its been mentioned on here a couple of times, the model.citizen store
is long gone. Dreadful bit of business watching it leave Broadway.
But it wasn't the end of times that so many thought would come about,
and in fact started a brand new chapter in the thriving fashion
--- A short few months later, Salt Lake Citizen opened up in The City Library, taking up residence next to the front door and further establishing the growing promenade. Recently the original owner Matt Monson sold the business off for other ventures, and left it in the very capable hands of Lindsay Frendt. And after a one month overhaul the place has reopened with an array of new clothing and specialty items, all from local designers and crafters. I got a chance to chat with Lindsay about her prior career, taking over the shop, thoughts on local fashion and a few other topics. Plus for your enjoyment, some pictures of the new look and products.
Gavin: Hey Lindsay! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lindsay: Well, I am a super busy girl all by choice. I am continuously working on new projects. I have a full-time day job at a sign shop, of course there's Salt Lake Citizen, my own design line Bricolage Designs, and I have a three year old daughter to chase after. Needless to say I don't get much sleep! But I love it. I have always enjoyed keeping busy by creating different things. I paint, draw, and sew to pass the time.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in fashion?
Lindsay: I feel that fashion is another expression of art. I have always enjoyed looking at and having “pretty things”. I would say that my interest in fashion really didn't take off until my early 20's. Before then (I hate to admit) I only had three pairs of shoes, a brown pair, a black pair, and tennis shoes... one for every occasion! Haha... I think once I was able to afford to buy my own clothes I wanted them to reflect my artistic style. I have always loved vintage fashion and fabrics and handmade items. I like knowing that I have something that everyone else doesn't have.
Gavin: You've kinda run the gamut of colleges. First with Northwest College of Art up by Seattle. What made you choose them, and what was that program like?
Lindsay: Hmm... this could take a while. In high school I constantly struggled with my love of sciences/math and art. I had been offered a scholarship to attend Utah State University for their Engineering program but decided that I really wanted to pursue a degree in Visual communications. I ended up at Northwest College of Art after their school director gave a presentation at my high school. I attended their program for a year and was very disappointed in it. I left feeling that I did not need a degree in art to be an artist. After coming back I attended SLCC and the U. I think I have changed my major about five times, Chemistry, Art, Accounting, Architecture, Urban Planning, Linguistics...
Gavin: Locally you've been through SLCC and the U trying to figure out your major. How has your experience been through the various institutions?
Lindsay: I have always been of the mindset that education is extremely important. I love learning new things and I continue to learn everyday. I just have a hard time learning what an institution has said you need to learn just to get a paper that says you are smart. I have, at this moment, enough credits combined from all of the colleges I have attended to equal the amount of credits required for a bachelors degree with some to spare. I have yet to complete one program. It's not from lack of applying myself though. I would have a 4.0 but I was late to oil painting a few times... I think it just comes down to the fact that I am impatient. I like acting on my instincts. I also feel that for what I have chosen to do with my life, a formal degree is not necessary... for now at least. Hopefully people will judge my intelligence and character from me as a person and not base it on my lack of a framed diploma.
Gavin: Professionally you design sign work for several businesses. How did you end up pursuing that career?
Lindsay: Long ago, I worked for a small smoke shop. The owner had purchased a scrolling LED sign to help boost sales. The sign installers were attempting to program the sign and could not figure out how to get it to communicate with the computer inside the store. I took a try and was able to get the sign working and programmed. Just as I was finishing up, the shop manager for the sign company came in. He was impressed I guess and offered me a job as the graphic designer. I ended up designing and manufacturing the signs for that company for a couple years. It was a fun job. I was able to use my creative talents both with the computer and in forming the letters for signs. I have been in the sign business ever since.
Gavin: On the side you make your own jewelery and bags. What influenced you into making those types of accessories?
Lindsay: As a kid I was always making things. Mostly because my parents didn't have a lot of money and couldn't afford to buy the things my friends had. I remember I was about 10 and I made my first bag out of canvas on my grandmother's Singer sewing machine. I needed a bag for a sleepover at a friends house, so I made one. Fast forward about fifteen years and it's the night before my first day at the U and I forgot about getting a backpack. I made myself an over-sized purse to hold my books. To sorta backtrack a bit, I was able to make the purse because I have become a bit (maybe a lot) of a hoarder of vintage fabrics and jewelry. So, I used some of this fabric to make my bag. While toting it around the campus I had a lot of people ask where they could get a bag like mine. That's where it all started. The jewelry is pretty much the same story. I love taking old things and finding a new purpose for them. It is a form of sculpture for me.
Gavin: Getting right to it, how did the opportunity come about to take over Salt Lake Citizen from Matt?
Lindsay: I had been a big fan of model.citizen and had met Matt a few times in the store. We had talked about selling my items in his store before but I never got around to getting him some inventory. Somewhere along the line I had signed up for his email list. Around November he sent out a call for a partnership opportunity or possible ownership transfer. I had a glass of wine, sent a response, and expected not to hear back. Why would he want to hand everything over to me? Almost three weeks later he responded. We met a few times and were both excited about a lot of similar things. As Matt has put it a few times, I reminded him of himself a few years earlier. He just got spread too thin with running the store, teaching at SLCC, and working for Buy Local First. I feel honored that Matt has allowed me to take over where he left off. He still drops in to check on things and I hope he is pleased with the store.
Gavin: Was there any hesitation on your part when he agreed or were you ready to take over at that point?
Lindsay: Of course I had hesitations! Who in their right mind would just jump into owning a retail store in this economy? I definitely went back and forth for a while on the idea. We had originally talked about a manager position for me but it was tricky having two people in charge of everything. When it came down to it we decided a clean transfer starting the beginning of the year was the best thing for the store and for us. I made the decision based on my feelings and really didn't seek many opinions from friends or family on the matter. I felt that it was a good move for me and thought it was great that it was all local. I was excited to work with all of the other talented designers. It didn't seem real until the very end. When everything was official I was almost scared to tell people what I had done but once I did everyone was excited for me.
Gavin: What was it like for you during that first month of taking over and learning the ropes?
Lindsay: The very first month was January and we were not open at all. It took a long time to get the business transferred. There were a lot of forms to fill out and waiting periods. We officially opened Feb. 1st and it was a better month than I expected. We painted and changed the look of the store a lot along with taking on about ten new designers. Now the next focus is a website and promoting the store. Daily I hear “WOW! I have never heard of this place, it's so cool!”. I need a web presence.
Gavin: What's the reaction been like from shoppers and those who sell their products in your store?
Lindsay: All of the reactions have been very positive. A lot of people come through and are excited to be able find so many locally made goods all in one place. I have gotten a lot of good responses from the designers as well.
Gavin: Now that you're fully in control, are you planning any changes or possible events for the store? Or keeping it more along the lines of how Matt had originally run it?
Lindsay: I have a lot of plans for the store. I first would like to be able to quit my day job (shhhh, don't tell them). So, to do that I need to make sure a lot more people know about Salt Lake Citizen. I think that my plans are pretty similar to what Matt had already started with the store. My ideal goal is to eventually have second larger location close to the library where I can sell more clothing, have larger fitting rooms, and maybe branch out to carry more housewares as well. I would also love to be able to be part of the Gallery Stroll and have artist meet and greets.
Gavin: Going a bit local, what's your take on the local fashion scene, both good and bad?
Lindsay: Salt Lake City has a wide range of styles. There are all ranges from very modest to the hipsters to goth and emo, it goes on and on. Fashion is all relative. I think if something speaks to you and your personality then go for it. I also believe that because there is such a diversity it allows for a lot of creativity. You see a lot of trends started in Utah. There are also a lot of very crafty people in this valley. The problem is that there are a lot of crafters and hobbyists but not a lot of well know designers. I think that it is hard to break into mainstream fashion in Salt Lake.
Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Lindsay: A lot could be done. I have a lot of ideas, it really comes down to time, energy, and of course money. I would love to be able to promote all of the talented artists and designers I am working with to help them succeed. Utah is not viewed as a fashion capitol so a lot of people in this state give up without even trying because they think there is no point. I am excited to be located across the street from SLCC's fashion design program. It is a great program and I have met many of their talented designers. I hope that the fashion awareness will only increase in our city. I also feel strongly about focusing on locally produced items. Local designers know the style, climate and culture of their area. Who would know more about local fashion than a local?
Gavin: Who are some of your current favorite local designers in Utah?
Lindsay: There are so many talented designers and I continue to meet more every day. I will have to say that right now in Salt Lake Citizen I have over 40 designers. My personal tastes are pretty clean and simple with a touch of whimsy. I like clean modern lines and you will often see me in my standard colors of black and gray with just a pop of color, usually in my accessories. I love Jordan Halversen's off the wall designs with his creative use of faux fur (as in his masquerade mustaches), I love Brandon Barney's line MODURRN with it's clean futuristic lines and simple color palate, I love Nicole Larue's White Elephant Collective and her imaginative screen printed designs, Amicus, Aequitas, Teresa Flower's Sleepictures, the list goes on and on. There are a couple of designers I would love to get back in the store as well, we'll see how it goes. I am mostly excited about finding new talent and helping them build a name.
Gavin: What are your thoughts about other local retailers and how they deal with local products?
Lindsay: Go to your favorite search engine and type in “local retailers in Utah” and what do you find? Not much. I mean, there are a lot of local businesses that are owned locally but very few that sell only locally made items. I have seen/heard of two shops that are all local, one in Park City and one in Sugar House. I think that it is great to have others out there and I only hope that there will be more. There are also a lot of stores that feature a section or corner devoted to local products. I think this is catching on more and more because consumers are preferring to purchase goods made closer to home. I think that more retailers should be open to selling local products as it will only help their business and surrounding communities in the long run.
Gavin: Do you have any favorite shops you like to work with or shop from?
Lindsay: I love vintage anything so I have a few consignment shops around town that I like to peek into every so often. I miss the old Sugar House block so I try to stick to the remaining old building stores which house all of the local businesses. I would love to collaborate with other local business owners. I have also met a lot of the owners of the Broadway district stores and truly admire their hard work creating a name for themselves. I feel connected to them through Matt and his legacy with model.citizen. I hope to also gain that kind of relationship with the owners of the shops inside the library.
Gavin: What can we expect from both you and Salt Lake Citizen the rest of the year?
Lindsay: I have great things in mind for the coming year. I am working on getting a website up and running so that I can feature more items. It is difficult to stock everything in only 400 square feet. I also want to start giving money back to different local charities and events. I really want this store be a good thing for everyone involved.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Lindsay: I would also like to say that buying local keeps a lot more money in our community. I'm not saying that everything you purchase needs to be local, just make an effort. Visit The 3/50 Project and Local First. Oh, and don't smoke, the air in Salt Lake during the winter is hard enough on your lungs.