After being a fashion designer for 30 years, 65-year-old entrepreneur Sigrid Olsen is reinventing herself.
She started her fashion career in 1984 with a home-based business that grew into a multimillion-dollar fashion brand.
Her designs began with carving block prints out of potatoes, creating the unique stamped design used on her clothing.
The brand was bought in 1999 by Liz Claiborne Inc., but in 2008 the company turned on Olsen.
She lost her job as creative director and head designer, as well as her brand, to which Liz Claiborne Inc. kept the rights.
“It’s just kind of funny being at this point in my career,” Olsen says. “Being a fashion designer for 30 years, that’s how I identified myself. I thought I would just do that for the rest of my life.”
But she’s moved on, putting her energy into finding herself once again.
“I had a blank slate in front of me, and I could do anything,” she says.
Olsen says yoga and meditation help her keep balanced and centered. In a time when most would feel frustrated and defeated, Olsen made — and continues to make — an effort to rejuvenate.
After integrating healthy activities back into her life, Olsen began to feel the creative juices flowing. She went back to her art roots and started creating note cards and acrylic paintings.
“I never really aspired to be a fashion designer, I just kind of fell into it,” Olsen says. “So I started to put together in my mind those two things: the creativity and the center, and I realized they are connected.”
This realization sparked the journey that took Olsen to where she is now. In 2011, she and her late husband decided it was time to move somewhere warmer. Although Olsen’s heart was set on the Caribbean, she decided it would be better to move to Florida, where five of her top-grossing stores were located in the 2000s.
Her studio is tucked into her home on Siesta Key, surrounded by vibrant nature and color — the perfect environment for her new creativity.
Here, Olsen is able to connect with the women who bought the clothes from her former line and those who strive for a lifestyle similar to hers.
Since losing her original business, Olsen has become a fashion and textiles designer, retreat organizer, artist and most recently, an author. Her new brand, Sigrid Olsen, is focused on well-being and lifestyle, revolving around the holistic retreats she hosts.
She’s working on creating a new fashion collection, for which the designs are “beach to bistro” inspired. They can be worn as everyday work wear and transition to an evening dinner outfit. The line does not have a set release date yet.
Olsen says her goal is to bring everything in her brand under one umbrella — her art, textiles, fashions and retreats.
Her clothing and textile prints will reflect the retreat lifestyle of feeling good about yourself, being close to nature, and feeling serene and relaxed through the use of color, natural fibers and the stamping technique she started in 1984.
“I feel more sane now; all parts of my life are really authentic,” Olsen says. “I live this lifestyle, and I chose to work here. I feel like every day I’m inspired by the color and nature and the community.”