To celebrate the launch of our limited-edition FEED x Lingua Franca Come Together Tote, we caught up with Lingua Franca's CEO & Founder, Rachelle Hruska, who has managed to not only make embroidery cool, but trendy – and even edgy.
Read on for her story and shop our exclusive tote (before it sells out!).
Name / Occupation: Rachelle Hruska MacPherson / CEO and founder Lingua Franca
I’m a woman on a mission to: have fun and change the world.
What cause or issue are you most passionate about?
Education (esp. for low income women and children), women’s rights, equal representation in politics – and everywhere else too.
You started Lingua Franca with something as simple as embroidery, that some may even think of as old fashioned, and you’ve made it not only relevant, but trendy! How did the idea come about?
After the birth of my second son, I suffered from debilitating postpartum anxiety. A therapist suggested I try finding a hobby to keep hands busy and my mind may follow. So, one weekend in Montauk, I picked up some thread and a needle and embroidered “booyah” on an old sweater lying around. I learned how to embroider from my grandmother Rita as a child, and it was such a satisfying exercise. Without thinking much about it, I shared my creation on Instagram, friends started asking me to embroider their own sweaters, and it all snowballed from there!
More and more companies are speaking out and getting involved in issues, even political ones, how did you go about establishing your voice? Do you think it’s important for brands these days to have a position and be vocal?
I think it’s important for any brand to be authentic to their own value system. One of the first sweaters I stitched was, “can’t fake the funk.” I believe that. Individuals and companies all have unique points of views – the brands I respond to most are the ones that do a good job of honing in on those views. I think it’s important to be honest with whatever that point of view is. For me, that happens to be about speaking out against things that I find problematic, but also about starting conversations around difficult and nuanced topics.
What’s next for Lingua Franca?
We are about to open a 3,500 sq. foot space (including an atelier) on 67th/68th and Madison this month. In December we are launching an entirely new line of products – a project I’ve been working on diligently for almost 4 years, and we have loads of exciting partnerships and collaborations in store in 2020.
The phrase on our FEED x Lingua Franca Tote is “Come Together,” hand-embroidered in your signature script, by female artisans in India. What does the phrase mean to you?
For me, coming from the middle of the country, I am very much aware that even around seemingly black and white heated issues, we have more in common with our adversaries than we realize. I think we are entering scary times all around, but I know the solutions to various difficult and nuanced issues can only be found by coming together, engaging in meaningful conversations, listening to the other side, and expanding our generosity towards each other.
Favorite Lingua Franca sweater (I know this is probably a hard one)?
Too hard to pick a favorite, but our first capsule collection, which was built around my mother in law and women's surf champion Janet MacPherson, will forever be on repeat in my closet: “give a damn” “beat the system” “down by law” “everyday i’m hustlin.’”
What’s your #1 favorite thing about living and working in NYC?
I love the energy of this city. People here are truly passionate and creative and shaping the culture all over the world. I feel so lucky to be able to live and work here and raise my kids here.
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Minimalist or maximalist? Maximalist
Early bird or night owl? Night Owl
Manhattan or Brooklyn? Manhattan
Three things you always have in your bag: Phone, chapstick. That’s all I need!
The FEED bag that’s so me is: Our Come Together Tote!
Giving back for me, means: Giving of myself, in whatever ways I can.
The #1 thing that gets you up and out of bed in the morning is: Lately? Our new puppy Harry! ha