Author: Molly Miller (Left)
Location: Dallas, TX
A little bit: Owner of white lab pups blue moonbeam and Rosebud, Molly's primary job is running the blog and keeping up with her collection of white shirts. She tends to be the more tomboy + edgy sister and she's crazy about pizza and ripped jeans.
Toast: Butter + Strawberry jelly, or avocado + red pepper
Author: Sally Miller Walker (Right)
Location: Dallas, TX
A little bit: Sally's passion and career is as an early childhood education teacher. she has a weakness for sweets and shopping on line and plays more with pinks, pattern, and color than Molly. Currently listening to: vampire weekend.
Toast: Butter + Cinnamon + Sugar, or peanut butter
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 😉
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: 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.
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!
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!
When we - my husband and I - first moved into our house in Dallas we had a fairly large front living room that was completely empty. I dubbed it the "Christmas tree room" even back in July because the front-facing plantation shutters were perfect for displaying a pretty, fresh tree in front of and the white fireplace was just begging for our Christmas stockings to be hung from it. Fast forward to almost 6 months later and a lot has changed in our Christmas tree room.
We were able to fill the room with some pieces that we absolutely love from ATG Stores that make the room cozier than ever on our first Christmas in this house...
I have a hard time picking a favorite piece in the room because it really did all come together so well, but I can safely say that our dog Camp’s favorite the Hadley/Hemingway Rug by Loloi. The rug was one of the first items I picked – and this first piece to arrive – and it alone made a world of difference in the room as soon as we laid it down. The rug is soft and cozy and different from any rug in our house which makes it special. Finding a one-color rug that has visual interest isn’t always easy and I love that this one looks striped with its cut pile and loop construction.
Truth be told, the first piece I fell for when I started browsing the ATG Stores site was the Antoinette Antiqued French Accent Chair by Baxton Studio in the yellow linen. Yellow is my most favorite color and we had yet to use the hue it in any other room of our house, so it seemed meant to be when I saw this chair. They add just the perfect punch of happy color to the room without being too much and I love the classic design of them. With the bright chairs, a neutral rug seemed like a perfect choice and also led me to wanting a neutral sofa. *Side note: our pup Dolly loves perching in the chair that sits closest to the front windows.
I had a vision for what I wanted in a “living room” sofa (we have a sectional sofa in our family room by our TV) and in my mind I wanted something somewhat formal-looking but also approachable and inviting. Nothing worse than having furniture that guest feel is too nice to sit on! I instantly gravitated for the Emily Tufted Sofa by Pacific Loft for it’s velvet texture and turfed design. The curves compliment the French design of the chairs and the beige hue is just slightly darker than the ivory of the rug, keeping it from blending in.
With the yellow chairs making such a color statement, it was a little hard for me to determine what type of coffee table I wanted to anchor the sitting area. I knew I wanted something rectangular so that the length could sit parallel to the couch and the chair could sit on either side of it. My mom (who helped me pursue all the ATG Stores pages and weigh in on the look of the room) is the one who first found the Back to the Roots Atlantis Coffee Table by GroovyStuff. At first I wasn’t sure if the piece would be too much of a departure from the elegant chairs and sofa but my mom was right in suggesting it because the organic nature of the table is a perfect contrast to the structured sitting pieces. I love how the wood warms up the space and goes well with our crisp white walls and the art that we knew would be in the room.
This room is hands down my favorite room in our house – it is the first place we see when we walk into the door and it never ceases to make me smile. As I had pictured when we first moved in, the space has become even more special with the Christmas holiday.
My husband and I picked out our fresh tree after Thanksgiving and we got to hang the collection of ornaments my mom has been gifting me each year since I was a baby. I was pretty impressed by how full the tree was though I feel like we still need to thoughtfully add some more ornaments over time. It will be exciting to share the ornament tradition with a new baby next Christmas and for many Christmases to come.
Another family tradition? Our needlepoint stockings which were literally a labor of love over the past year and a half by Molly and my mom. After my husband and I got married my mom and I had the designs painted by a local needlepoint studio in Kansas City (we were inspired by vintage Christmas illustrations) and once they were ready to stitch Molly took over mine and my mom went to town on Robert’s. We already have one painted and ready for stitching to add to the mantle for the new baby, which is so exciting (and a little surreal). It’s one of my task in the New Year and I’m really excited to get going on it. I’m a slower stitcher than my mama and Molly so I’ll need all the time I can to complete it before next year!
And of course, I couldn’t leave our puppies out when it came to representing the family with stockings. I learned about Shari Ledji and her Red Llama Studio – she makes absolutely darling custom felt, initial stockings – and thought the modern design would look great along side the needlepoint stockings. I was able to pick the colors when The Loveliest hosted a trunkshow with Shari months ago and love how they coordinate. They seriously out better than I could have expected!
Aside from our Christmas tree and the stockings, the other big holiday decor moment happening in the living room are the colorful bottle brush trees on our mantle. I found them at Neiman Marcus in the fall and jumped at getting all the colors (they came in little six-piece color groupings). Sadly, there’s only one color left – but I’m sure they will be back next year.
See why I smile every time I walk into this room!?