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The Create Series

The Create Series: Honeycomb Studio

An Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Look at an Atlanta Small Batch Ceramics Studio
Filed Under > Everyday

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Feast your eyes, friends, on the pretty that is Honeycomb Studio.  We recently had the privilege of getting an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this local Atlanta gem: a small batch ceramics studio that produces countless stunning, handmade porcelain sculpture designs that we’re proud to feature in our Shop (and we can’t keep them on our shelves!).  Each piece is made one-at-a-time, meaning no two pieces are alike, which makes them that much more special in our eyes. 

We’ve been thrilled to follow Honeycomb Studio founder Courtney Hamill’s much-deserved and growing success, spotting her beautiful work around the web and on industry favorites like Lonny and Southern Living. In today’s installment of The Create Series, we sat down with Courtney to talk shop, learn about her personal creative process, hear about her upcoming plans for Honeycomb Studio and more. Read on, below!  Cheers, Kat

WOM: We’re thrilled to share your story today; you’re such an inspiration as both a creative and small business owner! Please take us through your professional journey.
HS:
I discovered ceramics a bit later in life than some others. I grew up in a school with a very limited and traditional arts curriculum and, as such, wasn’t exposed to sculpture or 3D art until college. I took an introductory wheel class as an elective my junior year in college and was hooked. I took every studio class they would let me until I graduated a year later. There’s something very visceral about pottery – your hands almost itch to be in clay.

When I graduated from college, I worked as a full time apprentice to a well-known ceramicist, Donna Polseno, but soon had to return to the world of the 9-5 for all of those normal adult reasons (health insurance, etc.). I spent the next 7 years building a successful career as a non-profit fundraiser. I always regretted walking away from pottery, but the idea of leaving a stable job to become a studio artist seemed unwise. In the spring of 2012, I had taken a job that wasn’t the right fit for me and, in assessing my options, decided that now was the time to take a leap and pursue a dream. I won’t say it was an easy decision, but the timing felt right and I knew I could always go back to work if ceramics didn’t work out. I’m happy to say that I’ve never looked back.

WOM: When did you realize that Honeycomb Studio had “made it”? Was there one moment when you realized this was all going to be a hit, or were there a bunch of little moments?
HS:
I’m not sure that I’ve ever been able to relax enough to say that Honeycomb Studio has “made it”, but there are two moments that stand out in my mind that made me think that my crazy plan to build a pottery studio might be working. The first was a feature article in Southern Living that effectively legitimized my career move to my entire family (and probably to the Southeast) and the second was an email from a buyer with Liberty of London saying they wanted to offer my Antler Series to their customers. It was amazing to be that people/companies on that scale were taking note of the work coming out of my 200 square foot studio.

WOM: Have you had a mentor/any piece of advice that’s really stuck with you on your journey?
HS: Creatively speaking, I get immense comfort/inspiration from two quotes that essentially say the same thing: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” – Pablo Picasso, and “…Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” – Chuck Close. They remind me that being an artist is WORK, which might not seem very sexy, but it frees me from the idea that I have to walk around in a haze of creative ideas all the time to be a good artist. No. Sometimes you’re not feeling it just like everyone else, but just like everyone else, you get your ass in that studio, make work and see where it takes you. It takes a lot of the existential pressure off, especially when I feel like my creative well is running a bit dry. Work begets art and there’s no way around it.

WOM: This past year especially, we’ve seen Honeycomb Studio really take off. How has balancing motherhood been so far with your success?
HS:
I’m flattered that you think I’m balancing anything, haha. The first thing I have to say is that I don’t do this alone. I have an amazing studio team working all week long to fill wholesale orders and keep our firing and production on track. My studio manager, Sarah Beth, has been with me for three years and can pretty much run with studio without me, which leaves me more time to grow the business side of things and create new designs. I also spent most of last year getting Honeycomb Studio ready to run without me during the busiest time of the year (Christmas) while I was on maternity leave, so the systems that I put in place for that have been immensely helpful. Mostly, though, I would say that I’m still working on “balance”, and wonder if there really is such a thing for a small, creative business owner. I had illusions of bringing Leo, my 5 month old, to the studio with me every day and living the maker/mom dream, but I discovered pretty quickly that I couldn’t be productive that way. I had to look long and hard at my goals for Honeycomb Studio and what “being a good mom” meant for me and I’m still in the process of figuring those things out. In the meantime, I’m just trying to have grace for myself and remember that it’s all one big learning process.

WOM: Where do you find inspiration for your stunning and completely unique pieces?
HS: 
I never know where inspiration will come from, so I try to keep my eyes open. For me, inspiration comes mostly from the form. If I find a modern form with clean lines that appeals to me, I start there and find that the designs will come next. It’s kind of an “I know it when I see it” kind of thing. I do try not to look too much at what my fellow ceramicists are doing so that I’m not overly influenced by their work. I do my best to draw from outside of that pool.


WOM: What’s your process for creating new pieces/collections?
HS:
I usually start with a general idea of something I want to make, be it a candle stick, a plate, or a vase, and then I start to look around for a clean form that appeals to me. Sometimes this is a bottle I find in a thrift store, sometimes it’s a form that inspires me in a magazine that I then play with in the studio. I try not to get too caught up on what I want the finished product to look like and try to take one step at a time – determine the form, add any carvings/alterations, play with glazes/luster designs – and see where that takes me. The fact that I tend to work with a very limited color palate helps narrow down the endless options, as well. I have learned to be flexible, because sometimes the glazes or forms don’t behave as you expect them to during high temperature firings, and it’s nice to be able to work with those unexpected elements, rather than start over from the beginning. It’s a fun process if you can train yourself not to be too ridged.

WOM: Is there a specific way you like to fill your “creativity tank”? 
HS:
Being around people who love what they do is a never ending source of inspiration for me. They don’t even need to be creatives, just be excited about whatever it is that gets you out of bed and that rubs off on me. Of course, if you’re doing exciting creative work, all the better! I find that the artistic pursuits that have the biggest effect on me are very different from the kind of thing I do all day: modern dance, installation art – that weird stuff just electrifies me and I can’t wait to get back in the studio and make new stuff.

WOM: Have you dealt with any copy cats? 
HS: Luckily, I haven’t yet. I think ceramics are a little harder to rip off than paper goods, jewelry or something like that, just because of the specific materials needed (good luck finding a kiln). I would like to think though, that unless it was a big company ripping off my designs, I wouldn’t get too hung up on it. Even if someone copied my bud vases, for example, they will never be as good as the vases that I make, simply because they are an imitation. Of course, to make a profit off of someone else’s designs is rude and inexcusably lazy, but that just means the copy catter is not a real threat. I have a million ideas and they had to steal the one that they “had”, so while infuriating, they’re not a real creative threat. This philosophy might be a little obnoxiously zen, but like I said, I’ve never actually dealt with the issues so who knows how I’ll feel when push comes to shove.

WOM: What are your tips to others starting out on the same path as you did? 
HS:
First, I would say get some semblance of a business plan. That’s not a sexy answer, but making a living as an artist is a huge challenge and you have to have more of a plan than “I’ll just open an etsy shop and see what happens”. If you’re not going to do it full time, by all means, see where your etsy shop takes you, but the plan needs to be a little more robust if you’re going to pay the bills. Second, I would say to put some thought into what success looks like to you and if the answer is having your work in every store in America (or something grand like that), put some thought into how to scale your handmade whatever to fill large orders. You can be doing it all yourself at first because we all do, but I am here to tell you that trying to fill an order for 1500 handmade candles by yourself, even if it is for Anthropologie or something awesome like that, is NOT what you want to find yourself doing. If you’re successful, great opportunities will come along and it’s good to have at least an idea of how much you can handle and what it would mean to handle more.

WOM: We LOVE that you’ve introduced lighting to the mix and have enjoying seeing it become the big success that it is. What’s next?
HS:
Oooh I’m so excited! I can’t say yet, but we’re in the middle of designing a totally new line to debut this fall and I can say that 1) I’ll finally have a product that no one asks “it’s pretty, but what do you do with it?”, and 2) these are pretty traditional items that everyone has in their home. I’ve also been working on some collaborations with some great local companies like Heirloomed and Holly Beth Organics, so stay tuned for that too.

WOM: Has there been anything you’ve been dying to take to market and didn’t? Has anything failed that you’ve had your heart set on? 
HS: I really wanted to offer our Antler Series as mounted wall hangings, but I could never really figure out the logistics of working with wood + metal as I wanted to. I have some ideas, but could never really make it work. Oh well, maybe one day…

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Photography, Kathryn McCrary for Waiting on Martha

The Create Series: Jess Graves of The Love List

A Peek Behind The Scenes with One of Our Favorite Storytellers
Filed Under > Everyday

Waiting on Martha's interview with Jess Graves, founder of The Love ListIMG_8359Photo 4 -1446745421985photo2-vanwinklephoto 4-2 1445971781803
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You know those people that just seem to find THE COOLEST stories? Those people that celebrate tradition, culture (basically all of the good things in life) by passing along hidden gems we all yearn to know about? Well that in a nutshell describes our friend Jess Graves, founder of The Love List. If you haven’t heard of The Love List then you’ve been living under a rock for oh, I don’t know, 10+ years now.  Founded in 2006, The Love List provides intimate glimpses into the lives of creatives and makers alike. My favorite part; Jess’s ability to make me feel as a reader like I’m right there in the heart of it, sitting next to her crew, laughing along and moving to the beat.  A beat that caught us here at WOM a few weeks ago when we sat with Jess to take a behind-the-scenes look into what makes The Love List what it is.

WOM: It’s easy to see that you’re passionate about the good things in life: food, music and culture (etc.). We’re suckers for all of the above. Can you share with us how you established your niche for The Love List, and how you made it to where you are today?
JNG: Haha, I don’t know that there was any intense plan of action when it came to establishing a niche, I’d like to say I was that strategic, but I just come at it from a genuine place. The Love List started wayyyy back almost ten years ago as a literal list of things I love, and I think that idea’s just kind of evolved as I grew up, and the content grew up with me. I take what I learn from working in magazines and apply those ideas to digital content, which is where we’re at now. We like telling stories about the South, and we try not to do it in a stuffy or cliche way, quality over quantity. And I say “we” literally, not royally – there’s no way in hell any of it would get pulled off without our team/contributors. Without them, I’d be up sh*t creek writing listicles.

WOM: You’re one of our favorite storytellers, and you always seem to know how to get your subjects talking. How do you prepare for an interview? And do you ever suffer from “writer’s block”?
JNG: Well thanks for saying that! I like telling stories, but I honestly don’t prepare that much! Haha, I sound like such a flake. I just don’t really hunt stories or subjects down. I’m out in the world more than I’m sitting at my desk, and by constantly going places and meeting folks I’m genuinely interested in, stories find their way to The Love List pretty organically. By the time I actually sit down with someone, I’ve usually already known them awhile, and it’s just us having an informal conversation, spending time with them, letting them lead us through what they’re working on, and filling in the gaps later on once I sit down to write. And yes, I totally get writer’s block, but usually if I pick up a great book and read something killer by some writer who is way better than me, it un-blocks me.

WOM: Tell us about your most memorable story: how it came about, what you learned from it, etc.
JNG: Every story Caroline and I do together always makes for a great memory. We’ve been working together so long now we kind of have it down to a science. We’re like sisters, we definitely bicker and sass, but we’re good travel buddies and partners in crime, and we both push each other to be better, work harder. She loves the subject matter as much as I do, so sometimes we have these moments where we’re coming back from shooting a video with an amazing musician or being half-drunk with some great chef that we’re just like, “We get to do this?!” Acting jaded or like you’ve seen it all is lame. We’re real-life fans of the stuff we cover, so we’re jumping up and down inside 99% of the time. I never want to lose that appreciation or take those experiences for granted.

WOM: We know you have a soft spot for the tunes, especially those from emerging Southern musicians. Do you have a go-to source for discovering new music?
JNG: People always ask me this! I wish there was some magical secret source I could toss out, but honestly I think it comes from just being embedded in it constantly. We’ve got great relationships with musicians, record labels and music venues that are always putting things on my radar, but sometimes I’ll just fall down a rabbit hole on Spotify and see what I can find. My friends all know I’m a music nerd too, so people are always texting me stuff, which I love. Sometimes a song just comes on in a friend’s car and I Shazam it. Like anything, it’s just a matter of having your eyes (or in this case, ears) open all the time.

WOM: Are you guilty of playing a favorite song to death?
JNG: Um, yes. I call it “secret repeat” because it’s usually something really uncool. I hate myself for loving the new Justin Bieber album. Not because it’s pop, I love a good radio jam, but because I feel confident Justin Bieber is not someone I’d like to hang out with haha. *shakes fist at Diplo’s catchy beats*

WOM: Where do you seek inspiration/fill your creativity tank?
JNG: People! People are what inspire me and keep me thinking and pushing. Everyone said Millenials as a generation were doomed to fail, but I think we’re kind of killing it right now. The value we place on history, integrity, and creativity is creating the kind of energy (at least in Atlanta) right now that makes you feel like you’re a bee in some kind of cosmic hive. That’s kind of a heady thing to say, but there’s a creativity fever here, and everyone is catching it. And the women here are the greatest. I have the best girl friends here.

WOM: Who would you have around the table at your dinner party (dead or alive)?
JNG: I don’t care, as long as they come to eat, intend to stay late, and aren’t an asshole. There are currently no vacancies for assholes at the dining table that is my life.

WOM: Favorite city/neighborhood?
JNG: Atlanta. I really love it here.

WOM: Signature drink?
JNG: Probably bourbon, though I’m hesitant to say that because there is some kind of hard-ass cliche that comes with being a “whiskey woman”. Liking whiskey doesn’t say anything about my personality except that I like whiskey.

WOM: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
JNG: Aside from the aforementioned Bieber thing? Probably Shake Shack. It’s way too close to my house.

WOM: Favorite song or band (currently)?
JNG: Haha, that’s literally an impossible question. I really like Great Peacock out of Nashville, though. And Leon Bridges. And Chris Stapleton. And the list goes on forever…

WOM: Dream vacation? Next vacation spot?
JNG: Cuba. I am obsessed with Cuba right now.

WOM: What are you currently reading?
JNG: A lot of Hemingway, which sounds so like, “oh, how original, you’re sooooo Southern” but I did a cocktail article for another publication that kind of sent me down that rabbit hole that re-obsessed me with Hemingway, Cuba, and Cuban rum. So, here we are.

WOM: Favorite way to unwind?
JNG: Hot bath, many bubbles, loud music, phone off. The greatest luxury in life is turning your phone the hell off. Also, wine with my closest girlfriends. There is nothing like the combination of cocktails and catharsis.

WOM: Top item on your wish list right now?
JNG: I don’t need anything, life is good. My only wish is to keep making a living at what I’m doing and for my friends and loved ones to stay in good health. I did my fair share (*cough understatement*) of screwing up during the first half of my 20’s – I turn 30 in March, so I’m enjoying being a slightly less stupid human being at the moment. I wouldn’t kick Jon Hamm out of bed though, if someone’s offering.

A big, big thanks to Jess for giving us a little peek behind the scenes of The Love List. We can’t wait to see what exciting things Jess and her team have in store for her readers in 2016. Cheers, Kat

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Photography, Caroline Fontenot for The Love List

 

The Create Series: Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen

The Founder of the Popular Lifestyle Blog & Interior Design Business Shares Her Journey and Advice
Filed Under > The Create Series

Black and white stripe wall with chic home office via Waiting on MarthaBedroom wall art ideas and throw pillows via Waiting on Martha
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Moodboard on string ideas via Waiting on Martha
Living room decorating ideas via Waiting on MarthaMinimalist desk decor via Waiting on Martha

To say the team is thrilled to be chatting with Ms. Jacquelyn Clark, the talented voice behind the popular lifestyle blog Lark & Linen today is an understatement; we’ve been such fangirls of the blog for years, as we’ve followed (and pinned) just about every gorgeous home tour and scrumptious recipe.  So when Jacquelyn took the leap to entrepreneurship to launch her own interior design business, we knew it had success written all over it. Read along as we chat with Jacquelyn below, to learn how it all began, how she landed a coveted editorial job with Style Me Pretty to then land her own design clients for Lark & Linen, all while maintaining a popular lifestyle blog!

JC: When I first started my career as an interior designer almost a decade ago, I was working for a wonderful architect downtown Toronto. The company was great, I mean to this day I think of those co-workers as family, but the work itself didn’t completely fulfill me (ie: a lot of schools, government offices and libraries). In order to fuel my creative spirit I began penning my blog, Lark & Linen, on the side. For the first little while, I kept it pretty under my hat – only my closest friends and family knew. But before long, people started catching wind. For me, the turning point was in 2012 – almost two years after I began. I was travelling through Scotland when I received a very exciting email from Abby Larson, the genius behind Style Me Pretty. She had somehow found my blog, had this idea for Style Me Pretty Living, and asked me if I’d be interested in helping her launch it. From there, things began moving pretty quickly.

I acted as editor for SMP Living for just under two years. During that time, my blog continued to grow, and I began receiving requests for interior design services. And while working for SMP Living was an absolute dream, designing spaces in the physical sense was something I missed tremendously so taking on small projects in the evening and on the weekends was a no brainer. After a year and a half of essentially working three full time jobs, I began to feel burnt out and knew that something needed to give. Launching my own business had always been a thought in the back of my mind, I had a little bit of a nest egg built up from almost two years of non-stop work, and knew in my gut that I just needed to go full tilt. I launched my own interior design studio in October of 2015 and haven’t looked back!

WOM
: What’s your favorite design project you’ve ever worked on?
JC: Oh you can’t make me choose! I’ve actually been INCREDIBLY lucky on the client front so far and have worked with some really amazing people. All of my clients have given me a lot of creative freedom, and have instilled a lot of trust in my abilities. And in my experience, those are always the projects that end up with the best results. I’ve done everything from tiny powder room refreshers to full guts, and I have invested so much of myself in each and every one. This question is like Sophie’s choice!

WOM: Ha! Fair enough! How about a work mantra? 
JC: “Nobody died”. Ha! No, but for real – I do tend to be of the anxious mindset, and I constantly have to remind myself to put things into perspective. While I fully believe that design is in the details, I do have to check myself and remember that the outlet that’s 1/8th of an inch off centre or the grout that came out slightly lighter than I’d like is really and truly not the end of the world. Nobody died, it could always be worse, and there’s nothing here that can’t be fixed.

WOM: What does your typical day look like?
JC: I’m the antithesis of a morning person, so I typically roll out of bed around 8. On a good day, I’ll lace up my runners as soon as my feet hit the ground, go for a quick run and grab a tea on my way home before getting ready for the day. On most days however, I groggily fill the kettle, turn on my computer and make a to-do list in my pyjamas. Once I’m actually awake, dressed and ready, my days are always a combination of client meetings, furniture sourcing, blog writing, recipe creating, delivery coordinating madness. It’s busy, and it’s hectic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do try to shut everything down by 7 so Justin and I can make and enjoy dinner together, but often end up tackling a few more things into the wee hours of the morning. Now that I have a steady stream of clients and a better grasp of how much I can take on and when, my current goal is to work on the work-life balance thing, so we’ll see how that goes this year!

WOM: Tell us a bit about the creative process for you.
JC:
It really and truly depends on the client and their needs, but I always start with a q&a series to really hone in on what it is my client is after, both from a design standpoint and a lifestyle perspective. From there it’s all about the details: site documenting, budget planning and the not-so-fun essentials. Once everything has been worked out logistically, I really start brainstorming. This typically involves a serious Pinterest love affair, reconnecting with my stack of design magazines, and evolves from there!

WOM
: What do you love about your job?
JC: As an introvert, a business in interior design makes for the perfect balance between collaboration (with my clients, my contractors and the like) and sealing myself up in a yoga pant-clad bubble and getting all of those creative energies out on paper. It’s fantastic!

WOM: We’re always sharing the best ways to update a space here on WOM. What’s your favorite way to accessorize a room?
JC: Rugs and custom drapery. They really and truly make a space each and every time.

WOM: We’re sure you’re inundated with a whole lot of pretty every day. How often do you redecorate your own space?
JC: Ha! Constantly! We’re actually house hunting right now, which has tempered my big re-decorating ways, but it hasn’t stopped me from picking up new accessories, pillow covers and the like here and there.

WOM: As an interior designer, where do you find inspiration? 
JC: While Pinterest is a great source, of course, I do find I’m most inspired when travelling. I always seem to come up with my best ideas when out and about exploring!
WOM: We can totally see that.  And do you have a girl crush or style icon?
JC: I really admire Catherine Kwong. She is a master at interior design and her projects always bridge that gap between all out luxury and total livability. She’s a design genius, as far as I’m concerned.

WOM: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
JC: “Be humble and grateful, always.”

WOM: And what advice do you have for individuals hoping to follow your path?
JC: Start a blog! The connections you can make through blogging are invaluable, it allows you to really hone in on your personal style and, probably most importantly, you have full creative control. That last point is hugely beneficial for a designer and, unless you’re designing your own home for your own single self, rarely, if ever, happens.

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