We tend to be rather particular about who we invite to sell on Teqtique, but when it came to discovering Sarah Frances Kuhn and her eponymous line of fashionable camera straps, it was a no brainer. From bold cornflower blue hues to a more chic and classy black chainlink number reminiscent of classic Chanel, these straps actually make hanging a camera around your neck the new statement necklace. She also lives a life many of us dream of – working full-time developing and producing her enviable camera straps in her treehouse workshop (yep!) and playing in a band. With a start as a style assistant to the super-talented Lori Goldstein and then as Accessories Editor for Teen Vogue, Kuhn shares with us where she goes for inspiration, how she got her start, and reminds us all that sometimes it’s good to take risks.
Hi Sarah! To start, can you tell us a little about your brand, Sarah Frances Kuhn?
Sure! This is from my website: SFK is an accessories brand founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY by former Teen Vogue Accessories Editor, Sarah Frances Kuhn. Currently, her line consists of her incredibly chic, yet functional camera straps, iPhone straps & headpieces. Everything is handmade with the finest materials in her studio. She splits her time between Brooklyn & Pittsburgh.
Why did you choose straps?
It started organically. First, I made a strap for myself, then for a few friends, fellow fashion editors, people who stopped me in the street, then they were featured in some blogs and magazines.
How did you get started? What was the first thing you did when you formed the idea for SFK?
See above! To elaborate a bit, when I was Accessories Editor at Teen Vogue I always had a camera on me for market appointments. One day the strap that came with my camera broke so I made one for myself out of some trimming that was in my office before running out the door to an appointment. People started noticing. Some fashionable friends started making requests. I made a few more, started a blog and began to sell them.
Can you tell us a little about the process in making them? How long does each piece take you?
Each one is different so it really depends on the style.
How do you source your materials?
I have used a wide array of materials. Here are a few: chain, leather, climbing rope, horse-tack rope, salvaged materials such as denim. The list goes on…
Where do you go for inspiration?
I am always keeping my eyes open to new ideas. However, lately, I am inspired by my forays into gardening and becoming more aware of and promoting environmental consciousness. Therefore, I have started in my “ backyard” aka: studio by using up materials that I have had piling up. It is really fun to up-cycle, rather than just buy more new materials. It seems like a good supplement to the other collections and has inspired totally new SFK styles. It is something that can continue to evolve.
I loved the magazine world but I was excited for a change and took a little risk.
How would you describe your straps in three words?
Functional, hand-made, chic.
You were previously the Accessories Editor at Teen Vogue. How did your role influence what you do now?
I would never have began SFK had it not been for my role there, which I feel very lucky about. It was serendipity. Being so immersed in the world of fashion, particularly accessories, was a major factor. It was like a chain-reaction.
How did you land your role at Teen Vogue?
I was working with Joanna Hillman. We were both assistants to with stylist extraordinaire, Lori Goldstein. Joanna was hired as a fashion editor at Teen Vogue and they were looking for an accessories editor at the time too. She was so cool to recommend me 😉 I had been working mainly with jewelry and accessories at Lori’s headquarters and really enjoyed it so the Teen Vogue position seemed like a great fit.
You now run SFK full time. What made you take the leap to full-time? How did you make that decision?
SFK began to grow and I was unable to do both. I loved the magazine world but I was excited for a change and took a little risk.
You run SFK by yourself, how do you stay motivated?
I never feel alone. I have had many phases and have done a lot of collaborations . I have had interns, and assistants of all kinds since I began. All of those things definitely help with motivation. AND of course, all of my amazing customers and the stores, webstores, bloggers, editors and magazines that have been supporters and make it well worth it.
Love what you are making first and the rest will follow.
Can you give us a typical run through of your day?
There is not really a typical day, which is the best part. Today, I am in Brooklyn shooting my new collection in my friend’s amazing back yard garden in Greenpoint for example. Tomorrow I will be going to the post office and buying some supplies for example.
What are the challenges you’ve faced so far (industry and / or business related)?
I do not have a math-oriented brain so that is one of my least favorite parts. Thank goodness for calculators and accountants.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start their own line of products?
Love what you are making first and the rest will follow.
What’s the greatest piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Grow your business slowly.
What are your thoughts on the future of women and tech?
Its importance and relevance and the conversation surrounding that will continue to grow and influence all aspects of our lives.
If you had a new friend in town for the weekend, where would you take them?
If I am in Pittsburgh, to see my band play if we have a show!!
In Brooklyn, to Secret Project Robot…an amazing arts and music venue.
What are the first five websites you go to when you open your browser?
What is one piece of tech or tech accessory you can’t live without?
Photos courtesy of Sarah Frances Kuhn. This interview has been edited and condensed.
If you have any questions you want to ask Sarah, please let us know or share your question in the comments below ?