While I was living in Singapore for a year, I had the pleasure of getting to know Kristin Nyström, Founder and Designer of Gardner and the Gang. Originally from Sweden, down-to-earth Kristin has lived and worked in some interesting places such as Pakistan, The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and now Singapore. Drawing inspiration from these experiences of living and traveling all over the world, Kristin wants to normalize all people, animals and cultures to our children - everyone is welcomed in the Gang! Gardner and the Gang's characters are famously whimsical, quirky and extremely interesting making them fun for adults and kids alike. All printed on organic cotton, these clothes are easy to become obsessed with!
(Spring/Summer collection 2015 by Gardner and the Gang, kidswear with a 'hint' of attitude)
Kristin, congratulations on winning the 2014 award for Children's Wear Designer of the Year in Sweden by Tidningen Mama! Please tell us about your journey, how was Gardner and the Gang started?
Thank you so much. It is such an honor and really something to keep me motivated. It is amazing to know that people seem to like what I do. I started my brand in 2012 in Singapore. My Daughter Ava was born and I saw an opportunity to use my Graphic Designer skills, my passion for fashion and a dream of becoming an entrepreneur to actually create something for my girl and other kids. Gardner and the Gang is named after my daughter (who is named after the amazing actress Ava Gardner), “The Gang” refers to all kids out there; the Gang in which everyone is welcome. Our core values are very much to give children a sensation that all kids are OK, you are great the way you are and that it is fun to make friends who might have a different background than you.
(Founder and Designer Kristin Nystrom accepting the award for Children's wear Designer of the year by Tidningen Mama in Sweden. Photo by Cornelia Röstlund)
You live in Southeast Asia and have chosen to manufacture your certified organic clothing in Asia. How involved are you in the production process?
Very! I want to be involved as much as possible in the manufacturing process. Living in Singapore the journey to South China is possible to make in a day or two and that gives me a chance to have a personal relationship with the people that actually makes my designs. The fact that I have demanded organic cotton has opened this small factory's eyes to the opportunities and the demand for clothing that are made with sustainability in mind. I personally travel to the factory and that gives me a great understanding of the procedures and also creates a great collaborative opportunity where communication is key.
(Only 100% certified organic cotton is used throughout Gardner and the Gang's collection, soon to be available here at www.ruthandragnar.com)
You are known for your interesting and unique characters; we've met Patrick the Punk Rocker and Hilda the Hippie Hippo. Who are we being introduced to in the Spring/Summer 2015 collection?
The theme for SS2015 is Magic and Rock n’ Roll. I wanted to make a colorful and fun collection. My character Helmut the Flamingo from our first collection has been a much loved character and many people have asked for him to make a comeback. I thought of how fun would it be if he came back but in a new shape. So, he has been transformed by the Magician Patsy the Zebra to a Sausage dog with a big love for Kiss (the rock band). I chose Kiss because they stand out, they might look scary but if you look underneath the makeup and the long hair they are just regular people. As I mentioned, it’s fun to make friends with people of different backgrounds, everyone is welcomed in the Gang!
(Organic sweater with Geene the Kiss-loving sausage dog on the left)
If you were one of your characters – who would you want to be and why?
I would probably be Helmut. He is goofy, does his own thing and he can fly
Wizards or rockers, which one is your favorite? Wizards
If you could do magic, what would you use your magic for? I would make hatred disappear.
(The original Helmut. Photo by Gardner and the Gang)
Something tells me you’ve been a fashionista your whole life – what was your favorite piece of clothing as a kid that made you feel like a rockstar?
HAHA oh dear. Pictures might be censored but JEANS has always been my thing. Saved up for those 501's in the early 90's!
What is the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
I once planted 8000 pine tree plants during a few weeks in order to earn money to go to Spain. Not so weird, just very hard work. But it taught me that hard work pays off.
I remember you telling me once that a journalist had asked you what your dream is and your answer was "I'm in it. I'm living my dream". For those of us who, like you, are moms with an entrepreneurial dream, how do you juggle it all?
My number one priority is always my kids. When they are in pre-school I work and in the afternoons we do things together. After their bedtime I work until I am finished for the day. To sum it up, not many minutes in the day for ME time but that is ok because, as you said, I am living my dream and I am eternally grateful. On that note - 2015 is the year I will try to work a little harder on my social life, haha.
(Kristin with daughters Ava and Florence and husband Fredrik.)
I know Singapore sees its fair share of rain on a nearly daily basis. What are your favorite things to do with your daughters on a rainy day? When it rains we draw, play play-doh and read. Ava also LOVES baking.What music are you listening to right now? I am currently OBSESSED with this song:
Thank you Kristin! We are beyond excited to be able to offer the spring/summer 2015 collection at Ruth & Ragnar!"
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