Exclusive SACC-LA Interview with the Mother-Daughter Duo Behind Eskay Label

Photo Courtesy: Eskay Label.

SACC-LA’s Marketing Managers had the pleasure to e-meet the amazing and charming mother-daughter duo Susanne and Hanna behind Eskay Label. Hanna and Susanne are dedicated to creating high-quality, timeless, heirloom knits inspired by Susanne’s previous designs from her store Suss Design. All of their pieces are hand-embroiled, hand-dyed, and hand-loomed locally in Los Angeles. They use sustainably-sourced cashmere and their designs are made to last. Read more about this impressive mother-daughter partnership below.

A SACC-LA Exclusive Interview with Susanne and Hanna Cousins

1. Have you always been passionate about fashion?
Susanne: I have always loved fashion. I started knitting when I was little. My grandmother and mother taught me how to knit otherwise I am self-taught. I came to America in the ’80s with a couple of handmade knitted sweaters in the bag. I started to sell my design to some stores but later I moved to LA and that’s when I opened my first store Suss Design. 

Hanna: I grew up in my mother’s store that was around the corner from our house and they had beautiful one-of-a-kind knit pieces that I loved. I have always been obsessed with fashion and I have been tagging along with my mom since I was little.

2. When was the idea of Eskay Label born?
Hanna: About 2 years ago. We wanted to start fresh and I wanted to keep it about my mom’s art form as well as being more involved in her work. We wanted to work together and woke up one day and decided to become partners. We really believe in the message we are trying to deliver through Eskay Label as well as looking back and bringing back clothes from Suss design in a new way.

Susanne: Looking back on all my old designs we noticed that things come back in style. I have been doing this for so long and now everybody wants the clothes that I made in 1982. At the beginning of covid-19, I made a book with pictures of my designs that we now use as a source of inspiration. The slogan for Suss design was “timeless made to last” and that is what we are trying to do with Eskay Label and our heirloom knits.

3. What are the most challenging parts of designing and making clothes?
Susanne: To be a designer is all about problem-solving. Knit is such a different business than just making clothes. I have knitted on the loom for 10 years and I love the whole process, from dying it by hand to hand-looming. It is challenging in terms of the technical part since we make the actual fabric. The knitwear is alive and it has such a life. For example, you can adjust the knits when you steam it out, something you can’t do with regular fabric. It is also hard to market yourself and know what market you are getting into and what type of woman you are designing for.

Hanna: Sometimes yarn, depending on how it is dyed, moves differently. You can’t always control how the same yarn in different colors is going to feel once they get knitted up. It has a life of its own when it’s dyed because the fibers change. You have to be prepared that it is not always going to come out exactly the same as cut and sew does. We do all of our knits by handloom so it is all manual. All the pieces are done and shaped on the handloom so it’s different than just putting patterns in a machine and pressing a button.

4. Do you have similar taste in style?
Hanna: Yes, we have the same taste in style! I am wearing her boots all the time.

Susanne: Yes, we wear the same type of clothes, we always have our silver rings on and both of us have tattoos.

5. What is the most fun part of your job?
Hanna: Being with my mother. We have the most fun when we are designing. We sit down, have a glass of wine, and discuss what to make next. That is my favorite part, choosing the yarn and the colors. 

Susanne: Designing and working with my daughter!

6. How is it working with your mother/daughter?
Hanna: It is so fun. One moment we are bickering and one moment we are kissing and hugging. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I am molding into her, like we are the same person. We get along so well, we always have, but these past years have brought us even closer together. We always have a “get-it-done” mentality when we have deadlines and our work ethic is similar.

Susanne: I have always had many girls working with me that are the same age as Hanna. But this is so wonderful and I don’t know how I didn’t think of working together earlier.  

7. How would you describe Eskay Label’s target group?
Hanna: Definitely people who are aware and conscious about where the products come from. We create with sustainability in mind. People who understand quality and that respect the time that goes into producing quality clothing. We have a pretty wide age group, I would say people in their late twenties to early sixties, same as us. Also, someone who wants comfort and a little bit of sexiness.

Susanne: We hand-dye all of our pieces so they become very individual and special. 

8. What are your business goals for Eskay Label?
Susanne: The biggest goal is obviously to grow and we are hoping to grow through the website and also to expand our business to Sweden.

Hanna: To focus on retail, we have done wholesale for a while and we love it but we would like to grow to do more retail online and do customized one-of-a-kind pieces for people. We believe in slow fashion, we want to continue to work in sustainable yarns, eliminate waste through made to order pieces, and making sure how we do production doesn’t hurt the ecological environment. We only work with yarn sources that follow standards of protecting the environment, pay fair wages (to herders for example in the production of cashmere), and again in cashmere, for example, protect the goats. We want to continue to source other companies that follow sustainable practices when looking for new yarn contents to work in.

9. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Hanna: We are pulling a lot of silhouettes and shapes from Suss design’s archive that we adjust if it needs to be a little more current, with different colors, or by using different yarn contents. Also, we are not really looking outwards, we are looking inwards and how we are feeling. 

Susanne: Yes, everything is from the head, we don’t really follow trends. We also do a lot of “boyfriend”-inspired designs and a lot of oversized. We both usually wear oversized tees and motorcycle jackets. We are very rock and roll based.

Five Fast Ones with Susanne

Summer dresses or Winter knits
Boots or Sneakers
Swedish Fika or American Brunch
Morning person or Night owl
Spring fashion or Fall fashion

Five Fast Ones with Hanna

Summer dresses or Winter knits
Boots or Sneakers
Swedish Fika or American Brunch
Morning person or Night owl
Spring fashion or Fall fashion

An amazing red three-piece set from Eskay Label (left), Hanna working on a wonderful blue knitted shirt (right).
Photo Courtesy: Eskay Label on Instagram (@eskaylabel).