Cierra Boyd, a.k.a. FRISKMEGOOD, has become a leading force in the upcycling movement since launching her brand in 2017 — with little more than deadstock Air Jordans and a heavy-duty sewing machine. FRISKMEGOOD sneaker corsets are loaded with intricate structure and detailing, and every single order is custom-made with Boyd's two hands. With no team and no factory, FRISKMEGOOD manages to craft each piece with intention, using entirely upcycled materials.
Boyd's well-deserved ascent signals a pivot towards true slow fashion: independent and innovative artists, rather than fast fashion corporations. Below, the Cleveland-based designer breaks down exactly how much care (and time) goes into each custom piece — and why, for the environment and creativity's sake, it's worth the wait.
When did you first feel inspired to create your own designs?
I discovered my true passion for fashion design on my twenty-first birthday. I had ordered an outfit, but soon realized it wouldn’t be there in time for the birthday party. Living in a small college town, there weren’t many options to shop. One store they did have was Joann Fabrics, so my roommate and I decided to just make our outfits. The night before my party, I made a red spandex dress that was perfect, and everyone loved it. Every day from that point on, I practiced sewing. I studied countless videos on Youtube to teach me the ins and outs of design. I always knew my dream was to express my style, but fashion design created an avenue to take my creativity to a new level. When I realized the happiness I felt when I made something that was uniquely my own, I absolutely fell in love.
After graduating in 2017, I was overwhelmed with post-grad blues. I desperately needed a creative outlet with purpose to express myself. I’d been using “friskmegood” as my social media handle since starting my Instagram — I got the name from a Rihanna song called “Rockstar,” the lyrics “Make sure you frisk me good, check my panties and my bra.” When I realized my brand identity had been right under my nose the entire time, FRISKMEGOOD™ was born.
My mission was to express my personal style while staying true to the goal of sustainability. With limited funds and resources, I had no choice but to work with things that already existed to create something new. Eventually, I was able to afford the fabrics that I really wanted, but I grew increasingly concerned about my impact after researching the waste created by commercial fabrics. So recently, in 2020, I decided to no longer use any new materials in my designs.
Where do you feel the most inspired?
I feel the most inspired in my studio. I made my studio super cozy, I filled it with art to give it more feng shui. I always feel inspired and relaxed when I’m in my creative space.
How do you want people to feel when wearing your designs?
I always want people to feel seen and empowered when they wear my designs. That's how they make me feel, so I hope people feel the same way.
What does your design process look like - what are the steps in upcycling sneakers into something completely new?
As of right now, I’m a one man band. I take charge in every aspect of my business, including hand-making each one of my pieces. I source all my materials from local thrift stores, and I’ve formed a relationship with a deadstock shoe warehouse in my community as well. When I buy my materials, I usually let them tell me the story. I let the materials tell me what they want to be, and then I create it. My design style is truly unconventional; I usually don’t sketch or create patterns, I just cut and do what feels right.
I restore the sneakers by cleaning them, and doing small paint jobs when necessary, to get them back to their normal condition. When I’m done with the restoration process, I deconstruct the sneakers with cutting tools. Then I sew them together with a special sewing machine for heavy duty materials.
How long does an average sneaker corset take to create?
I put all the pieces together like a puzzle, the process takes one to three hours depending on what I’m making. A single corset can take up to one hour, but the full bodysuit can take two to four. I usually create my pieces in bulk — I'll gather about 20 to 60 pairs of sneakers at once, spend one day deconstructing, and the next few days constructing.
What’s special about choosing to shop slow-fashion?
I think slow fashion is more meaningful than the instant gratification of fast fashion. There's a disconnect between the consumer and producer — when it comes to fast fashion, you never know how many hands have touched your garment before it hit the shelves. When you know who's actually creating your clothing, you feel more connected to it, and you have a greater appreciation for it.
How important is sustainability in your creation process?
Sustainability is essential to my creation process. I don't think many people truly understand the impact they can make by buying their clothing used or handmade. I’m working towards making my brand 100 percent circular by 2025 — by reusing every material that would otherwise be wasted, I’m preventing those materials from ending up in a landfill. Sometimes I feel like people don't really understand what the design process entails, for independent designers who make each piece, one by one, on their own. If they knew how much love and craftsmanship comes with shopping slow, I think more people would have a better appreciation for the craft.
How do you think fast fashion has impacted most customers’ perception of clothing?
[People] have grown accustomed to getting their clothing so fast, and so cheap. I feel like that can lead to them devaluing the work that goes into handmade pieces. I’ve had people question me about my prices, and get defensive when I explain how much work actually goes into creating one piece. Sometimes it makes me question my worth, but I always think back to the customers that do see the value in my work, and it inspires me to keep going.
How do you want that perception to change?
I just want people to become more understanding with their expectations when it comes to shopping slow. I’d really like consumers to start doing more research on where their clothing actually comes from. I hope that would encourage them to make a change, for the good of our future and environment. I feel like if people truly knew the facts, they would see the value in shopping small.