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ONE THING: INDEGO AFRICA PLATEAU BASKETS


Indego Africa Plateau Baskets handmadeIndego Africa Plateau Baskets decoration

Indego Africa Plateau baskets

In our new "One Thing" series, we highlight the latest treasures we're obsessing over at the shop—with a preference toward products that are artisanal and ethically made. 

THE LOW-DOWN: Handmade by artisan weavers in Rwanda using locally sourced sweetgrass and sisal. Hang them to brighten a gallery wall or place on a coffee table as a catch-all for sundry items. With every Indego Africa Plateau Basket bought, you help employ female workers in Africa and contribute to educational programs in under-served communities. What's better than supporting incredible, talented women?

images via indego africa 

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Kate De Para: 11 Questions/11 Answers.

A few rapid fire questions for the designer behind Evens.  

1. Where do you get your inspiration for your prints and fabrics?

Seriously everywhere. Lately, repetition in construction, aerial views, industrial materials, NASA image archives.

2. What's your guilty pleasure?

Definitely lots of pizza.

3. Most overused phrase?

Probably "lolz."

4. The best advice someone has given you or you have for someone?

Things are never as they seem!

5. Favorite go-to date outfit?

Usually a power suit in jumper form. 

6. How did you develop your sense of style?

My mom would tell you I was born with it. I think it was from having to learn to alter / rig my own clothes growing up because nothing fit me. 

7. Favorite app?

Filmstruck right now!

8. Favorite productivity tool?

Still stuck on my moleskin calendar.

9. Tell us about Red - your new kitten?

Red it such a punk! I got him so that my dog Arlo could have a buddy around. Red basically tortures Arlo all day, and Arlo loves it. He latches onto my pant leg and climbs all the way up to my shoulder to perch, if that gives you any idea.

10. What are you listening to right now?

Yuck.

11. Favorite local spot?

Rudyards! 

images via shopevens instagram

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In Conversation: Amina Belouizdad

 

Amina Belouizdad started Bartaile with her best friend, Felicia, with the intention of creating a product for people #goingplaces. We had some real talk with Amina about the ins and outs of starting a business.  She managed to inject some realism on the conversation around entrepreneurship with just the right amount inspiration. Read through for some “a-ha” moments.

On being true to your brand:

Necessity is the mother of invention. We started Bartaile because at business school it was a 2 mile walk to class. We looked at ourselves and all the girls that were trying to make it work with totes stuffed with books. That’s when it hit us that there was a need for a functional but chic bag to take everywhere. We were basically our own target market. It came from a really organic place and I think that really resonates to our clients. It’s at the very core of what we do.

On not making assumptions:

One of the more interesting things of this has been figuring out who your customer is versus who you thought they were. We thought it was going to be someone who is on the corporate track that is always carrying her laptop. Turns out that our customer is very much on the intersection of creativity and tech. Someone who travels and is digitally savvy. She is discerning and loyal and it has been exciting figuring out who she is.

On perfectionism:

Product development was a big challenge for us. Neither Felicia or myself are from a design/supply chain background and the learning curve was steep. Looking back we tried to make it too perfect and were too hard on ourselves. It cost us time and money. It’s better to be lean, nimble, quick and learn from customer feedback.  

On not quitting your day job:

The problem is that there is a very romanticized view of entrepreneurship. It’s a hustle. Its hard, its lonely, its confusing, but people don’t talk about that aspect enough. All you hear are the success stories. You don’t hear the gruesome path of the one making it. I think that it is leading young people to take risks they are not ready for because they have been misinformed. With that in mind, I’m an advocate for slow and steady wins the race - in whatever form that means for different people. Sometimes it’s a lot of savings, sometimes that means bringing in a partner, and sometimes that means keeping your day job. There are a million ways. I think it’s really important to have more dialogue around entrepreneurship.  It’s as though it’s almost shameful to have a corporate job but maybe that’s the right thing for you. Maybe you’re just being smart!

On living a life of intent:

At school I took this class called “Total Leadership” and it was about living a life of intent. It was all about thinking of the four areas of your life: self, community, work and home. Actually, not just thinking but designing a life for those things to merge. It’s about creating overlaps and crossovers and how anything you are doing should benefit at least two of those areas. A lot of people live their life in silos but this actually helps you merge and really define what is important to you. For example, Bartaille really embodies everything I care about. It’s about creating solutions to problems, being creative, and it takes me places. I lived in Asia for a long time and our supply chain is there by design. China will always be a part of me and I want to have a foot there. 5% of our sales go to education and that was important to me. I get to work with one my best friends. Bartaille is a vehicle through I do everything I want to do. A little bit of intent and thinking really pushes us to make the right decisions.

On being unapologetic:

Be unapologetic about your life. People feel like they have obligations and don’t do what they really want to do. If your work doesn’t fit your values or doesn’t make you happy - you can change it. So many people go through the hamster wheel and don’t think about what they really want to do.The best way for me was to start it from scratch with Bartaile. For others it might be just shuffling some things around.

On waking up early:

You end up creating two extra hours for yourself out of thin air. Plus, they end up being the most productive and quietest two hours of my day.  

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Things of Note: Vico Tadeo

We sat down with Vico Tadeo, of Tomo Mags fame, and discussed basically everything that he’s into right now. Once you start talking to Vico you realize the breadth of his knowledge and you end up going down a rabbit hole of inspiration that makes you want to just google everything. And paint your whole house blue. Everything Vico likes is so well thought out that we wanted to get some insight on what’s making him tick lately. See below.

 

Etudes Studio

I found Etudes Studio through my fascination with Bromance Records. Louis Brodinski, who founded Bromance Records, is a techno dj who mixes rap and one of his mixes had Bun B in it. Of course, I just thought that was awesome because of the Houston connection with Bun B. At the time, visually all Brodinski’s branding was done by Etudes and I started paying attention to them. Personally, they spoke to me because of their color palette - blue/white/black. Then the next thing I discovered was that they launched a couple of photobooks that we started selling at Tomomags and they also started to get into fashion. I’m fascinated by how multidisciplinary they have become and how creative they are.

KOHH

Musically, I also started getting into this Japanese rapper Kohh. At a London fashion week show they used his record and it was by Bromance records.  He’s super talented, visually he has blue hair, which of course I love. What I find fascinating is how interconnected he is to everything I am interested in. It feels like we all start liking things on a global scale and you find out how they are all actually related to one another.  

 

Joan Miro

Lately, I’ve really been into him. I even got two tattoos based on his art work. Going back to Kohh, he once rapped about Miro and kept on repeating his name over and over, so there's that connection. Considering the amount of art work that you come across, it speaks to me that Miro has been around for such a long time and I almost feel like he’s having a rebirth. There’s a mural exhibition of his in Korea right now at the Sejong Cultural Center and I’ve been seeing his artwork pop up in various places.

 

Fredericks and Mae Tassel


The color obviously. Anything I am fascinated by right now is that color. There are all these layers on how everything I’m into is connected to it.

Assassin Tattoo

Once you start getting tattoos you can't stop. At Assassin Tatto, you partake in a tea ceremony before getting inked as a sort of initiation and it calms you down. The whole process just makes it an amazing experience. 

 

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In Conversation: Mirth Caftans


   

 

 

 

Saint Cloud team member Sanaa Sahi recently sat down with the founders of Mirth Caftans, sisters Katie McClure and Erin Breen.  Read her conversation below, and get ready to be as inspired as we were.

Sanaa: I'm interested in how you started Mirth Caftans. How did you come up with the idea and what was the impetus behind it?

Katie: The start of MIRTH wasn’t so simple. I came up with the general idea of making caftans with special fabrics when I traveling by myself in Bali. Life had just gotten thrown up in the air and turned upside down, so I was forced to be searching for what to do next. I also never had a job where I was using all my skills or that I was passionate about, so I was looking for that. I think traveling by yourself is one of those things that you need to do to get clarity. While traveling, I was looking for caftans but couldn't find one. Then I found this really amazing handmade batik fabric out of a hidden little workshop in Ubud and the idea just came to me. I wanted to make caftans and keep it simple – create a great product with the right structure and fit that was comfortable and made well. But also give back in some way - that was really important to me to. I tabled the idea but I kept coming back to it. Years later, I was volunteering in Nepal and at that time, I realized this idea was just not going to go away. My sister was also at a point in her life where she wanted to try something new. She had just closed her business – a clinic for kids with autism - and was looking for something different. After meeting up in India and falling into some serendipitous meetings and experiences, she agreed and things seemed to fall into place. We thought maybe this might not be so unattainable and we might be able to do this. Two years later we launched.

Sanaa: I think a lot of ideas come from those types of moments where you don’t know what you’re doing and are at a crossroads. And you find yourself saying am I actually really going to do this? And then it all just works out.

Erin: Exactly, things fall into place. We weren't forcing it. It all organically happened and it’s been like that since we started. That’s not to say it’s been easy, because it is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but we try to do it all keeping the big picture in mind.

Katie: I think getting out of your comfort zone is crucial. If we had been working our “soulless” jobs day to day, it wouldn't have happened. And I think that's one of the great things about traveling. It let's your mind wander. It’s kind of difficult in our mundane daily life for that kind of thought enter your mind. Sometimes having bad things happen are really key and awesome.

Erin: Those things lead to other better things. You learn and move on to even better things.

Sanaa: I think so too. I had that when I finished my masters and was trying to decide what to do next. I was going to comment on you traveling alone. It’s something I have always wanted to do.

Katie: It’s now my favorite way to travel. It’s scary at first but then it becomes a much more rich experience. You’re really seeing things and finding new things. I did it because I was living in Europe at the time and it was really easy for me to hop onto a train. You don’t worry about eating alone. If you want to eat at a 5 star Michelin restaurant you do it, and learn it isn't so intimidating to do so alone and end up having this amazing dinner with the person next to you.

Sanaa: Having dinner alone is still something I haven’t conquered. Lunch at a fancy place? Yes.

Erin: Baby steps.

 

Sanaa: Did you know what you wanted to do when you grew up? Did you have something in mind? Is this something different than what you had in mind?

Katie: I wanted to join the circus. I wrote my college essay on joining the circus.

Erin: Katie is like “I’m serious”.

Katie: I majored in textiles and didn't do anything with it. And now I’m back to it and actually using what I learned.

Erin: I worked with kids my whole entire life. This is nothing like what I expected to be doing - having a business with my sister. I never thought Katie and I would be working together.

Sanaa: How is that? Working with your sister?

Erin: It’s good. We have very different personalities and that works to our advantage. We will have our moments but we work it out very quickly. And it’s so fun and we are so comfortable with each other. Plus, we get to travel together. I love traveling with Katie because she always has a plan and I like to just go with the flow.

Katie: I agree. We are aware that we have different roles so we keep that in mind. We don't have to communicate. We just look at each other and know what the other is thinking.

Erin: We very rarely disagree on aesthetics.

Sanaa: I think typically it’s difficult to articulate your ideas and vision and it’s nice to have shorthand with your business partner. What has been the most difficult part of starting your own business?

Katie: Not having a boss. You have no idea if what you are doing is right or if you are going down a rabbit hole. If you need to get from point A to point B, you just somehow have to figure it out.

Erin: It’s 24/7 and it never goes away. It’s on your mind constantly.

Sanaa: I think that feeling of not knowing what you are doing never goes away. You just become more confident in making decisions. I’ve been talking to a lot of women entrepreneurs and it seems that once you finally feel safe there’s a new problem to tackle. You are just more confident at handling it. But, it’s nice to know that everyone is in the same boat.

Katie: That’s so true. Personal growth has been crazy in the last year. I feel like I’m almost a different person after doing this. You have to let go of perfectionism. You have to go to sleep at night knowing your life might be "over" the next day. Someone might say “What are you going to do, you have to do that before Friday!” My answer has to be, "I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.” You always have to figure it out.

Sanaa: You have to live your life.

Katie: You have to be ok with knowing things might not be ok.

Sanaa: What is your typical day? Or do you not have typical days. What is work/life/balance like?

Erin: I’m a lot more part time. My priority is my family and my child. Going into this we talked about how it was going to work. For me, it’s finding the time to fit things in throughout the day. Right now I’m super flexible and get things done when I can. Nothing is very concrete.

Katie: And that’s where I come in. I do try to be consistent because having your own business is about time management and holding yourself accountable. I do try to wake up fairly early and I have to exercise everyday. I like commuting somewhere to work and be in a dedicated space. In the afternoons, I do more hands on work and have meetings with our pattern or sample maker. In the evenings and mornings we talk to our manufacturers in India due to the time difference.

Sanaa: Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Katie: The hardest part is starting and just doing it. Just start small. You don’t have to quit your day job. I encourage everybody to do creative things and just go for it. We had a lot of success with SCORE – a branch of the SBA (Small Business Associateion). You can make hour long appointments with retired executives (lawyers, accountants) and just ask questions that you may have. I also think having a sense of community is important. It’s huge to find other people doing the same thing – mentors or someone else starting out. I can’t tell you how much it pulls you up. You could attend Creative Mornings or the White Buffalo Project.

Sanaa: I think that's really valuable advice. What's been the most rewarding part so far?

Erin: I think just seeing it grow. I’ve said it before but things just fell into place without trying to control everything. That’s been really cool for me. It’s just crazy that it started with Katie having this idea. It’s still not even real to me. It’s weird.

Katie: This is going to be an odd answer but when a stranger buys a caftan – because surely that person is a long lost cousin somewhere. It’s like wow - someone actually wants one. When Saint Cloud placed an order – that was just like “are they just being nice?”. Just to have this feedback has been great.

Sanaa: Oh, I should tell you that I saw someone wearing one of your caftans. I saw her wearing it and I was like "I know who makes it!" 

Katie: Haha. Which one was it?

Sanaa: It was the striped San Sebastian. By the way, what does #caftanlife mean to you?

Katie: Whether you are traveling or at home, it’s just a feeling of slowing down a little and feeling comfortable with yourself. Your mind is in a happy place and you are enjoying life.

Sanaa: Lastly, how do you pronounce lagniappe? It’s something that you use in your line, the little cloth bags each caftan comes with.

Katie: lan-yap. We always used it growing up. It means a little surprise or a little something extra.

Sanaa: I tried using it in a sentence and while the word was coming out I realized I don’t actually know how to say it!

 All photos are taken from the Mirth Caftans Instagram and Kendall Hanna Photography. 

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