You can tell when a person is really passionate about what they do. It shines through them like sunbeams, and the drive they possess is almost contagious.
When I first moved to Philly, I quickly became friends with a person exactly like this. She’s confident, always smiling, and one of the most welcoming people I have ever met. As one of our web merchandisers here at Free People, she knows our product well…really well. With a creative yet business driven mind, this girl is always inspiring me, at work and in her personal life. From baking to interior decorating, I’m always impressed at the time she finds to perfect her many hobbies.
Kristina and I met at Florida State when we worked together on the same college fashion magazine, but it wasn’t until I moved to Philly that I really got to know her. Fast forward to a couple years later, and in the time that we’ve both been in Philly, she’s become my co-worker, former roommate, and one of my closest friends. She’s helped make Philly feel like home for me, and I love getting to work with her every day here at Free People.
Kristina recently just moved into an amazing re-finished church with her boyfriend that has been converted into multiple living spaces (if it looks familiar, that’s because it was formerly the home of Kim Krans and Johnny Ollsin of the Wild Unknown and Family Band). It’s been so fun to see them take the space and transform it into their own. With touches of Pendleton and Americana strewn throughout, it has an open, yet warm and inviting charm to it that makes you feel comfortable in every room. I’ve seen the hard work that Kristina has put into making it look exactly as she pictured it, and she completed a couple projects this past weekend to tighten up those last finishing touches. I made my way over to the house on Monday night to snap a few pictures and enjoy a fun evening with Kristina, Brendan and their pup Solomon. Get to know a little bit more about this girl below, and take a peek into her amazing space that she’s created.
How did you find your way to Free People and what do you do here?
I was working in New York and got a call to come down to home office in Philadelphia to interview, the rest is history. I’m on the web merchandising team, we bring creative concepts to life on the website (and app!) with the help of some very talented teams.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Every day is different, a new challenge. The platform and freedom to be creative. And above all else, the people.
Being a fellow Floridian (and Florida Stat-er!), how did you adjust when you moved to Philly?
Philadelphia wasn’t a blip on my radar, but I am so glad I ended up here. I tried to be really open minded to new people and an entirely new city where I didn’t know anyone. Philly might have its grit but it’s got a hell of a lot of soul. You can live the city lifestyle but if you drive 30 minutes in any direction you’ll run into farms, some of the best flea markets, miles of trails, wineries and a hundred tiny towns to explore.
What is your favorite part about living in Fishtown?
The pride people take in the neighborhood. It’s a mix of people who have been here for generations and newcomers but everyone looks out for each other, it feels like a community which is so rare for a city. The cheap beer, awesome vintage, and killer tacos don’t hurt either.
You recently just moved into an amazing converted church – how has the transition been?
Longer than I thought, haha! The first week we moved in we kind of scratched our heads, we didn’t know how we were going to lay out this big open space. It’s been a work in progress but we absolutely love it. The giant windows, the garden, and all the original details from the 1800s make it the coolest place I’ve ever lived.
You’ve taken on a lot of projects to fix up the space and make it your own, have you always had a thing for interior design? Where do you find most of your inspiration?
I grew up going to antique markets and being super hands on. It definitely gave me an appreciation for quality and pieces with a history. I’m super picky, so if I can’t find it I’ll make it. I recently refinished a slab of elm and turned it into our desk. I also surprised B with a bar made of old crates, it honestly took 15 minutes but it’s one of my favorite parts of the house.
You also know a thing or two about whipping up a sweet treat. When did your love for baking start?
When I was little we would make over a thousand cookies at Christmas time (no joke) and make up baskets for all of the neighbors. As I grew up it became this really cathartic activity for me, if I had a rough day I could go into the kitchen and focus on this one super precise activity. Have you ever seen the scene in Bridesmaids where Kristen Wiig spends 2 hours making one perfect cupcake? She gets me.
What does a perfect weekend look like for you?
Waking up with good coffee, going to yoga, hopping in our “fun car” (the old pick-up truck) with our dog Solomon and heading somewhere new.
What are three things you absolutely can’t live without?
My man, my dog, and birkenstocks.
Do you have any fun trips planned this summer?
Yes! We leave for Montana in a month. We’re visiting good friends and exploring Glacier National Park. We’re renting a car out there and taking off to hike, camp, and take a dip in some hot springs. I haven’t spent a lot of time out west so I’m super excited.
You are one of the most confident people I know. How do you keep such a positive and driven attitude?
By surrounding myself with positive, driven people with good hearts. By learning to laugh (really hard) at myself.
I feel like you are always introducing me to new music. What are some of your favorite albums you’ve been listening to recently?
I’ve been getting back into albums I’ve always loved but put down for a while:
Young Brigham by Ramblin Jack Elliot
You In Reverse by Built to Spill.
Everywhere and his Nasty Parlour Tricks by Modest Mouse.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you are really excited about?
I’m super excited for what’s to come for FP Movement and especially excited for our upcoming trends this July- it’s always been my favorite month as fashion gears up for a new season, stay tuned ;)
Picture yourself 5 years from now…where do you hope to be?
Happy and healthy with some more adventures under my belt and stories to tell.
What does being ‘free’ mean to you?
Finding what you love and what you want in life and being unconditionally true to it.
Thank you for letting us in, Kristina!
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