Cayson Designs manufactures culinary apparel since 1992. From their workshop in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco, they make chef and restaurant uniforms that can be customized with everything from embroideries to special designs and fabrics.
We got a chance to interview the company’s General manager, Karie La Mountain, in October 2017. You should also visit Cayson’s website, Facebook and Instagram!
How did Cayson Designs get started?
Cayson Designs was founded in 1992 by Lynette and the late Eddie Cayson, and the family-owned business was built on a passion to offer exceptional culinary garments and customer service. Their commitment to these values saw the business grow to be one of the category’s most-well respected brands and the supplier of choice for the top restaurant, food and wine names in California, the US and abroad.
Lynette and Eddie Cayson had a profound impact on the food and restaurant community in San Francisco. Throughout the years, the company has partnered with many local organizations to support food programs, culinary education and opportunities for disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area.
We have been in business for 25 years. Cayson now has 23 employees, many whom have been with the company for more than 15 years. We design and manufacture our products in our workshop and sewing factory located in the Bayview neighborhood in the city of San Francisco.
Everything is done by hand – from fabric cutting and sewing, to the brand’s signature Cayson buttons which are hand crafted using special machinery and are a true emblem of quality. You can tell a Cayson chef coat by its buttons!
Cayson produces approximately 1,500 chef coats and 3,000 aprons per month.
Karie, what is your background, and how did you join Cayson?
My background is in sales and sales management in a variety of environments, including several luxury retail brands, real estate and private label account management for a cosmetic manufacturer. I joined Cayson in 2014 as General Manager and, this past June, was named President.
When looking for a professional opportunity to move to the Bay Area to be closer to family, I came across the LinkedIn posting at Cayson Designs. The position was a perfect fit for my sales, retail and manufacturing experience, and I knew it was meant to be. I met with Lynette Cayson and it was an instant connection. We share a deep respect and mutual admiration and I am very proud to be able to honor her (and Eddie’s) legacy in the future of Cayson.
The longevity and loyalty of the staff, the unrelenting commitment to quality service and customer experience and relationships is apparent is every employee. The culture of Cayson is very positive and stable. Everyone knows their job and they come in and get it done. The staff is outstanding and I am very proud to be part of this team.
Who are some of your most famous clients?
Cayson supplies hand-made chef coats, aprons and restaurant wear to the top chefs, restaurants and wine brands in the United States and abroad, including Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. We have more than 3,600 clients around the world, from Saison, Momofuku, Chez Panisse, Single Thread, Blue Hill, Herbsaint, Acadia and Little Nell in Aspen, to the Four Seasons Hotels, Culinary Institute of America, Bon Appetit Management Company and Apple Inc. HQ, among many others.
We proudly dress many top chefs who are longtime friends of Cayson, including Gary Danko, Todd English, Tyler Florence, Michael Mina and Chris Cosentino.
Can you think of a fun fact?
We have an incredible design and production staff at Cayson. They turn out beautiful, handcrafted work. Our Apron cutter has been with the company for 15 years, and he can cut 600 aprons in a day, all impeccably produced!
What’s new at Cayson Designs, and what does the future hold?
This year marks Cayson’s 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone we decided that it was the perfect time create a better sense of brand unity and modernity. We are currently developing a new website that will offer chefs, restaurants and consumers an unparalleled experience, including 360 video and online apron customizations. We will also introduce a new logo that will be unveiled in November.
We are re-branding as Cayson – the name that has become synonymous with exceptional quality, style and customer service. The Cayson philosophy remains the same, as it looks to continue its long track record of excellence in the culinary industry.
In addition, we will continue to expand our client base across the United States and to locations around the world.
Why manufacture locally?
The company was created here and has continued to thrive in this vibrant city. We have an incredible pool of talent in the Bay Area.
Why did you join SFMade?
We felt it was critical to reconnect our heritage, SFMade brand, back to this outstanding professional organization – which Lynette Cayson actually helped create. Not only does it honor the rich history of this long-time partnership, but I personally felt the need for support within this community.
The San Francisco manufacturing community offers me the opportunity to connect with other professionals that face the same challenges, and we can all offer our experiences and help each other in our quests to be successful.