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Jessica Bruder (2 posts)
Her GoodsErin Flett's patterns—which she silk-screens onto pillows, bags, and wall hangings—are often inspired by her collection of unusual bric-a-brac. (Old sushi bowls, a 19th-century coloring book, and a vintage scarf have all influenced projects.) "I grew up sifting through junk at estate sales," Flett says. "That's where I get a lot of my aesthetic."
Her MethodFlett sets a screen atop a piece of fabric and, with a squeegee, rakes ink across it to transmit an image to the cloth. Flett's 4-year-old, Aryana, is her biggest fan: "When she was little, she would clap when we got a good print," she says.
Her PhilosophyThe zippers on Flett's pillows—which are stitched locally—are sourced from family-owned manufacturers. "If someone helps you make something," she says, "their energy is in it. So I want to know them, and I want to make sure they feel good about the result, too."
Flett's designs—shown here on throw pillows and messenger bags—feature everything from cheerful pups to graphic florals and abstract, riverine ripples.
Four years ago, marketing director Allyson Morehead offered to throw a bridal shower for a friend. Eager to find the perfect invitation, she went to a local card store and began scanning the racks. But Morehead was disappointed by what she found—or rather, what she didn't find. Most of the smiling women depicted on the cards were white. A few were black. But none of them resembled the bride, who was biracial. Worse, the so-called multicultural stationery she found often featured stereotypes. ("The cards would say things like 'Hey, sista girl!'" Morehead recalls.)
Certain she could do better, Morehead began toying with her own line of stationery—some of which, she envisioned, would be fully customizable to match any skin tone or hair color. In May 2011 she launched Sweet Potato Paper, a stationery company that allows customers to personalize select invitations and announcements by choosing from eight flesh tones, eight hair colors, and six hairstyles. The originality of the concept quickly struck a chord: "I thought sales would start slow," she says, "but I got a lot of orders right out of the gate." Morehead says the company's mission is to celebrate uniqueness in a way that's open and welcoming—not exclusive. "I keep things modern, clean, and contemporary," she says, "so anyone can feel comfortable purchasing my products."