Discovering Your Design Style

Design Style Discovery / Little Bison Studio
Over the past year I’ve been working towards growing my skillset and learning what really motivates me as a designer. It’s interesting to look back at my portfolio from design school to see how my tastes have changed from almost five years ago. While now my aesthetics are honed-in, back then I had fun with mixing it up with each project I was given. When you talk to fellow creatives some keep a consistent look across the board while others choose have a little more variety in order to appeal to a wider range of clientele. This past year I have really discovered who I am as a designer + creative. The best way I describe my style to potential clients is “simplistic and modern with an earthy aesthetic”, or “organic modern”. Here I’ve come up with a few useful tips to help guide you into determining your own design style.

Determine what you like. You are drawn to things for a specific reason and turned off by others; but dig deeper to realize why that is. Perhaps it is the simple and clean san-serif fonts that really speak to you, or the bold, elaborate color schemes that get you inspired; whatever it may be, make note of it. I started by keeping a little list of what types of design elements motivated me the most (and those that didn’t) and by having a written list, I was able to discern and discover my true tastes.

Make it unique. What can you do to set yourself apart from the rest of the creative community? Take everything a step further. Having not only a signature look, but also the uniqueness to back it up will get you noticed.

Give it meaning. Have reasons for why you are designing things the way they are. Pay attention to colors, fonts, hierarchy, and overall layout. Don’t be so fast to follow the popular trends, they will come and go but your design will be sticking around for a while, so make it count.

Keep things balanced. It is important to keep within your own design aesthetics without sacrificing your client’s needs or wishes. People will hire you because of your portfolio and design style, but that does not mean to completely forget about your client’s requests. You want to maintain a healthy balance and keep an open line of communication.

Don’t settle. There are always new things you can do to learn, grow, and challenge yourself as a designer, so don’t settle for where you currently are. Surround yourself with people who can encourage and push you forward.

Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Tell us a little bit about how you started your career in fashion design.
I didn’t make the move to become a fashion designer until I was 27 – the same year I learned how to sew. I went back to school to get my MFA in fashion design so I could learn the entire process of designing, constructing, and producing garments from beginning to end.

Describe your workspace. A well designed, white walled, clean, inspirational space.

Melissa Fleis Melissa Fleis

What was your time like on Project Runway?
Crazy and unforgettable. The show not only challenged me creatively – it also challenged my skills, and my abilities to take and resolve criticism from professionals in the industry.

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process? My creative process differs for each collection. Sometimes it’s the individual garment that hits me first, and other times it’s the inspiration. The next step is always creating a cohesive mood board, and then sketching out my designs. Sometimes you can sketch more than 25 ideas before settling on the right design.

What does a typical day look like for you? No day is the same in this industry, especially when you are the owner and creative director. One thing that remains the same though – is every morning, I always make myself my coffee, and check my emails. From there it can vary from sketching, to sourcing fabrics – to running to factories or holding meetings.

Melissa Fleis Melissa Fleis

What are you currently working on?
I just finished my latest collection for 2016 called, Resurface.

Talk about one of your most treasured projects. One of my most treasured projects has to be my finale collection for Project Runway, and showing it at New York Fashion Week.

Where do you pull inspiration from? Modern architecture, and early 20th Century German Art Movements always work for me. Ultimately, the main theme, color story, and inspiration can hit me at anytime depending upon where I am, who I’m with, or a random image/artist I find online or in a book.

Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
I’d love to see my brand go global and have a few stores of my own. I’m also interested in other vessels for design, like interiors and collaborations with other artists.

Lastly, any life advice? Work with the fear.

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Tell us a little bit about how Little Barn Apothecary came to be.
We both have a deep-rooted passion for holistic and organic lifestyle choices from the food we eat to the cleaning products we use inside our home. We decided we needed to change up our self-care routines too and started creating products for ourselves to use. After a few years of making products in our kitchen we decided to share our formulations with close friends and family, when we got responses for more and saw how much everyone enjoyed using them we took a leap and starting to create our brand. A few months in we left our career jobs, found our focus and have been hustling ever since. Joshua is a beauty and spa veteran with 17+ years of training and experience; Brad comes from more of a biology and mixed hospitality and marketing background. Together we blend our talents and make a pretty amazing team (not that we are biased or anything). We both bring a good bit of experience to the table, and where we are weak we experiment and learn. Day to day, we are constantly learning a new facet; whether it be product development and research or sales and business in general.

Describe your workspace. We worked out of our home based studio for the first 9 months of being in business and this past October we moved into a 1,200 sq ft. micro factory space in Atlanta in order to expand our production and fulfillment along with hiring two production assistants.

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process?
Google, YouTube and late night pots of coffee have become dear friends of ours. We’ve taught ourselves everything, sure it made it more difficult and we had some mistakes along the way but that’s what has given us the passion and allowed us to mold our brand in to exactly what we want it to be. Fortunately we are now able to outsource some tasks if we don’t have the time to dedicate to it.

What does a typical day look like for you? Everyday for us is a whirlwind! We have grown from a local Atlanta brand to now having our products offered in 200+ boutiques and spas across the US with international distribution in Canada, Australia and Singapore. We are typically knee deep in production mode 3-4 days a week and take time each week to discuss as a team new product development and creative strategies for continuing to elevate our growth.

What are you currently working on? There is always a constant flow of new product development taking place – we have some really exciting launches happening in this Spring season!

Little Barn Apothecary Little Barn Apothecary

Talk about one of your most treasured projects.
We take all our inspiration from the earth around us and feed from the energies and healing powers of botanicals and plants. We believe our earth has given all the elements and tools we need to create and craft effective formulations. With the right chemistry simple formulations can become some of the most effective.

Share with us some of your biggest achievements and challenges. Our biggest challenges and achievements have been keeping up with demand. In the beginning phase of the brand we were shipping hundreds of units of products fast forward to today where we are shipping close to 5-6k products on average each week. We are always striving to refine and improve our operational efforts to enhance the customer experience and we now have the most amazing team (small, but mighty) in place to accomplish this.

Artisan Interviews: Little Barn Apothecary

Where do you see yourselves in the next 5-10 years?
We are in the beginning stages of finding a location in Atlanta to open our first brick and mortar shop which we hope to see come to life this fall. We’re not taking any breaks, we are full steam ahead, 2015 was our first year and we are proud of what we accomplished, 2016 and beyond will be even better. We are humbled by the support and praise we receive, who would have thought, two guys, a kitchen, and a wild dream. We are honored to be able to share our products and make a positive impact on the beauty world!

Lastly, any life advice? We always encourage anyone who has a passion to follow it. Start small – work smart and hard.

Shop Stories: Peacock & Co

Shop Stories: Peacock & Co / Little Bison Studio

Shop Name, Location, Types of Goods Sold:
Peacock & Co / Long Beach, CA / Handmade and Botanical Wares

Tell us a little bit about how Peacock & Co came to be. I was working as a Manager for Barnes & Noble Booksellers for many years and one day I decided to leave the corporate world to pursue a career in Events. Shortly after leaving Barnes & Noble and working in the Wedding Industry, I met Kimberly Latham (Owner, Anneise)  She had a shop and was working to bring fresh ideas and events to her neighborhood. We started working together on events. After working with Kimberly and spending a lot of time with her. It didn’t take long to realize that I wanted a shop of my own. I have always had a passion for Interiors. I started collecting pieces, taught myself Macrame and put together a plan. That was when Peacock & Co was born. Kimberly and I started talking about opening a shop together, and eventually decided that Peacock & Co should join Anneise in their 320 sq ft storefront. Kimberly and I are all about the Tiny Living movement and share a love for minimalism, so sharing a tiny shop was a no brainer. We have done so much to maximize our space and it works beautifully.

Describe your space. We are two brands in one space. One side is Peacock & Co and the other side is Anneise. We are split down the middle of the shop. Our space has a lot of warm tones, wood and plants. You won’t find any bold colors in the shop other than maybe black.

Do you have a favorite part of the shop + why? My favorite part of the shop is probably the exterior. It took my shop-mate and I a year to design our exterior. Being a shared shop, we wanted to be able to convey that without confusing people and while still being able to keep a minimal design and capturing both of our brand aesthetics. Waiting it out really helped me practice patience and having patience is crucial when you are a small business owner.

Shop Stories: Peacock & Co / Little Bison Studio

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from botany, neutral tones and minimal design. Caroline Gomez is someone who inspires me a lot. She wears many hats from Art director, Designer to Photographer and she does it all so well. Her color palette is perfection and her photography has a beautiful simplicity. Music is also a huge inspiration. It guides my productivity a lot of the time, no matter what I am doing.

Tell us about some of your biggest achievements and challenges. I create a lot of the pieces that are carried in the shop. It can create a little pressure at times, but it also holds me accountable to constantly be creating and to stay on a timeline. But it definitely can be a challenge!  My biggest achievement has been how much I have learned to use my hands to create. I love it when my customers ask me “Who made this?” and I get to say “ I did.”

Name 3 pieces that define you and your space. I can’t really narrow down 3 pieces that define me and my space but 3 things that define my work and my brand would be Plants, Natural Fibers and Wood.

Shop Stories: Peacock & Co / Little Bison Studio Shop Stories: Peacock & Co / Little Bison Studio

Biggest splurge and your biggest steal:
My biggest splurge for the shop has probably been all of the money I have spent on plants while learning about them. I have learned a lot! I only carry plants in the shop that I can keep alive, so you know you are getting some pretty easy going plant buddies. The biggest steal was probably all of our shelving fixtures which are mostly Ikea hacks and simple wood boxes that we spent a day making.

What are some of your go-to places when it comes to shopping for your space? One of my go-to places would have to be the hardware store. I spend a lot of time at the hardware store! I particularly love my local Ace Hardware store. It runs like a mom and pop shop and I love the staff!

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? I see myself designing more. Maybe some plant and landscape design but I would also love to design interiors. I hope to have a full design studio someday.

Any Advice? My advice to anyone starting out would be to start small. Don’t start your business getting yourself into debt. That’s the beauty of the times we are living in, there are so many platforms to pop-up and sell!

Room Study: 01

Room Study: Living Space / Little Bison Studio

Before the launch of Little Bison Studio, I took a little time to reflect on what my plans were for this blog and which series I wanted to keep around and… what we could do without. Some of your old favorites will surely be back in the weeks to come and a few new reoccurring posts will be added into the mix as well. My hope is to create a cohesive blogging + sharing platform that showcases everything we are passionate about – design, style, interiors, life, and inspiration.

Right in the midst of planning and preparation for Little Bison Studio, my husband and I packed up our apartment in Wisconsin and made the long twenty hour trek to Texas where my husband will be attending graduate school for the next few years. The whole moving process is kind of what sparked this new column. After finding our (nearly) perfect place, I finally had a blank canvas to adorn with all our accumulated goods. We wanted our new space to be bright and airy, something our old place lacked were windows and now we have many! This meant we were able to bring in more plants and greenery, which we both enjoy having a little piece of the outdoors inside with us. Playing around with the use of reclaimed wood, texture, and use of pattern helped put the finishing touches on our organic modern space.

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: 05

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS

With a full week of the new year behind us, I decided we would start 2016 off right with a little re-launch of one of my favorite mini series, Becoming a #GIRLBOSS. It wasn’t until the holiday season (and being stuck on plane for a few hours), that I began to write down a few more takeaways from Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS. One thing that really stood out to me is that we should view everything (in this case business) as a work in progress. Sophia mentions to never assume you’ve done your best the first time around. There’s always room for improvement and we should constantly be challenging ourselves and tweaking what isn’t working. Sometimes you just have to jump into the pool without testing the water first. Sure it can be scary and the final outcome can be uncertain, but sometimes the risk is well worth it in the end!

Moodboard: Organic Modern

Little Bison Studio / moodboard
Today we thought we share with you all the moodboard for Little Bison Studio and help shed some light on our design aesthetic, which can be simply put as organic modern. A combination of simple, clean modern design paired with natural and earthy elements. Think bright white, clean lines matched with reclaimed wood, cozy knits, and soft sheepskin rugs. For our brand color palette, we opted for a moody charcoal grey, mustard, a hint of refreshing mint and lots of white space! As more things start to unfold with our whole process, we promise to share more in the coming weeks and months to come, but for now, be sure to follow along on intsagram + twitter for quick little snippets!

The New Little Bison Studio

Little Bison Studio Little Bison Studio / ipad
Some of you may remember, a little over a year ago I shared that I would be stepping away from using my name and would be launching a new studio, brand, and website. In order to grow my business and expand beyond myself, I knew it was time for a complete change. After a long (and somewhat draining) process of trying to come up with a new name, it kind of just came to me, and the rest started to fall into place. For the longest time Little Bison Studio has been this small glimmer in the distance. Through this whole process, I knew I wanted to get everything just right. I spent a good portion of the spring and summer months mulling over the design for this site and going back and forth a lot. And, finally, in the fall we began development and well, here we are!

From the start, I wanted a hand-selected team of designers I could collaborate with. I just wasn’t sure when the time was going to be right. In order for a business to successfully grow and thrive, stretching yourself thin is never a good solution. So, as things with the new studio started to pick up, I decided to just go for it. If you’ve had a chance to take a look around, you’ll notice that there are a couple of new faces around here so I thought I would take a minute to give some introductions.

Cassie and I met a few years back while attending design school. We became fast friends and have become pretty inseparable. Not only do we have similar design tastes (amongst other things), she has an eye for detail, and a passion for building unique brands. Tom, who some of you may already know, has stuck by my side as my web developer ever since I first launched Holly Marie Designs. He and I also became friends in art school, during a late night drawing class, and soon after, had many of our core design courses together. He has a great creative eye and is a talented designer and skilled developer. I believe that both of their design asethics are a good match for Little Bison Studio and I am so happy to have them partner with me on this new creative journey!

Little Bison Studio / instagram quote
On the blog side of things, I spent a good amount of time trying to hone in what I envisioned for this creative space – deciding what should stay, what should go, and what series I want keep moving forward with. Of course I plan to continue sharing moodboards, in-progress work, and featured projects, because it is the foundation of this studio. Some of your old favorite will be back, but in a slightly more refined format. I also have a few upcoming projects and collaborations I am excited to share with you, but in the meantime, feel free to follow along on social media – instagram, twitter, and facebook!

Lastly, I want to hand out a few thank you’s – first off, a big thanks goes out to Tom Wilz for the development of this website + blog. Kirsty Gungor for shooting our Little Bison photoshoot over the summer as well as Mary Ellen Skye for her skilled styling and lifestyle photography.

Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine

Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine
Shop Name, Location, Type of Goods Sold: Fresh Tangerine / Seattle, WA / Handmade Jewelry

Tell us a little bit about how Fresh Tangerine came to be. I was working at a day job that I didn’t really like, and I was really wanting to go back to France and travel more. I also couldn’t really see myself working in a corporate office job, and I knew I had to find a way to have a flexible job that would allow me to travel. I originally started Fresh Tangerine with the idea that it would be a side job to supplement a teaching income in France. I bought a bunch of supplies, signed up for some local craft shows in Portland, and spent every night and weekend designing, making jewelry, and trying to establish my brand. After the holidays, I was approached by CRAVE (a guide book that features female owned businesses in different cities.) I spent another 9 months working full time and spending all of my free time on my business. In August 2011, I was able to quit my day job to work on Fresh Tangerine full time.

Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine

Talk about your style. These days I’m all about being comfortable both in what I wear and the space that I’m in. My go-to outfit is a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a loose blazer. My team likes to tell me that I’m the master of the “casual blazer.” I tried to make the studio feel warm and welcoming, so that when you come to work or to visit, you feel like you’re coming home.

Do you have a favorite part of your shop + why? I love how open the studio is and that people can visit, shop, and see how everything is made.

Where does your inspiration come from? Everywhere! I love to travel, and I try to incorporate my experiences and what I’ve seen into my designs. I’m a very visual person, so I try to always keep an inspiration board.

Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine

Tell us about some of your biggest achievements and challenges. The best and hardest thing was quitting my day job. I started my business and worked full time at my day for almost a year. I woke up after my last day of work feeling both excited/free and terrified. Another great moment was when I was in a shop that carried my jewelry for the first time. I was definitely that person taking pictures of their work in the store.

One of the most challenging things I’ve done is hire employees. It’s difficult to come to the realization that you can’t do everything yourself. It’s even harder to actually stop and let people help you. I’m still learning how to be a good boss and leader, and I’m so grateful for my awesome team. They’ve helped grow Fresh Tangerine into something that I love even more.

Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine

Name 3 pieces that define you + your space. I think that the gallery wall is the perfect reflection of me and my space. It has art from friends and people I’ve met, dreamcatchers that I’ve made, photos from Fresh Tangerine shoots, and lots of gold and hearts.

Biggest splurge and biggest steal: The biggest steal is probably the green velvet couch that I got from a vintage shop in Portland. There’s not really one item that I splurged on….maybe someday!

Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine Shop Stories: Fresh Tangerine

What are some of your go-to places when it comes to shopping for your space? I usually get my basic items from Ikea. They have simple designs, and the price is right. Sometimes I’ll try to change pieces so that they look more custom. I like to accessorize with vintage pieces, things I’ve collected from traveling, and items from other handmade or small businesses. I’m obsessed with ceramics right now and my favorite ring dishes are from The Object Enthusiast and The Pursuits of Happiness.

Any advice? Trust your gut. I know that everyone says this, but it’s so true. I overthink things all the time, and can talk myself out of pretty much anything. I think the best decisions I’ve made have been the ones where I’ve listened to and trusted that voice that was telling me to do something.

Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio

Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor Photoshoot for Little Bison Studio / Photos by Kirsty Gungor

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of shooting with one of my favorite photographers and friend of mine, Kirsty, for my brand re-launch. For those of you who are new around here, I decided it was time to get away from using my name for my business and thought it was time to come up with something that would allow me to grow my business beyond myself. It’s been about a year now since I slowly started build things behind the scenes, and a little update – the design for the website is 97% complete and has been sent to the web developer and print media is now slowly starting to take shape! The brand aesthetic behind Little Bison Studio will be different from what you are currently seeing here, opting more towards the simple, natural, and earthy. I know it’s taken me a long time to finally get to these final steps, believe me, I am SO ready, and I hope to share more of my process as it unfolds.