Astorian makes name with design collection

Photo courtesy Chelsey Culmann
By Phil Corso

Stitching her own business from the ground up has been as rewarding as it has been challenging for Astoria designer Amanda Henderson, whose personal brand of knitwear has been gaining notoriety throughout Queens and beyond.

The 24-year-old self-starter has spent years perfecting her craft with her own two hands to develop a small collection of sculptural, one-of-a-kind knit pieces using all local knitting materials and wool. She studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, specializing in knitwear design, and has been working with her hands ever since, she said.

Henderson knits all sorts of garments — anything from scarves and dresses to sweaters, shirts and pants. Her work draws on past centuries, reaching back to northwestern American Indians, Samoa and New Guinea to create her own unique style. She said her designs allow her to meditate into her deepest memories to find inspiration, which comes to fruition through her knitwear.

“I’ve always made things with my hands, and I’ve always been interested in different cultures,” she said. “When I was a little kid, I would draw in the sand at the beach and build tree forts with my friends. As I grew up, I pieced together ways I could continue working outside in nature, while connecting those experiences back to the way people live.”

For Henderson, life in Queens has become an inspiration to her work whenever she sits down to create a new piece.

“Living in Queens has been a huge part of my life,” Henderson said. “I get inspired by the landscape and the many cultures that live in my area. It’s a real neighborhood with a history.”

Henderson, originally from Long Island, said Astoria’s local business scene and Long Island City’s art movement reminds her every day why she chose to launch her own knitwear line.

“It’s the only place I would ever live in New York City,” she said.

She officially launched her first self-titled collection Feb. 8 in Manhattan to coincide with New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter, making public her many years of hard work. Models showcased various outfits assembled through Henderson’s collection, all accompanied by classical guitarist Peter J. Scoma to set the tone of the evening. The work on display also paid tribute to her new website, amandahendersonknits.com.

After spending much of the night showing off her newest entrepreneurial endeavor, Henderson said she was feeling as energized as ever for her future as a business owner.

“It has been an interesting and exciting process so far. I am building a small business, aiming to put good work out there,” Henderson said. “I want to keep my business small, so that I can keep my hands in it and make each piece special, intricate and extraordinary. To me that’s growth, and much more important than selling a large amount of garments.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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