Love Yourz with KINDRED
IG Handle: @itsjustkindred
Based: Harlem, NY
Our Love Yourz campaign is designed to spotlight up-and-coming creatives, promote growing businesses, and give them a platform to cultivate their success. We have a culture of growth at Brooklyn Cloth, and this filters into everything we do, including and especially our creative collaborations. This year, as part of our Love Yourz campaign, we've collaborated with creative duo, Ria & Alex of KINDRED, a Harlem-based floral design and creative production company, and Brooklyn-based, hip-hop photographer and videographer, MANGOMAAT, to share with us the story of their growth.
Inspired by the song "Love Yourz" by Grammy-nominated artist, songwriter and record producer, J. Cole, Daniella Seminario, Brooklyn Cloth Graphic Designer and creative lead on the campaign, wanted to remind the #BKCLFam that we can experience love in many more ways than just romance. "It's about appreciating what you have, your family, your friends," says Seminario. "By spotlighting these small creators, we're also reminding our community that there's beauty in the process of starting something of your own."
We hope this interview series inspires our #BKCLFam to go after their passions while also appreciating the life surrounding them.
Can you tell me about the type of art you make and when you got started?
R: When I started Kindred in 2020, our focus was on creating custom bouquets and smaller arrangements for private clients as a subscription service. But, as word spread and our clientele and personal interests evolved over time, we began prioritizing creating floral artwork in the form of editorial backdrops and accents, interior pieces, and installations for branded collaborations. This year and moving forward we’re continuing to build a space for storytelling through the lens of floral artistry. We’re continuing to create an experience rooted in design that resonates with like-minded creatives.
Tell me how you came up with the name KINDRED?
R: Fun fact, our original name was Kindred Twines. When I first started working with flowers and decided to embark on the business, most of the pieces I made were bouquets held together by twine. I wanted a name that represented holding our community together, our kin together, thus Kindred Twines. But, as time passed and folks came to know us as KINDRED it kind of became a symbolic gesture to drop the “twines” - there’s no physical thing that holds our community together, it’s the community, our kindred, that holds each other together.
When did you decide to pursue this as a business?
A: I was not here for the inception of KINDRED. Ria and I were just friends and as I saw her business growing, I came in to be an extra set of hands to support her where needed. After a year of working together, I found a love for florals because it allowed me to express myself creatively in a newfound way and brought joy to others and of course there is nothing like working with your best friend. Ria asked me to come on as a partner a year ago and honestly has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I get to create beauty, innovate alongside one of my favorite people in the world and create generational wealth.
R: In Fall 2020, I’ve deeply admired the healing properties of flowers for as long as I can remember and made arrangements for myself more frequently when I moved to NYC in 2015. It wasn’t until after taking my first course in color theory and composition that I considered flowers as a business pursuit. I remember posting the first few photos of an arrangement I made on IG and people started asking if I could make something for them. Also shoutout to Max of @gangsters.buy.flowers for being one of the first people I gifted an arrangement to - I loved the totes he was making so much that I wanted to find a way to give him his flowers and I did just that.
Can you tell me about your relationship? How did you come together?
R: Alex and I have been friends for a little over 5 years now! We met at a wine shop and shared a mutual love for drinking wine (and still do lol). Over the years we became closer and when KINDRED started gaining traction, I automatically thought to ask Alex to join and help from a process, building, and creative stance. She’s the yin to my yang and outside of KINDRED, we basically bop everywhere and do a lot in our friendship together.
A: So funny because I feel like people have been asking me and Ria this a lot lately...we met a little over 5 years ago when I was working at a local wine store in our neighborhood. She would come in all the time to grab wine and we would just make conversation until we finally were like, let’s just get together and hang out. We had one dinner at this place in Harlem called 67 Orange St and have been inseparable ever since and now have a beautiful growing business together. She said it right, yin to the yang. haha
Have you had any mentors, guides, or important figures in your life that have guided and encouraged you in pursuing your work?
A: My mom is definitely at the top of my list of mentors. She has always raised me to work hard and if I am interested in something to not half ass it and go for it because you never know if you're good at something until you try and I definitely think it’s helped mold me into the person and business woman I am today. I would also say that my close friends are such a huge support system. They are always cheering me on and giving me such great advice on how to go about life and decisions that I make. And I do look at Ria as a guide in my life as well. She has taught me so much in the floral world and even in our creative agency world. All the women in my life have been the village that got me to where I am today.
R: Yes, in fact throughout every personal and professional transition there’s been an important guide that I’ve leaned on for advice and inspiration. I’d say one of my most impactful (group of) mentors as I was starting KINDRED was my close girlfriends. They were extremely supportive in both encouraging me to push myself into uncharted territory and extend referrals to their network. Thank you, ladies!
My uncle Ian, who’s also one of my best friends, has been important in my journey to explore my creativity. He always hits me with the right dose of reality and reassurance.
I’m also very grateful for the folks at J Rose in the flower district, particularly Troy - man they really looked out and provided some of the most sound advice I needed at the time when it came to sourcing stems and always had my back when I was in a crunch.
If so, how do you express your appreciation towards them? You could also think of this in terms of love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch.
R: I’m a talker so words of affirmation are my thing! When it’s time to express gratitude and appreciation, I’m big on saying exactly how I feel and verbally sharing what my people mean to me.
A: See yin and yang haha, I show my love and appreciation through acts of service and quality time. I am also big on gift giving as well but I would say acts of service is my go to.
What do you hope to achieve with your work?
A: I hope to show everyone there is always beauty in the world and so many ways to express that. The beauty in flowers is that there are so many different colors, sizes, shapes…there is so much room to play and construct a way to tell your story.
R: I spoke on building community earlier, so it’s my hope to create a network of people who find joy and inspiration in the stories we tell through floral artistry.. If I can contribute to evoking a beautiful emotion in someone, then I’ve done my job.
What does this collaboration with Brooklyn Cloth do for you in helping grow your business?
A: This was so fun for Ria and I because we got to play with colors and have creative control over a set design. I think for us a business was such a highlight and we were really able to show that unique KINDRED touch. It was also amazing to tell our story for the first time to the world as new business partners.
R: Similar to Brooklyn Cloth, our mission is to highlight creatives from all walks of life and showcase their unique craftspersonship. We loved partnering with Brooklyn Cloth to showcase not only a beautiful design Alex and I constructed, but also the playfulness and authenticity that she and I bring to every project we touch.
Top 5 Things you wish you knew when starting a business?
A: Boundaries and just advocating for yourself. I know this seems like something that should just be common but it’s something that you constantly have to remind yourself when you are starting your own business. It’s important to know what your message is, how you want to be perceived, and how you want to work and show up in a space with others. And you have to be strong and confident in believing in yourself and knowing that not every opportunity is for you. You don’t always have to say yes to a big brand or a big check if it doesn’t align with your brand/ethos.
A start is a start. It’s going to look messy at first, but you’ll never have the opportunity to shape your vision without first embarking on it.
Be committed to the timeblocks you have to work towards your business.
Ask for help. You can’t rise if you’re too busy sinking.
Give yourself artist days and dates to find new inspiration. In this field, daring to be creative with your designs is key to developing your unique flair.
Projects come and go. Sometimes overextending yourself just isn’t worth the burnout you feel afterwards so exercise saying no to unrealistic expectations.
Top 5 challenges you've overcome?
A: IMPOSTER SYNDROME is a huge one for me. I am new to the floral industry and am still learning to hone my skills so sometimes...I can psych myself out before a project, like..will they like this creative direction, will they be happy with the installation, so many things can go through my mind. But it helps to have a partner in crime because I feel like we both help pull each other out of that and remind each other we are talented. We are meant to be here because we are skilled and equipped, and we mean business.
Imposter syndrome. While I’m constantly expanding my skill set in the floral industry, I remember when I first started it was tough to feel that my designs were “good enough” to reel in the clientele I wanted. We’re in a very fortunate position where projects I once dreamt of are now in the works. All it took (and is still taking) is the courage to keep going, keep practicing and keep advocating for KINDRED’s message.
Getting clear about the purpose of KINDRED. When I first started, I was too open to letting things flow and evolve with time. I really had to put action behind what I wanted and be specific about where we’re headed - it’s unrealistic to think things will simply work out. A clear plan and intentional action go a long way.
Fear of failing. If it doesn’t work one way, I’ve learned to be relentless in trying a new approach.
Self doubt. KINDRED has helped me on a personal level more than anyone can ever imagine - it’s helped me build the confidence and courage I always knew I was capable of having.
Remaining calm under stress. We’ve been tossed into so many unpredictable and demanding scenarios that, at this point, keeping calm and doing everything with grace is now part of my DNA.
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