Boll & Branch for the Guest Bedroom

March 24, 2017

A few months ago my husband and I realized that one of our dogs was sneaking out of our bedroom and sleeping in the guest bed each night. Our dogs are too big (both are labs) to both sleep in our bed at night, so they usually end up on their dog beds on the floor by our bed. Or so we thought. The big guy was really making himself quite at home in that bed and I noticed that the bedding was really starting to look worse for the wear (to say the very least). With Spring finally here and our new baby's due date around the corner, my nesting mode has kicked into high gear and sprucing up our guest bedroom (which will be used by my mama and other house guests when the baby arrives) has been high on my "to-do" list. The other week I was washing the duvet cover (yet again) and couldn't take it...the bed was in major need of a refresh after being disrespected by a sweet but super large white dog for so long. After doing a little web research to find some pretty white linens I fell for the selection of modern classics, organic cotton (!), and fair trade mission from Boll & Branch...

With so much color in the room coming from the side tables and rug, Boll & Branch’s crisp whites instantly spoke to me. Selecting the white banded duvet cover and coordinating standard shams with just a hint of pale, “shore” blue in the clean border seemed like the perfect choice to pair with the blues in the rug and complement the orange bedside tables.

I didn’t just stop at the duvet and standard shams…this nesting mama-to-be needed the full bedding fix! I also got two hemmed edge euro shams – in plain white – to sit behind the banded standard shams. And since the sheets that were being used on the bed were a set that my husband picked up when he moved to San Francisco (from God knows where), I determined those needed to be updated those as well and I’m so in love with the Boll & Branch pleated sheet set. The small amount of tailored detail on the edge of the flat sheet and pillow cases makes for an understated statement that’s really nice alongside the duvet and shams.

The first thing I did when getting all the bedding in was marvel at the thoughtful packaging. Each piece came in a separate drawstring bag – perfect for when storing the sheets in our linen cabinet (though I don’t know when the linens will leave the bed now that they’re on and I’m so happy with the look!) – and in really nice, sturdy white boxes that are so great, I’m saving them to use for gifting purposes. Compared to the bedding I replaced, I was really impressed by the detail – though I was prepared to be blown away after reading about how Boll & Branch sweats the designs with exacting intention…each step of their construction (from the dyes used to every thread and stitch) is obsessively thought through to create beautiful products. Upon washing the fresh sheets, duvet, and shams I noticed that they felt even softer and I was impressed by how well they fit (fitted sheet wasn’t too small or too big, the duvet wasn’t oversized, etc.).

I’ve been kind of a nut trying to switch my husband and I over to as many green/organic/clean products as possible and knowing that all Boll & Branch is made with 100% organic cotton definitely makes my heart happy. You’d think that “100% organic” coupled with beautiful designs would make for a high price tag but Boll & Branch sells directly to consumers (no middle man wholesaling) which means that they manage their transparent supply chain (with equal consideration given for the human and environmental resources) and are able to sell at fair prices while creating economic opportunities for each person involved in their business. It’s both comforting and inspiring to know that Boll & Branch is committed to ensuring fair working conditions, living wages and medical benefits are available to all workers, from cotton farmer to factory worker. And, with full transparency and traceability into the origin of their cotton, it’s empowering as a consumer to know that the bedding is truly of the highest quality and, most importantly, ethically sourced and made. You can read more about Boll & Branch’s fundamental beliefs of being a better business via the “our story” on their site!

Does all of this white bedding make me nervous about our dogs? Not necessarily, because I’ve invested in a multitude of “dog blankets” (not gross or anything, don’t worry!) that I wash almost every other day to go on the beds in our house since we are long past the point of training our older dogs not to get on the beds. Those dog-only blankets will just come off when guests come to town and our friends and family can snuggle up with the super soft cable knit throw I couldn’t not add to the mix.

Although we still have a little less than 6 weeks left until my due date, it feels good to make small changes like this around the house so that everything is ready. And really, is there any better feeling than crisp, clean, beautiful linens? I have no doubt that our guests will love sleeping in this fresh bedding goodness…though it is nice to know that Boll & Branch offers a 30-day trial period and complimentary shipping to ensure every customer is happy with their  purchase. Why can’t more companies be this incredible and thoughtful?!

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NIGHT Pillow for Pregnancy

March 9, 2017

Sleeping while 32 weeks pregnant requires some serious creativity! I laugh when making our bed each morning due to the number of pillows we have acquired + other accessories that have made their way into our bed like the heating pad that is my new bff at night. My other new best friend? Our king-sized NIGHT Pillows. After hearing Molly regularly rave about how much she loves her NIGHT Pillows (read her post about them here), my husband and I were dying to try them for ourselves. The king size seemed perfect for our new(ish) big bed, and also because it could double as a "body pillow" which is a complete game changer for this girl. Since I've loved bringing NIGHT Pillows into my life - and especially during this pregnancy - I thought I'd do a little post noting the ways it's been such a great (can't-live-without) addition...

.Side Sleeping: Being a stomach sleeper, I slept on my stomach as long as possible (with approval from my doctor), but there came a point where this was no longer comfortable with a growing belly and I had to move into side-sleeping-mode. Side sleeping, particularly sleeping on your left side, is recommended for pregnant women for multiple reasons. It increases the blood flow and nutrients that reach your growing baby as well as a woman’s heart, uterus, and kidneys. I read this information early on in my pregnancy and almost “trained” myself to prefer my left side while sleeping.

.Body Pillow Action: Since developing a real “belly,” I have found that I am most comfortable sleeping with a pillow between my legs as it takes the strain off of my hips and tailbone where I can often experience pain throughout the day. The NIGHT Pillow has become key for this sleeping position because I use one of them as an actual body pillow while laying on my side (yes, I’ve taken my husband’s NIGHT pillow hostage). These days this is the only way I can fall asleep at night!

.Less Sleep but Better Sleep: Now that I am in my third trimester, the amount of hours I sleep in a given night is dwindling. This honestly doesn’t upset me because I feel like it is preparing my body for sleepless nights with our baby boy once he arrives! Despite getting less hours each night, I feel like the quality of the time that I am sleeping has improved with the introduction of our NIGHT Pillows. I am able to fall asleep much faster and stay asleep – which has never happened, even pre-pregnancy.

.Keeping Me Cool: With a growing baby and the temperature heating up in Dallas, I tend to run super hot, especially at night. The silk pillowcase has helped immensely with this as it just feels cooler.

With as much as I love the NIGHT Pillows now while pregnant, I know that I will find them equally as amazing once our sweet baby is here and I am only sleeping a few hours at a time. They’re also great to use when sitting up in bed (because they stay upright) and I can visualize them being essential for back support since I’m doing feedings. Also, I have big plans to bring at least one of the NIGHT pillows with us for our hospital stay. I stand with Molly when I say that these pillows are game-changers for anyone…but especially lovely if you’re pregnant 😉

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Meet The Loveliest

February 14, 2017

Happy Heart Day! I could not think of a better time to share one of my favorite small businesses in Dallas: The Loveliest. Since moving back to Dallas I've had the pleasure of getting to know the Britni and Kelsey, the sisters who own the beautiful embroidery shop with their darling mama. Essentially, I've forced them to become my friends. And though my weekly visits might make me a full fledged stalker, I can't stay away from them and their store and my love (pun intended - especially today) and admiration just continues to grow.

Britni and Kelsey have managed to perfectly mirror their personal aesthetic onto their brand. They're incredibly warm (and happy, and kind) and their charming southern roots (they grew up in Abilene, TX) compliment the bohemian undertones and layered mix of clean, traditional (but not boring), sweet (but not sugary sweet), and whimsical (but not trendy) offerings they so carefully curate. My soft spot for entrepreneurial women - especially sister operations - is well known but that's not the only reason why I'm crazy for The Loveliest. Standing out in the vast world of retail can be difficult but and these sisters have managed to set themselves apart with unique monogram options (done with extreme attention to detail and quality), lovely linens, special decor items and tabletop pieces, and thoughtful gifts and accessories. They love each other and it's impossible not to see that same love reflected in every inch of their brick-and-mortar store and on each page of their online shop.

I did a little Q+A session with the Kelsey and Britni as a way to get to know more about them and showcase what makes The Loveliest so special...hope you enjoy it on this Valentine's Day!

 

Q: How did you take the leap to opening The Loveliest?
A: We have always dreamt of creating a business together, but in true Wood girl fashion, we really just took a leap of faith in actually going for it! Britni and I had both lived all over the country since graduating from SMU and both decided in December of 2014 that it was time to start thinking about moving back to Texas to be near family. While home for Christmas, we spotted a darling house for lease in the Fairmount District, which is one of our favorite areas in Dallas. Within a couple of weeks, we had found our storefront, purchased an embroidery machine (which we had no idea how to use) and were headed to market in NY for our first buying trip! We hit the ground running when we got back to Dallas and opened our doors in May of 2015. While creating our brand has been a lot of work, it’s also something that has come rather naturally for us.  From the look of our shop to the lines we carry and the monograms we design, we always try to stay true to what we personally love.

Q: How did you decide on making Dallas the spot to open the store?
A: Dallas is a very sentimental place for us. We love this city! Growing up just three hours away in Abilene, we spent a lot of time here as children. As I mentioned above, Britni and I both moved here to attend SMU, but then moved away after college. Our parents still live in Abilene and will likely move to Dallas in the near-future, so when we decided it was time to actually go for it and start a business together, it was a no brainer as to where we do it. Dallas has been the perfect place to create the business, but we are having so much fun that we plan to expand beyond Texas soon!

Q: I know that your mama’s linen collection was the starting point for your joint love of linens, but how did you decide to embark on embroidery and monogramming as the hallmark of The Loveliest
A: We felt that there was a real void in the market for monogramming and embroidery that we could identify with. We weren’t finding the linens or the designs that we were drawn to, so we decided to create our own!

Q: As someone who is not a “monogram girl,” your options have totally changed my view of the traditional (or stereotypical?) monogram styles we usually see. Did you have this in mind when you were creating and choosing the styles of monograms you would offer?
A: We hear you, sister! Neither one of us have truly ever been the traditional monogram type. However, we have had such fun coming up with non-traditional and modern designs that appeal to even the least likely of monogram fans. We know that we’re not the only ones offering unique embroidery options, but I do think that our attention to detail is a rarity. Perfectionists to a fault, we even use the matching bobbin when stitching an item so that it looks the monogram looks the same from both sides.

Q: I love the color combinations you all come up with when pairing linens with thread colors and the mix of boho and traditional products you offer. How do your personal tastes and aesthetics influence what you do/buy for the store and the brand?
A: Our rule of thumb is that we must be able to imagine everything that we buy, design or create in our own home. It’s been really fun to see all three of our aesthetics come together to create a really colorful and thoughtful variety of offerings.

Color is so important to us! We’ve been able to base not only the branding, but the products of our store on color. It’s so important to know how colors work together. It’s easy for a design to look too sweet or too masculine, but being able to use the right colors, the design on a whole looks very balanced. That is something that we hold ourselves to in every design!

Q: If you all were a monogram style you offer, which would you be?
Kelsey: I would be Crepe Myrtle and would pick Forget Me Not for Brit
Britni: I would be Hollyhock and would pick Ginger for Kelsey
Britni and Kelsey: We both think that as the Queen Bee of the family, mom would be Cherry Blossom

Q: What are the best and worst parts about being small business owners? 
A: As with any job, there’s always the good, the bad and the ugly, but we absolutely love our new role as small business owners! What could possibly be so bad about waking up every day, working with your mom and sister from a darling little white carriage house, visiting with customers who have become great friends, and putting our heads together to create beautiful things? If we had to complain about something/anything, it would be that we never feel like our work is really complete. From buying for the shop to keeping up with online orders, creating our own line, handling our own graphic design and marketing efforts, and so on, it’s a lot of work! All worth it though!

Q: What are the best and worst parts about retail?
A: It is no secret that the retail world is a tough world to be in most of the time. We’ve seen trends that we didn’t even know existed until we decided to open a retail store! Hence, why we quickly discovered it was imperative that we create an online shop that would allow anyone to shop from anywhere at anytime. We knew that we wanted to try and create the same enjoyable experience that we offer in the shop, but in a way that doesn’t leave one feeling completely overwhelmed while choosing from a computer screen. Now that our online shop is off the ground and our customer base is growing on a national level, we are even more focused on create awareness of our brand on a larger scale.

Q: Because Sally and I get asked this a lot: how do you like being both sisters and business partners? 
A: We honestly have no complaints! How often do you get to speak your mind and know that you won’t get fired for it?! Ha. We really do have a blast working together. There are certain things that we have each ended up taking ownership over, but we truly try to make most decisions together on everything from buying for the store to coming up with new monogram designs to managing finances. The best part about being business partners and sisters is that we both understand how much we each loved our former careers. When given the opportunity for Britni to travel back to Los Angeles to style a photo shoot or for me to consult on a political campaign or event, we push one another to take it!

Q: What experiences from your past careers help you today with The Loveliest?
Kelsey: We have all worked in creative roles prior to starting The Loveliest, but each of our careers have been quite different from the other!

Britni was a Style Editor for Martha Stewart Weddings before moving over to the Anthropologie brand to start their wedding shop, BHLDN. She went on to start her own styling company and continues to style for various magazines and brands. As her sister, I feel like I can say that she has a way of making everything look perfect. From changing the store around from week to week and making everything look new, to designing many of our beautiful custom monograms, she is hands down the most creative person I’ve ever known.

Our mom owned a children’s clothing store when we were much younger, which she also did a lot of the designing for. She has such an eye for design, is quite a lover of textiles and a lover of people, which are all things that are a huge asset to The Loveliest!

My background is rather interesting because of the different arenas in which I’ve worked in. I have always loved interior design and so enjoy styling homes for customers and friends, but my background is primarily in special events. The majority of my experience was in the political arena, where I worked on the 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns, followed by a position with The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which I continue to care so deeply about.

Between the three of us, we manage to make it all happen and are just so grateful for this opportunity to create something wonderful together.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge and biggest celebration?
A: Our biggest challenge is weathering the nature of a brick and mortar retail store. Our biggest celebration thus far has been the launch of our beautiful website! Every single item was photographed in-house, every detail was seen to, and it was a true labor of love.

Q: Aside from the launch of the website (which is amazing) and offering all your in-store embroidery options and products online, are there any future plans for The Loveliest you all can share with us?
A: Yes! We are in the process of creating our own line of table linens, pillows, bed clothing and baby accessories, with plans to grow a presence in markets beyond Dallas.

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Sally’s Baby Shower

January 3, 2017

Happy 2017! I for one love welcoming a new year. 2016 will go down with 12 months of memories but there are so many things I'm looking forward to in 2017...the biggest being that I'll become an auntie when Sally has her baby boy!

Everyone in our family is so over the moon with excitement. Our mom hosted a baby shower for Sally after Christmas while we were all still at home so that our friends and family could shower her with some love. If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know that Sal and I love to brag on our mama...aside from her being so loving, endlessly helpful (ex: helping us with all our moves), and always supportive, she's also wickedly creative, the best cook, and beyond thoughtful. I knew she probably had some great ideas up her sleeve for the shower but as usual, she completely exceeded any of my expectations and the get together was completely darling. For someone who doesn't really know what Pinterest is ("People get recipes from there, right?") and definitely doesn't consider herself "crafty" ("I don't scrapbook") I love she comes up with scenes like this. And I couldn't help but share a some snaps of the set-up!

 

I’m not going to give away what Sally’s planning for her nursery but what I can say is that it will be a balance of modern and traditional, and very sweet. What our mama put together for the shower is definitely a blend of Sal’s aesthetic, blue for baby boy, and classics from our childhood. The silver cups hanging from the chandelier are the cups that belonged to me and my siblings and the stacks of books came from a huge collection our mom has been saving (“Blueberries for Sal” is of course one of Sally’s favorites). The little feather tree has Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit ornaments from the tree our mom put up in our nursery when we were itty bitty and the little stork is from a baby shower our grandma hosted for her.

Fun fact: Sally really doesn’t love having all the attention on herself and gets so bashful opening gifts in front of people. My mom and I know this personality trait all too well and kept the party intimate and low key. Yummy bites and good sips, good conversations and fun antidotes and stories about little ones kept things festive and fun. I personally got so many warm fuzzy feelings seeing her open presents and trying to picture my nephew in the sweet outfits and using all the gear. I hope these next several months fly by!

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Dorothy Shain Bikinis

December 22, 2016

So sister Sally won in the holiday decor department this year with her festive living room situation. I completely failed on putting up any sort of decorations aside from tacking up my "Mistletoe. Like, Now" print and filling this bowl with a small assortment of my ornaments (you can see my sad attempt at cheer here). Even though my living room didn't get the Christmas treatment, it did get some new artwork that I'm so completely in love with!

I had been corresponding with artist Dorothy Shain since March about commissioning a few custom pieces. For those of you unfamiliar with her work, Dorothy is a contemporary artist based in South Carolina. Her paintings, collages, hand-dyed fabrics, and mixed media pieces have been gaining steady attention and praise - and Sally and I have loved following her work over the past few years. I was over the moon when she suggested we work together to come up with something specific and special to my home. The result are three bikini pieces that wouldn't be more perfect...

 

When Dorothy and I first started talking about what might work with my style I told her that while I had some art pieces that were bright and bold, I was most interested in bringing in something neutral. Being the sweet, Southern gem that she is (along with being comfortable working with any color palette), Dorothy was more than down for doing something neutral. We discussed where I envisioned a piece(s) going – sizing – and which of her pieces I favored most. I told her that I was obsessed with her bikini pieces but that I didn’t know if they were totally me…their feminine nature always made me think they’d be better suited in Sally’s home. But after some thinking I determined that they were too magical to pass up and I knew Dorothy would make me a bikini or two that would perfectly align with my aesthetic.

Dorothy’s bikinis were an instant favorite among fans and she continues to sketch, paint, and tweak the concept; her experiments with styles (high waisted briefs, underwire tops, string ties, etc.) and play with patterns and colors has elevated the teeny swimsuit to something more than worthy of having on the wall.

Once we settled on the bikinis, I gave Dorothy an idea of what I meant by “neutral” colors. I pointed her towards Loeffler Randall’s Pre-Fall ’16 mood board…I’m an LR addict but this particular collection really aligned with what I going for in my living room area (bleached neutrals, blush pink, intentional pops of color like sienna and red). It was kind of a weird reference but I thought the bikini pieces totally fell in line with the “everlasting summer” concept they had for the collection and lucky for me, Dorothy totally got where my head was at. I also sent her an image of the rug I had bought for the room (a vintage Turkish piece from Etsy seller Lavendersky Blue).

And then….I patiently waited. Usually I am HORRIBLE at waiting for anything when I’m super excited but moving in September and getting Rosebud in November, coupled with being work busy helped distract me. It also helped that Dorothy sent me a sneak peek of three (3!) bikinis she had been working on for me in early November. My response was something like, “OMG OMG OMG so amazing, looooooove them.” We chatted about various framing options and determined that simple white frames and floating the pieces on a white mat would look best.

Next thing I know…it’s Tuesday of this week and the bikinis are at my doorstep (each lovingly wrapped in layers of bubble wrap, framed to perfection, and signed). I was blown away that Dorothy sent me all three – we’d originally talked about one or two – so I was equal parts shocked and touched. The bikinis are so special in person (though I tried to capture their beauty and Dorothy’s artistic layering with these pictures) and I still can’t believe they are mine. These are my first “original” mixed media art pieces and that makes them all the more special.

When it came to hanging, I knew I wanted two of the three bikinis to hang with the mirror above my entry table in my living room – with one on either side. Sally helped me determine which pair looked best and we decided that they looked best positioned a little higher than centered in the middle of the mirror. Our mama is really the master when it comes to hanging art but she’s taught us well and getting these babies up was a snap.

I’m still thinking about where the third bikini will go…for now it’s leaning on the entry console below the pink bikini. I think my heart is feeling a little sad about breaking up the trio so soon – they just look so great together! But I have some empty walls that I’m contemplating moving it to.

If you love Dorothy’s bikinis as much as Sally and I do (and really, what’s not to love?!) you can shop her current offerings of the swimsuits here. We love the black and white versions and Dorothy has told us that she’ll be adding more with color and on white backgrounds to her site in January. Make sure you also check out her collages and giclee prints, and follow her on Instagram @dorothy_shain to stay in the loop when new pieces are released, upcoming events, and more. In addition to her prints and originals for sale, Dorothy creates custom invitations, stationary, and logos and is accepting commissions for custom art pieces for 2017. We’re predicting that her star will continue to rise so if you’re interested in her talent, now is a great time to work with her!

Thank you again, D! Adore you and smile every time I look at my new bikinis!

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