The new design U. Spotlight Series features designers, artists, makers and people involved in fashion! You get a behind-the-scenes look as they share their experiences to anyone and everyone aspiring to be in the fashion industry.
For our first Spotlight we caught up with Sandra Freay, the Founder & Designer of FREAY and Mochila Mochila by FREAY. Both of her accessory lines specialize in artisan handmade bags, leather goods and shoes. Her vision draws distinct and beautiful designs from her Colombian roots. Sandra shares some of her experiences of realizing her dreams of becoming a fashion designer and making it all happen by starting her own line.
When did you realize that designing accessories was something you wanted to do? Has it always been your dream?
It all started at Parsons, I took an accessories class and it was an open studio and we were given the opportunity to design several bags. The first bag I ever made was a men’s messenger bag. My classmates fell in love, including my teacher. They could not believe that was my first bag I ever made. It had looked professionally made. At that point, I knew I had something.
Can you tell us about your experience in fashion school at Parsons?
I always knew I wanted to be a designer, and attending the Parsons AAS Design program was the perfect transition for my career goals. I’m thankful for Parsons because I found my passion for handbags.
It’s so cool that you interned at Rag & Bone! Can you tell us a little about it?
I was given the opportunity to work in the accessories department under the mentorship of David Neville (owner). I learned a lot about the industry from patternmaking to sample production to design. Every process, I was involved in. I also babysat for David and Gucci’s kids on the weekends 🙂
When did you start your own line, Freay?
Freay LLC launched in 2014. My first collection, Mochila Mochila by Freay, a sister brand, all started when I took a trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains in Colombia and found women artisans hand-weaving these beautiful pattern mochila bags. I knew at this point I had wanted to expand on this idea and work with these women artisans. As business grew, I later expanded to create a line of leather bags under FREAY, the main brand.
Everything is so beautiful! How do you choose the colors/patterns/fabrics you use? Where do you get your inspiration?
I grab inspiration from everywhere, especially in Colombia. It is full of color and patterns, and beautiful nature. I work directly with these indigenous artisans to create our color palettes and designs. Each design is symbolic to the tribe. The material is wool blend sourced directly in the mountains from the sheep they raise. The new summer 2016 collection introduces new designs with our brand logo and colors in more vibrant colorways.
Tell us about when Dree Hemingway was spotted wearing one of your bags!?
Tell us what fashion means to you…
Fashion is a form of expression of who you are and what you like.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Funky , eclectic , fun, unique, colorful. Depending on my mood in the morning is when I decide what I want to wear…I can be girly or tomboy.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers who also have dreams of going to fashion school and starting their own line like you did?
Have a distinct, clear vision for your brand. Understand your target market and follow your gut in all decisions. Most importantly, be passionate about what you do and the rest will follow.
To follow, check out FREAY here: