Emily Christensen of Filly Designs

Best of 2011's Creative People, Living Green


How do people live green in their everyday life? What motivates and inspires them? In Re-Nest's new column, Creative People, Living Green, I interview interesting people I meet to find out their habits, thoughts, creative pursuits, business ventures, and green living wisdom.

Emily Christensen of Filly Designs creates simple, sustainable, small-batch clothing for women. Her attention to beauty and function come together in an effortless style. I spoke to Emily about the things that inspire her, her conscientious lifestyle and how her green fashion line has evolved over the years. More photos below:

Emily designs from her live/work space in NE Portland. You may remember her dreamy home tour posted on Re-Nest about a month ago. Visiting with Emily to explore her studio and her home, it was obvious how much her unique, curated environment affects her design work. She takes such care in cultivating natural beauty in her home and studio, mostly from materials found in nature or gifts from friends. She balances her design work with lots of gardening, yoga, cooking, teaching and picnics outdoors.

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The clothing Emily designs is made from sustainable fabrics and her lines are created in small-batch runs in San Francisco. Emily takes great care in selecting natural dyes for her garments, the result is that the colors of her clothes are unbelievably beautiful. The outfits look like they stepped out of a Renaissance painting, they are so rich and vibrant, very unusual in the days of commercially-produced clothing. Her pieces are as timeless as they are contemporary, simultaneously up to the minute with small details, yet their overall feeling has the design qualities make a piece last forever. Her work is fantastic and her veering off the traditional path to make her way as a fashion designer is inspiring.

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Above photo by Lisa Warninger
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Green Profile

Name/Occupation: Emily Christensen. clothing designer, dog mom, ceramic artist, teacher.

What does a typical day look like? Oh great, start me off with a hard one! In my life each day is different. And I'm not kidding. Filly, my clothing line, might require graphic design, shipping, sewing, designing, sourcing... it goes on and on. I might need to go in to the ceramics studio, I might need to prepare for the class I teach at the community college. And I definitely want to go to yoga, walk the dog, kiss my boyfriend, visit with my friends, see a show, take a hike, go to the river, work in the garden... And so I approach each day like a general on a battle field. I make a list of the day's tasks and come up with an hour by hour game plan for accomplishing everything. Trying to figure out the puzzle of the day causes a fair amount of anxiety. If I get it right I go to bed feeling utterly satisfied. But "right" is a very delicate mix of work, socializing, exercise, adventure, love, productivity, alone time, and rest and it is hard to find. I resent the days I don't get right.

The term "green living" can be so generic. What does it mean to you?
Green living is a silly term in my life. Living is more accurate. I dropped out of law school at the age of 23. That was when I veered off the traditional road and I have never looked back. I am so firmly rooted in alternative living and an environmentally-conscious lifestyle that I don't even notice that I am using sustainable practices that might be labeled green. But when I take a moment to reflect, I see that it was my intention to live simply and thoughtfully that led to a very healthy life. Green means choosing, carefully, each step.

 What inspires you? Nature, strangers, friends, surprising combinations, coffee, raw materials, potential.

The one thing you can't live without: Bello (my dog). Which is scary because he's so old.

Favorite quote or personal mantra you live by? You have plenty of time.

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Thanks Emily for talking to us about your work and showing us your studio!

Visit Filly Designs: Filly

(Images: Leela Cyd Ross, image of Emily in her green jumpsuit by Lisa Warninger via her blog, Urban Weeds. Originally published 2011-05-10)

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