet from her Nana when she was just a child.
That was all it took to get Katie hooked on design.
It wasn’t until she was turning 30 in 2016 that she decided to leave her job and take the plunge into a business that is now 5 years old, and has withstood one of the biggest setback years in modern history.
“I have always been a creative and have sewn my clothes my entire life – but always skirted around the idea of actually starting my own business in fashion,” Katie said. “When I finally realized that I was 100% sure this was the next step in life, I didn’t look back and started building the KF brand.”
Each season, Katie designs a capsule collection of 10-14 pieces. “Within this curated collection,” Katie says, “we stick to timeless items that you will always be able to wear regardless if it was just purchased or it’s been in your closet for 10 years. The idea of creating a wardrobe that is thoughtful and will always be in style has continually been important to me and has inspired our brand’s aesthetic.”
If you’ve been a reader of LUXYMOM® for a while, you know how much we love a capsule wardrobe, and you’ll appreciate our love of this design philosophy.
Likewise, Katie thinks about her ideal consumer’s needs as she designs for them. “The woman we design for is very intentional with her life and decisions. She is confident, knows what she wants, and cares about the quality of her purchases as well as their beauty. In our eyes, she is continually building and bettering her life. This could pertain to her career, family, starting a new venture, a home, etc.”
Katie has always been inspired by “women who are strong in their beliefs and are not afraid to get messy or speak their mind. Diana Vreeland has always been someone who I admire for her guts and the complete embrace of her confidence.
“Kendra Scott has also been such an inspiration. Her vision and the trajectory of her brand is extremely inspirational.” And Katie also finds inspiration in a fictional character we have all come to know and love: Miranda Priestly. “She just knew how to get things done.”
In 2019, Katie traveled to Los Cabos, Mexico, and it became the muse for her current Spring/Summer 2021 Collection.
“Every time I travel somewhere new, I tend to absorb as much as I can through pictures, sounds, florals, textures, and feelings. From that trip I created the current collection based off of the desert sandy beaches and the terrain of Baja California,” Katie said.
That trip in 2019 had originally been the force behind her 2020 collection. But then COVID hit. Stuck in a moment of what to do, Katie did what many other entrepreneurs did. She pivoted.
“We did what most clothing brands did when COVID hit and made masks. We created and donated close to 300 masks to Chicago hospitals at the beginning – truly we couldn’t just sit still while there was such a huge shortage and we had the skill to sew,” she said.
“From there, we started making fashion masks that you can find on our site. Our 2020 Fall Collection was also a moment to change things up and create something that clients could purchase and enjoy while staying indoors, so we launched an ‘At Home’ line.”
“Now, as we are currently in the midst of Spring and Summer, we are seeing that consumers are ready to buy, and we are here for it! We were so excited to get the SS21 Collection out as we had to pause it last year due to the pandemic.”
We’re truly happy that the KF brand is here for the long haul. Katie is looking to the future in continuing to grow her business in different ways, including continued website sales, boutique sales in Chicago and nationally, and “a brick and mortar idea is always bounced around and may be a possibility in the future as well,” she told me.
Katie is ready for all that the future holds, and she credits those closest to her for contributing to her success. Similarly to child-rearing, running a successful business takes a village. Katie’s village involves a couple of special people in her life. Asked who she must give a shout-out to, she quickly responded, “I have to give love to my right hand man (my boyfriend) Scott Pauga. He is such an inspiration, and I learn so much from him everyday while he is growing his business. Also – Jeannine Adams who is the head of KF PR and is also one of my most amazing friends. Her company is Ready Pretty and is based in Chicago.”
We are so excited for all that the future holds for Katie. It look bright, sunny, and oh-so-LUXY.