How do you define style? Google defines the noun as “a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.” But come on, isn’t style way more than that?
Some of us dream of Clueless Cher’s revolving closet of the 90’s – bound forever to fashion forward magazines and the styles found in local boutiques. Others focus on style at home – form, function, and originality. There is an entire multi-million dollar industry focusing on this word. Style. It’s quite overused, wouldn’t you say?
Let’s remix this baby. Redefine style and what do you get? Confidence, originality, trend-setting, unexpected combinations, courage, poise, unique details, and ultimately, a defined design.
As a designer, a pet peeve of mine is to see inspired works overused in the industry (chevron, you poor thing…). Skilled designers are emerging daily, but who’s to decide if they have this newly-defined style or not? I’ll tell you one thing, The Blush Label nailed it.
Meet sisters Christie and Mary, the design duo and creative directors of happy hour and home. The two may not have revolving closets, but they dream of a day when the linens in their homes would be as colorful and lively as the clothes in their closets. Posh patterns and layered color combinations rule the scene in their works. There is a sophisticated chicness that overtakes you into a sea of tropical color combinations.
They have formed a brand that truly embodies style. I spoke with Mary to get the label’s full story: where they started, who they’ve become, and what advice they have for women entrepreneurs.
Try not to drool, okay?
Tell me about the Blush Label. Who are you as a company? What do you stand for?
“The Blush Label is a home decor and entertaining accessories company based in North and South Carolina. We’ve designed our line to be functional and affordable with a bright color palette. Since we launched our line, it’s been important for us to stay true to our design aesthetic and to our affordable prices.”
How did you start? Who had the “big idea” and when did you know it was time to say “let’s do it.”?
“We were on a trip to Puerto Rico in 2012 when we decided to start the business, but it took us two years of prep work before we even launched. Starting a business doesn’t happen overnight! We launched a blog first (Things That Make Us Blush) to make sure there was a market for what we wanted to do, after that we decided to go for it.”
What challenges did you have in your first year? How much did self doubt play into things, if any?
“There were a lot of challenges and of course, there still are! But the important thing is to always stay true to yourselves and true to your customers. We’ve had glitches in the system and orders take longer than expected, but those issues happen when you’re a small business. The important thing is how you deal with those issues that will set you apart. It’s important to believe in yourself – always. We can’t stress that enough. There are times when we’ve doubted projects or product lines and they’ve ended up being huge for us. The important thing is to try and to not take it personally if a particular product doesn’t do well.”
You started with cocktail napkins. Why is that?
“We launched our business in phases to ensure that we weren’t overwhelmed when we first started. It was a decision that worked very well for us. If you’re starting a business, test the waters with what you can handle first and then expand from there. Doing that will help you refine your processes in small increments along the way.”
What other product have you designed since the cocktail napkin?
“It wasn’t until High Point Market that we realized how many products we now offer! Decorative pillows, coasters, place-mats, glassware, serving trays and silk scarves.”
What makes you different from the other entertaining retailers?
“What makes us different is our design aesthetic and pricing. We offer quality products at an affordable price in bold color schemes, and we also design everything in-house – you can’t find it anywhere else!”
Tell me about your individual styles. How did you merge those? How do each of your strengths play into The Blush Label?
“Christie’s style is more bold like Kelly Wearstler, but mine is a little more classic. I love the classic blue and white scheme with pops of color. One thing we do agree on is our love for gold – we aren’t big on silver finishes. Everything in our line was originally inspired by our father’s native Puerto Rico. The island is oozing beautiful, bright colors and we’ve incorporated those in our products. We also love to travel so while we were in the Amalfi Coast last year, we decided to bring in some of the colors we saw during that trip as well.
We each have different strengths, and we’ve divided those up to help our brand. Christie is the Creative Director so she designs everything and builds our product portfolio. I head up the business side of the company and handle our accounts, finances and PR. We both take on a lot, but we’re very supportive of each other in our areas of the business. We are constantly communicating, which is key for us! We hold FaceTime meetings three times a week to keep us on task.”
What goals have you accomplished as a company or personally at this point. What goals do you have for the future?
“It was our goal originally to make this into a full-time career for both of us and we’ve accomplished that, which is huge for us. Starting a business and working on it while having a full-time job is incredibly hard. There are a lot of late nights and early mornings, but as long as you have the drive and desire to make it happen, you can.
As a company, we’ve grown leaps and bounds within a year of launching. Our product portfolio has grown and we continue to open new accounts with great customers, stores and designers from around the world. We plan to continue growing from here by increasing our presence in the marketplace.”
What advice do you have for young women looking to start their own brand?
“1. Stop doubting yourself and go for it! We’re lucky to have each other to lean on when we hit a rough patch. Some entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of having a business partner (especially one from your family) so it’s important to always stay motivated.
2. Listen to the women who have done it before you. We met the founder of a well-established and fast-growing company the other day and her advice was on point for where we are in this stage of business. They’ve been there before and know what it’s like to be where you are in your stage of business.
3. Use the feedback you receive to improve your product. We did this after our first market and it helped us immensely with one of our product lines. Don’t take the feedback as someone being negative – use the feedback to your advantage to improve your line. This can be difficult since there are some products we’re attached to, but take a step back and really listen to your market.
4. Read! There is so much amazing material out there. Newspapers, blogs, magazines, editorials, etc. – stay informed about what is going on in your community and the marketplace.”
What’s your best seller?
“Coasters and glassware – we can hardly keep them in stock!”
What’s your favorite piece?
“We both love the pineapple rocks glasses! The Bombay Scarf is another one of our favorites.”
Shop my favorites:
See more of The Blush Label online and on social media: