a fortunately dynamic duo : lizzie fortunato jewels

Posted on November 10, 2012 by

Twin sisters, Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato, natives of Wilmington, Delaware have collectively created a well-established name for themselves in the fashion world as the ultra successful, Manhattan-based Lizzie Fortunato Jewels. Designing fashion-forward statement pieces with the combination of unique materials collected around the globe, their bold and eclectic designs have been showcased in runway collaborations with other designers. Combining forces, with Lizzie’s passion and eye for design, together with Kathryn’s marketing and business savvy, has captured the attention of some of the most influential names in the realm of fashion, such as Vogue, InStyle, Elle.

We caught up with Lizzie and Kathryn to get the full story behind Lizzie Fortunato Jewels: how they met success in the fashion mecca of NYC, what they’ve learned along the way, and what they want to accomplish in the future.

Q&A with Kathryn & Lizzie Fortunato of LFJ:

From an early age Lizzie, I remember watching you cultivate your love of fashion design. I have fond memories of bringing my fashion sketch book over to your house, many years ago, when I would babysit for you and Kathryn. We’d sit together to review your creative ideas and drawings. Now, 20 years later, both you and Kathryn, as a team, have created the ultra successful Lizzie Fortunato Jewels!
I have similarly fond memories! In fact, I think I still own the “fashion coloring book” that you gave to me nearly two decades ago. I remember treasuring that book (and worshiping you!) as I colored in the sketches of Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera outfits. I don’t think I ever let Kathryn touch it!

When did you both decide that you wanted to start your own business together?
We operated Lizzie Fortunato Jewels at a pretty amateur level in high school and then in college we developed the business, creating collections and hosting trunk shows at a local restaurant where we sold (and took orders on) our pieces. Kathryn was the true entrepreneur who spearheaded these early trunk shows and oversaw the operations of the business; I just got to do what I loved, and that was to be creative and make something with my hands. At this time the we still truly considered jewelry a hobby. We both presumed that we would get “real jobs” following graduation (from Duke University in 2006).

We did just this: Kathryn began working at Goldman Sachs, where she had interned during college and I took a position in fashion PR. I continued making jewelry on the side however and left after only ten months to formally “launch” the business. Kathryn didn’t join me until three years later – and after much deliberation. For me it was a no-brainer; the jewelry business was calling my name and I wasn’t walking away from a lot. For Kathryn it was a much different story; she really loved her position and the stakes were much higher but I constantly reminded her that she didn’t get to “do-over” this part of her life and it was really now or never. She joined the company in 2010 and it really changed the entire trajectory of the business. Without Kathryn managing our operations and finances there really is no business to speak of so we both depend on each other tremendously! In fact, I can’t remember how I did it without her!

When did Lizzie Fortunato Jewels officially launch?
I started making jewelry in high school and continued in college but at that point really considered it a hobby. I formally launched the company in 2007 with the help of Kathryn, who oversaw the finances and sales on nights and weekends. She joined full time in the summer of 2010.


(images courtesy of jasonrosssavage)

Do you hope to open a storefront or are you content with selling LFJ exclusively in select stores and online?
I always say that “I’d like to have a storefront when I can afford to do it right”. It’s certainly something I dream about doing, however I think it’s going to be way down the line. I dream of the perfect display cases, the perfect lighting and the perfect location. Additionally, I’d be interested in selling work of other artists I admire in addition to textiles and finds collected during my travels. In my head, the store would be a jewel box of curiosities and I think creating it would require an investment (of time and money) equal to what we’ve devoted to our current business. Needless to say, I don’t think it’s something we’ll be doing until LFJ is really running itself!

In the meantime, being a wholesale business is really suited to us. We have such close relationships with a lot of our retailers and try and travel about 4 times a year to do in-store appearances with our favorite accounts. As a matter of fact, we’re planning our first Tokyo trip for Spring ’13 to visit a number of stores there!

We have developed great friendships with our buyers and have loyal customers who look forward to visiting their favorite local boutique when the new LFJ arrives. This kind of proliferation is difficult without being a wholesale business. Furthermore, our online shop has given us the benefit of being able to sell direct, and we look forward to growing our online store to include “curated items” including finds from our travels and creations made by fellow designers and friends to further enhance the Lizzie Fortunato brand.


(image courtesy of wild combination)

Who currently carries Lizzie Fortunato Jewels products?
We currently sell through about 60 retailers. Domestically, those are primarily boutiques but also include some great websites like www.shopbop.com and www.charmandchain.com (which is exclusively accessories and features some of our favorite fashion jewelry peers). In New York, we sell at Kirna Zabete in Soho, Five Story uptown, Henri Bendel, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Creatures of Comfort (which also has a location in LA) among other high-end boutiques. We sell at a number of premiere stores in London including Matches and Harvey Nichols, but Tokyo continues to be (far and away) our largest international market. We sell at a number of department stores there and can’t wait to visit soon! The Japanese girls really get us!

It’s amazing to see your line featured in high-end fashion/design magazines such as Vogue, W, Elle, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, the list goes on… Knowing the competitive nature of high-end fashion, what was one memorable breakthrough moment into the industry?
Shortly after launching the line, one of our necklaces was featured on the cover of the trade publication Women’s Wear Daily. This was huge for us; it was so exciting and thrilling and beyond that it was validating. After that, I thought to myself that this business really did have legs and “I’m not insane for having just quit my job!”

Since then, it’s always been flattering to receive good press. It’s particularly cool when The New York Times / T Magazine features us because it’s often alongside the most incredible international couture designers. Being held in that kind of company is just awesome.


(image courtesy of wild combination)

As your business continues to expand, how do you manage to keep up with the demand?
Production continues to be the most difficult aspect of our small business. We make about 97% of our products domestically and about 75% of that in Manhattan. The only work we do overseas is embroidery, beading, and craftwork that is native to Indian cultures and is pretty much impossible to source in America. We really value the artisanal and handmade quality of our pieces and the time that goes into each one. As a result however, our production leadtimes are quite long and the process is involved and sometimes trying. NYC-based production is not only expensive but there is no “one-stop-shop”. That is, our casting is done in one place, plating takes place in another, and stone-setting and metal work in yet another. Then once we have all of our components we have a team of seamstresses who assemble each piece in our offices. The coordinate to successfully create (and ship on time!) 90 sku collections three times a year is just unbelievable. Fortunately, we were just able to hire a production manager to assist with this but still, there are times when we are turning down re-orders! We never want to have to turn down a sale so further refining our production and continuing to build a team of dependable and fast production people remain top objectives for the business.


(images courtesy of wild combination)

For business, do you both travel together or do you ‘divide and conquer’?
Our day to day travel (i.e. visiting vendors in midtown or meeting with a new leather maker, etc.) is completely divided. We’re each always running around performing very individual and specific roles. Kathryn is typically dealing with production and I’m usually doing development. I get to think a season ahead so that when she’s producing one collection, I’m onto the next!

In terms of bigger picture with travel, we tend to stick together. For store events, we almost always go together (customers like getting both of us and I depend on her to really sell the collection!) and for inspiration and development trips (we travel to India to work on new embroidery and beading techniques) we stick together as well. It’s awesome to have a constant friend in tow for these kinds of adventures!

As twin sisters, has owning a business together taught you more about one another?
Definitely! We are so close already but working together 24-7 has really taken our closeness and understanding of each other to the next level! We can pretty much finish each others sentences and I always know to tell Kathryn that we have to be somewhere about 45 minutes before we actually need to be because “wrapping things up” at the office seems like an interminable feat for her! Owning a business together also often means that, when stressed, we fight with each other like other co-workers might not, but conversely we also get to celebrate the victories together and being able to do that with your sister is such a treat.


(images courtesy of wild combination)

My creative passion started with fashion design, which morphed into fashion photography during college, then lead me into interior design post college.  Over the years have either of you worked in other fields or considered other careers?
Kathryn spent nearly 5 years on Wall Street and has such a mind for numbers. Since she joined LFJ, she has worked as consultant for other lines helping them raise money or organize their finances. I encourage her to take these opportunities whenever she can as she’s really incredibly talented at helping small fashion businesses which excel in the creative but are lacking in terms of financial and operational knowledge.

Lizzie, as a designer where do you find your biggest inspirations?
I’m constantly inspired by my materials and surroundings. If I’m traveling and find an old textile at a market or a piece of artwork at a yard sale (I’m a fiend for flea markets!) then that can sometimes inspire an entire collection. Similarly, my surroundings in New York provide constant inspiration. I have a few favorite antique stores and trimming stores where some small or unexpected material will trigger an idea that gets me working for days. Downtown style and the fashion show that is New York City street corners also sometimes help to solidify designs for me, but most often it’s a piece of art or material or vintage fabric that really incites new ideas.


(images courtesy of jasonrosssavage)

Lizzie, you incorporate a wide variety of materials in your pieces. Where do you source your objects and materials from? What are some of the most unique materials you’ve worked with?
I source materials from all corners of the globe! I love finding unique ribbons and trimmings. There is one Japanese-based ribbon company with a showroom in New York where I always have a hay day! We also incorporate a ton of embroidery and beading – both antique and new – into our work. For the embroidery and beading that we create new, it’s crafted by hand on looms in India. Kathryn and I have been several times to oversee this process and it’s extraordinary – the extent of what can be created by hand on looms is just mind blowing! I collect antique textiles everywhere I travel as well. Most recently, we brought vintage Peruvian “mantas” back from a small village outside of Cusco (while we there to trek to Machu Picchu with our dad and brother!) and incorporated them into a line of limited edition clutches for our Resort 2013 collection. I visited Uruguay several years ago and brought back antique bone poker chips which we turned into pendants, I have used wood from South America for both bracelets and pendants, and love African brass and glass beads. The bright colored African trade beads are a favorite that I incorporate into my collections season after season. We also source semi-precious stones from all over the world; we use lapis, mother-of-pearl, onyx, pink opal, angelite and the list goes on! One of my favorite stones that we’ve used recently is fuschite – a greenish stone that I’ve fallen in love with that we have cut by a great stone cutter in the western part of the United States.

What goals do you have for Lizzie Fortunato Jewels?
Three seasons ago, we launched leather goods and it’s proven to be a really great extension of the brand. Our leather goods feature Italian leathers and brass hardware but in conjunction with beading and embroidery that still really makes it recognizable as “a Lizzie”. Growing this arm of the business is an immediate goal in addition to expanding sales on the jewelry. We just hired an international showroom to represent us in London and Paris, which is an exciting and huge next step for us. We have done several runway collaborations – most recently Matthew Williamson for Spring/Summer 2013, but continuing to collaborate with other designers is important to us and just remaining “relevant” whilst growing the business are our foremost objectives!

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Kirna Zabête: Urban-chic meets The Shops at Target

Posted on September 21, 2012 by

On September 9th, best friends and business partners Beth Buccini and Sarah Easley released their signature clothing line as part of The Shops at Target with their business namesake, Kirna Zabête (named after their college nicknames for each other). Beth kindly agreed to be interviewed about the process of designing her first clothing line for Target, her ultra successful business Kirna Zabête and life as a working wife and mother of four. Given Beth’s talents, passion, love and dedication to her career, only continued success can come her way!

beth & sarah, soho

Q&A with Beth Buccini, Co-Owner of Kirna Zabete:

What were some of your jobs before you started Kirna Zabête?
I moved to NYC when I was 21, right after I graduated from college, and started as an intern at the now defunct Mirabella Magazine. I was an unpaid intern for two weeks, then they fired someone and thirty minutes later, I had her job. It was truly such amazing training. Yes, there were plenty of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ moments, but boy oh boy, did I learn so much.

After that, I went to New York Magazine as the Fashion Editor. My boss was the Creative Director at Vogue for 18 years, and had started Mirabella Magazine with Grace Mirabella as the Creative Director there as well. She left to go to New York Magazine as the Fashion Director and completely changed their fashion coverage. She went from having a staff of 40 – to me and a few interns. So luckily, at a young age, she gave me a lot of responsibility; basically she had no choice! I was so flattered that she brought me along with her. She is a legend in the business and was a terrific mentor. That was where I learned who bought what in New York and how they bought it…and I realized there was a void in the market.

Did you at any point consider another career outside of the fashion world?
I was an Art History and French Literature major at University of Virginia, but fashion was always the goal. However, I always say when I retire I want to work in museums. My mother was a docent at our local museum when I was growing up and I think I would really love that job.

After 11 years did you ever imagine Kirna Zabête becoming such a huge success?
14 years! When we signed our lease in SoHo, we were 26 years old and signed a 10-year personal guarantee. We were so naive, but it never occurred to us that we could fail. We were determined!

beth & sarah, front of kirna zabete

What are some of the most beneficial lessons you have learned as a business owner?
I had zero business experience when we started. My business partner, Sarah Easley is my best friend from UVA. She had all the retail experience. I always say when we opened that I knew who to buy and she knew how much. I didn’t even know Microsoft Excel! So, I’ve learned a ton about business and really love that side almost as much as I love the creative part.

Where do you find creative inspirations to keep your business fresh and current? Do your inspirations come from places you travel, artists you admire or other shops and lines?
Going to runway shows and buying appointments are amazing ways to be inspired. Even though the schedule is ruthless, (today, for instance I bought 9 collections) when you see wonderful things it is so exciting. I can be inspired by anything, though. You have to be looking at all times.

kirna zabete, NYC

Who are some of your personal favorite fashion designers at the moment?
In NYC, Joseph Altuzarra is really a rising star. His last two shows have been phenomenal. Same with Prabal Gurung. And in London, I really love Peter Pilotto, Erdem and Christopher Kane.

I’m sure you have some fashion lines that you’ve always loved. What designers are classic to you?
I love Stella McCartney. She has four children too! We always say that Stella is what you want to wear on Tuesday morning. It is so real and you feel great in it. The less expensive Stella is Veronica Beard – two friends of mine who have built a very classic wardrobe around the jacket with zip-in and zip-out dickeys. T by Alexander Wang makes the best t-shirts. Lanvin ballet flats are a staple. I love Mother Jeans. Plus a Celine bag!

soho wall display

Knowing your busy schedule, can you give us a glimpse into your typical work week?
I typically travel to NYC for the day a few days a week. I will take a 7am train up and a 7pm train back. So I can wake the kids up right before I run out the door – and hopefully get a little snuggle in at night. Otherwise, I drop off and pick up at school and work while the kids are in school and after they go to bed. It doesn’t feel like work often though; I truly still love what I do so much. It only seems to be getting more interesting.

beth & her kids

Early on, I knew I wanted a career but I knew I wanted it on my terms. So, luckily we worked 7 days a week physically in the store to build it up before we had husbands and children. Now we can be a little more flexible. Plus, with email and Skype, it is much easier than I expected to work remotely. But the thing is, I never turn it off. I work all the time. Good thing I’m passionate about what I do!

What are your top three fashion tips?
1) Tailor, tailor, tailor. Little tweaks so the clothes fit well are crucial.

2) Invest in a great bag or shoes first. You can wear old clothes with a new bag and feel up to date.

3) I don’t believe in trends, I believe in moods. Clothes are your armor against the world. Decide how you want to feel and pick clothes that make you feel that way.

ON THE TARGET COLLABORATION:

For someone who isn’t familiar with Kirna Zabête, how would you best describe your business and the line you’ve designed for Target?
My store sells very high-end designer merchandise. Target approached us for their ‘The Shops at Target’ program. The goal was to create an entire line of clothing, accessories and jewelry that brought the spirit of Kirna Zabête to the nearly 1800 Target stores in the US and target.com, ranging in price from $9.99 to $199.99. We loved how it turned out, so we are selling it in our store as well as online at kirnazabete.com.

kirna zabete, the shops at target

When did Target approach Kirna Zabête about doing a fashion line?
Target reached out to us last summer. We had a pre-existing relationship with them, given both of our involvement with the CFDA incubator, which is a program created to mentor new designers. They reached out for a meeting. Sarah and I were both on vacation together and asked if we could Skype the meeting instead of coming into the city. They agreed. So, after they dropped this idea on us, we both laughed so hard and said, “wow, we certainly could have come into Manhattan if we knew this is what you wanted to discuss!”

kirna zabete, the shops at target

How long did it take to complete the full line of clothing & accessories and how did the process work?
Target is a super well run machine. We worked on designs and mood boards through October. We presented them one morning in our store to a team of 40. They came back with their interpretation in November. We tweaked from there. Next thing you know, we have samples on a fit mode that we fix in February. And then an entire collection goes off to production. We were intimately involved in the entire process in order to make sure the spirit of Kirna Zabête was conveyed.

Did Target have a number in mind for how many pieces and styles they wanted you and Sarah to design?
Instead of focusing on a specific number, the goal was to create a well-rounded collection that represented our vision of how to bring downtown cool to America. We wanted to design everything a woman would need to update her fall wardrobe and we ended up making over 100 styles.

kirna zabete, the shops at target

Did you and Sarah have similar visions for color scheme and styles?
We had very similar visions. For 14 years, we have bought every single thing in our store together. So, we have an unspoken language that freaks people out. Often, when we open our mouths, we say the exact same thing. We all have the same references, basically.

kirna zabete, the shops at target

I imagine the Target line will take Kirna Zabête to a whole new level in terms of sales and interest in your business. After Target, will Kirna Zabête do other fashion or accessory lines?
We are really focused on building our e-commerce business. That is no longer just the future of shopping: it is the present. And we do have the next collaboration in the pipeline, but we cannot announce it quite yet. The most shocking thing about the Target collaboration is that we found our inner designer.

Additional coverage from Target on Kirna Zabête:

[Article] : Mixing it All Up with the Ladies of Kirna Zabête

[VIDEO] : On Set with Kirna Zabête at The Shops at Target Lookbook Shoot

[VIDEO] : This One’s for the Girls: Get to Know the Ladies Behind Kirna Zabête at Target 

kirna zabete + target

ON INTERIOR DESIGN:

Has your fashion style over the years influenced your home decor?
Yes! I universally love print and color. This is quite apparent if you’ve ever seen my house! We have a lot of ikat, pink, burgundy, orange and red. I like warm, happy colors with cool tones in hallways and lots of print mixing.

What fabric, wallpaper and furniture lines do you gravitate towards?
Just like in my store, I like interesting and eclectic, unusual and unexpected. I don’t necessarily think the name matters. It has to speak to you. One of my favorite items in our house is the cheapest: a vintage Turkish chair from a warehouse sale. I just love it.

Who are some of your favorite interior designers and what do you like about their unique styles?
Steven Gambrel did our house and it was an absolute joy working with him! He really got me. We were laughing together the other day reminiscing about our first meeting. Because when we first got together (even though we both went to UVA, we didn’t know each other) he had recently finished my friend’s apartment and I loved it so much. He said, “well Beth, I know she used a lot of color, but we don’t have to go that wild.” And I said, “Steven, that wasn’t enough color for me!” That’s when we knew we had hit it off.

Do you have any advice on how to create the perfect master closet? Having enough space to display shoes and purses can be a challenge, as well as phasing seasonal clothes in and out!
Plenty of shelving, drawers and counter space. I have divided mine up into casual on one side and more designer on the other. Then, I know if it’s a mom day, I have one wardrobe and for a work day, I have another. I also have some rods that pull out so I can hang the next day’s outfit the night before.

kirna zabete

(all images courtesy of Kirna Zabete & abullseyeview from Target)

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  1. Pigeon -

    I love the line for Target. I bough 4 pieces already. Congrats ladies!!

NativeCast: Sustainable & Stylish Concrete Wares

Posted on July 18, 2012 by

Local business, NativeCast founded by friend and artist Ricky Giacco is reducing their carbon footprint in home and garden ware design with their sustainable cast stoneware, individually hand crafted by artisans in their studio.

NativeCast creates fine home and garden accents using their own custom blend of sustainable concrete, locally native natural materials along with recycled materials. Their custom ‘eco-concrete’ is a cement-based composite that offers the same durability as concrete, but significantly lighter in weight.

Founded in April 2010, NativeCast takes pride in using locally-sourced recycled materials in all stages of production. With a continually expanding portfolio, they are designing and building upon their collection of home decor products in their Wilmington, Delaware shop. NativeCast offers unique, handcrafted, environmentally-conscious products. Not only pleasing to the eye, their planters also offer a beneficial environment for your plants. The natural compounds in their concrete mix allow plants to breathe and regulate their own moisture, keeping your plants safe and happy!

NativeCast product

* Sweet Basil and Italian Parsley kits available on NativeCast. For only $10 you cast your own eco-concrete container and cultivate your very own herb garden. These kits make great gifts and are a great educational activity for children of all ages

 

Q&A with Ricky Giacco, Artist & Founder of NativeCast:

When did you start NativeCast?
The business idea for NativeCast was started in the spring of 2010. Originally, we started under the name Delaware Coast Planter. However, this past winter we re-branded ourselves as NativeCast and debuted our new e-commerce website only a few months ago.

How and where did you learn to work with concrete?
I learned to work with concrete in a little shop in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Sally Ketcham, a local artist and friend introduced me to the medium after taking classes in countertop fabrication. I had studied product and furniture design in college, so many of the techniques were very similar. I was immediately attracted to the possibilities I saw in the material.

NativeCast planters

Do you sell to residential as well as commercial clients?
We sell to nearly everyone. I would say mostly residential, as we work on a smaller scale. We design our products to be lightweight and available ship at affordable rates. For a while, we didn’t offer wholesale because our production was very limited. As NativeCast’s brand is growing, we are beginning to offer wholesale to select retailers.

Are custom sizes and colors available?
NativeCast welcomes custom work. Our website has a custom work submission page for anyone that might be interested in a proposal. Custom sizes, shapes and colors can be made.

NativeCast decorative elements

On your site, it says that NativeCast is a family-run business. Who is involved and what are the different roles?
We are a family run business; my father and I are partners. I handle the creative side of the business and he manages our business model along with our finances. We have a few other family contributors as well. My wife helps out on the weekends, usually on the rigorous trade show circuit; she has a killer sales pitch. My mother works in our production studio one day a week and is a hard worker. My sister used to handle a bit of our marketing and publicity but has since moved away (to a much higher paying job). I have a rather large family and they all help out in one way or another. My aunt just made part of my trade show display and helped secure our new production/retail space in Chadds Ford, PA. I would like to thank them for their moral support.

NativeCast

Where do you sell your products?
We currently sell our products directly through our website at NativeCast.com. Local orders can make pick up arrangements to avoid shipping fees. We are moving to Chadds Ford, PA in September. We will be located in The Shops at Red Barn on Fairville Road just off Route 1 in PA. We will have a showroom retail space. Very exciting! NativeCast also sells our products at various home, garden and craft shows. Please refer to the website for upcoming dates. I can’t disclose which retailers will be carrying our products in the future. We believe you will start to notice NativeCast products in select retail venues this holiday season. Check NativeCast’s blog for updates.

{* all images courtesy of NativeCast}

leave a comment (2 comments)

  1. Christy Fleming -

    These designs are so handsome. And I love the local names of some of their planters — Alapocas Bowl, Bancroft Urn. Can you send out an e-mail when they open their store in Chadds Ford?

  2. Marissa Rath -

    Can’t wait to visit the new store in Chadds Ford! Beautiful designs and photographs. Thanks for sharing…

dallas shaw: illustrates her love for fashion

Posted on June 22, 2012 by

Small town girl meets big city fashion industry. Wilmington-based artist and designer, Dallas Shaw has taken her love for art from the age of 4, together with her natural artistic talent and started a career creating custom illustrations for some of the top names in the fashion world. Her work is beautiful; portraying elegant, watercolor sketches of stylish women for fashion icons such as DKNY, Chanel, Jack Rogers, Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren.

On top of being a well-known illustrator and style expert in the fashion industry, she also shares personal style finds with many publications and style blogs. Dallas’ gorgeous drawings and style picks have been featured in numerous magazines such as Lucky, Philadephia Style Mag, Brides, Real Living, Gotham, Delaware Today, WWD, ROCO Magazine, Signature Brandywine and Philadelphia Magazine and online style blogs such as Elle Decor, Design Sponge, Matchbook Mag and Oh Joy – to name a few.

dallas shaw

dallas shawQ&A with Dallas Shaw:

Where did you grow up?
In Scranton, PA.

What did you study in college?
Illustration Major at Marywood University

When did you discover your love of drawing and fashion?
Very, very young. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. I used to make my mom fashion magazines with crayons and paper.

dallas shaw illustrations

What were some of your “foot in the door” jobs in the fashion illustration world?
I worked with Disney before turning to the fashion industry and learned a lot there, about artists and jobs in general. DKNY was one of the first large fashion houses to support my talents, so that is where most people recognize my name from. But even before then, I was freelancing for a few fashion magazines: real living, and rue mag.

Do you spend a lot of time traveling for your work? I’m assuming NYC and LA are places you frequent often. Are there other cities where you find creative inspiration?
NY, CA and London are where many of my clients are based, so I do travel there often. Now that the blog is followed in so many places, I now get to see some smaller towns! I’m doing a fun project in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this year. I recently visited New Hampshire. I find creative inspiration in many beach and harbor towns.

dallas shaw

What are some of your favorite fashion and accessory lines these days?
Too too many to count. Love Marias shoes, tom binns necklaces. I have new favorites every day, which is why I have a blog. Just have to share it all!

dallas shaw

Can you tell us about some of your current projects?
Because I work on so many larger projects, I can’t share those until the are released. I am the artist behind Jack Rogers, DKNY, and bionda castana. I also do work for Kate Spade, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, DSW, Nine West. Locally, I do a spread in Signature Brandywine Magazine and the Peter Kate website.

dallas shaw illustrations

Are there other areas you would like to expand your business?
It has spread pretty far this year. Began as an illustration business and now involves online style consulting and style picks in publications. I have a few things up my sleeve for next year and am anxious to see how far it can go.

If you could pick a dream job (besides what you are already doing) what would it be?
I truly cannot imagine doing anything else. I would have to do something creative…interior design, maybe?

Your website, DallasShaw.com, focuses on your illustration business while your blog, DillyDallas, focuses mostly on fashion. Blogs to me, feel like running journals of things that you love and inspire you. Have you found that your blog drifts into other areas other than fashion?
The blog focuses on my personal taste, and I post whatever I love (home, fashion, baby, beauty…). I find that not just a single one of those things inspires me, but style in general inspires me, so yes the blog is a journal of what was inspiring me on that day.

dallas shaw

I’m so impressed by all the areas you are tapping into creatively for you business. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the options out there? In the interior design world, there are so many great choices and sometimes my head spins with all the unique directions I could go in. It is all a pleasure to discover these amazing products and businesses, but sometimes it feels like there’s just not enough time to connect with it all.
Thanks! Yes, the job is completely overwhelming and there are so many directions I can go with both the artwork and the blog, but I feel that if I stay true to things I love and my personal style then everything I take on will make sense overall. For every project and every post, I try to make sure it truly reflects “me”. Now, if there was only more time in the day…


See more:
www.dallasshaw.com
http://dillydallas.blogspot.com
twitter handle: @dallasshaw01
http://pinterest.com/dallasshaw/

{all images courtesy of dallas shaw}

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little nest portraits: capturing those precious moments

Posted on June 4, 2012 by

With an incredible talent for capturing those special moments, Laura Novak expanded her photography studio in Wilmington, Delaware to create a unique studio experience for families with Little Nest Portraits, which offers unique, natural children’s portraiture that is unlike any other.

Little Nest Portraits has a creative team focused on capturing memories and moments to last a lifetime. Their approach to children’s portraiture is based on capturing natural, fun expressions and the individual personalities of children and their families within their unique, intimate boutique studio.

Little Nest has put together a gorgeous ‘Spring/Summer 2012 Look Book’ which provides great ideas on how to decorate your home with photography. With endless options to choose from including classic framing, hand-painted frames, float wraps, canvas wraps and gallery mounts, Little Nest offers a variety of unique ways to display those precious moments to last a lifetime.

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Q&A with Laura Novak of Little Nest Portraits:

When did you start Little Nest?
Little Nest has had a few different iterations! It first began in 2009 as a small division of Laura Novak Photography in our Wilmington location with just one photographer. Then grew quickly into a retail store with three photographers when we opened Glen Eagle Square in the spring of 2010.

What was the inspiration behind Little Nest?
Like most ideas, the inspiration behind starting little nest was our customers!  I have a wonderful group of loyal clients who love the experience and quality of going to a boutique photographer. When the economy dropped off, I found that for some people, price became more of a concern than it had been in the past.  It was at that time that I realized many families wanted to be able to visit a high quality portrait studio even if their budget wouldn’t fit for an independent boutique photographer. Little Nest Portraits is designed to be a place where people can go for high quality, accessible family photography no matter what your budget is.

little nest portraits

How many locations do you have and where?
We have two locations that I am so proud of – our Glen Eagle Square location is very convenient to northern Delaware and Chester County, with lots of shopping and errands that can be done right in our shopping center (yay for Whole Foods!). The other location is in the heart of the Main Line, right in downtown Wayne on North Wayne Avenue.

Knowing how popular Little Nest is, are you growing faster than you anticipated?
Little Nest is definitely growing faster than we anticipated, which is great but we have also intentionally slowed growth this year so we can build a more solid foundation for the future. I am very aware that many companies with excellent performance can hurt themselves by growing too fast, and I don’t want that to be us. We have some fantastic programs we are launching this year and then we are hoping to be in New Jersey by the end of 2013.

What are some of the creative sets for photographing clients that you’ve come up with?
I really enjoy shopping for the sets and personally design each one of them. I like the designs to be more along the lines of what you would see in a magazine set, versus a photography studio. I tend to purchase both modern and antique furniture for the studio, as well as different fabrics and materials I find interesting and unique. While I see lots of amazingly adorable trends on Pinterest, I really try to make our sets timeless so that when families invest in our portraiture it’s something that they will love forever.

little nest portraits

How many photographers work at the various studios?
We have three photographers in Glen Eagle Square, and two in Wayne. I definitely see us hiring a third in Wayne before the Fall busy season hits!

The unique products you offer to showcase the images are amazing!  Tell me about the different choices – coffee table books, pocket size books, leather bound books, wall canvases, christmas ornaments, jewelry…
Thank you so much!  That means a ton because we do put so much into our product development. I personally select each of our items including the books, mini books, albums, wall art and accessories with the following criteria: we only sell items that are hand made in the U.S. We believe this offers a higher quality product for our customers, so for example none of our jewelry is coming off of a factory line.

There are six different wall art finishes available, with each one chosen carefully so that we have a style and price point that will work with anyone’s aesthetic or budget. These finishes range from a very modern gallery mount to a hand painted frame series that can be custom matched to any fabric or paint swatch. We truly have something for everyone.

little nest portraits

Do you offer services to help clients come up with creative ways to display their images in their homes?
I am a big believer in in-person customer service, especially when it comes to items that will be displayed in the home for years and years. So every one of our session fees includes a separate in-person ordering meeting. This year, we also introduced a room view feature, which is a great way for someone to envision the artwork in their home before they purchase it. If someone comes to us with an image of the space in their home (doesn’t have to be fancy, an iPhone shot works!), we can show them how the proposed wall art will look to scale in their space. It’s a great way for someone to feel confident about their investment before making the purchase.

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What is your vision for Little Nest as it continues to grow over the years?
We have very big goals! I’d love to see Little Nest be a household name on the eastern seaboard and to be recognized nationally for setting the gold standard in family portraiture and lifestyle family photography.  We want our clients to love us so much that they want to be ‘lifers” and that they hit the 10 year anniversary of working with us. I am so proud of our team and would love to see the fantastic culture at Little Nest grow to half a dozen locations between NYC and DC.

little nest portraits

Anything new and exciting you would like to share with our readers?
There are some fantastic surprises in store for Little Nest customers this year, and one of them I am excited to share with your readers as a “sneak peek” of what is to come. As of June 1st, we are offering $50 mini-sessions (called sessionettes) that will be available throughout the week. The sessionettes will have print packages available from $175-695. These mini-sessions are a great ‘fill-in’ session for our clients and a fantastic way for someone to be part of the Little Nest experience even if they just want gift prints. More details are in our May newsletter (called our monthly chirp) and we are very excited to offer this price point to customers as easy package options.  Stay tuned for more info!

little nest portraits

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