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Kelsey Wallace and her Paisley Pig

Ben Ashby

 I realized I was traveling the world shooting and meeting makers and small business owners...all while never paying nearly enough attention to downtown Beaver Dam. When I found out Kelsey was opening a shop in my old building...I knew it was the perfect place to start. The Paisley Pig opens tomorrow! I sat down with Kelsey this week and asked a few questions about opening a store in a small town, who inspires her, and the idea of returning to her hometown. 

Questions and Answers:

Why did you want to open a store?

  • Upon graduating from OCHS, I moved to Bowling Green to attend WKU. I found myself spending every free afternoon in Downtown Bowling Green at the Square. I found so much joy strolling in and out of their shops because it was a convenience I had never been around. Living in Ohio County my whole life I didn't have the chance to walk out my front door and be two minutes from a contemporary clothing store, it was in those days window shopping on The Square that Paisley Pig Boutique began to form.

Why did you want to open Paisley Pig in a small town?

  • I chose to open Paisley Pig Boutique in a small town because so many times small town people are forced to go outside of their county to find trendy clothing. I so vividly remember coming home from school the day before a big event to my mom loading us kids up to make a quick trip to Owensboro for a new dress. Paisley Pig Boutique hopes to bust the myth that you can only find cute clothes in big cities.

Why is it important to support small towns and small businesses?

  • Small towns are a snapshot into the past. In a world that is ever changing and at a high speed pace, small towns are a break from reality. Small towns still hold on to the roots and values in which our country was founded upon, letting small towns go would let the heart of America go. By supporting small town businesses you are keeping rural America alive and thriving.

What are you most excited to carry?

  • Paisley Pig Boutique will carry women's sizes S- 3XL, children & men's clothing. Along with popular boutique brands Paisley Pig will feature items from Shop Local KY, Matilda Jane and Southern Point Co. Shoes and accessories will also be available. I am most excited about carrying "Mary & Milvie" Jewelry, because the jewelry is locally made by a team of sister entrepreneurs at ages 9 and 13.

What do you see being your biggest asset?

  • My biggest asset is easily my family. Each and everyone of them have put their own touch on the store from building displays to steaming clothes, Paisley Pig Boutique is made possible by them.

What do you see as being your biggest hurdle?

  • I feel my biggest hurdle is changing the mindset of community members from believing they have to drive out of town for cute and affordable clothing.

What/who inspires what you're doing?

  • I am most inspired by Joanna Gaines, not only because she is a successful business woman in many different areas but because even though she is successful she still remains humble and gives all her glory to God.

 

Paisley Pig Boutique can be found on Facebook @paisleypigboutiqueoc & on Instagram @paisleypig_oc.

Beautiful Vulnerability: An Interview with Ann Marie Amick

Christophe Chaisson

Ann Marie Amick is a photographer and painter based in Brooklyn. Her curls are full of secrets and she was able to share a few about her craft with us. This brilliant artist takes photographs that each one of us can relate with. While you read about her development and exploration as a photographer, ponder on her art and see the ways in which you can connect with her photos. 

 

Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?

Ann Marie: I have found myself interested in photography throughout my entire life. I grew up around cameras and photography, due to my father's love of both. The sound of a Polaroid camera shutter is a constant memory-stirrer for me. However, when I was 19 I found myself more curious about photography and sought out my father's advice regarding how to get started. He pulled out his 1976 Olympus OM-10, ran me through the basics of exposure, aperture, and the rule of thirds, and sent me on my way. That's where my love affair with film began, which eventually led to me pursuing photography more passionately.  

 

She always conveyed the importance that regardless of if someone else has conveyed this story via camera, no one has told it in my own voice, and it's a voice worth being heard. Over time I have learned different aspects from photography from fellow photographers, and I consider photography to be an ongoing creative adventure where I'm constantly learning new things. 

C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

A: A collection of people assisted me with my photography knowledge. My father led me through my first year of learning 35mm film, understanding the basics of photography and finding what inspired me. A very dear friend, whom I consider to be my mentor, led me into my next stage of learning, which included understanding what I wanted to convey with photography. She taught me the importance of telling a story, but making the story my own.

 
 

C: How did you develop your style?

A: I developed my style through a great amount of trial and error. If I was curious about something, I would attempt to photograph it. I essentially hold the majority of my creative ideas with an open hand, i.e., I don't get too attached to ideas. If I have a plan for a shoot but I find my creativity leading me in another direction, I'll go with it. This is how I finally found myself working on form studies and photographing the nude form. Curiosity led me to something that I developed a great passion for photographing. I am continually seeking to challenge myself with different aspects of learning photography and how to push myself forward, so I feel that my style will continue to grow and change as time goes on.

 
 
 

C: What themes do you explore through your work?

A: I'm passionate about exploring connections, vulnerability and sexuality within my work. I choose to photograph nudes because it inherently either connects a person to an image or offends a person.

Either way, I have found that it causes a person to think about the image set before them. I have always said that if you hate the work I create, I've at least made you think enough to decide that you dislike it. In thinking about it, you've connected to it in some way, whether it is a positive or negative connection. I always enjoy exploring both subtle and overt sexuality within my work. Within the last year I have had the opportunity to study and photograph the male form more than previously in my photography career, which has brought about a great deal of learning and challenges.

I've seen an array of different responses to my work now that I've included the male form as well, and it's been interesting to see the change in people's approach to my work. 

 
 

C: How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?

A: When I initially began to photograph the nude form, I would ask any friend that was willing to sit for me. As I began to study the human form more and more, I began to search for different types of bodies and different physical qualities that would stand out within a photograph. The majority of subjects I photograph I've met through fellow artists or models, however recently I've been working with a number of models whom have reached out to me upon discovering my work via my website or Instagram. 

 

C: What inspires your work?

A: I have always said that individuals and their stories inspire the work that I create. I prefer portraits that subjects along with the general public can relate to. I prefer a casual atmosphere where I'm working alongside my subjects and models and the whole process feels more like a collaboration than anything else. I like to create portraits where the subject sees themselves within the photo, rather than the portrayal of something outside of themselves. The human form in and of itself is my biggest inspiration. Every single human body is different, moves different and has a different story to tell. The male form is wildly different from the female form in the realm of muscle structures, movement and lines. The challenge of using the human body to tell a story through movement that is both relatable and inspiring continues to be one of my main goals for creating. 

 
 

C: How do you compose an image? Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?

A: When I initially meet with a model in order to discuss a shoot, I always say that I hold all of my shoots with an "open hand." I approach the majority of my shoots with an outline and an idea of specifics shots that I would like to get. However, if the vibe of the shoot moves in a different direction or I'm feeling inspired, I really enjoy following any creative leads that I feel. I find that this kind of organic yet still organized creativity is both wildly enjoyable and creates magical things.

 

C: What has been your biggest lesson learned through creating your art?

A: The most important lesson that I've learned through creating so far is to trust my intuition and take chances. I've learned that even when I take a chance creatively and it doesn't work out the way I hoped it would, something was learned from the experience. I've had a few shoots which I've considered failures - even the negative emotions associated with it were a healthy reminder that things don't always work out, but it should not deter me from continuing to create. On the other hand, I've taken creative chances and created images that were not even something I intended to, and in these situations I've found even more inspiration.   

 
 
 

C: What do you hope your art says to people?

A: I want to create photography that people can relate to. I choose to continue to photograph the nude form because I've found that no matter what people can always relate to the nude form on some level, even if it happens to be in a negative capacity. I want people to be intrigued by the human form, to take a second glance and to ask questions. My favorite portraits continue to be the ones of a slightly ambiguous nature, where people have stated that they're not quite sure what they're looking at. I want to continually create art that people can both relate to and question over time. 

It is easy to simply like or dislike something without ever figuring out your reasoning. Ann Marie's art allows for an inner dialogue to meditate emotions and thoughts, whether positive or negative. Humans either connect with vulnerability or push it away; art creates a safe place for exploring the depths of ourselves.  

See more of Ann Marie's curls and art at her website and Instagram: @am_amick

 

Cole Kiburz and a Very Troubled Child

Ben Ashby

'After carrying this beautiful Wes Anderson-inspired bag throughout my travels to India, I’ve had a tough time setting it down. Recently, I packed the bag with supplies ranging from camera gear to a woven wool blanket and brought it along on an excursion to the Grand Canyon. I’m one that tries to shy away from rampant materialism, choosing rather to curate a few beloved items that have enough personality to become a part of the story themselves. I like to imagine this Savanah No. 4 bag by @verytroubledchild as an heirloom down the road, after it’s and my travel days are done. Scars earned, skin and leather worn, a million tales to tell within our confines.'

– Cole Kiburz, Photographer.
@coleplay

Flower Power: Toby Kassoy + Lilla Bello

Ben Ashby

Recently, we made a trip out west to the golden coast with the sun shining and the windows down. We asked that along the way makers reach out to us to meet and shoot what it is that they do. Each and every business was unique, but when Toby of Lilla Bello reached out and asked us to shoot her floral design studio we knew we had to go. Making our way past the superbloom of poppies in California we traveled to Lilla Bello to meet Toby, who has been following us for years. We were lucky enough to stop in and shoot her creating in her space while getting to know her better. Meet Toby Kassoy of Lilla Bello, a bespoke floral design studio in Los Angeles, and watch as she pulls together several beautiful arrangements in her lifestyle shop and studio.

Read More

WILD + HABIT

Ben Ashby

THE INSATIABLE PURSUIT OF CREATING TANGIBLE BEAUTY FROM WILDERNESS // SEEKING MAGIC // FOSTERING SENTIMENT. 

 


Recently I sat down with the folks behind lifestyle shop and brand Wild Habit in Oceanside, California to learn more about their brand, their mission, and their love of nature. We also learned they plant a tree in Tahoe National Forest for every purchase in their store!


 

Who are you?

We are makers. We are best friends. We are stylists, artists, consultants, photographers, and collectors. We are wanderers, shakers, and movers with roots in to two magnificent coasts. Both Danielle Quigley and Sue Fan grew with the trees in the eastern deciduous forests. It was there we found art, meaning, a lot of poison ivy, and our insatiable pursuit for all things beautiful. We met over ten years ago chasing ice and adventure in Antarctica and haven't slowed since. We've shifted our focus from our full time photography jobs to pursue our greatest passions together in the amazing state of California: To create, to forage and explore, to seek and share.

What is your business?

We wander and forage in search of natural materials. We collaborate and create handmade products and installations from our found, natural materials. Staying true to natural beauty and to our craft, we are impulsive in gathering (picking up anything we find interesting) and deliberate in our execution (finding the best way to show of the inherent beauty of the material). We illuminate birch bark, carve bones, wear feathers and stones. Our WILD HABIT keeps us exploring & creating - from our back woods to the beach to the mountains and world-wild. Making beauty from nature is what do and what we love - from jewelry to lighting, wall art to table art.

Why are you a maker?

We want to bring the beauty of the earth into every heart and home. The more beauty we can share from the earth, and the more we stress the importance of preserving Earth's natural beauty (by planting trees, by sponsoring beach clean ups, by donating a percentage of proceeds to great organizations), we hope to make a small difference in how people see, feel, and shop.

 

Why should we support small makers?

We are real people. We should support those who live with the land, those who work to make it better, those who farm, and build, and create, those who work hard daily to keep craftsmanship alive, those who work to produce beautiful, thoughtful, and real wares, and who have amazing stories to share. Supporting small makers is the greatest step towards reconvening with the earth and people, and seeing what it truly means to be made with love.

Why did you start your business?

We want to be a part of a community that consists of artists and makers and lovers and thinkers and doers.

What inspires you?

Definitely the great outdoors. It's a very wild habit.

— www.wildhabit.com

Lilac Sugar

Ben Ashby

Every morning should begin with tea. Festive teas are the best. This lilac sugar is the perfect addition to your mornings. As lilac comes into season why not ensure it'll last all year long. By simply preserving the gorgeous floral flavors of lilac in sugar it infuses the sugar with the most wonderful flavor. You'll never want to return to basic table sugar again. 

Ingredients:

Berry or Fine Sugar: if super fine sugar isn't available throw your regular sugar into a food processor.

Lilac Blooms: for a quart jar I used around a cup of blooms.

An Airtight Container

 

Simply alternate layers of blooms and sugar until you have either filled your jar. Once complete put the lid on the jar and shake until well mixed. Shake once a day for about a week to make sure the flowers dry evenly. 

After one week strain the sugar to remove the blooms. Store in airtight container. 

Propelled by Passion: An Interview with Ricardo Bouyett

Christophe Chaisson

'Live Authentic' rings true in the life of Ricardo Bouyett. We had the absolute privilege and honor of having a raw, honest interview with him. Embracing vulnerability, Ricardo shares his painful, yet hope-filled journey with us. His career as a photographer & filmmaker go hand in hand with the trauma that he has gone through and his quest for healing. Read below with an open heart and mind; there is a lesson to be learned for all of us. 

Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?

Ricardo: I first got into photography when I was in high school and my parents gave me a Canon Rebel as a gift. I only ever played around with it a handful of times. It wasn’t until my second semester as a freshman in college that I started taking photography seriously. I had just figured out that I was gay and I was in this weird semi-romantic relationship with a straight boy who lived in my dorm and he had called me the devil for seducing him into cuddling with me for several weeks and he dropped out of school. I was trying to process this situation along with a lot of my own questions in regards to my sexuality and identity and photography seemed like such an easy way to both distract myself and find myself. After class I would go out and shoot with friends, practice, teach myself certain things I didn’t really know.

 
 
 

C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

R: I started trying out different digital techniques, coloring, and ideas to emulate some of my favorite artists. I decided to transfer to Columbia College Chicago so I could have a more stimulating environment as well as the opportunity to make some worthwhile connections and elevate my education in the arts. From the time that I applied for the transfer to my first semester at Columbia, I started my 365 project and began learning through trial and error. By the time I got to Columbia, I had been a little under halfway finished with my first major body of work. But once I was in that academic environment I started questioning more, challenging myself more and really trying to figure out what my visual voice was trying to say and what I wanted my images to be about. 

 

C: How did you develop your style?

R: My 365 project played a huge role in my development as a photographer. It helped shape my technique, my attention to detail, and make sense of my emotional palette. Unfortunately, in January of 2014 I was raped and that event alone took my art and flipped it on its head and blasted it into an inferno of rage, misery, and ambiguity. I didn’t know how to handle what had happened, I was in denial for a while and I could only make sense of my nightmares and of that persistent sensation of having someone inside me through creating more colorful yet pain stricken imagery. Between 2014-2015 my imagery became much more surreal as I kept dissociating from reality just to sort of survive myself and my everyday social obligations. I didn’t understand what happened to me, how it could’ve happened to me, and why it happened to me. I kept blaming myself and during my senior year of college I found the strength and courage to talk about what happened to me in a more direct way in my work. With my series, Dame De Feu, I finally started to openly explore the visual dialogue about rape survivors, but being still new to this social arena, I didn’t quite have the tools to communicate that story effectively. At the same time I was also struggling with my desire to be a photographer. During my last semester of college I realized my true voice and my true passion was in filmmaking. I crowdfunded, directed, wrote, and filmed a short film series called “Lionheart” which helped me explore issues of homophobia, domestic abuse, and rape for the first time. After having created this body of work I started to step away from post-manipulation and surrealist imagery. I felt confident in my nakedness, in the rawness of photography, and saw it fit to move on from the constructed image and onto the raw image. I will never give up coloring the way I do, so I kept that fluently going throughout my work as my style kept changing. Mama doesn’t mess around with her colors. 

 

In all seriousness, my style matured after this significant milestone. I mean, I raised over 2 thousand dollars and made a film series that altogether lasts about an hour. I felt unstoppable, like I could make any project I could think of. So with that in mind, I created a series called “Color Me” that more directly explored my relationship with depression over the years which later led me to make my short stories collection. That collection had about 18 short photo stories that were about domestic abuse, love, sexuality, and body image. After creating this body of work I was thirsty for another film project and set out to make “Silver Screens”.

 

 Moving on from the short stories collection to “Silver Screens”, I finally figured out I wanted to talk about the problematic rhetoric in rape culture. “Silver Screens” is a film that focuses on an unstable relationship where sex is used as a weapon and the main character doesn’t ever come to realize that because his therapy session is less than helpful and he finds himself constantly recycling his memories and getting nowhere. While creating this project I got the inspiration to make my most important work to date, “Oh, Bouy”. The project is a collection of volumes that help me navigate and explore rape culture through different art mediums.

 

While creating this project I got the inspiration to make my most important work to date, “Oh, Bouy”. The project is a collection of volumes that help me navigate and explore rape culture through different art mediums. 

My main focus with “Oh, Bouy” is to talk about the need to hold men accountable for how we sustain a culture that objectifies women, humiliates and ostracizes effeminate men, and blames victims of abuse instead of reprimanding the abusers. My style has definitely changed between 2013 to 2016 in that it’s much more direct now and carries an emotional weight that is rooted in reality as opposed to fantasy. 

 

C: What themes do you explore through your work?

R: In my work I explore sexuality, spirituality, and identity and how those correlate and fluctuate under certain given circumstances. My main focus in my work currently is creating stories that talk about rape survivors and navigates the complexity and fragility of the male psyche. 

 

C: How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?

R:When I was a student at Columbia, I relied heavily on word of mouth to find models and actors to work with. I had a website ever since I started going to school there so it was easy for other students to google me and find out if I was worth working with or not. As far as locations go, I’m very lucky in how I stumble onto special locations, especially back in Illinois. Normally I would go adventuring with friends in the suburbs or in the city and I’d always start with one point of interest and from there I’d make it up as I went along. 

 

 

C: What inspires your work?

R: Emotions drive my work to its core. Put me in a room with speakers blasting emotional, sexual, or neurotic music and I’ll have a full body of work ready on your desk the next morning. I can’t explain it, sometimes I lose myself to this other voice in my head that takes over and when I’m shooting, directing, writing, or editing, I almost always lose myself to my surroundings and to the people around me and I’ll find myself waking up hours later not remembering how I made what I made. Other times I have a moodboard, a concept, and then an emotion and then I go off script once I get there. 

 

C: How do you compose an image? Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?

R: It honestly depends on the shoot and it depends on the project. If I’m just exploring with friends or new models, I follow my instincts and let my personal relationship with the subject inform my creative decisions. If it’s a film project, I have a script, a storyboard, and 20 pages of notes on my phone with different scenarios to explore. I almost never shoot something without first brainstorming 100 different ways it could turn out. If I’m not set on making something, I don’t make it. I always think to myself, “Someone else somewhere in the world has already made this image or is making this image right now, why do I have to make it? Why would I want to make it? How does it fit to my mission as an artist?” 
If I can’t answer those questions and convince myself then I don’t take the shot. 

 

C:What has been your biggest lesson learned through creating your art?   

R: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stop comparing myself to other people and other artists. Everyone is on their own path. 

 

 

 

C: What do you hope your art says to people?

R: I hope it says “love yourself, love others, and most of all, don’t be rude to people just because you don’t understand what they’ve been through.”

 

C: Why did you choose your craft?

R: I chose it, along with filmmaking, because it was the best and most effective way for me to heal from traumatic events as well as create and share stories that I’m passionate about. 

 

 

C: How hard was it to become profitable at it? 

R: Not a lot of platforms or galleries want to pay an artist who in their eyes doesn’t make the kind of work that fits their audience reach. Do people love the work on social media? Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of positive responses, but a lot of the time I still get ignored, rejected, and pushed to the side by art institutions and major art publications because my work makes them uncomfortable. Rape survivor stories aren’t the most popular in the photo and film world. Especially if they don’t depict the graphic violence of rape. My work talks about male violence, how damaging male sexuality has been in an overtly patriarchal society, and that just doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. And I understand that, but the unwillingness for art platforms of any kind to get involved in issues about domestic violence and rape makes it that much harder for conversations about the ramifications of men’s violence to even take place. Everyone jumps on reporting on the drama of rape and the graphic nature of the violence, but hardly anyone furthers the conversation about the life of survivors after the fact. I’m not profitable at making my photos, I’m only passionate and starving. 

C: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?

R: Do what you want to do and don’t take no for answer. It can be very discouraging coming into a field that is so saturated with talent but that shouldn’t deter you from doing what you want to do. Everyone has something distinct they bring to the table, so why can’t you? 

C: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?

R: I would’ve gone to school for filmmaking, not photography. 

 

C: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?

R: I would be a singer, or maybe a vocal performance instructor. But I prefer doing this so I’m glad I can still do it.

 

C: Any favorite moments of your career so far?

R: My favorite moment was when I made “Lionheart”. The rush of crowdfunding and the success of finishing the project changed my life drastically. Nothing has ever made me so confident and newly passionate. 

 

 

C: Is there a defining moment in your career?

R: The most defining moment in my career so far has been creating the different iterations of “Oh, Bouy” . While “Lionheart” may have given me a new found confidence in filmmaking, “Oh, Bouy” has catapulted me into a new framework of thinking and execution and for that I’m grateful to everyone on the creative teams. But aside from artistry, the project has definitely made me less afraid to stand up and advocate for social issues that I care about deeply.

 

C: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?

R: The industry only cares about who you know not how much you know, and I think that’s the reason why a lot of mediocre publications, production companies, and photographers have an unfair advantage over underdogs who are climbing up a steep hill without any lifelines to help them up. I think it’s a shame, I’ve met a lot of capable artists who deserve a lot more than what they’re given. I don’t think popularity is a proper measure of someone’s ability.  

 

R: I like that I don’t have to answer to anyone, that I can collaborate with people who respect my opinion and want to work with me and I like that I get to involve other people who can work out their own therapeutic needs with my work.

 

 

C: Is there anything you really enjoy in your craft vs another line of work?

 

 

 

 

Ricardo's work is more than mere photos and videos. His art has a message that needs to be heard and talked about. Let art open the door for dialogue and a greater level of honesty in our lives.  No matter the outlet, we all have a creative voice with a message that can create such a difference in our world. 

You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram. 

Strawberry Pie

Ben Ashby

Warmer weather cannot come soon enough! I found myself sitting here dreaming of days when you can step outside barefoot and feel the grass between your toes.

 One of my favorite things to do when the weather turns warmer is go strawberry picking. I absolutely love strawberries and none of the store bought ones ever seem to taste as good as the ones we pick ourselves. On the way back from the farm they always make our car smell so good and all I can think about is eating them dipped in warm, melted chocolate...my favorite!

There are so many things to do with your fresh strawberries, like making jam or ice cream or fresh smoothies...the possibilities are endless. One of my favorites however, is a nice slice of strawberry pie.

This is the easiest pie that I have ever made and by far one of the best.  Maybe it's because I love these fresh strawberries so much or maybe it's because of all that incredible whipped cream that I pile on top of my pieces. The vanilla pudding mix whipped with the cream is the best. There's no way I could go back to eating store bought whipped cream after this! Just wait until you try it.

What do you like to make with strawberries?

 

Strawberry Pie

3 quarts strawberries, hulled and divided

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 Tablespoons cornstarch

2/3 cup water

10-inch deep-dish pie crust, baked

1 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 Tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix

Optional: A few drops of red food coloring

In a large bowl, mash berries to equal 3 cups; set aside along with remaining whole berries. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Stir in mashed berries and water; mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; heat and stir for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, add food coloring if desired for red color. Pour mixture in a large bowl; chill for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is just slightly warm. Fold in remaining whole berries. Pour into prepared pie crust, chill for 2-3 hours. Place cream in a small mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to whip cream and pudding mix until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream mixture around edge of pie or dollop on individual slices. Serves 8-10. 

Strawberry Pie photography, styling, and recipe by Rikki Snyder. Find more from Rikki on her website and on Instagram—@RikkiSnyder.

Meet Bowen Outdoors

Ben Ashby

As part of our series of maker spotlights, we recently teamed up with Zack of Bowen Outdoors to talk about how he turned his passion for the outdoors into a business. For Zack, owning her own company is a way that she can give back to the causes and programs that matter to him, like nature conservation and camps and training programs that help children experience nature. Read more below to find out how Zack started Bowen Outdoors, and how he's making sure a new generation can enjoy the great outdoors.

 

How did you get started creating an outdoor brand?

We founded our brand on one mission: to inspire families and children to get out and explore more. During our conversations about our biggest influences, we realized the brand we wanted to create should be founded on two principles: family and exploring. These influences led us to creating a social enterprise driven outdoor brand where we give 10% of all net profits to programs all around the country that provide training, education and camps for children and families to experience the outdoors. 

A lot of our passion comes from relationships with our families. We were both raised as active outdoor children and were heavily influenced by the experiences and lessons a child can learn from being exposed to the outdoors. Having our own kids now we see that the idea of going camping, hiking and exploring outside is starting to fade and with that we think children are losing their sense of adventure, curiosity and wonder.  

Who taught you to start your own brand, or were you self-taught?

We have learned a lot of valuable skills about overall business operations from past experiences in family business and in college. We have learned a lot since starting Bowen Outdoors. Many of the important aspects of creating products, brand image, creative development, etc. were all things we did not know much about. We have had a lot of trial and error and picked up on different skills as we have gone just by trying and doing and asking for help from friends and family. It hasn’t always been perfect, but we have definitely learned a lot along the way.

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?

I have always known I wanted to start something of my own. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and business owners, so I  think that the drive to create and build upon ideas is somewhat in my blood naturally. I started working for my grandfather’s business when I was 13 years old because the idea of running a business seemed fun and interesting to me. I worked there from 13-20 and as I got older, I would always have people call me the “little boss man” and tell me how I would one day be running the company and I would always just laugh. Although I have always felt fortunate enough to have had the option to work in the family owned businesses, I always wanted it to be in a field that I was passionate about and wanted to pave my own way.

Bowen Outdoors and the idea behind it happened somewhat naturally for us. Getting outside and exploring has always been something I have been passionate about, but growing up in the Midwest I never thought about creating an outdoor brand because I didn't feel that we were in an area that was “outdoorsy” enough. Now that I have started a family of my own and do my best to get my kids to explore all that life has around us, I realized we don't have to always be in the mountains to explore. The opportunity for exploring is all around us.

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots?

Bowen Outdoors is focused on providing outdoor lifestyle products and apparel for people who are just as comfortable in the city as they are on the trail. Our product ideas come from trying to inspire and motivate people to live life outside of the cubicle, living room or their cell phone. 

 

What are your inspirations?

My greatest inspiration overall has been my father. Since I was young, I remember his passion for the outdoors and the part it played in our relationship. My Dad is every part of the word, outdoorsman. Growing up, I lived in a log cabin in the woods, we had a couple of horses, played in the woods and creeks daily, and he participated in all of those things with us. Our vacation every year was in a state park or campground where we always went on hikes and climbed around on rocks. He really taught us about the outdoors and instilled his love for it in us. To this day, my greatest memories with him have involved camping and exploring. Just a few weeks ago, we had one of the best trips I have ever been on in my life and conversations while exploring that I will never forget. He is a tough guy who still loves rock climbing, backpacking, and finding new places to explore.

Outside of the outdoors world, my father is a quiet yet smart and calculated businessman. He is passionate not only for his business, but also for the people working for him. I have always admired the way he has done his best to treat people fairly and respectfully even when it meant less overall profit for the business in the end. The kind of compassion for people that is greater than the desire for money is a rarity in this world and I really look up to him for that.

Overall in life, combining his love for the outdoors and his business knowledge and compassion for people, he is a pretty cool guy. What I am sure most people wouldn’t expect to read is that my Dad is legally blind, and if his eye disease has it’s way, will be completely blind sometime in his life. To see a man who has never stopped rock climbing, walking on narrow trails at the top of a mountain, crawling through caves, and skydiving despite not being able to see is the most inspiring to me. He has never let his sight keep him from living life and laughing and that is one of the things I will always remember most about him. He lived his life to the fullest and didn’t what people thought he should or shouldn't do keep him from truly living.

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

We are family guys, and most of our time is spent with our wife and kids. We try our best to get out with them and teach them about the outdoors, being safe while exploring, and about the incredible things you can find while you are out on an adventure. The best part about being an outdoor brand is that we actually live this life so we are able to take those experiences and work toward creating products that reflect them.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?  

I would say our biggest challenge has been lack of knowledge. We started this brand on a shoestring budget. I have a wife and three kids under 3 years old at home and the idea of using our savings or getting a loan just didn't seem like the best idea while trying to keep their well-being as a priority. When you make a decision to start a business without a lot of money, things start slower in terms of products available and slower in general. This is something we are navigating; yet trying to keep our priority of family as our main focus. 

What's been your best advice you've been given?

My father once told me, “I am not going to stop living life waiting to die just because I can't see. I am going to live my life to the fullest, doing the activities that make me happy and if I die climbing down a mountain, at least I died doing something I love” It may not have been real advice that he was trying to give, but the impact that the idea of really going for what you want, never settling and taking chances, will stay with me for a lifetime.

What's your favorite thing about sharing your art with others?

The impact it has had on families and children. When we give back to community programs that help support exploration and adventure it's an incredible feeling. Knowing that not only are we providing great gear and apparel, but that we are actively making a difference in people's lives is the best part of what we do. At the end of the day, it doesn't feel like we're running a business - it feels like we're creating something special and something we believe in. BOWENOUTDOORS.COM

 

Good + Well || Candles + Soaps

Ben Ashby

Recently I had the pleasure of shooting a series of images for Good + Well Co. Their candles and soaps are truly delightful. 

Shenandoah Skyline Road Trip

Christophe Chaisson

As the Summer of '16 winded down, one thing from my to-do list had yet to be fulfilled - a road trip. To where, though? I had been north to Canada; I had been west to the mountains. However, one segment of America I had not yet explored - the South. I have family down in Atlanta and with some free time on my hands, the perfect opportunity lay before me to take a road trip.

I devised a plan to spend about four days and three nights along one of America's most scenic byways - The Shenandoah Skyline drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connect in central Virginia. The first day I spent driving about five hours to stay with a friend near Washington D.C., which was close enough to the real starting point of the journey that I could simply wake up the next morning and begin.

At dawn, I hopped on I-66 West, which was a quick hour ride to Front Royal, VA - the gateway to Shenandoah National Park's north entrance. After receiving a tip from someone familiar with the area, I grabbed a juicy burger at local sensation, Spelunker's. Finally, I was ready to begin.

The Skyline Drive is one of the most amazing roads one can experience. It gently winds back and forth through 105 miles of stunning Virginia wilderness with 75 pull-offs to take in the view (about 65 of which I stopped at.) The 35 MPH speed limit ensures that you're here to take it slow and be in the present. There's simply no rushing through such a beautiful place.

I spent the first day riding along, taking in the pull-out views and photographing the curves and stretches of road. It was pleasantly quiet in the park so I took my time soaking in everything. While there are plenty of hikes and outdoor activities to do in Shenandoah, the Skyline Drive is more or less the park itself. Many national parks are reserved spaces of land that have plenty of loops for circling and exploring. Shenandoah is unique in that the park is linear - only a few state routes intersect the park with options to exit. Otherwise, you're entering on one end and you're coming out on the other end, which encourages one to see its entirety.

I'm generally all for roughing it, but it was a particularly humid week and I desperately needed a shower after driving for so many hours. I made my way to Big Meadows campground, which is a beautiful campground and one of the few I've experienced that have a full range of facilities. The ranger at the registration booth gave me a short list of her favorite campsites at the Big Meadows loop and I took her up on the spacious, yet secluded, A103.

The weather was expected to deteriorate in the coming days, so I wanted to take advantage of what might be the last clear night on my trip. I made my way over to the Lodge to watch a spectacular Virginia sunset and converse with the travelers staying overnight.

When they sky finished its show, I went back to A103 to cook a ravioli dinner on the camp stove. Solo camping can get a bit lonely at times but a meal by a campfire was incredibly calming. Night fell and as the surrounding campers ended their day, mine was just getting started. I grabbed my camera and headed down to the entrance of the campgrounds where its namesake lies - literally a big meadow. I set up my tripod under a moonlit sky and just started shooting. Per usual, the end product was far beyond my initial intentions or expectations...

The next morning, the fog rolled in and I wouldn't see sunlight for days to come. However, that wasn't gonna stop me from continuing my journey and taking advantage of the photo op. I packed up camp, said goodbye to A103 and meandered my way down the rest of the Skyline Drive. I had many days to go and 500 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway to experience. The road trip was just beginning...

To see the rest of Jack Tumen's roadtrip of a life time, check out @jacktumen on Instagram.

Meet Spoon & Hook

Ben Ashby

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I am absolutely smitten with Anneliesse McKee. Her handcrafted wooden pieces are equally utilitarian and pure art. I'm especially loving that she too is from Kentucky. I could go on and on about how amazing each piece is, how incredibly beautiful the packaging is, (she mailed the pieces in the photographs to me in a wooden wine box filled with dried florals and feathers) or how wonderful story is. I however will let her tell you in her own words.

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Please introduce yourself

My name is Anneliesse McKee

I live in Asheville, NC and have since 2009.

I hand carve wooden spoons, charcuterie boards, bowls and more from wood I have either cut myself in Waynesville, NC or from reclaimed lumber found. I've had my business for two years now. As far as availability I have my pieces on my own website spoonandhook.com as well as one of my best friends websites bomisch.com. Within town I sell at three different brick and mortars: Villagers, East Fork Pottery, as well as Atomic Furnishings. I am hoping by the end of this year to be opening my own brick and mortar in Asheville.

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Why be a maker

I feel that being a maker is so much more than the product itself. It's a lifestyle choice. I live in west Asheville where I have the most beautiful little community of makers from bakers, photographers, painters, home builders, and Brewers. Everyone raises each other to be their best. If they're not using something that could benefit another maker, it isn't even a question that it will find its way to them. There is support and encouragement and growth continuously and for me that's a large part of it. I think in a world like what is happening today, it's incredibly important to be a part of something you truly stand behind and can make better. Supporting any one maker is much more than the product you walk away with. You're receiving a story that you get to continue on writing. I think if we could all live in a way where we surrounded ourselves by things that held meaning and quality then we would buy less, appreciate more and be able to do it in a successful way moving forward in a consumer driven country. I believe it's very similar to our food movement. People love to support their local farms and organic food and the things we surround ourselves with, put on our bodies, and keep around our space are just as important as what we are putting in our bodies.

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What is the greatest challenge as a maker

I think my greatest challenge I have had within woodworking continuously feeling like I needed to create every second I was free. This past year was a large lesson in slowing down, stopping to smell the roses, and remembering the reasons why this became such a love to begin with. As far as largest rewards, I think it's when I get an email or letter from someone who tells me their story and how they now own a spoon or board and how it has become a part of their everyday life. I love that!!! I have so many of my grandmothers pieces and to think one day someone's going to possibly say "this piece is about 100 years old and made from a woman named Anneliesse Mckee". Just seems like I'm putting my fingerprint in this big world, even if it's my pinky ha.

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What advice would you give to aspiring makers

If I had any advice I could give, I would tell anyone to simply stand behind whatever it is they're doing. I think so many people have such brilliant ideas but the idea of failing is too large to even try. But failing doesn't really exist in certain communities, especially not in Asheville. I would just say to always try. Maybe there's something else you find you love in the process? Maybe you find out how effortless and second nature it seems? Maybe you just find out that it wasn't everything you thought it would be? But that's okay! Just try!

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What advice would you give to your former self

If I could give myself any piece of advice to former me, I think I would tell myself to own what I do and just make sure I'm doing it to my best. I did the Highpoint Market for my second year and I had to make 100 pieces in a month and I was so stressed and concerned with making wild and new that I put my core values on the back burner. I was making wooden eye ball spoons and then I realized it was just getting too weird. I would tell myself to just stick to what I know and do it to its best. I would maybe tell myself not to be so hard on myself. I think quick gratitude is a struggle for all and learning patience is easier said than done but this past year was a beautiful example of organically letting things lead me in the direction of my dreams and not to be impatient.

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Chocolate Chess Pie

Ben Ashby

Chocolate Chess Pie

This recipe is so very simple. It is absolutely delicious. It literally takes less than five minutes to mix together. I found the recipe in my aunt's handwritten recipe book from the 1970s.

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 9” pie shell
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Mix all ingredients by hand and pour in pie shell. Bake for 30 min in 400 degree oven. Cool and serve with whipped cream.

Look at Eldin in Iceland | Day Two

Ben Ashby

Today can be best described as a glimpse into monochromatic Iceland. We started early from Reykjavik and headed south, hitting two waterfalls, Skógafoss the most famous of the two. It is a 200 foot waterfall with a tiny, windy stairway to the top and seagulls nesting within the cliffs. From there, we trekked 4 KM by foot to reach the famous DC3 plane crash site. This site has a really cool really cool story: In 1973 a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, in the South coast of Iceland. Everyone survived, and it turns out that the pilot packed the wrong fuel packet. Following that, we went to the black sand beach to see the basalt columns and caves. I was nearly swallowed by an unsuspecting wave, but managed to dig my boots into the ground and rode the course. After a quick change of clothes, we settled into a tiny log cabin cottage with the view of the mountains and the black sand beach through our front door.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ELDIN JASAREVIC

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Look at Eldin in Iceland | Day One

Ben Ashby

"We got in Iceland this morning, rented a car, and plan on driving around the entire island along Route 1. Our first stop was Hellnar and Snæfellsjökull, and staying at the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik. Tomorrow we are heading south, hoping to hit Vik and many other spots along the way." —

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ELDIN JASAREVIC

An Internal Experience | A Conversation with Sam Waxman

Ben Ashby

 

Sam Waxman is a man I've never met, but if the kind words his friends have said about him mean anything...this man is one of a kind. I have long been obsessed with his photography. I love anyone's work that can evoke and caption an emotion at the same time. There is a rawness to the men in the photos and to the man behind the camera that goes miles above others in capture a moment of the human condition. In my quest to learn more about Mr. Waxman and his art I asked Christophe to sit down with Sam....


 
 

When did you first become interested in photography?

When I was a kid, my grandma used to buy me disposable cameras when we went to the grocery store together. My grandparents live in a really rural part of Vermont, and would let me go out on my own for hours to walk around in the fields and woods to take photos. Sometimes, when I really liked one of my photos, my grandma would get an 8x10 print for me. It was difficult for people to engage me socially as a kid, so I think they were satisfied to leave me on my own with a hobby they could tell made me happy.

 
 

Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

Definitely a mix of both. I took film photography classes in high school, but I had explored it for years before that as a hobby. Later, I studied photography and sculpture at the School Of The Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston, where I learned a lot of the technical skills that are invaluable to me now like digital editing, printing, and studio lighting. One of my biggest mentors both artistically and personally from the time I was a toddler is my best friend Liza. She is a level twelve weirdo, and one of the most interesting, complicated, and and brilliant artists I have had the pleasure of knowing. She inspired me from a very young age to express myself creatively and showed me that it is okay to be introverted and to go against what people expect of you.

 
 

What themes do you explore through your work?

Some of the big overarching themes I try to explore in my work are the politics of identity, queerness, sexuality/fetishism, semiotics, and the mysteries of the natural world. I’m constantly discovering new things about myself and reinterpreting my world, (often in unexpected ways) through my work. My influences vary greatly depending on where I am in my life. When I was an intensely shy kid, photography allowed me to look inward, and provided me a way to share myself with people in a way that I couldn’t in normal social terms. I grew up in Maine and spent a lot of time in the woods. I think is where I started to develop the kind of appreciation and respect for the primal beauty surrounding life, death, and the natural, spiritual order of things that I have now. Later, my work became a powerful tool with which to explore the incredibly complex feelings I was dealing with surrounding my sexuality and identity as a queer man, and gave me a platform to put myself out into the world. It’s always been a process of dealing with myself and finding ways to interact with the world that work for me. The more work I produce, the more cohesive it all becomes. I think I come upon my influences and the ideas I want to explore pretty organically.

 
 

How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?

I’ve always loved exploring and traveling on my own. Scouting locations solo is one of my favorite things to do. When you’re looking for an ideal place to shoot, you’re hyper-aware of your surroundings, taking in color, light, texture, wondering about the history and significance of the places you’re passing. I find my subjects in a bunch of different ways. Some are folks I’ve met through apps like Scruff and Grindr, some are people I’ve approached in public or on the subway, some are friends, some are lovers. Ever since I started to build a following on Instagram, I’ve been lucky enough to have people approach me wanting to collaborate which I am so thankful for. I don’t have specific criteria. If I find a person unique and interesting in some way, I want to photograph them. It’s amazing how intimately you can get to know someone in the setting of a one-on-one shoot. It’s something I really cherish.

 
 

How do you compose an image?

Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting? Definitely a bit of both. Often I get inspired to create something that’s very specific, and I’ll plan out my shots and styling pretty meticulously. This also informs who I choose as my subjects. Other times, I keep it much more loose. I love getting to know people and shooting them in their own spaces. With those kinds of shoots, it’s much more about creating an authentic connection with a person than creating something that has a specific feeling and style to it.

 
 

What has been your biggest lesson learned through creating your art?

One of the things I have really come to appreciate about the artistic process is that it forces me to be the most authentic and radical version of myself that I can be. I want to make work that is not contrived, that is real, raw, and unique. I think striving for that takes a lot of intense introspection and awareness of where my priorities are at. It takes recognition of my shortcomings and the ability to hold myself accountable for them. That’s not to say that I always succeed in those endeavors, but I try my best. Why did you choose your craft (photography) My photography work has always been heavily portrait-based. Growing up, I wanted so badly to be able to connect with people, but was severely lacking in social aptitude. Photography allowed me to explore and experience people on my own terms, in a way that I could understand. It was also something that allowed me to spend a lot of time alone without being questioned. It made things less confusing and more digestible for me.

 
 

How hard was it to become profitable at it?

Well, speaking purely from a financial standpoint, I started making money as a photographer at age sixteen when I started shooting weddings. I learned some great lessons from doing that kind of work, but I never found it particularly challenging or interesting. For a long time there was a big divide between the photography I did for work, and my personal projects. It wasn’t until college that I was able to start merging those two worlds, finding paid work that was more in line with my artistic vision. It’s taken a lot of failure, shameless self-promotion, and luck to get to where I am now, and I still feel like I’m just now dipping my toes in. I feel very lucky to be able to make a living pursuing my passions.

 
 

Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?

Never stop shooting. Not everything you do has to have solidified purpose behind it. Some projects will take shape after you begin, and many won’t. Try on different styles. Make some shit work that never sees the light of day. Your eye is a tool and it needs constant practice and maintenance. Be tenacious. Promote yourself. Connect with other creatives. Build your community. Use every tool in your arsenal to reach people and institutions. Being an artist in any medium is such an internal experience, and even though we may not often ask for support, we do need it. Showing your work in a public space ranging anywhere from an art gallery to Instagram holds you accountable, builds your community, and challenges you to innovate and be better.

 
 

If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?

Although my photography work has taken priority of most of my time lately, I also have a real passion for sculpture and metal-working. Sculpture was just as big a focus for me while I was in school. Most of my metal-working skills were self-taught, and after college I worked professionally as a welder/metal fabricator for a while so that I could hone my craft. Photography and sculpture fulfill me in some essentially different ways, and I think I would be just as happy to focus on either. I take myself very seriously as a craftsman. My sculptural work involves a lot of technical processes dealing with metal, wood, plaster, and other various materials, so I often find inspiration in things that might seem mundane or commonplace, but that demonstrate a mastery of craft.

 
 

Any favorite moments of your career so far?

There’s nothing quite like selling your first piece. My sophomore year of college, I submitted a framed print titled, “Sunday Best” from my “Symbiosis” mixed-media series to the winter art sale at SMFA. On the first night of the sale, I was walking around looking at work, waiting for them to rotate the collection and hang up my piece, but after a few hours I still hadn’t seen any sign of it. When I finally asked one of the coordinators about it, she told me that my print had sold in the pre-sale before the show had opened to the public. I was elated. It is still one of my favorite pieces, and it was the first series I felt good enough about to put out into the world. I felt excited and vulnerable about it, and having that little bit of validation really went a long way in encouraging me to exhibit my work.

 
 

What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?

Don’t hesitate. I didn’t really start producing work that I felt had something unique and personal to it until I was almost done with college. For one, I didn’t come out as gay until I was 20, so I was actively avoiding subject-matter and topics that were incredibly central to my mental and emotional states. I was also constantly blocking myself from making any work that I didn’t have a solidified concept and plan for. Besides preventing myself from making work that could have been worthwhile, this also set me back a few years in developing my style by just trying things out and making mistakes.

 
 

Is there anything you really enjoy in your craft vs another line of work?

My photographic process is very different in a few essential ways from my sculptural process. My sculptural work is intensely solitary and internal. It allows me to access the part of me that loves logical problem-solving in a very different way than does photography. Most of my sculptural work is steel-based, and working with such an unforgiving material with a limited set of tools forces you to constantly come up with workarounds and creative solutions to get the results you want. Photography allows me to be a bit more loose, and gives me endless opportunities to collaborate and connect with other people. Balancing these two different artistic processes is a very real and direct reflection of how I try to keep myself balanced on a personal level.

 
 

Is flannel really always appropriate?

Oh yeah, bub. I grew up in a small town in Maine right near LL. Bean. It’s important to know the difference between your street, work, and formal flannel.

 

Lonesome Pine Mercantile

Ben Ashby

On our recent road trip through the south we went to visit our good friend Samuel Melton at his store Lonesome Pine Mercantile. Nestled in the town square of a small East Texas town Lonesome Pine is a majestic and serine look into vintage design. Samuel is creating not only a place to get local goods but a style that could change a small town into a mecca for the design world. We asked him some personal questions about not only his store but life in general.

Why your small town in Texas?

Well I grew up here, I went to school down the street, I danced at the pickin palace on Saturdays on blues night. However I grew up saying I would never come back to this town. I think I have a essay somewhere from middle school stating I was going to live far far far away from Hemphill. However being far far away for years I missed it. I came back for a visit and couldn't believe what my town was becoming , slowly it was becoming a ghost town. The square that I once spent most afternoons became empty and by passed by new faster highways. So being at the right place in my life I declared that somewhere on this square had to be my store. So I set on my new badge of the "urban exodus". It's also a part of my story my town is a huge pet of who I am so it's only appropriate to open up in this old East Tx town that has its quirky stories.

Starting with a physical store first, was that hard?

The hardest part was finding the location we had few options and each became a challenge. I think we went through the 3 months with 5 different location options. I think in a small town a physical location is smarter rather then online. Most people in this town still don't operate computers. This being ok because we wanted the town fellowship most of all before a online presence. On a the same topic the other hardest part of a physical location is people don't understand why a non married 26 year old man would come and open store so it's mainly breaking down that wall of questions and expectations that seems to be the hardest.

 

What products can we expect online?

Online will be treated as invite to East Texas more than anything. We will sell our local made goods from our friends/southern makers as well vintage textiles. This includes rugs, pillows, blankets and throws. I'm obsessed with the fact that textiles can change a home with a few here and a rug there. So I want to spread my idea of textile living. We will have furniture available however it'll be local pick up , but we actually haven't had a issue with that. People are so supportive that they want to explore Hemphill and East Texas so they are willing to come to the shop and grab their new pieces. I'm also excited to say there will be a blog on the site . We offer styling and home collaborations so we will be able to show our adventures and talk about the rural life more. 

Who inspires your style?

That's a big question. I tend to experiment a lot with style but always circle back to a vintage mix. I guess in stylist or designer I would say Emily Henderson because she really understands that life calls for lives in styles or style that can ware well in better terms. I do have to say my parents are hugely inspirational with encouraging me while younger to explore styles and history of pieces which made me come up with what my style early on. My parents are afraid to put the odd in their home and layer colors which shows up in my styling of homes usually. I share a love for Folk pieces and those odd pieces in the home much like my parents. In places that I draw inspirations from it would be the old old farm homes around my town you walk in and see the simple details that I go crazy for. From the cheap whitewash they used to the slim pine floors; the colors age well and look so amazing whether you add that new West Elm sofa or the found old worn leather chair. 

Did working at West Elm give you an advantage on competition in the area?

Working for WE I would say gave me a advantage but gave me a vision on what potential I see for a home can be. This area is so under served that anything new can be that thing that inspires other to branch out and start thinking design. 

What areas do you want to grow your business (i.e. design, products, etc)?

That changes everyday as of today I would say I would want to be able to bring the shop on the road. I know for sure to help and style homes is our goal. Recently we have become buyers for local designers where they are coming for the unique. I do want our local maker presence to also grow with hopefully collaborating ( being able to collab is a complement like none other to me) . We have such great talent in this small county of mine that it's a shame to not have it showcases in a better setting rather then on the side of the road.  So for our evolution as a store I think it's to style more and find more makers that deserve a chance to be showcased.

Where do you see yourself and your business in the coming years?

Well for Lonesome Pine I just want to become a presence. This meaning for people to see that we are here and we have something special in East Texas. Also I just want the store to survive the first year can be a hard one with learning how your store will work and drawing in customers it can be scary. I do want my business to become that inspiration to others to invest in small town Texas (maybe East Texas) and rally around them as a friend. To see the empty next to me be filled with a coffee bar, eatery, and etc would be my idea of growth.

A Stay at Hudson Woods

Ben Ashby

Our friends at Brick & Wonder recently invited us to spend a weekend at one of their featured properties; Hudson Woods. Brick & Wonder is a curated platform of the highest quality homes for sale worldwide. Launched by Lang Architecture in 2016, brick & wonder provides access to homes in the marketplace with design integrity that have the capacity to improve how we feel, think, interact and ultimately live our daily lives.

They set us up with a stay at Hudson Woods which is a set of dwellings nestled amidst forests and meadows with sweeping mountain views, in New York's Hudson Valley. Hudson Woods homes take queue from mid-century and Scandinavian architectural principals, Japanese craftsmanship heritage and local vernacular history. They worked with a number of local craftspeople, artisans and designers to outfit the home with handmade and heirloom furniture and accessories. 

The photos were all taken by Paige and Corey of Going Home Productions...a photography and video team based in New York City.