Today I have a great peek inside the tilly | maison shop and blog. Carolyn, the designer behind the home decor line has graciously allowed me to interview her about her products, inspiration, and business experience.
Read her MML sponsor interview below to find out how she came up with the idea for the adorable Lucite and chevron trays, how she uses blogging for her business, and what she’s coming out with next.
Inside the tilly | maison Shop
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of chevron, which is why your shop speaks, no sings, to me! What gave you the idea to combine Lucite and chevron in your collection? Any future color ways coming out in the near future?
The idea came to me last summer. I remember coming across a patterned lucite tray and instantly wanted one for myself. Unfortunately, the line I was looking at didn’t offer the simple chevron pattern I had my heart set on, and their price range seemed extravagant. So, I did what I tend to do a lot–I thought, “I could make that.” And so I did! I thought that if I loved the result as much as I did, maybe others would as well. It turns out I was right. As for the future, yes! The classics will always stay, but as the seasons change, my own color tastes change and I want to explore that. I’m also planning to expand beyond the chevron.
After a few clicks around your shop it is clear that you understand how to create a great, cohesive product line. What pointers do you have for other small business owners when they are developing new product lines?
I think the most important thing to keep in mind is just be true to yourself. If you follow your own tastes and create things that appeal to your aesthetics, I think that cohesion will occur naturally. For me, it’s not really about setting limits or themes or constraints that I have to work within. I believe in pops of bright color–it happens in my own home and in my wardrobe, so naturally it occurs in the shop as well. The same goes for stripes (I wear more striped shirts than I care to admit). Sometimes I find myself trying to force an idea that just doesn’t seem to be working and if I take a step back and think about my gut reaction to the design, it usually just isn’t me.
I also need to mention your amazing design and inspiration blog. How has your shop benefited from the blog? Which came first, the blog or the shop?
Thank you so much! The blog has been an amazing tool for the shop in so many ways. I actually had a previous personal blog and when I started the shop, I decided to realign everything under one brand. (My day job is in advertising, so I might be a little overly focused on branding.) The blog not only serves as a pool of inspiration that I can refer back to, but the audience I’ve been able to engage with so far has been fantastic. Not only are my readers so sweet and engaging, but they are so supportive! I can’t tell you the number of times that a reader/ fellow blogger has posted about the shop or one of the pieces. I think it also adds a really important human element to tilly | maison. It gives people a chance to get to know me a little bit further and add another dimension to the brand. Social media in general is the perfect tool for that, but a blog really allows the most space to express just about anything you want. It’s also wonderful to find a community of like-minded people with similar tastes, especially when your shop follows that taste.
Are there any future projects in the works which you’d like to or share with us?
Yes! My next frontier will be paper. I plan am working on some stationery designs and I also hope to expand into art prints this year. I studied fine art in college and am excited to get back to painting and drawing.
What is the hardest things about your shop? The most rewarding?
There are two big lessons I’ve learned since opening in September. The first: package your products really, really, really well for shipping! The shipping route can be brutal, and I’ve had some headaches and heartbreaks over damaged pieces. But I think the hardest thing I’ve learned (and am still learning) is how to say ‘no.’ When you’re just starting, it can be really exciting when shops and blogs and other people show interest in what you’re doing. It’s really easy to forget your own value and to flex to meet requests just because you’re new and feel a little bit desperate for attention. But the thing to remember is that if you devalue your work, so will everyone else. It can be very tempting to give in to every request. Saying no might feel like walking away from an opportunity, but I’ve found that sticking to my guns actually adds more integrity to the brand and the work.
Choosing the most rewarding element of the shop is a tough one! I still get so excited over every single order, and there is nothing better than wrapping up a finished piece with my ribbon and hang tag. It is so entirely satisfying. At the same time, the blog, by proxy, has really opened me up to some fabulous people and driven positive awareness of the shop that I am really proud of.