Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ask: Jenny Gordy of Wiksten

In honor of fashion week, our Ask segment this week will be a delightful interview with one of my favorite designers, who also happens to have amazing taste in names - you guys are in for such a treat today with these names, I tell you.

 Thank you to Jenny Gordy, of Wiksten, for our awesome interview today. 

Jenny designs, hand-dyes, and sews beautiful garments.

She knits.

She does print design. 

She takes the loveliest photos for her blog.

And Jenny also happens to be a name lover, you guys!   Beyond that, she is just such a pleasure to talk to - just as warm and lovely as her work. Don't you love that?

I've said it before, I love everything Jenny creates.  Over and over I have reached for my own Wiksten necklace as just the thing to make me feel happy and well-styled.

Take her perfectly paired silhouettes and fabric choices - if you can turn that sort of meshing of the classic and comfortable, the  adventuresome and elegant into a name, you'll have a perfect one.

 Her garments are effortlessly cool - chic, feminine, detail conscious, and smart.  

(image courtesycup of joe)

 Jenny named the line after her grandmother, who taught her to sew and helped inspire her sense of style. Wiksten, a swedish name, has such a great sound, but the meaning behind it's selection is what really moves.  I mean, it had to be Wiksten, didn't it? 

(images by Lena Corwin, courtesy of Wikstenmade)

 As I sit gasping at the garments and sewing patterns at Wiksten, I notice the lovely names alongside them.  Jenny tells me she names her pieces after people she loves and who inspire her. The same depth and warmth in such a naming process is abundant in Jenny's work.


Nona and I are doing this project over the weekend, from Jenny's Lucky Magazine post - DIY necklaces. 

                                                                                                           (Image courtesy Lucky magazine)

1. Jenny is a lovely name - Do you often go by Jenny or do you have a nickname?
Since so many of my friends are also named Jenny or Jennifer, a lot of people call me Gordy.  I like it because the name Gordy sounds chummy to me, like someone you can pal around with.  Remember Gordie from Stand By Me?  Love that movie.  My husband calls me Jen, which I find endearing.

2. What are some names that you currently love?
I've been researching a few inspirations as I design my spring collection and will probably use some of the names I've come across for new styles.  The colors are inspired by dyes that come from nature like Madder, Kamala, Annatto, and Indigo.  And the styles are influenced by women artists of the past such as Edith Heath, Sonia Delaunay, Eva Ziezel, Georgia O'Keefe, and Anni Albers.  What would those women wear today to look simple and elegant while creating their work and living their adventurous lives?  That's what inspires me lately.  I've been taking ceramics classes, and I'm working on a potter's smock for the spring collection.  I like Potter as a name.  I'm also obsessed with reading, and some of my favorite names from books are Ollie (a woman's name, short for Olive), Honora (H is silent, pronounced like Anora), Franny (from Franny and Zooey), and Helena (pronounced Hel-ee-na, Lena for short).  Ada is my all-time favorite name, which comes from the Nabokov book.  This explanation, thanks to Wikipedia, explains why it's so special:"According to neurologist David Eagleman , Nabokov named the title character in part after his favorite butterfly. An avid collector of butterflies, Nabokov was especially fond of one species with yellow wings and a black body. As a synesthete, he associated colors with each letter; A was connected to yellow, and D to black. Thus he saw a reflection of his favorite butterfly (yellow-black-yellow) in the name Ada. This also makes sense because Ada wants to be a lepidopterist in the book."Ada" is also pun, a homophone, for "Ardor." Marina, Ada's mother, pronounces her name with "long, deep" Russian "A"s, which is how a Russian would say the word "Ardor"."

3. Do you appreciate the same qualities in names as you do in clothing or home design?
Yep!  I like my names simple, elegant, and practical.  Nothing too flashy, pretentious, or precious.

4. What is on the horizon for Wiksten - anything you can share?
I'd like to branch out in terms of making Wiksten more of a lifestyle brand.  I'm adding more home items to my collection, simple handmade luxuries that people can treat themselves to or save up as a gift for someone special.  In the next month or two my online shop will include products from other makers as well: ceramics, fragrance, beautiful soaps, and jewelry.  I have a hard time keeping my clothing items in stock, and I'd love for my customers to be able to buy all types of handmade products from me that compliment my line.More sewing patterns and more original textiles are in the works as well!

5. Finally, a little create-a-name game!

Because you are a clothing designer:
For the first name: please pick a color you love right now (can be very literal or a color one might see in a catalog or makeup isle.)
For the middle name: please pick a name (first, middle or last) of a loved one (person, animal, character, muse) from past or present:
I came up with two:
Rose Eleanor

  Cotton Lela

Beautiful, Jenny - So fun! I absolutely adore the names you picked, and the inspiration for your spring line is so intriguing and thoughtful. 

 And Here's a list of the names you can find by looking at Wiksten's present and past collections:



















Additional names from today's inspiration and musings:



























Further, I just can't resist. I was so inspired by Jenny's description of what she likes in a name: "simple, elegant, and practical. Nothing too flashy, pretentious, or precious".  So here's my own interpretation of her description by way of list:



















 If you've yet to discover Wiksten, you'll want to grab your favorite drink and snack and prepare to sit for a while, soaking in all the hand-made goodness on the site and blog.  

Thanks again, Jenny!

  images: unless otherwise noted, all are by and courtesy of Jenny Gordy Wikstenmade


  1. Other simple, elegant and practical names I can think of are Olive, Nell, Rain, Tate and Piper.

    I'm starting to really love the name Indigo. My local bus service shares the name, and their drivers are always so lovely.

  2. Love it!
    Especially love midori.
    Thanks for the interview...fantastic!

  3. Great interview. I love Wiksten. xo.

    p.s. As for the name game (using your "rules") above, mine would be:

    Emerald Moseley

    (Emerald / my birthstone; Moseley / my great-grandfather's middle name)

  4. love Nell, Mer!

    Nancy, fantastic, in deed! She's such a gem!

    Nicole- Love it! I think Emerald is so fun. pretty and such a logical name choice; I don't understand why it isn't more used.

  5. Who needs a silent H when Anora/Onora is a fabulous name!

    Tova is my cousin's name - it's fabulous!

    Great interview, and I got inspired to answer question five, though I'm switching the order to make the name sound a bit more fluid:

    Silken Daisy.

    Silken is a name I've always known - from childhood, Silken Laumann was a world-class Canadian rower. As much as it's also an adjective, where I'm from there are many who would scarcely bat an eyelash if they heard it. I know you said colour, but Jenny said Cotton ;)

    Daisy honours my beloved grandmother. My name lists are ever-changing and my future hubby will get to have a say, but Daisy is one name I've put my foot down on. It will be used as a middle name for my daughter if I ever do have one.

  6. We've considered Ada for each of our babies as it's so beautiful and a family name to boot, but I never knew about the butterfly connection for Nabokov. Such a great dimension to an already lovely name!

    Also..."simple, elegant, and practical." Criteria I absolutely agree with.

    I could see a Laure in that collection, easy. Otherwise, I love the names already listed. What a great post!

  7. My name is Georgia - seeing on the list just made my day!! I've hated having the name in the past because it was so different, but I do love it after all. Lovely post and interview - I've been following her blog for years. One of my favorites for sure!

  8. Georgia, thanks for commenting! I have to say, you are wearing one of my favorite names!

  9. Lovely to read and see this, of a talented woman.

    Maybe it sounds funny for you, but here in Finland, when we started to learn English (at the age of 9), we "got" English names that our teacher chose for us.

    Mine was Amy. I think that it sounds very pretty, and much like my Finnish name. We pronounce things in Finnish very differently, and if I wrote "Amy" in Finnish, it would become "Eimi". I really like that.

    Lovely to find here. Happy new week.

  10. Thanks, Anna Emilia! Eimi *is* pretty! I love me some Finnish names. So interesting about taking "English" names! Of course, I took a Spanish name for my classes in school. I'd love to hear more about which names were options for you!