I sat down with Mary and Chelsea Gehr, the mother-daughter fashionistas behind L.A. label Bamboo Holt.

bamboo-holt-lookbook

Bamboo Holt is a brand new label. In fact it’s only a few months old, but the inspiration behind the designs feel timeless. From silken kimonos to galactic crop tops, Bamboo Holt combines the rebellion of the 1920s with the haziness of 21st century L.A. Mary and Chelsea Gehr grew up with fashion and beauty as inextricable aspects of their everyday lives, and that is apparent in their effortlessly stylish designs. I had the pleasure of interviewing the mother-daughter duo on their process and how they came to work so closely together.

THE NAME BAMBOO HOLT IS SUPER UNIQUE! WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?

Well, we wanted a name that describes our style, and who we are. “Bamboo” came about because our lifestyle has always had a very zen influence to it. Our home and clothing influences have had touches of bamboo through out because of the positive energy and natural beauty it brings us. We brought in the word “Holt” because it symbolizes “wood”, and we think it adds strength to our label name. Which bring us to our logo, the 4 elements. The meaning of bamboo plays an important role in the elements of water and earth. When you place this plant in the correct pot, it can introduce fire and air to complete a balance of the four elements. The arrow that goes through the earth and air triangles is a symbol to continue aiming forward. With starting our own business, there have been and will be ups and downs, but our logo reminds us to stay positive and keep looking straight ahead.

 

bamboo holt clothing

HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO DESIGNING? WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR STYLE EARLY ON?

Mary:  I was raised in a large middle class, midwestern family with six sisters that shared clothing. If we did not want to wear hand-me-downs, we were encouraged to sew our own clothing. Our grandmother and mother taught us everything we needed to know about patterns, fabric, and sewing. I worked retail fashion through out high school and college while taking fashion design and business management courses. After college I chose the path of corporate management even though my heart has always been in fashion design. Twenty plus years later, Chelsea’s inspiration lead me to hang my corporate hat and take a leap into the fashion design world as her partner. And there, Bamboo Holt was born!

 

Chelsea:  Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, fashion wasn’t necessarily a priority to everyday living. However, raised by my mother (the fashionista) had showed me the ins and outs and importance of looking and being fabulous no matter who or what is around. Early on I knew I wanted to do something in the fashion industry, so I studied my moms work when she would sew my costumes and outfits.  When I reached junior high and high school, I took classes to get that hands on experience, which lead me to winning first place ribbons in district, county, and state design competitions. Then, moving out to California straight from high school, I went on to school for design, but learning it wasn’t as hands on as I was used to. I went a different direction and studied art, photography, and makeup. After training in those areas as well, I have figured out a way to mold and incorporate all of my joys into one, Bamboo Holt.

 

WHAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE YOUR STYLE?

 

Everyday influences; waking up and seeing the way the light hits the wall. Or, going outside and seeing the way the trees and leaves move in the wind. The food we eat. The diversity of people walking down the street, etc. We like to see an art in everything around us and transform that to reflect in our designs.

 

fashion bamboo holt parrot
WHAT GOES INTO CREATING EACH COLLECTION?

 

Once we have the inspiration we take it to our mood boards and notebooks and let the creativity flow out of us. We categorize based on the season, color palette, textiles, etc. Then we execute the design.

 

YOU HAVE A SELECT GROUP OF MODELS FOR YOUR LINE. WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH THEM AND HOW COME YOU CHOSE THEM AS FACES FOR YOUR BRAND?
We choose models who have features and personality resembling Bamboo Holt’s image. Models who can walk in to the room and organically portray that feminine confidence within the diversity of their ethnicity, age, body structure, etc.

 

bamboo holt interview
DO YOU HAVE A DESIGN OF YOURS THAT’S YOUR ABSOLUTE FAVORITE?

 

Yes!! We have two actually, our peacock kimonos, and our drip bib chokers. The kimono is Indian inspired and is handmade and beaded in India.  It’s one of our favorite kimonos because it is such a delicate whimsical piece worn by all ages.  It’s soft and sexy fabric can be worn out of the bathtub or out on the town.  The drip bibs chokers are chest pieces that start anywhere from the neck to the cleavage. Chunky, glamorous, and perfect and any outfit, any occasion.  They are not out on the website yet, but coming soon. We know they will be a huge hit and will keep you posted for they’re arrival.

 

fashion bamboo holt black
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF OWNING YOUR OWN LABEL AND DOING YOUR OWN DESIGNS?

 

The most challenging part of owning our own label and designs is trying to create something unique and on time for the new seasons. Pieces that will attract the attention of women of all ages and all walks of life.  It is also a TON of work because we have an international E-commerce store, as well as having pop up stores throughout California. Our plan is to also start pop up stores outside of California very soon.  With all the work involved in our business plan, we are having a blast and would not want to do anything else.

 

fashion bamboo holt hide seek
TELL US ONE THING YOU NEED TO:

 

SEE: The organic inspiration that surrounds us day to day.
HEAR: The way the water curls, the wind moves, the crackles of the fire, and the thirst of Mother Nature.
KNOW: The dreams deep in your soul can come to fruition. You just have to pull, aim, and shoot.

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