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Magazine

SEAFARING | Life on the Water Shapes Eighth Belle's Korina Brewer

SEAFARING | Life on the Water Shapes Eighth Belle's Korina Brewer

Eighth Belle's Korina Brewer in her studio. Photo: Veronica Fassbender

“I’ve been sailing since I was little and worked every summer full-time since I was 18 on boats,” Korina Brewer explains. “One summer, I worked on a tall ship that I lived on in the Great Lakes, and I realized then that I wanted the water to be a bigger part of my life. Not just a hobby.”

One thing consistent about Korina is her love of water. 

Raised on Lake Ontario, she grew up sailing with her grandfather and attending summer sailing camp in the Finger Lakes. She moved to New York City in 2012 to pursue her passion for design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. While there, she apprenticed at a Brooklyn leather shop, and learned how to make sustainably sourced hand-crafted leather goods. But during the summer, she was still escaping to the water.

Photo: Korina Brewer

She found employment on sailing tour boats around New York City. Here she learned many aspects of the trade including sailing a large boat in a busy harbor as well as working on repairs and maintenance.

“From doing the maintenance on the boats, I got connected with a sail loft in City Island where we would take the sails to get larger repairs done.”

Photo: Korina Brewer

“The first winter after I graduated, I was looking for work, and the sail loft was a really great fit.” Brewer learned many aspects of traditional sail making at this job.

“I had the opportunity while I was at FIT to experiment with sails, but at the sail loft I really dove into learning about the material.”

Her thesis at FIT the year before had been crafted out of repurposed sails.

“It was really fortuitous because I got to combine my love of sailing and design on a line of bags, while having access to all of FIT’s amazing machines and professors,” Brewer says. 

As her passion for working with her hands and sailing started to coalesce, friends in the sailing world began donating sails that were still in good shape, but still usable to her. 

Photo: Korina Brewer

Then one day, she realized she had everything she needed to launch her own line of sailing gear: the passion, the knowledge, the material, and the skills — thanks to FIT. Next up was finding a studio, one she could easily be inspired by.

Photo: Veronica Fassbender

“I moved to Kingston to be closer to nature and the water, and also for the space,” she says. 

Brewer hand-crafts her Mariner & Maker line under the brand name of Eighth Belle in her solar-powered Kingston studio. But she still finds plenty of time to sail. 

Photo: Veronica Fassbender

One of the places you can often find Korina is the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Established in 1980, it offers not just artifacts, but an interpretation and perspective on the mementos related to the long maritime history of the Hudson River and its tributaries. Located in Kingston, the museum harbors a historic steam tugboat named “Mathilda,” other shad and lifeboats, ice yachts, all manners of models and ephemera, full-size plus a gazebo, manicured gardens, picnic tables and benches, and a walkway along the Rondout Creek. 

The museum has solar-powered boat tours and the only accredited sailing school in the Hudson Valley, for youths and adults, and a rowing school for those who are passionate about learning crew. 

Just next door, the museum’s sister project, the Riverport Wooden Boat School, offers youths and adults woodworking classes and boat restoration services. There’s also a stunning lighthouse a quick boat ride away, which can be toured June-October on the weekends.

Korina worked with the museum to managed their dock operations last summer, having the opportunity to meet many local maritime folk. She has since moved on to sew sailbags full time, but still participates in events and happenings at the waterfront.  

We asked Korina a few other questions that involve H2O, and she had an answer for every one!

QUICK TAKE Q&A with Korina Brewer

Favorite body of water?

Most people are not familiar with it, we have a cabin that my family built 45 years ago on Buck Lake near Kingston, Ontario and that’s where I learned to sail. 

What do you most like to do on the water?

Sailing, but my family is really into canoeing, so I love that, too. I love sailing on Hudson River with Hudson Sailing. They do charters for six people, and I crew on those trips. 

Is there a water-related charity that inspires you?

My favorite is River Keeper because they’re local and are really focused on keeping the local water safe. 

What do you prefer, tap or bottled?

Tap. I don’t like using plastic bottles. 

If you could have a sailboat or a yacht, which would you choose?

Probably a sailboat. I’d love to have a 50-foot boat I could also live on. 

Do you have a sailboat you’re saving up for?

Because I’ve worked on so many boats, I’ve learned how expensive they are, how much they cost to repair and store. So that would be a ways off. For now, I’m happy spending as much time on the water as I can, working on boats and sailing with friends. And I get to work with sails all day in my studio! 



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