If you follow athleisure fashion and groundbreaking design, then you’re most likely already a fan of Lucy’s IndiGO collection. This year, the exceptionally talented team at the activewear company took the look of your favorite jeans, and married them with the feel of your most comfortable pants. Oh! And designed with mobility and durability in mind, they can outperform just about any leggings or exercise pants. What you may not know is that Lucy is based in the East Bay, that IndiGO was conceived in Alameda, and their creative team consists of enterprising women led by a fierce East Bay champion and native, Keryn Francisco. I spent an amazing afternoon at their headquarters learning more about their work, and the incredible woman who brought IndiGO to life. Come read about how her 30 years of experience in the garment industry helped give way to Lucy’s newest chapter, her candor about the modern challenges of being a mom, and what she loves about being from the East Bay. Lucy…let’s go!
24 East: What is your background?
Keryn Francisco: I grew up in a very creative family in the tiny town of Hercules, CA. My dad was an art director in San Francisco and my mom was a tailor. I used to think that everyone could draw, sew, build and paint. Most of my clothes were homemade when I was a kid, and I often felt insecure about it if it wasn’t purchased at the mall. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I found my identity through designing my own clothes and mixing it with thrift shop finds.
24E: How have you seen athleisure fashion develop in the past few years?
KF: I designed for both Levi Strauss & Co. and Nike, Inc. for many years. I was trained by the best of both denim and sportswear industries and have always looked at functionality as the basis of stylish clothes. After all, the jean was the first performance pant! So in that sense, I don’t think that athleisure is anything new. I think the attitude and the appreciation for “not suffering for a look” is new. People today will not compromise function for fashion. Good design just works. This generation gets it.
24E: What is important to Lucy in terms of design and function?
KF: The very first filter that we use in our design approach is PERFORMANCE. Once you nail the ergonomics, high mobility, thermoregulation, and comfort, you can have fun with styling, silhouettes and trend. One cannot happen without the other.
24E: Let’s talk about IndiGO! I got the leggings and the minute I slipped them on, I was in love! How is IndiGO unique and what was the design process like?
KF: I’m so happy you fell in love, too! Lucy IndiGO is the culmination of my 30 years in the garment industry. We saw a trend in the market where sportswear and activewear is converging, so we took it to the next level. It took a village of experts from all over the company and the world to orchestrate such an endeavor: brave designers, business leads, factories, patent attorneys, and neuroscientists. We literally turned the development and manufacturing processes on its head, and approached Lucy IndiGO from a completely different angle. Although it was difficult to explain at times, it all made logical sense as we made each decision. The puzzle pieces came together like magic because we all believed in one vision, one dream: to help women break down barriers in their lives.
24E: Where do you see Lucy and IndiGO-going in the next 6-12 months?
KF: We are constantly innovating Lucy IndiGO because it is such a rich concept. We are experimenting with different looks, fabrics and techniques. We will be constantly blowing everyone’s minds with new ways to spin Lucy IndiGO.
24E: I loved getting to know you when we spent time talking on the patio at Lucy’s headquarters. You’re an extremely busy person with work, and as a mom. What are the challenges in being at this place in your career and also juggling life as a mother?
KF: I also love connecting with amazing women who are busy making a life for themselves and managing a family! I’ll go out on a limb and say that “work/life balance” is a myth. It actually puts more undue pressure on working mothers to find it. I don’t believe it exists, so I stopped trying. I embrace now that life is imperfect. Sometimes I have a great day because my kid learned a new word in Spanish. Other days, I feel like an utter failure because I ate a whole row of Oreos and decided to work on a Powerpoint instead of exercise. I’ll be the first to admit that life as a single mom is hard. But I have a career I love, people in my life I’m grateful for, and a happy kid who makes it all worth it. Knowing that I have to set the tone for my child and my team, makes me behave in a more mindful way. I’d rather they know that I’m human, I make mistakes, and that I care about them, than be “perfect.”
24E: What’s the best part of your day?
KF: I am not a morning person. My whole life, I’ve dragged myself out of bed. But now, since becoming a mom, I wake up automatically at 6:30am. I call the next 2 hours my “Golden Hours”, when my son is still asleep and I can shower in peace, do my hair and makeup, pick out my outfit for the day, make his lunch, our breakfast, make my bed, and get us out the door by 8:30am. It’s a luxury and totally sublime. I relish it. Only a mother can understand this.
24E: You’re an East Bay native! What did you love about growing up and going to school here?
KF: Yes!! I love seeing the East Bay finally get the recognition as ‘The Place To Be’ in the Bay Area! I always felt like it had its own unique sensibility than other parts of the Bay because of its ethnic and economic diversity. I went to UC Berkeley which is an epicenter of art, culture and food, so I grew up with highly educated and worldly hippies as my mentors. I had lived in New York, Portland, LA and overseas for several years, and in coming back I love that I’m still friends with people from high school. We have a shared history of our hometown and all recognize that the East Bay has changed so much – the real estate market, the traffic, the Raiders coming and going. But also seeing such great talent and significant cultural things coming from here (Alice Waters! Green Day! Tupac! Jim Morrison!), even as the Bay Area underdog. I’m so proud that at least something original like Lucy IndiGO, which has resonated all over the country, was invented in Alameda. Of all places.
Special thanks to Keryn and the creative team at Lucy for their time. Such an inspiring group!
For more on the creative team at Lucy, go here.
For more on IndiGO, go here.
Photos by Jen Kay
Hero image courtesy of Lucy.