Edition 36— Chantale Regnier
Little By Little
Chantale Regnier has worked in every sector of the fashion industry: creative, business, and even production. Surprisingly, her most cherished memory from Artists For Humanity (AFH) and the time spent honing her skills has nothing to do with fashion.
Regnier, a New York City-based designer, recalled a scene straight from a ’90s flick.
“In the old building we used to be in, there was this floor between the floors. It was full of mattresses to the ceiling! We’d all be there, running and jumping around,” she laughed. “It was the most ridiculous but fun thing to do.”
“One day, I fell in between the mattresses. I couldn’t get out by myself, so someone had to reach down and drag me out. Not necessarily an art memory, but a fun memory!”
AFH creates a substantial impact on the Boston art scene.
It’s easy to forget that teens first and foremost experience it as a place to celebrate young people — to hang out with friends after school, make pocket money for snacks and sneakers, and turn a mattress storehouse into their playground.
“Everyone had the same energy; that was a huge thing for me. Back then, I was too young to have any sense of that importance.”
A creative spirit runs in her family, and not just because AFH co-founder Jason Talbot is her cousin. Her father enjoyed painting in his free time; her mother was an innovative teacher.
“Growing up, my mom, and another family member always did a lot of sewing,” she said. “I learned sewing from a young age as a by-product of them.”
They inspired Regnier to take AP Art in her junior year, her introduction to the fashion world.
“Do you realize when you draw things you never finish the picture?” her high school art teacher asked. “[Meanwhile], everything textile-related, the clothing on a person, is finished down to a tee.”
AFH was also a major catalyst in the early stages of her fashion career, specifically John Brewer from the Photography Studio.
“Working with John really helped me express my art as I got deeper into fashion,” Regnier noted. “John introduced me to Mahera. She taught me a lot about creative garments, runway shows, and all of that. He got me my first internship with a fashion designer in Boston. He definitely opened doors.”
When asked how photography still shapes her life, Regnier answered that it’s essential in selling and showcasing products. “I’m married to a photographer now, so that’s also a thing,” she added humorously.
After graduation, she attended The Savannah College of Art and Design. “Everything worked together to push me in that direction.”
Regnier moved to New York City for an internship with a fashion line called Tracey Reese. Over five years, “I went from an intern to a production assistant, to an associate designer, to designing for the runway collection, to freelancing,” she shared.
Every opportunity allowed her to extend her knowledge of fashion. Serving as the bridge between logistics and creative vision, Regnier promotes brands like Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Nike by planning pop-up shows and events.
“Sometimes artists don’t understand the business side of [the fashion world]. I love being the person that can help others execute their projects and not lose their integrity.”
It’s no wonder that Regnier’s proudest moment at AFH was painting a large, hefty wooden door. From clothing design to experiential marketing, she has a knack for transforming grand ideas into reality.
Later, Regnier started a business with her friend in California, Krystalrae. On opposite coasts, both women became increasingly invested in tackling the issue of wasteful garment production.
Their foray into eco-friendly fashion developed into a line called Chan and Krys, which sells mindfully manufactured clothing and accessories in five different stores.
“I design and produce everything [in New York] with my partner’s input,” Regnier explained. “Then, [Krystalrae uses] all the excess material from our collection for handmade accessories.” They strive to be zero waste.
“We make all our clothing with either eco-friendly or deadstock fabric, meaning they are upcycled into something that might otherwise go to a landfill,” she elaborated.
The duo holds themselves accountable to actively better the environment.
“We’re still learning because people are saying ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ who have no idea what that means,” Regnier said. “We’re in the position to think about our impact.”
“It’s not perfect, but our motto is ‘Little By Little,’ and we start somewhere.”
Little by little, Regnier blossomed into the fashion designer she’s today. She credits her growth and success to every moment — the mattress wonderland, Photography Studio, and family sewing sessions.
“I learned a lot about time management,” Regnier said. At AFH, time-sensitive client work taught her the dual nature of creativity: unlimited and structured.
The organization also exposed her to new perspectives. Teens tend to gravitate toward similar people. “To occupy a space of like-minded individuals where someone’s art and inspiration can be so different from mine is an eye-opening experience,” Regnier reflected.
“The places and people I encountered at AFH helped me be more open and trust that I was doing the right thing. There are so many steps that made me who I am now. All of these little changes brought me to this place in life. It’s a great place to be in.”
Written by Amy Chu. Additional edits by Simran Patel.
To learn more about Chantale Regnier (she/her), visit the website: chanandkrys.com and Instagram: @chanandkrys.