Krystle Ford has a soft spot for faraway places. She sources cork and specialty fabrics from Africa, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates to make backpacks, bowler-style totes, and purses. As the director of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, she’s better known for her musical chops. But Ford has sewn since she was a child. And when she opened an online retail shop called Now Boarding last year, the venture took off.
“Between my full-time job and my family, the sewing was just supposed to be a fun hobby,” she says. “Then I started getting orders, and now it’s getting a little out of control.”
The name Now Boarding is a nod to Ford’s love of travel. Using materials from around the globe satisfies her wanderlust when she’s at home. She’s particularly drawn to exotic textiles that have been used for centuries. “A lot of the African wax prints I use have been around forever,” she says.
The fabrics also have stories to tell. One of the patterns features a swift-looking bird in flight. “It’s an African speed bird, and it’s associated with the saying, ‘Money has wings,’” she says. “It basically means, ‘As quickly as you come into something, it could easily go away.’”
In addition to textiles, Ford also loves working with cork. The material is fun to shape, and her customers rave about how soft the finished products are. She fashions nearly everything by hand. Her items, ranging from $18 for a wristlet to $215 for a printed cork backpack, have shipped coast to coast. Ford hopes that by sourcing distinctive materials, she’s shining a spotlight on their far-flung points of origin. “These fabrics and the places they come from are unique,” she says. “I want to make sure they get the attention they deserve.”