Weekend Thoughts

Take It Easy  |  The Fresh Exchange

The time has come for our last weekend in Northern Michigan. It is one of those bittersweet feelings where you feel both ready for the next thing, but also extremely sad. Though there are many faces we haven’t enjoyed a meal with like we had hoped and there are some things that we did not check off our bucket list, we are feeling a strong peace about this season closing.

I used to get stressed about not checking off my list of things. There was this feeling of guilt, but I think this summer has shown me the things I truly need from the time we will spend up north in the future. We forever want to see our time up here – whether it is 2 weeks or 4 months – as our get away and a time to more or less let go. This summer we have managed 3 large branding projects and purchased a home on the other side of the country (bless our agent…for real, he’s a rock star). On top of it all, we have tried to walk that balance of enjoying every possible moment we have experienced up here. All of this has made us have some honest thoughts about what we truly want from our time here and for our life in general. A lot of good questions have been asked, a lot of books have been read about creative business ownership and life, and more importantly  great conclusions have been made.

Next Friday we pack our car and head south to Raleigh to sign on our house and begin the process of home ownership. I am through the roof excited about the potential and opportunity this space will have not just for our life as Megan and Mike, but for our business as well. I never thought in a million years we would be able to find a space like this. Sometimes you have to allow life to surprise you and this time it has. Once on the other side of the process of getting keys in hand, I plan to share a really honest post about home buying as a creative entrepreneur. It has been more than a 2 year journey for Mike and me - which sounds wild – but needless to say having those keys in hand will feel really good and quite the accomplishment for us.

Since we are in this final stretch we are heading north to Harbor Springs to hold a Simple Evening with two of our favorite local companies, Huzza and American Spoon. Then the next day we will be heading north with my cousin and his lady to spend a night camping in the Upper Peninsula. In the 5 years prior to moving to Raleigh, Mike and I never went up to the UP together and it has been on our list for years. So, we felt it was time to make it happen even if it was a quick trip. We are super excited that this is how we will be spending our last weekend up north.

Before I leave you for the weekend I did want to share a few good links that kept me going after the holiday weekend:
1. I am really loving the new collection from AYR right now, have you seen it? I still cannot get over the fit of their jeans. They literally fit like a glove in the best way.

2. Lately I have been craving more outdoor life. Maybe it is the time we have spent outside this summer or how it makes me feel at the end of the day to crash in my bed and how hard you sleep after a day in the sun…but this video isn’t helping me stay behind the computer right now. 

3. We had the honor of being featured by Death to Stock Photos about how we have chosen our truth and path. Check it out!

4. To be this obsessed with a craft is something that fascinates me to no end. This passion is so inspiring. 

5. Love that the minimal wardrobe is becoming more and more popular and Hackwith Design House has some of the best basics yet.  

Finally, if any of you are YouTube fans we just recently jumped on the band wagon and we will be focusing more in the coming year on producing inspiring video content there. We would love to have you join us and subscribe to our channel. We promise you will love what we have planned!

Happy Weekend friends! I hope it is a great one for you.

Wild Measures: The Citizenry

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

When Carly and Rachel set out, they were on a mission to tell the stories of beautiful people making beautiful products. While decorating their homes (Carly lives in NYC and Rachel lives in Texas), they realized they were uninterested in what mass retailers had to offer. Everything was the same; nothing inspired them. They wanted to hear the stories behind the products they were purchasing. After many hours of long distance conversations and brainstorming, Carly and Rachel decided to be the solution to the problem. If they wanted to meet the makers and provide beautiful products to the world, then they had to do it themselves. Their passion for finding quality, telling stories, and doing good drove them to leave their corporate jobs behind to start The Citizenry. Carly and Rachel sat down with us and painted an amazing picture of their Wild Measure 

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

EXPLAIN The Citizenry TO US:
Carly & Rachel: The Citizenry is an online home decor brand created to inspire people to fill their homes with more meaningful items that celebrate human craftsmanship across the globe.

Each season, we design an exclusive collection of home goods inspired by and ethically sourced from another corner of the world. Our Peru & Argentina collection, which includes alpaca textiles and handcrafted leather chairs, highlights the best materials and techniques each country has to offer.

HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN? AND HOW DID IT GET TO WHERE IT IS TODAY?

Carly & Rachel: Shopping for our own homes, we found ourselves uninspired by the products and customer experiences offered by most mass retailers. When we thought about it a bit more, we realized the things we treasured most in our homes were full of stories: we had either met the makers or picked the item up during our travels. The most interesting items actually checked both of those boxes, and we thought: maybe we can deliver an experience online that’s the next best thing to traveling abroad and meeting these amazing makers. That idea was the creative spark that started it all.

The idea started a year ago, and we JUST officially launched last week. It feels like we’ve been building this for a long time, but we’ve seen a lot of progress. A year ago, we both took vacation days and hopped on a plane to Peru to see if we could convince master artisans to work with two girls building an online shop. Armed with a Spanish phrase book and high hopes, we were determined to make this first collection a reality. A few things have fueled our progress so far:

  • Relentless determination
  • Support from a creative collective – so many of our friends have been generous with their talents, and we are forever grateful.
  • LOTS of strong coffee
  • A little luck and a few happy accidents here and there

Wild_Measures_the_citizenry_05

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

WHAT DROVE YOU TO BEGIN YOUR BUSINESS AND INVEST IN IT?

Carly: We wanted to create a business that played to our passions and did a bit of good along the way. The Citizenry is our way of scratching that never-ending itch to see the world, celebrating a lifelong love affair with international design, and making a positive impact on the world. The fact that we’re great friends with very different strengths (and mutual professional respect for one another) is what keeps the engine running.

Rachel: It was just this simple, deep desire to create something beautiful that others could enjoy. I’ve always been passionate about making homes a source of inspiration for yourself and others – and to be able to do that with someone I loved and respected in a way that made a positive impact on others – seemed like a dream opportunity.

WHEN DID THE DREAM OF BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS HAPPEN?

Carly: The creative spark for the business came somewhere in between frustrated texts passed back and forth asking one another where to find unique, beautifully-crafted items for our homes. I had just moved from NYC to Texas and was trying to decorate more than 700 square feet for the first time in my life. Rachel had just moved to NYC and was trying to find investment/quality pieces worthy of her tiny space. With my background in brand strategy and her background in strategy consulting, we figured we were the right people to start building the home decor brand we wished already existed.

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE ALONG THE WAY THAT WERE HARD?

Carly & Rachel: We both left fast-tracked career paths to chase this dream. Giving up the security of a monthly paycheck is a pretty scary thing. The budgeting and sacrifices you have to personally make are the less glamorous side of chasing you dream, but we’re both lucky enough to have two very supportive husbands who knew we’d always wonder “what if?” if we didn’t take a leap and try now.

WHAT WAS THE SPECIFIC MOMENT THAT TRIGGERED YOU TO DECIDE TO MAKE YOUR DREAM A REALITY AND TO VALUE THE OUTCOME OVER THE RISK?

Carly: For me, it was one of the first visits to a weaving cooperative in Peru. We were in awe of the workmanship and quality, and we fell in love with the group. We knew there was an opportunity to bring their skills and stories to a broader audience. At that time we hadn’t figured out exactly how we were going to do that, but deep down, we knew we had to be the people to try to build this business.

Rachel: In the beginning, it was never really a question. It felt like something I had to do or I knew I would regret it. A year later, it’s harder to have the same clarity in the day-in, day-out of building a business, but I try to hold onto that initial conviction and passion.

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

WHAT ALONG THE WAY DO YOU SEE NOW AS BEING MAJOR PIECES TO YOUR STORY?

Carly & Rachel: We set out to build a company that celebrates the people behind the products. (It’s why we chose the name The Citizenry.) On every artisan visit, we’ve learned something about a specific technique or tradition of craftsmanship. Each lesson has played into our product designs and this bigger brand story of celebrating human craftsmanship around the world. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of business operations, but interaction with our artisan partners keeps us inspired.

DURING THE PROCESS OF GROWING AND DREAMING UP YOUR BUSINESS DID YOU FEEL ANY RESERVATION? IF SO, WHAT MADE YOU QUESTION YOUR DECISION?

Carly: Building something from scratch is harder than I ever imagined. Honestly, there are times when I wonder if I have the stamina to keep pushing through the late nights and the mind power to keep figuring every little problem out. In the end, you’ll continue to surprise yourself with what you can do, dream up, and figure out; you just have to keep going. Always figure out the very next step– one foot in front of the other, and you’ll get there.

Rachel: As a woman, I think you’re always quicker to doubt yourself and your own capabilities and experiences than you should. Some fraction of those concerns may be valid, but the majority aren’t. So, ignore all of them.

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

NOW THAT YOU ARE IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING THIS DREAM BECOME A REALITY, WHAT DO YOU SEE NOW THAT WASN’T WORTH THE WORRY? FOR OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE DREAMING OF TAKING A LEAP TO CHASE THEIR DREAM, WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO THEM?

Carly: Creating something for the world to react to is equally exciting and terrifying. Don’t expect everyone to love what you’re doing, and don’t worry when some anonymous person posts a negative comment. If you do something EVERYONE likes, it’s probably not that interesting. (Advice I got early on and lean on daily)

Rachel: It’s worth worrying if it leads to thinking hard and deeply about your business. We’re always questioning what we’re doing and how it’s working. It’s maddening but it’s healthy for any new business. Definitely question the financial side of your business. You’ll likely be able to get the cost side right, but the revenue – and what drives it – is tough to crack accurately.

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

WHAT LESSON HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THE PROCESS THAT YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE YOU BEGAN?

Rachel: Be kind to anyone who is early on and working hard to build something – it’s much harder, lonelier, and riskier than you can possible imagine from the outside. Support those small businesses by purchasing from them whenever you can! I’m much more passionate about going out of my way to do that now. That’s the kindest thing you can do and the ultimate compliment you can pay.

Wild Measures: The Citizenry  |  The Fresh Exchange

WHAT ARE THE NEXT BIG DREAMS FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Carly & Rachel: In the short term, we want as many people to enjoy our products in their homes as possible. In the long term, we get excited about expanding our digital experience to a physical retail experience – one that pushes the “norms” of what traditional home decor shopping looks like today. We certainly don’t see huge showrooms in our future. We like thinking about what a next generation home decor shopping experience could look like.

 

Thank you to Carly and Rachel of The Citizenry as well as Cassie of The Veda House for the gorgeous images and taking the time to share your Wild Measure story with us!

To continue on their journey with them find them at the links below:
The Blog  |  The Shop  |  Twitter  |  Facebook   |  Pinterest   |  Instagram  

 

None Laboring Thoughts from Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

I wanted to share a few images from our weekend we had hanging around in Traverse City. It was nothing special. In fact I am glad it wasn’t. It was quiet and we had one of the best sails of the Summer with my parents.

Labor Day Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

Labor Day Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

It felt like this refreshing breath of Summer and almost made me feel as if there was no way Summer was coming closer to the end. Sure it was stormy and rainy on and off all weekend, but I have to say that Lake Michigan knows how to show herself off when she gets fiesty and moody.

Labor Day Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

Labor Day Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

This weekend left me very thankful for these few months here and for getting time to reflect on what has happened and what is ahead. Those times are important and I hope that this weekend allowed you time to get away just long enough to find time to be think about the last few months.

Labor Day Weekend  |  The Fresh Exchange

The week after a long weekend is always a little rough, so I hope you are falling back in to the groove nicely. Now go make something magical.

Loving Now: Emerson Fry Fall/Winter Collection

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

Listen, I know fall isn’t here and I am all about soaking in summer, but the onset of the second best season is coming faster than I care to mention. Thus, I am revving up my excitement for the fall months (though in Raleigh I think that fall doesn’t happen till October or later) by meandering my way through some of the up and coming collection for the season. Every year I have a few companies that never fail to leave me not just drooling but inspired; this year it is Emerson Fry. I have had the pleasure of placing a few items of theirs in my closet and I love them so much that it may be wrong. They are gorgeous and well-made, and you can feel and see the conscious thought and craft put in to each piece. This is not something easy to find so when I come across a brand like them I love investing.

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

This fall at Emerson Fry the collection is the perfect mix of chunky layers, sleek palettes of textures and neutrals, and that tomboy edge that we all love from Emerson Fry. So, in order to make you feel just better that fall is coming, I thought I would share some of the pieces and looks from their new collection that have me more excited than I care to admit about the chilly breezes in our future.

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014 | The Fresh Exchange

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

The pieces I am specifically loving are the knits combined with the very structured pieces, such as this outfit below. The large chunky sweater with the streamlined dress and thick leggings gives a thick texture to something slim and chic. It’s for sure the perfect workwear or evening outfit!

 

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

Loving Now: Emerson Made Fall/Winter 2014  |  The Fresh Exchange

There is nothing I love more about the cold weather than the layering of great pieces together. The combination of patterns, textures, and palettes is always so refreshing to progress in to after months of very simple, easy outfits that are light and airy. It’s always good to have a chance to switch it up even though (let’s be honest) summer is still the best.

Thanks Emerson Fry for the warm welcome into a new season with so much inspiration and excitement!