Brooke McGowan of Thorn Alexander and I have been destined to meet. Her mother Tricia Heaton of @vermont.house and @triciaheatondesigns and I connected through The Southern C summit in Charleston a few years back, only to discover her husband had a family cottage in Empire, down the road! Tricia came to see me at the shop and connected Brooke and I, and together we created our first collaborative needlepoint kits last summer! This year, we are focusing on her hilarious modern kits for all ages of ladies who understand quality kits and fibers. Monday is finally our time to meet in real life!
Current favorites? (songs, movies, books, cocktails, seasonal activities)
Leon Bridges' new album. Anything produced by Sir David Attenborough, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a glass of bubbles with elderflower liquor, bonfires, climbing trees, kayaking, fishing, cliff jumping, all the things
Favorite creative pastime?
Metal Casting in Tuscany. Unfortunately, the stars aren't aligned like they used to be, but I hope to take it up again someday!
How has your upbringing influenced your creativity?
I am very lucky to have always had an active imagination and to have been surrounded by creatives my entire life. Writers, interior designers, fashion designers, photographers, musicians, painters, you name it! For as long as I can remember, I have been dragged to art museums and thrown into classes. In fact, I met one of my very dear friends at The Southern Vermont Art Center's former summer art camp almost exactly 15 years ago. Fashion and popular culture have also been vital pillars in my upbringing and thus my muses. My favorite movies as a kid were Sabrina, High Society, Marie Antoinette and Coco Before Chanel and for their costume design. Grace Coddington's work has also been torn out of magazines and taped to my walls over the years. Ultimately, it was growing up in the mountains of Vermont combined with my family's love for travel that has taught me to always keep my eyes open. Whenever I need a recharge, I go to a museum, a live music show or an outdoor adventure.
Aspiring to... (What does your company do?)
While I have BIG aspirations for design, the fire that keeps me going comes from a place of social and environmental responsibility. To leave the world better than I found it through needlepoint. Thorn Alexander donates a portion of its sales in order to plant trees around the globe and donate reusable feminine hygiene kits to young girls in Kenya.
What does a normal day look like for you?
Every single day is different! There are days when I am painting from sun up to sun down, some include stitching samples before bed and those when I am just doing my best to catch up on emails. I do it all, so it is certainly a balancing act. My favorite days are spent designing. They are far and few between, but they are the most important!
What are your favorite + least favorite parts about what you do?
Finding out that a new stitcher is on their fifth project is the coolest feeling. Needlepoint is so much easier than it looks and relieves a ton of stress so I love when people give it a go. My favorite highlights are seeing photos of stitchers' in-progress shots on instagram! One bit of my job that I never anticipated, but gives it the most meaning is when people use their projects to go through something difficult or celebrate something that brings light into their lives. Doctors appointments, recovering from an injury and bed rest all seem to be a bit more colorful with needlepoint. The arrivals of babies, weddings and just because are all beautiful occasions to create a handmade gift. Through this business, I wear many hats and every week feels like final week. However, I am learning so much and love what I do and I'm thankful to be busy! The Behind The Scenes action takes a lot of time away from designing and stitching and sometimes I underestimate how much time things take.. I write more apology emails than I would like! There are many components that make the fun parts possible, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
How are you "making light" in your everyday life?
Cooking! I. Love. Cooking. There's nothing that I love more than taking the time to make a fire breakfast, try my hand at a homemade hot sauce or try a new recipe. I am super into Persian cuisine now and forever.
What is your favorite dance move?
What would be your go-to Leland gal product for a gift? What print?
You can't go wrong with a single product in Maggie's collection. Everything is so vibrant and unique with her creative touch. For your favorite needlepointer, I highly recommend the Ditty bags! I am also super stoked to scoop up a pair of the leggings on the 9th. My eyes are on the entire "Blueberries" and "Brook Trout" collections. Most of all, I am OBSESSED with our collab to create a brook trout kit and will bring them back this fall!
Where can others find you? (social links)