This month, we’re introducing you to one of our favorite new friends, Kalyn Johnson Chandler of Effie’s Paper::Stationery&Whatnot, an energetic lifestyle authority who is setting the trend on lifestyle accessories, travel style, and the power of Black Girl Magic
Kalyn and I met at a recent Black Southern Belle conference in Charleston. Her enthusiasm for female entrepreneurs , her smile and love of stationery and pretty things made us fast friends. With her signature pops of pink and encouraging words, she is a chic and engaging tastemaker, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Three words that describe your style?
Downtown, chic, hip
As a fashionable city woman, what’s the source(s) of your inspiration?
Believe it or not, walking down the streets of Manhattan and riding the subway are a font of inspiration. New York city has some of the most fashionable people I’ve ever seen. I take my cues from the people around me. What I love about New York is that each neighborhood has it’s own style – for example, on the Upper East Side, people are generally classic dressers with clean lines and solid colors. While downtown, in Tribeca, the vibe is decidedly expensive hipster.
Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…
Agatha Christie – I’d love to spend the evening with AC, as I affectionately call her, to get a sense of how her mind works because I love a good murder mystery. In fact, growing up and to this day, my parents, sister and I read murder mysteries voraciously. Lately, I’ve become addicted to all of the British murder mystery shows on Netflix and Acorn – Vera, Midsummer Murders, Broadchurch, Unforgotten and the like. What I love about the British shows is all of the twists and turns, they’re quite cerebral. Who knows, at a dinner party with AC, there might be a murder in the drawing room that needs to be solved!
Maya Angelou – I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid. One of my fondest memories is spending the weekend at my grandparent’s house and finding a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, I was probably 11 or 12. I read it cover-to-cover that weekend and she instantly became one of my sheros. Maya Angelou had an amazing life, was a generous soul, a prolific writer and an extremely wise woman. I think she’d be the dinner guest everyone would be clamoring to sit next to just hoping to gather a few nuggets of her vast knowledge.
Michelle Obama – I just kind of love everything about her! She brought a level of class, graciousness and openness to the White House that I haven’t experienced before in my lifetime. Her infectious smile and her ability to make fun of herself with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show will forever endear her to me and many. I would love to sit down and chat with her about what it was like to become a part of the upper echelons of society while not losing who she is at her core. She’s a woman I admire greatly; she stepped into a role she was very hesitant to take on … it took her a minute to figure out how to make it her own, but that she did and then some!
A pieces of/type of accessory you couldn’t live without
I never leave home without a silk scarf or a bandana. For some reason my neck tends to get cold, so I learned a long time ago that rather than be uncomfortable, it was just easier to always have a little something to put on my neck. And I’m super excited because I just designed the some really chic bandanas that we’re selling now. In addition to keeping your neck warm, they add the perfect pop of color to your outfit, look great tied around purses and do double-duty as a hat on bad hair days!
Do you recommend people follow a particular set of rules when writing letters?
My only rule when it comes to letter writing is sit down and write! I find that people love to receive handwritten notes in the mail, but rarely take the time to write them. I’ve heard all sorts of excuses from I can’t find nice stationery to I never seem to have stamps. These two “problem” are easily solvable – you can buy both stationery and stamps online nowadays. Of course I think everyone should be using Effie’s Paper to write their notes on, but whatever you have – please use it! A simple note with just three sentences can make someone’s day. And, the satisfaction derived from taking a minute to express one’s gratitude to another is priceless.
What would be the one thing you would have to have if you were stranded on a deserted island?
My Kindle and some kind of super duper charged battery pack. I love to read. So, being stranded on an island with nothing to read would be a kind of purgatory for me. I’m often reading more than one book at a time, which is why I’m partial to my Kindle, although there’s nothing like holding an actual book in your hands.
Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to an aspiring stationery creator.
Go for it! I get asked this question a lot and as I result, I wrote an e-book to help folks who are thinking of starting their own product-based business. There are a lot of players in the marketplace, so do your research and figure out what will distinguish your products from those that are already out there. Identifying your target audience up front – know who she is, what she buys and why up – will save you a lot of time and energy. Then before you jump in, learn what you can about the industry to make certain it’s a good fit for you. Next, think about your strengths and weaknesses to determine which gaps you’ll need to fill. I have a great team of young women I work with, I LOVE my girls; your tribe is your vibe! And finally, assess the direction the industry is headed in to determine where your products will fit in best and come up with a strategy to court those customers and retailers.
Bonus: Here’s a quick round up of some of our favorite ‘whatnot’ from Effie’s Paper, just in time for summer hostess gifts and even Father’s Day gifts!
Now get going and don’t forget to write to someone. You’ll make their day. Thank you to Kalyn of Effie’s Papers for being part of our Tastemaker Tuesday series! We can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon for you and Effie’s Papers.
Fact, beautiful, hand-embroidered linens never go out of style. Another little fact for you, handmade linens make an ideal gift, any time any place. Always. Our friends at Hibiscus Linens take the art form that is handcrafted linens to another level. The time they put into creating each luxurious linen is obvious. Their fine, artisan linens are derived from centuries-old techniques. These pieces are absolutely heirlooms for tomorrow, and their designs are timeless and truly unique.
Our friend, and Hibiscus Linens’ founder, Mariana Barran’s work combines a modern aesthetic, which she combines with traditional textile and needlework techniques. As an artist, Mariana is passionate about preserving old world stitching methods, and we so appreciate the passion and time she puts into her work. Her love of linens is apparent, and she’s an absolute gem of a person to boot! We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to Mariana and share a bit about Hibiscus Linens with you in our latest “Who you NEED to Meet” blog feature.
sm’s: Can you please share a bit about your background/how Hibiscus Linens began and how you gained the courage to break out on your own?
Growing up there were always guests in my house—it seemed like “Throwing Parties” was my parents middle name. At each gathering, hibiscus tea was always present. Serving this special tea was something different that made everyone that came into our home feel warm and welcome.
Hibiscus Linens is as special as the glass of hibiscus tea we gave to our guests. Every piece of our linens is made by hand and combined with delicate traditional techniques to create beautiful linens for your home and your own guests.
When I was eight, I began learning needlework techniques at school and through the women in my family. I loved it! It was a creative outlet that allowed me to see a full process from start to finish, from creating an idea to see it executed. My mom always encouraged me to be a problem solver. If you can’t find what you want, make it! She used this idea for everything, from party planning and recipe making to bedding and personal clothing. She was crafty and resourceful and thank god it was passed down on my DNA.
sm’s: What inspires you/your work?
Hibiscus Linens was born for the passion of entertaining and gatherings with a finely made table setting. Our linens are vintage inspired new pieces for your home, not your grandmother’s old linens—though she would be proud of their quality.
The techniques we use are almost nonexistent on today’s market due to the effort and time it takes to produce. All of our products are made in small batches to ensure the quality and the unique style of each. We pride ourselves on the craft of our linens which provide a perfect balance between detailed elegance and modern daily accents.
Currently, I find myself immersed in old textile books, looking, learning, exploring the possibilities of techniques left behind in history and finding ways to bring them back. Studying each stitch is my inspiration.
sm’s: What is your vision, not only for Hibiscus Linens, but also your individual creations?
My vision is to make Hibiscus Linens the needlework and textile design center that we all need. I believe that people are moving back to have timeless pieces that will last for generations to come and we can provide them with the highest level of craftsmanship.
The company has grown so much – it’s not just my work in Houston that we are offering, but a network of artisans who have unique talents and need an outlet for their art. For example, my cousin, Jimena, just graduated from Textile School and she will be the head of our handwoven department, we already have an everyday hand woven cotton napkins collection and we are working on having a full pillow collection by this summer.
sm’s: Do you have any “mainstays” in your work – is there something you’re always drawn to?
Whitework! White fabric with White thread is my all time favorite, it looks elegant, modern and its so forgiving! If you have a white on white tablecloth and someone spills wine during a dinner party you can always take the spot out! From my point of view is the best combination! It’s a basic that you need to impress your guests.
sm’s: What are the differences in your collections – i.e. how do you create such unique designs that remain a part of one, cohesive line?
Most of it is listening to people. The techniques we use are always the same, crochet, hemstitching, embroidery but everyone’s story is different that is what makes our possibilities limitless. It doesn’t matter if we are planning a handkerchief for your daughters wedding or a bedroom for a new baby; I always spend time with our clients to understand what adds value to them, what they want and what they will cherish for years to come. I also find inspiration in my travels between my house in Houston and my Hacienda in San Miguel de Allende… sometimes a perfect flower on a Saturday morning is all it takes to create a new cocktail napkin design.
sm’s: What do people need to consider when looking to purchase a Hibiscus Linens creation?
They need to consider what makes them happy, what will add shine to your everyday life. These linens are not to be kept in a box for the “special occasions” they are supposed to elevate everyday living.
sm’s: What’s on the horizon for you/Hibiscus Linens?
We need to keep spreading the word of old world stitching techniques and we are working on opening our studio in Houston later this year, so we will be able to host an ongoing curriculum of needlework classes and offer an elevated textile design center.
sm’s: As an artist/business person how do you recharge?
As an artist I like to read, and explore other creative outlets like Baking or Calligraphy.
sm’s: Anything else you our readers would enjoy learning from you?
I am coming to the steve mckenzie’s showroom on March 16th and 17th to teach two days of intensive workshops, focusing on Antique French Monograms and Modern Monograms. I am looking forward to it!
Yes – if you’d like to learn more about Mariana’s time at steve mckenzie’s, please give us a call or email us. We’re so looking forward to learning even more about this art form and sharing it with all of our friends and clients here in Atlanta! And please stop into the showroom soon to take a look at these stunning, bespoke linens for yourself… We think you’ll fall in love.