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Meet Kussy Mackenzie of Sophia + Sam Eco-Boutique in North Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kussy Mackenzie.

Kussy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was six months pregnant with my second son, I decided I wanted to start making clothing for he and his brother. I started taking sewing classes at San Diego Continuing Education through their fashion program. My sewing fundamentals teacher literally taught me how to thread a machine. I have always done some sort of art my whole life; drawing, painting, scrapbooking, and I was a professional makeup artist for a decade. I actually still do makeup on the side. 🙂 (sandiegomakeup.pro).

I had grew up with a fashionista mother who had owned a little boutique for a while. I used to love our trips to Chicago to go wholesale shopping. I always loved fashion and design, so it was no surprise I became obsessed with fiber arts right away. I loved having those 4 – 5 hours of class time to learn and create and have a sisterhood of other sewists.

I ended up taking one sewing class after another and eventually received my certificate in Clothing Construction from SDCC in 2017. As for the business; early on, I started sewing baby gifts whenever I had the opportunity. But it was when I was helping a friend with her marathon costume, that she planted them in my mind to make my sewing into a business.

My original plan was to create baby accessories from African style Dutch wax prints, which are stunning brightly colored designs representative a mostly West African fashion, I had done a few samples and was working on a name for my business and a concept when an opportunity presented itself. I found a sewing business for sale! This business was called Sophia + Sam.

The previous owner had run it as an online business making baby clothing and accessories for a little over a year and closed it due to other obligations. They were selling the brand, Sophia + Sam, along with sewing equipment and a massive stock of certified organic cotton by the bolts. I knew it was meant to be. What were the chances that I was starting the same type of business when this opportunity came along? Long story short, I bought the business and launched Sophia + Sam on November 1st, 2017.

I had been running Sophia + Sam as an online business and would also do pop up markets around San Diego. I had also reached out to a multitude of children’s boutiques, an eco-boutique in South Park, and other retailers to carry my brand. My efforts went ignored until I was contacted by Denise Robles of SoCal Made in March. She had found me on the San Diego Made website and invited me to be a vendor in a brand new store she was opening at Westfield Mission Valley Mall.

It was such a blessing and awesome opportunity to have the Sophia + Sam brand in a brick and mortar store. I ended up renting an additional space to sew and sell African inspired accessories and home decor under the brand of Domestic Phoenix. Domestic Phoenix is a collaboration with my sister who makes jewelry and travels frequently as an infectious disease doctor with the Navy. She brings me fabric from West Africa, and I make one of a kind items from them, including our African-Japanese fusion bag we call the Fufushiki.

In August of this year, I was blessed with another opportunity; this time to open my own brick and mortar eco-boutique in North Park, housing both Sophia + Sam and Domestic Phoenix. In this location, I am now able to offer custom tailoring services for those seeking handmade and ethically sourced goods. Almost everything I carry in my store is designed and made by me. I also sell fabric, rare buttons, and vintage sewing patterns. I really want to inspire people to sew again or even just appreciate the art and time that goes into it.

I want people to share in that nostalgia of having a tailor and actually knowing the name of the person who made their clothes or their child’s clothes. I hope to help spread the slow fashion movement and to at least pause to consider an alternative to buying mass quantities of cheap clothes that are made in unknown conditions and that they only wear a few times because the fit is not that flattering after a few washes.

In addition to running my business, I am a mother of two boys; ages one and four. I am the wife of a sexy Scottish chef, and I work part-time as an Evaluation Research Analyst at UC San Diego, Center for Community Health.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a huge financial burden on my family to run the business. Because I am the mother two toddlers, I have to do almost all my sewing at night time. It’s a lot of late nights and the early mornings to go to my day job. Sometimes I stay up all night to finish a project or meet the deadline.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sophia + Sam Eco-Boutique story. Tell us more about the business.
Sophia + Sam is my children’s brand. I specialize in producing clothing and accessories for babies and children that are made from Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) certified organic cotton. Meaning the fabric is produced ethically without the use of child labor, in good working conditions where employees make a living wage and are grown without chemicals and printed without harsh dyes (these features are especially important for babies and their sensitive skin).

Domestic Phoenix products are made from textiles which are ethically sourced directly from female entrepreneurs in Africa and immigrant women business owners right here in San Diego. I offer custom tailoring services; someone can come to my boutique and pick out the fabric they want for a one of a kind garment made for them, their child, or for a gift.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I would love to grow into space where I could expand the boutique and be the leading source of organic cotton and Dutch wax prints outside of LA. I would love to have a space for sewing, education, and gatherings around eco-fashion.

Pricing:

  • Custom Tailoring Fee for Clothing $15
  • Custom Tailoring Fee for Accessories $10
  • Custom Tailored Onesie, Size Newborn – 3T $25
  • Long Sleeve Children’s Top $25
  • Fufushiki Bag $45
  • Wood Earrings $20
  • Dog Bandans $5

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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