Born to Swedish immigrants Carina has a long history of supporting the efforts of artists and designers whether it be a job or friend. After 25 years of working in the fashion industry, beginning with Esprit in the 1980's where she gained a breadth of knowledge in the workings of the influential brand in sales, merchandising and marketing, “this is where I was introduced to ecology”. After 10 years she joined a design studio in Italy where a dazzling ride began of working around the clock in every avenue of creating a brand, "we designed and ran production for Tse Cashmere which gave us access to some of the most creative and intricate knitting factories throughout Italy, not to mention working closely with the spinning mills on innovative new yarns and impressive color inspiration. I owe so much of my current design obsession to the two people I worked for in that incredible design studio in Biella, Italy.
"It's hard to explain but there is a point in working, especially when you are young, when you are completely immersed in your work and it feels so good, I think it's what people look for their entire lives and I am so thankful I got to experience that feeling."
After a few years New York City was calling where Carina freelanced for Gap, Banana Republic, etc... designing kids sweaters and a Luxe brand of sweaters at Banana. Until she landed with the elusive Zoran, "it was the only job I wanted when I returned to America and I was lucky he took my on. There are not many people who know Zoran is but if you do, you know he was doing something very special. It was very exciting time". It wasn't necessarily engineered but you can see a very creative design and fashion background happening here. And now comes the fun part (ha!) "my Italian friends decided they were going to create their own collection, and I couldn't wait to join them! and so hLam was born" it was UNfashion, the most exquisite pieces you could ever own coming from one collection, dripping with sartorial elegance and enrolling the best factories in Italy for each of the categories, the best fabrics, yarns and factories, it was a once in a lifetime experience.... really. "However to do what we were doing we needed financial backing and it never came together"
Back in New York City Carina ran the Public Relations and Marketing for one of the largest Italian Mens suiting manufacturers, Marzotto. "I joined them to create an American collection of mens' sportswear, once again creating a brand from marketing and design through to sales. It was at this time that Carina turned her energies into her personal world. She lived just a few blocks from the World Trade Center and after 9/11 decided it was time to leave New York City with her husband and small baby and head for Rhode Island. "We purchased a run down mid century modern home near the ocean and decided to renovate it, we threw our lives into the home and at the same time I had an idea to start a small business creating an online boutique for kids”, it sounds practically mundane now but in 2004 there was no such thing. “It was a time in my life that now seems impossible but while we were doing it-it was completely exhilarating, we were just writing this story" The home appeared in multiple magazines in the US and England, Nonchalantmom was a favorite of the editors of Martha Stewart and many magazines, Carina created a kids collection of play clothing made entirely of Ikea fabric which sold in Japan, NYC kids boutiques and online. Carina's 'advice' column for raising kids in a more natural and healthy way was read by moms' all over (ask any NYC mom with kids born at that time...) “I was introduced to Macrobiotics when living in Italy, I continued for five years educating myself in cooking and healing with food and I used this to inform my advice column which turned into a blog in 2006.
So nearly 30 years after jumping into the waters of design and fashion Carina embarks on yet another facet of her life. "What I didn't like about fashion was the waste, destroying of our waterways through dying, and the overall slavery of fast fashion in both the production of garments to the all consuming nature of the business, “even if I was a proponent of small designers with my business I didn’t want any part of fashion. I was tired of being a part of it, I had to search and really look at what I wanted in my life.
I had this rock that a fisherman had made a net around and I loved it, I spent some time and figured out how to do it, I immediately knew this is what I wanted to do, it was beautiful and somehow contained my love of rocks, using something that's already here, metals are constantly recycled and I found lost wax casting. Being able to create every part of the process myself is so interesting to me. There are many polishers and chemicals which can also be used in jewelry making which I do not use, but rather I do it the slow old way, completely by hand. I have no interest in making the process faster or easier because I feel the beauty in making my pieces is all part of their complete charm. I work with a small second-generation foundry who does my casting, it was his fathers factory in a small garage, the old fashioned way. So my pieces are not made fast, but they are made with love.
Now, I see myself as a whole and I can envision a life that can continue long into the future. I include my Swedish heritage into everything I make, that simple Scandinavian design rule guides me to constantly change, constantly learn and that's the most important to me.
And I’m not done yet…. I plan to teach myself lapidary, wood sculpture, maybe take another swing at ceramics, my eyes are wide open and there is so much out there!