October 08, 2021 Brands We Carry
Brands We Carry: Alder
By Sara Berks
Tell us about you!
David: I’m David Krause and my best friend and business partner is Nina Zilka and together we founded Alder New York in 2016. Alder New York is a queer and woman-owned independent skincare brand that makes products designed to work for all skin types, no matter your age, gender, or ethnicity.
How did you get started with Alder New York?
David: Nina and I met when we were studying design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. We instantly hit it off and started working together leading us to launch a clothing line. Until one day Nina picked up a book called No More dirty Looks and started to learn about the lack of FDA regulation in personal care products.
Nina: We were both freaked out and started to look for clean products that looked good, performed well, and were vegan. We just couldn’t find a brand out there that met our requirements so we closed our clothing line and launched Alder New York- a clean, vegan, skincare brand designed for all genders.
At MINNA we believe in creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good - how do these concepts relate to or inspire your process?
Nina: Our brand is founded on what we define as ‘good design’- a venn diagram of form, function, and consequences. It informs all of our decision making, from choosing post consumer recycled plastic packaging, to formulating with universally beneficial ingredients for all skin types, to our accessible pricing.
David: In an industry filled with so much competition and endless trends it is great to have a set of guiding principles to check back in to.
What about your home makes it feel like home? What is a favorite memory of yours in your home?
David: My home feels the most like home when it’s filled with the people I love, my husband Ayan, my dog Levi, and an occasional chicken.
My favorite memory of my home is from this past summer when Nina and her husband stayed with us for a week after not being able to see each other for months due to covid. It finally felt like all my loved ones were together again and everything was going to be alright.
Nina: I try to decorate my home with pieces from our friends and other makers we meet. For instance, I fell in love with Sedementaria’s handmade candlestick holders at a market we did in Saugerties and now they have a place of honor on my dining room table. Ditto my fuzzy color blocked Minna Pillow that sits proudly on our loveseat. Whenever I look at those pieces I'm reminded of the design community I love.
A favorite memory from my home is right before the pandemic, when my cousin and his wife came to visit and we had just gotten our dining room table. I had just received a puzzle from our friends at Piecework Puzzles, and we ended up sitting all together every morning drinking coffee and obsessively building that puzzle on our new table. This winter in the height of Covid-19 isolation I mod-podged the puzzle together and we framed it so that I can remember that moment forever.
What are you reading/listening to/watching/looking at lately?
David: When I’m not scrolling through Tiktok for hours on end, I’m watching Real Housewives of New York, Handmaid's Tale, and Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under. I’ve also been listening to Domino’s Design Time podcast and started listening to My Favorite Murder again. I’ve also been reading a lot on gardening because, well, it’s that time of year again!
Nina: Yes to Real Housewives of New York- David and I don’t really have that office culture experience, so I feel like we end up gossiping about the Real Housewives the morning after it airs as if they’re our coworkers. I’m currently in a Patricia Lockwood wormhole, reading Priestdaddy, and I just finished No One is Talking About This. And I love Clever from Architectural Digest- I scroll through it every night before bed for design inspiration.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
David: Don’t be afraid of failure.
Nina: Nobody actually knows what they’re doing (so you are just as qualified as they are to achieve your goals).