Women Who MAKE: Sophia Reyes Designs

September 30, 2015 Interviews, Tips + Resources 2 Comments
sophia reyes designer

Today, I’m thrilled to bring you a behind the scenes look into the studio of womenswear clothing designer, Sophia Reyes David. Soft-spoken Sophia, is nothing but fierce, behind the sewing machine. She’s a woman with a vision for contemporary and wearable women’s clothing. I love her eye for pattern, color, draping and figure flattering cuts.

Sophia’s designs first caught my eye at Milk Handmade (one of my favorite Chicago clothing boutiques) and I’ve been following her on Instagram ever since. Her latest Fall 2015 Collection is incredibly versatile, and I had a blast modeling some of my favorites from the line (more to come on that soon!). Don’t miss our Instagram Giveaway and your chance to snag some fabulous fall items from the collection.

Photography by: Carolina Mariana

Here’s more from the sweet Sophia:

Name: Sophia David
Age: 31
Current title/company name: Designer & Owner, Sophia Reyes, LLC
Years in operation: 8

What is your first memory of making [art]?

When I was younger, coloring contests were my jam. I won several coloring contests as a kid- including a year’s supply of Crayola!

sophia reyes designer

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My parents encouraged creativity and instilled in us that it is vital to be savvy in business to be able to do what you love to do. It was only natural that I would become an entrepreneur.

sophia reyes designer

Tell us about the process of launching your own business, Sophia Reyes. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

The best parts: seeing an idea, vision, or design come to fruition and then experiencing how people respond to it. The biggest challenge is balancing being a designer and a business owner.

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What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?

Starting a new collection is always a breath of fresh air; combining colors, prints, and textures to convey a mood brings life to a new season.

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What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs/artists?

1. Do three things each week that will help grow your business. Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day tasks as a small business owner. It is important to spend time looking at the big picture, your strategy, and long-run goals to continue growing your business.

2. Go for it. Have confidence in your work, and always ask for what you want.

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Do you have a design philosophy, and if so, what is it?

Design is both function and inspiration. The best comment from customers is when I hear them say, “ I wear (insert said piece) all the time. I get a lot of compliments.” I’m over the moon when I hear this.

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Imagine Sophia Reyes five years, how would you like to grow?

Design our own textile prints, expand the line into accessories, and open a storefront.

Do you have a most popular item?

Our limited edition printed kimonos have been a hit.

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What do you enjoy most about the creative community in Chicago/Evanston?

Everyone knows each other and supports each other’s work.

Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?

Designing and creating is part of who I am and what I love to do. I love its challenges (even the frustrating parts), the possibilities, and the opportunities to discover new techniques. It is my happy place!

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Sophia’s Evanston & Chicago Favorites:

Favorite spot to get inspired: I can spend hours at any fabric or craft store. Blick Art Materials & Vogue Fabrics

Favorite restaurant: Found Kitchen and Social House

Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture: Renegade Craft Market, Broadway Antique Market

Favorite place for coffee: Peet’s Coffee

Favorite place for a sweet treat: Pierrot Gourmet at the Peninsula Chicago

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Thanks for letting us visit Sophia! Stay tuned for a fun look at styling my favorite EVER black jeans three ways with pieces from Sophia’s Fall 2015 collection. Hello, Autumn!

XO – CLAIRE


Bohemian Style Studio Makeover

I’m excited to share a project with you today that has been in the works for several months. I teamed up with local bloggers Foxtail + Moss to help them re-imagine their modest studio space. The studio is located in a cool, creative building in the West Loop area of Chicago.

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Lauren and Claire (i.e. Foxtail + Moss) both have a modern bohemian style, and wanted to reflect more of this in their work space. What a fun project! This is one of my favorite styles to play with, and these ladies were game for anything. We worked together to write some pretty extensive BEFORE and AFTER posts on the design process, so if you want the nitty gritty details head over to those articles! If you want to see all the pretty pictures they are HERE.

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I thought it would also be fun to share some of my sources with you, so if you love this bohemian style look you can replicate it easily! Here’s a design board with online sources that you can scoop up to bring the boho look home:

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A great new design book if you love bohemian style is The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney. Lots of inspiration!

XO – CLAIRE


Create a Personal Sanctuary that Keeps your Travel Memories Alive

centered by design home tour

Using the written word to tell a compelling story is a definite art. Gifted writers seem to always find eloquent words to convey their message. I often find it challenging to write about myself and my share my own stories with you (dear readers). It’s much easier to give decorating tips, and not dive into the deeper “personal stuff.”

That is why I was so excited to meet Mu-Hsien (mu-shenn) Lee, a Chicago creative director, talented writer and founder of the online community Live Like Your Traveling. Mu-Hsien totally understood my passion for creating personal spaces and wanted to write about it!

We collaborated on the idea of blending my passion of personal sanctuary with the Live Like Your Traveling movement, “to design a life you love with a travel mindset”. What did we come up with? A really cool article that shares some of my personal travel experiences and my decorating ideas to incorporate your adventures into home decor –  Create a Personal Sanctuary that Keeps your Travel Memories Alive

Here are a few pictures of my favorite travel memories!

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  • My college immersion trip to Cameroon, Africa
  • Lake Wanaka on a road trip to the South Island, New Zealand
  • My engagement photos in Wellington, New Zealand

Check out the FULL ARTICLE including all my decorating tips over at Live Like Your Traveling. I hope next time you travel, whether near or far; you will keep your eyes peeled for souvenirs that are personal, inspiring and functional. You may just find the perfect item to decorate your home!

XO – Claire


Women Who MAKE: Five Month Round Up

women who make centered by design

This month, I wanted to take a quick pause and recap the amazing ladies featured on Women Who MAKE thus far. It’s been five months and five (really seven!) talented women that have shared their passions and creative business advice with us. I also wanted to give you all a bit of background on how I became inspired to start the series.

I spent more than two years working at one of Chicago’s largest visual art center’s, Lillstreet Art Center, in the Ravenswood/Lincoln Square neighborhood. It’s a pretty special place where any novice (or expert) can take art lessons in a wide variety of media. There are also working artists who rent studio spaces on each floor.

On any given day during my tenure, I could roam the halls and see an artist spinning clay on the pottery wheel, painting on canvas or even metal smithing (making metal jewelry). It was so inspiring to be around these constant sources of creativity! At the time, I don’t think I realized just how much I’d miss seeing all those makers on a regular basis.

Fast forward about a year, and I was really missing all that creative energy. I was also just starting this blog and looking for news ways to create content and inspire others. There was born Women Who MAKE. The series incorporates many of my favorite things, namely: women, creative minds, entrepreneurial spirits, artistic endeavors, business advice, and collaboration.

Fitting that my first interview would be with Katie Mills of Lady Faye Jewelry! Katie was one of those lovely artists I’d happen upon at the art center on a break. I was always taken with her personal style and wearable approach to jewelry. Read Katie’s Interview on Women Who MAKE.

centered by design lady faye jewelry

Up next was lovely Lydia Crespo of Argaman & Defiance. Lydia’s scarves first caught my eye at a shopping trip to Modern Cooperative. When I got back home, put on my new scarf and investigated her web site I became totally taken with the her natural dying process and amazing color palette. Read Lydia’s interview on Women Who MAKE.

women who make series argaman and defiance

Meg Piercy was another creative gal I discovered near the Ravenswood corridor. I would always pass by her sweet little store front and admire the brightly painted furniture. When I learned she’d moved her operation closer to my house, and expanded her business into a larger warehouse with custom orders I was sold, literally! I can’t stop customizing client pieces with all their awesome services. Read Meg’s Interview on Women Who MAKE.

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For my fourth feature, I shared a triple threat! The amazing Nate Berkus Studio Team. Tara, Meredith and Gabby work alongside Nate to bring his ideas for affordable home decor to the marketplace. They do a lot of work with Target specifically, and who does not love Nate’s Target line?! There is something for everyone within an affordable price point, so much to love. Read the Nate Berkus Studio Team’s Interview on Women Who MAKE.

entered by design women who make nate berkus

Closing out the round up is the uber talented Chentell Stiritz of Convivial Production. Chentell was our first out-of-town interview and it was exciting to see some of the creative talent Kansas City has to offer! I purchased some of her work and was awed by Chentell’s ability to create such modern and clean designs, out of a medium that can often feel heavy and stodgy. Read Chentell’s Interview on Women Who MAKE.

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Next month I’ve got a fashion designer feature, and can’t wait to share the fun images with you! They may or may not involve me wearing a turban (i.e. the latest fall/winter hat trend!). AND I’m making a special trip out to San Francisco to close out the year and series with some stellar Cali ladies.

Thanks for reading!

XO – Claire


Shopping Modern & Vintage: Back to School Chicago Style

We’ve all heard the old saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” I’ve always been a little nerdy when it comes to organization. I was the type who couldn’t wait to buy school supplies, organize her desk, backpack, you get the idea.

As an adult, I find a more organized work space definitely boosts my productivity. With all the back-to-school buzz this time of year, I thought I’d share some of my favorite local spots to shop. If you’re in the market to update your office space or get a little more organized these places are sure to inspire!

In my office space, the storage is all hidden behind that serape curtain. Having an accessible closet allowed me to have a desk with little storage and a modern look.

In my office space, the storage is all hidden behind that serape curtain. Having an accessible closet allowed me to have a desk with little storage and a modern look.

Desks & Storage – 

Design Tip: Keep your storage situation in mind as you’re choosing your ideal desk. If you’ve got ample storage in a closet or file cabinet you can go with a more streamlined look, but if you need to hide your clutter you’re going to want lots of drawers!

Local Retailer: Mint Home – North Center Neighborhood, 2117 E Irving Park Rd

Mint Home has refurbished more than 2,000 pieces of furniture! Shop owners Keisha and Jessie have a great eye for Mid Century Modern styles and color. There are ample options for desks and storage. My back to school picks are:

  • White Desk with Vintage Brass Hardware – perfect for the glamour girl, just add flowers and your to-do list, $299

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  • Vintage Orange Highboy – store art supplies, lots of paper, and all your fabric scraps in this bad boy, $499

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Design Tip: Many retailers who sell refurbished furniture will also update your old pieces in need of some love. Think twice about what you’ve got in the house, at grandma’s place and double check the alley! A paint spray booth and new hardware will work wonders on just about anything.

Local Retailer: MegMade – Roscoe Village Neighborhood, 2415 W Barry Ave

Owners Meg & Joe started painting furniture to save money while decorating their first home. Fast-forward a few years, and they have a HUGE showroom and warehouse stock-piled with furniture, and a state-of-the-art paint spray booth. MegMade also will refinish and paint your furniture in need of an update. My back to school picks are:

  • French Style Pale Mint Desk – for the traditionalist who loves vintage charm, $555

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  • Blue & Wood MCM Small Storage Piece – for the mid century enthusiast who needs a few more drawers to store office supplies, $320

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School Supplies & Artwork

Design Tip: Inspirational quotes are great motivators! Pinned on a bulletin board or neatly framed, inspirational artwork is perfect for the dorm room, home office or anywhere for that matter.

Local Retailer: Neighborly Chicago – Ravenswood Neighborhood, 2003 W Montrose Ave

You’ll recognize owner Jenny Beorkrem’s style, because you’re sure to know her first brand and company Ork Posters. Her brick and mortar shop Neighborly, expands on her graphic sensibility with a curated collection of artwork, inspirational prints, unique school supplies, and gifts/accessories. Even better is that most items are locally or artisan made. Loving these items for back to school:

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Design Tip: It’s always a good idea to stock-up on extra paper goods, thank you notes and greeting cards. You’ll always be prepared for that co-worker or teacher’s birthday with thoughtful items on hand!

Local Retailer: GREER – Old Town Neighborhood, 1657 North Wells

Former ad agency executive Chandra Greer opened the kind of stationary and gift store that you’d imagine in your dreams. Artful displays at every glance, you’ll get lost reading cards and perusing the pretty things for hours. I can’t live without:

  • The Rifle Paper Co. 2016 Birch Floral Planner: $33

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  • The Old School Blogger Journal: $14

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  • Rainbow Note Block: $14.50

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Retro Accessories

Design Tip: Have it feel like summer camp all year long with some artfully placed accessories that say, “I love summer” even when you’ve got the back to school blues.

Local Retailer: Brimfield –  Andersonville Neighborhood, 2519 N Clark St

For vintage with a big dose of prep school head to Brimfield. It’s the perfect spot to find signage, storage, vintage blankets, furniture, basically everything you need to style your study space like it’s the coolest retro summer cabin ever. Don’t miss one-of-a-kind items like:

  • This industrial metal cabinet. It’s the perfect way to organize all your school/office supplies!

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  • The retro pennants and wall signs. Pop a sign or flag on a blank wall for instant cool factor.

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  • The wall of sweet plaid blankets (Brimfield is named after a type of plaid). Cozy up with one of these while you’re typing away.

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Here are a few stellar home office designs I’m loving at the moment. Hope these resources and ideas will get you excited to be more organized and productive in your work space this fall! XO – CLAIRE

via@mydomaine

via@mydomaine

via @apartmenttherapy

via @apartmenttherapy

via @mydomaine

 


Before + After: Volo Town House Makeover

August 26, 2015 Before + After 6 Comments

Lovely little project to add to the portfolio this week! A contemporary town house makeover in the northwest suburbs.

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This project consisted of a decorating face lift for an outdated town house. My client had to relocate quickly and needed a paint color scheme, and new floor plan that would incorporate existing furniture from her prior residence. With a little bit of re-imagining, fresh paint, and some new pieces to update the contemporary/global look, this town house went from garish and (too) bold to tranquil and textured in no time.

The pictures really tell the whole story, but the key was definitely to re-think the floor plan. It’s often hard for people to see past what the space looked like before.

Design Tip: Try and erase the existing floor plan from your mind! Just because the prior tenant used the space one way does not mean it’s the best way. Even if you think you are terrible at drawing, try to generally sketch a blank floor plan on paper. This gives you a clean slate on which to play with new ideas. Don’t worry about scale at first. Simply try to think of how you’d like the space to function, and play around with where those areas or pieces of furniture might fit into the floor plan. At the very least, this quick exercise will help you generate new ideas about possibilities for the floor plan.

Here are the before photos:

The living space is open concept. Sometimes not having walls can make "rooms" or separating spaces more of a challenge.

The living space is open concept. Sometimes not having walls can make “rooms” or separating spaces more of a challenge.

There are several problems here, but the most glaring is the bright orange paint that stops midway along the wall!

There are several problems here, but the most glaring is the bright orange paint that stops midway along the wall!

Neon racing stripe in bathroom is not my favorite look.

Neon racing stripe in bathroom is not my favorite look.

Everything in this bedroom feels too small. The space needs visual weight and height.

Everything in this bedroom feels too small. The space needs visual weight and height.

Guest bedroom does not feel very relaxing with bright red accent wall.

Guest bedroom does not feel very relaxing with bright red accent wall.

This project was a fun challenge because my client had several pieces of existing furniture that she was hoping to incorporate into the floor plan for the new town home. My job was to make the furniture look great and fit well into a totally different layout. Of course, we also added in some new pieces and picked paint colors to complement what was already available from the old residence.

Design Tip: Just because you have a bench (insert any piece of furniture) that once lived in your bedroom (insert any room in your home) does not mean it needs to stay there! Mixing and matching pieces and placing them in new areas of the floor plan is the best way to get more milage out of your existing furniture.

Here is a look at one of the design boards for the downstairs where I incorporated existing pieces like the rug and green cabinet with new concepts such as the office space and paint palette.

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And here are the after photos!

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ClaireInteriors7-11-JTP_5376ClaireInteriors7-11-JTP_5327ClaireInteriors7-11-JTP_5336ClaireInteriors7-11-JTP_5361ClaireInteriors7-11-JTP_5352ClaireInteriors7-11-JTP_5382Don’t you agree that we gave the place a great update?! I love how restful the entire town home feels after the makeover. Thanks for taking a peek!

XO – CLAIRE

Photography by Joe Tighe


Styling Lesson: Designer Tips for Decorating with Books

styling books by color

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have fabulous built-in bookcases (how about this entryway) or miles of wall space to install custom shelving? While this would be LOVELY, these features don’t often come standard in most homes or apartments. While you might not have the perfect built-in nook, there are still many creative ways to style your space with books. It’s easy to make a bold and colorful, or delightfully subtle impact based on your personal taste.

Below are three different routes you can take with your book styling, plus my personal shopping tips. Next time you see that bin of $1 books, you’ll be armed with inspiration!

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image via @paddotopalmy

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image via @dwellmagazine

Tip 1: Shop for Neutral Books & Decorate with Vintage Touches

If you gravitate towards a neutral palette (think whites, creams, wood tones and a hint of green) there are several options for you to consider. Look for books with cloth covers, particularly neutral or pastel in color. Take book jackets off of vintage books. You may be surprised to reveal gorgeous cloth covers underneath.

  • Try turning books around. Arranging books to show the white pages may not be great for finding your favorite novel, but it sure looks nice if a neutral palette is what you are after.
  • Get a little destructive and rip off book covers altogether. If you like this more organic look, stack a few “deconstructed” books together and tie them with bakers twine.
  • Add textural baskets, vintage trinkets like clocks or frames, and even artfully place a special vintage book under a cloche for a unique, polished look.
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image via Homepolish

styling bookshelves

Neutral & Vintage Styling

Tip 2: Shop for Colorful Books and Decorate with Modern Touches

If you gravitate towards bold colors, geometric prints, and clean lines try these ideas.

  • Shop by color. Whether the book jacket is on or off, hunt for similar colors or combinations you think will look good together.
  • I repeat, take book jackets off! Try this with books you have at home. You’ll be surprised how many great colors are underneath.
  • Look for modern imagery, designs, shapes, patterns on book covers. These will often be art books, so look in the art/design/architecture sections first.
  • Style books in groups based on color palette. Decorative fireplace? Fill it with books! Empty coffee table? Fill it with books! Sad looking bar cart? Fill it with books! You get the idea.
styling bookshelves

image via @apartmenttherapy

styling bookshelves

Colorful & Modern Styling

styling bookshelves

image via @westelm

Tip 3: Shop by Category and Decorate by Organizing

If you are deeply inspired by art, travel, history, science, etc…there’s a book for that. Use your collection in an artful and organized way to create interest and impact.

  • Example: travel books are constantly updated and therefore recycled often. Scoop up travel books, and create categories to organize shelves and showcase your worldly interests. This look would work with any category and help keep you organized!
styling bookshelves

image via @popsugar

General Styling Tips:

  • Think horizontal and vertical for book placement
  • Add accents – sculptures, frames, plants, vases, decorative bowls, baskets
  • Narrow your focus – decide what the “look” is going to be. White and brass, natural tones and plant accents, colorful with modern accents, etc.
  • Once you’ve styled till your heart’s content, grab a favorite book and settle down for a good read!
styling bookshelves

image via @domainehome

What do you think? Are you armed with some “shelfie” inspiration?! Are you going to stop at the next garage sale you pass by that’s got piles of books? Maybe check the local library and see if they know about any upcoming local book sales or fairs. Here’s a little shelfie from our place. These are Luke’s dad’s old history books, plus some artwork and pottery we bought on our honeymoon.

XO – CLAIRE

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Apartment Therapy Feature: My Real-Life Style

claire staszak apartment therapy

It’s always flattering when someone likes what you’re wearing or how you’re styling yourself. Who doesn’t like a little compliment? As for my style, I’ve always been drawn to things that are vintage. I can remember being younger and wishing that I had grown up in the 60s or 70s. My fashion idols were Jenny from Forest Gump or Kate Hudson from Almost Famous. I guess I’ve always had a bit of a bohemian spirit. I think I’m really loving fashion lately, because these decades are back in such a big way! Or maybe I finally look fashionable with my rainbow tie-dye shirts and 70s style long hair and blunt bangs, ha!

I’ve never thought of myself as a fashionista, but I will say that I think I know what looks good on my body. I think that is one of my main pillars for looking fashionable. If you ever watched What Not to Wear you’d remember Clinton and Stacey harping on every guest to dress for their unique body. I’ve been wearing high-waisted pants for years because they flattered my figure – everyone is just catching on again! I also invest in the classics. A killer pair of jeans or well-tailored blazer is going to cost $$$ but I buy pieces that will wear well and last me several years. Lastly, I thrift or keep my eye out for awesome vintage all the time. Finding those funky items no one else has in their closet helps define your unique style.

I truly believe that personal style is a reflection who you are on the inside. I also think my style has gotten better as I’ve grown older and more comfortable and confident about the woman I am. I was flattered that Apartment Therapy wanted to follow-up our home tour with a little style profile.

I’m running around in yoga clothes at least half the week, so I thought taking them to Tula Yoga Studio (my home studio in Logan Square) would be a great reflection of me in real-life. Here’s most of the photos and interview questions from the article by Julia Brenner:

We recently featured the gorgeous greystone apartment of Claire Staszak, a Chicago-based interior designer and yoga instructor. I love Claire’s deeply personal approach to style and thought it would be fun to check out some of her favorite looks.

claire staszak apartment therapy

List three words to describe your style:

• Colorful • Bohemian • Vintage

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Describe your typical work “uniform”: For teaching yoga, it’s my Lucy or Marmot tights and a Blue Canoe organic cotton top. For meeting with clients and working in the design studio, it’s high-waisted jeans or a skirt, with a structured blouse or jacket.

Three items in your closet that you couldn’t live without:

• Imogene + Willie Elizabeth jeans

• Dansko sandals (summer) and Matiko black wedge booties (winter)

• J. Crew blazers

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What is your go-to jewelry look? I typically buy handmade pieces from local artists and enjoy clean lines, organic shapes and materials, and easy-to-wear statement pieces. If I’m in the mood for bling I love DANNIJO.

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What are some of your most treasured pieces? My vintage china collection, which is full of family memories, and my husband’s record collection, which was originally inherited from his dad.

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Favorites:

Local shops: Penelope’s and Lori’s for shoes

Yoga clothes: OMgirl and Blue Canoe

Biking/yoga/travel bags: Po Campo

Best jeans: Imogene + Willie

Makeup: Benefit

Skincare brand: Fresh

Signature scent: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue

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Thanks so much Apartment Therapy and Julia for lovely article! I’d love to hear what makes your personal style unique to you! Let me know in the comments : )

XOXO – CLAIRE


Affordable Nursery Design with Target and buybuy Baby

affordable nursery design

Alrighty! Today I’ve got a short and sweet post all about decorating an affordable nursery. I find that lots of people want to make their new baby’s room feel special, and it often spurs them to keep decorating the rest of the house. I was excited to work on this project for a good friend who needed a little extra direction.

She was dealing with a very multi-purpose room. This space was not only used as guest room, but an office as well, and now it also needs to function as the nursery! The sex of the baby is a surprise so we wanted to keep the colors relatively gender neutral, and keep the space from feeling too “babyish” since guests will still stay in the room when visiting.

Another key item on her wish list was that the majority of items for the space come from places where they had registered. This would create a great list of gifts for the shower and help save on costs! I asked mom and dad to send me some pictures of their favorite crib sheets as they were walking the aisles of Target and buybuy Baby. This would serve as my jumping off point for the design. Hello, yellow polka dots!

Here’s what I came up with. Everything pictured below can be purchased from Target or buybuy Baby. Even the pre-made window treatments! Both paint colors, Silver Mist and Bryce Canyon, are by Benjamin Moore.

affordable nursery design

Resources: CRIB – Crib SkirtCrib SheetWindow ValenceElephantFutonRugTree Decal

Not pictured are a glider and bookcase. The glider is a hand-me-down and will be painted white to match the other furniture. Reupholstering the cushions will give it a new life. I suggested a blue-jean colored, linen fabric and orange pillow to pull in the accent color. Here’s an inspiration image:

furniture-gray-cushion-pad-set-on-white-glider-rocking-chair-and-ottoman-rocking-chair-cushion-sets

The tall bookcase with get a fresh coat of the Bryce Canyon paint and serve as a nice pop of color against the pale blue-gray walls. Here are those colors side by side again:

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And you can’t forget this sweet little guy! Did anyone else cry when Dumbo is separated from his mother ?!?

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So there you have it! I can’t wait to meet this new babe! Let me know what you think about the design, I’d love to hear your comments/thoughts.

XO – CLAIRE

 


Women Who MAKE: Convivial Production, Inc.

Convivial Production Etsy

Hey beautiful people!

Thanks for following along with the Women Who MAKE series. This marks month number five of the series, yay! It is also our first interview outside of Chicago. Hey, Kansas City! We will have more interviews coming this fall from around the country.

I’m so excited to bring you this month’s uber creative lady, Chentell Stiritz, owner of Convivial Production, Inc. I first learned about Chentell’s unique ceramics when I was assistant buyer for Neighborly Chicago. I fell head-over-heel’s for Chentell’s modern geometric patterns and neutral color palette. I bought more of her work than anyone else in the shop! I even put together a little DIY table setting post with her killer candle holders. I think you’ll LOVE her style too. Don’t miss this month’s giveaway for a gorgeous white ceramic planter from Convivial! Follow along on Instagram for all the details.

Photography for Centered By Design by: Carolina Mariana

Interview Time!

Name: Chentell Stiritz

Age: 24

Current title/company name: Convivial Production, Inc.

Years in operation: 1

What is your first memory of making [art]?

My first memory of making art, coincidence or not, is actually in ceramics. I was in second grade and our project was to organize the placement of tiny mosaic tiles on a traditional terracotta planting pot. I remember getting really into it and when I finished the piece, I distinctly remember being sad because I was unsure how long it would be until I got to do a similar project.

Convivial Production Etsy

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

I believe that my education served as a stepping-stone for starting my own business. It provided the time and space to be able to develop my work and ideas. Had I tried to start Convivial right out of high school the outcome would have been entirely different. My experience studying ceramics during the school year, teaching during the summers, and working as an intern for various organizations allowed for me to strengthen my technique, develop my aesthetics and explore concepts that I valued. Building a business really takes time, focus and a whole lot of commitment.

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Tell us about the process of launching your own business, Convivial Productions. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

Ooo, the launch! Launching Convivial was a very natural progression. Approaching college graduation, I knew I would continue on with this art form as a career, and I was determined to do so in the immediate future. I had heard a lot of stories about artists finding their way eventually, however I was ready to go for it right then and there. So I began brainstorming. I began strategizing. I began to think practically about how I could turn my work into a successful career. I ran with my ideas as they came. I learned from them. I pin-pointed what was successful, what was not and then continued to press forward. Developing a momentum launched me from idea to idea, from opportunity to opportunity. A year out of school I had the first batch of goods developed and selling. It just made sense to give the work a name, to make it all official. I began as a DBA (doing business as) in April 2015 and then officially incorporated as a business in Missouri that following October. The most difficult part of launching my own business was constantly having to come up with a new game plan. It seemed like every day was different. Everyday had its challenges and its deadlines. It was my job to prioritize them and then hustle as hard as I could to meet them. I was constantly playing catch up. I was constantly moving from space to space to accommodate growth. I woke up at 6 am, started work at 6:10am and didn’t leave the studio till 11 or 12pm. The work was endless and exhausting, but honestly I love it.

Convivial Production Etsy

What is the story behind your business name?

I needed a name that made sense for the company, one that had depth of meaning and that truly resonated with my medium and purpose. I originally came across the concept of conviviality in college. I was participating in a refugee photography project that culminated with a feast of celebration – the joining of many worlds to eat, drink and be happy together. I loved this. A year later when it came time to brand the company my fiancé reminded me of conviviality and we both knew it was the right fit. We are a production company that creates with the purpose of spurring on conviviality. We make the dinnerware needed to dine together and the surrounding décor to set the scene for gathering.

Convivial Production Etsy

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Favorite part….Oh, there are so many parts to be favored! I love seeing a hundred pounds of clay fresh out of the bag, prepped and ready to go. I love having votives carved, cleaned and drying side by side. I love unloading the kiln, placing fresh inventory on our shelves and then taking it down, packing and sending it all away. I love looking at the shipping labels and seeing who and where items are shipped.

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What inspires you and why?

What Inspires…I am a hostess. I have been and always will be. I feel most inspired, most comfortable and life-filled when I am preparing for guests and taking care of them within my home. This is the inspiration for Convivial. To make items that allow for me to host and serve my guests well and in turn to make items that do the same for others. My hope and mission is that the items we make will inspire hospitality and increase the already existent beauty of the act itself.

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What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs/artists?

My advice to other entrepreneurs is to make with confidence and never stop asking yourself how things can be improved, how you can more successfully and beautifully perfect your ideas. A body of work and a business is developed over hours and hours of physical labor and intellectual debate. Don’t spend time comparing yourself to others. Keep your eyes forward and pursue ideas that are unique to you.

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Do you have a design philosophy, and if so, what is it?

A lot of my design philosophy has been influenced by architectural and real estate principles. Simple. Timeless. Balanced. Repetitive.

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Imagine Convivial Productions five years, how would you like to grow?

Five years from now I hope to have hired out a manager to oversee the production for Convivial. My hope here is to one, provide job opportunities, and to two, free up my time to further expand Convivial as a brand. I’ll leave it there for now, but I am excited about what is in the works. Stay tuned!

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Do you have a most popular item?

Fruit bowl, fruit bowl, fruit bowl! Items will sell at different paces depending on the time of the year, however fruit bowls are pretty consistent. They are just an all around great gift and for any occasion!

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What do you enjoy most about the creative community in Kansas City?

Kansas City has been a wonderful place for my work to grow into a company. There is an undeniable commitment amongst the people here to shop and support local and I am truly grateful for this!

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Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?

Oh, of course! One of my favorite and highly recommended books is Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. So much of this book’s content has influenced the way I approach my work. In essence, within his book he argues that the space and items one surrounds themself with will in turn affect how they live and feel. One’s abode can be designed in a way that will remind them of the values they hope and strive to embody in life. I’d like to think I am providing items that do such, both in aesthetics and purpose. Simple. Timeless. Functional.

Convivial Production Etsy

Kansas City Favorites:

  • Favorite spot to get inspired: Walking! There are so many details to be found simply by walking down the street. I drive the same route to work everyday, but am always amazed by how different that route feels when I walk it instead.
  • Favorite florist: I actually can’t deny that my favorite florist isn’t local and she is too good to not mention. Jackie Reisenauer of Munster Rose. If you have not heard of her work yet, it’s worth looking her up! Watching Jackie grow her company and designs has been a huge inspiration and example for me as I have been developing my own brand and business.
  • Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture: Coveted Home! Coveted Home was my first client in Kansas City and they do a kick ass job keeping a fresh stock of home goods and furniture for the people of KC. Their style is so classy I can’t resist but call them a favorite.
  • Favorite place for coffee: I am a Broadway Coffee Company girl all the way. Their shop is located about a mile from my studio and it’s a good day when I can make it down for a simple cup of coffee – an even better day when I have a reason to bring someone with me.
  • Favorite place for a sweet treat: If I am not getting an irreplaceable ice cream cone from good ol’ McDonalds…you’ll find me at Tea Drops, Heirloom or Lamar’s Donuts. I can’t resist!

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Thank you SO MUCH to Chentell for sharing her words of wisdom, still waters run deep with this lady! You can find and buy Convivial Production’s on Etsy.

Until next month everyone!

XO – CLAIRE