Krista Stovel- Graphic inspiration

Name: Krista Stovel
Where do you live? The beautiful Northwest of USA. Currently in Portland, Oregon
Profession: Partner/Designer of Nell & Mary and Make It Good
Nell and Mary Pillows

Isobel: We we met last winter at Renegade in SF, and I was immediately impressed by your product and how enthusiastic everyone is on your team at Nell and Mary. Can you tell me a little about how you and your sister got started?

Krista: Thank you for the compliment!  The shows are great for us, but getting there takes a lot of preparation.  From designing the product, to ordering and cutting fabric, plus printing, sewing, quality controlling; there are many steps in the process. This is not to mention the logistics of applying to shows, traveling to different cities, and setting up both of our booths.  So to show up after months of work, and see a stranger instantly fall in love with a  pillow, we sure get excited.  Every person that leaves our booth with an item for their home reminds us that we are moving in the right direction, and that our passions for design and comfort are worth pursuing. 

As you mentioned, I started Nell & Mary with my sister Leah.  Our upbringing definitely laid the foundation for Nell & Mary.  Growing up with a mother who had a knack for textiles and fashion, Leah and I were exposed to the "DIY" approach to upholstery and tailoring at an early age.  

When Leah met Avery (now her fiancé) a few years ago, they almost immediantly started designing and making clothing together.  While living in Oakland they started to learn the trade, acquiring industrial sewing machines, and learning how to source fabrics.  They became successful on Etsy and at craft fairs.  Eventually they were lured up to Portland, and started to manufacture dresses, leggings, tanks, and underwear for men and women. Their explorations had blossomed into a clothing company called Make It Good. 

After traveling around Asia, Europe, South America and all over America, I settled in Portland.  With my passion for design constantly nagging, and a background in Interior Design, I began to develop a few different designs for pillows.  They seemed a natural canvas that could liven up any home.  Fortunately Leah and Avery had access to the tools (i.e. sewing machines and fabric) for creating pretty much any textile.  Leah and I worked together on our first pillow collection, and quickly learned that we had very similar sense of color and aesthetic.  Over a bottle of wine, good laughs and some serious day-dreaming, we decided we should merge forces and start a home goods line. 

As we started to move forward, the name practically transpired instantly.  Our middle names are the first names of our lovely grandmothers: Nell & Mary.
Nell and Mary tea towels

Isobel: You have brands, Nell and Mary and Make It Good. How did you decide to create 2 brands, and is it sometimes hard separating them?

Krista: Yes, we have two brands: Nell & Mary and Make It Good.  We never initially "decided" to create two brands.  They were both created out of natural progression.  The clothing company laid a foundation for the home goods line to be built.  Although Make It Good has been our leading brand, Nell & Mary is quickly catching hearts and bringing awareness to both companies.  The two companies have their own distinct feel.  Basically, one is for wearing, the other is for using. 

The best analogy (that I can currently think of) would be comparing them to two children.  They each have their own personalities, preferences, and styles, yet their basic needs are the same.  It is not difficult separating them, because we do not attempt to separate them.  We love them both the same, and help them grow together while letting them be their own unique selves!
Krista in her 2-tone phoebes

Isobel: What are your design inspirations? Where do you guys get your ideas?
Krista: For the most part, our design inspirations come from travel, play and passion for aesthetics. Travel is inspiring. It opens our minds to other people's viewpoints, it brings awareness to our environment and helps us to appreciate where we are from. Without travel we lose perspective on where we are, so fortunately, living. 

Naturally, we all are wired to love fun.  It keeps work from feeling negative or too heavy.  Many of our designs are very playful.

With all the excitement in the world, it is important to remain grounded.  Our passion for mid-century design inspires a certain retained feel.  Our design aesthetic is a sort of controlled level of fun.

Isobel: You make your product in your workshop in Portland. Can you talk about why American-made is important to you?

Krista: There is a couple of reason any American-made is important to me.  There is an element to being proud of where I'm from, and wanting to support things from here.  I also think shipping goods halfway across the world is incredibly wasteful.  We source most of our materials from the US, and make everything in Portland.  There are cheaper and easier ways to run a business, but we wouldn't feel good about it.  

It's been a privilege to be able to work for ourselves, provide opportunities for our community and create products that people like.  
Isobel: Can you talk a bit about your style inspiration?

Krista: Much of my style inspiration comes from living in the Northwest where the weather can be unpredictable.  I'm also influenced by Scandinavian and classic aesthetics.  Around our manufacturing spaces, I am often required to be active rolling-out fabric, packing boxes and doing some heavy lifting.  As fellow small-business owners know, clothing must be functional.  Riding my bicycle to work regularly also forces me to stay fairly practical.  

At the same time, I must always be ready for clients to randomly show-up at my door.  Looking professional is quite important, but I cannot sacrifice feeling comfortable for 5-6 days of the week.  I tend to wear fairly classic styles that can be layered. I am also fortunate to have friends with creative businesses of their own, and I often wear their jewelry/clothes. 


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