Fashion Designer | Artist | Printmaker | Textile Designer | Yogi Teacher
An artist at heart, Sigrid discovered her passion for textiles in 1974 after graduating from Montserrat College of Art. Even though she majored in painting and printmaking, she felt compelled to take a detour into hand-weaving. So she purchased a loom and dove into her new medium--fiber: spinning wool, dyeing yarn, and weaving gorgeous hues into fabric. Despite the allure of color, pattern and texture, before long she realized that weaving required patience and precision that she did not possess. After some exploration, she discovered a much more spontaneous medium to feature her imagery and color palette. Potatoes. The next step was to set up production in the upstairs of her barn, printing fabric with stamps she hand-carved out of potatoes. This experimentation evolved into a new enterprise--Sigrid Olsen Handprints.
Fueled by the craft markets of the 1970's and her small shared retail shop in Rockport, Massachusetts, Sigrid's funky, artistic designs grew in popularity. But the big break came in 1985 when she partnered with an apparel salesman and a venture capitalist to form a new company, based on her distinctive hand-print style--"Segrets Sun Prints" (which later became simply, Sigrid Olsen). The first season marked her place in the category of casual resort-inspired clothing. Prints highlighted imagery from nature--birds, fish, leaves, flowers, clouds and ocean waves. It was a hit and spawned a small cult-like following of inspired customers looking for something different.
Over the next two decades, the company grew exponentially, showing up in places as far reaching as seaside shops in the Caribbean to the racks of Nordstrom's. At it's height, the SIGRID OLSEN brand was represented in over 2000 specialty boutiques, most major department stores and, eventually, in 54 namesake company-owned Sigrid Olsen stores across the US and Canada.
When the company was sold to corporate giant, Liz Claiborne, Inc in 1999, Sigrid stayed on as Creative Director, managing a huge design staff and interacting with corporate executives at all levels. As the business exploded, her role became less creative and more managerial. Then, in the economic collapse of 2008, her company was closed down when LCI downsized from 45 brands to 5, and she found herself without a job, and in need of reinvention. Not only had she lost her company, she also lost the rights to her name. It took five years of legal negotiations for her to regain full ownership of her name and trademark. Today, Sigrid is free to imagine a new future with no limits.
In 2008, however, Sigrid had to forge a path without the use of her fashion identity, so she packed up her yoga mat, sketchbook, and some beach wear and headed to Tulum, Mexico for a much-needed escape. As it turned out, this upheaval was just the thing to spark a new calling. Inspired by the tranquility of her beach refuge, Sigrid began to regain her equilibrium and feel her creative juices flowing once again. Spurred by a strong desire to stay connected with the tribe of women who fueled her career, she envisioned a new venture that would merge her two personal passions (art and yoga)--Creative Wellbeing Retreats. This endeavor enabled her to pivot from selling apparel to offering unique, carefully crafted experiences for those same customers. Sigrid's retreats are more popular than ever today, though the in-person events have been temporarily replaced by on-line circles and yoga classes, due to the global pandemic. Stay tuned for new dates for 2023!
The reinvention, which is documented in her published memoir, MY LIFE, Redesigned, also included Sigrid's stepping back into her studio just to make art. no agenda, no deadlines, just an open-ended time to create. She opened two galleries --one in the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester, Massachusetts and the other when she moved to Sarasota Florida. Both are closed now and she works out of her home studio.
"The most magical and passion-fueled ideas can come from upheaval. Every step I've taken--every disappointment, hardship, mistake--has brought me to where I am today. I no longer look to someone else to steer my ship... I may not know exactly what the destination is, but I feel the power of the wind."
Fast forward to 2020--Sigrid's long awaited renaissance is about to debut as a new label, "Beach to Bistro".
The idea for this new line has been years in the making.
Finally everything came together for her to make it happen. First, she simplified her life and included lots of time at home, writing, meditating, sketching ideas and even teaching yoga online. The isolation of quarantine actually gave her the time and space to let her imagination run free.
This new enterprise has become a personal medium to illustrate all the things she loves in life: nature (the ocean in particular), art and wellness. Each of these things is an essential piece of the foundation of her life. Her sense of purpose, happiness, and inner peace stems from the intersection of all these things...and contributes to the uplifting effect of her colorful designs. This very natural, organic evolution is the secret to Sigrid's re-awakening, which she shares with her audience through an online presence that focuses on her vision, intended to inspire happiness.
For Sigrid, Beach to Bistro feels like coming full circle--back to her roots as an artisan entrepreneur, steeped in the serenity of her yoga practice and as always, just a few steps away from her beloved salty sea.
To learn more:
Sigrid's story has been featured in many major publications including the New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Wall Street Journal, Oprah Magazine, More Magazine, Boston Globe, Sarasota Magazine, and Coastal Living Magazine, as well as on radio and television and especially her recently published memoir, MY LIFE, Redesigned which is available on Amazon.com or here on the Sigrid Olsen website.
ALSO__LISTEN to her interview on the More Beautiful Podcast here.