NAMES Hillaree Hamblin, Elizabeth Burnham, Stephanie Hamblin
AGES 25, 29, 23
LOCATION Houston, Texas
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND We all have a Bachelors in Painting from the University of Houston
COMPANY Birch & Goldberry
Tell me about Birch & Goldberry and how you got started. Birch & Goldberry is comprised of myself, my sister Stephanie and our good friend, Beth, who we met while we were all in the same painting program at the University of Houston. After spending 18 hours + in the studio every week throughout the entirety of the program, we all became very good friends and found that our tastes and ideas closely aligned. While we were in school, we had all toyed with the idea of starting a side project combining our three aesthetics to make small products that we could sell at local markets. However, we were always distracted by deadlines and critiques to give the idea much focus. Then, after being a bit disillusioned by post-graduation life, we decided to buckle down and realign our efforts. Soon afterwards, we completed a product line and entered our first art market. Fresh Arts’ Winter Holiday Art Market was our very first show and we were surprised and thrilled by the response we received. Especially after Ren Mitchell, owner of the Tinderbox Craft Collective, approached us about selling our products in her shop near downtown Houston.
Has your education in fine arts been influential in the launch of your company or has Birch & Goldberry really been more of a representation of your own style? I would say both. Our degrees have had a huge impact on our aesthetic and subsequent styling and branding. Pursuing creative degrees taught us how to make work that reflected our individual interests and tastes and that has definitely carried over into the development of our product line.
Each roll of Birch & Goldberry’s wrapping paper is hand-painted. I am completely in awe of this, not the mention the end result is nothing short of phenomenal. What is the design/creative process like? Thank you for the compliment! I pull all of my inspiration from the outdoors, and I’m constantly sketching or taking pictures of things I find intriguing. I also have a big collection of interesting rocks and pebbles I’ve found while walking my dog. When I sit down to paint, I’ll have those photos, sketches, rocks etc. sitting out around me (sometimes a plant or two as well), and then I’ll give myself a time limit to paint each sheet. I want to keep the patterns loose and gestural and for the finished design to have a very organic, painterly feel.
Your collection is filled with soft, beautiful tones. Where do you draw your inspiration for the colors and designs? Has it changed at all since launching your company? The colors, designs and packaging are all heavily influenced by nature and organic pattern. We try to subtly shift our palette and tones with the changing of the seasons. This summer, for instance, we have been very inspired by bright colors and tropical imagery.
Let’s talk about the soap! I came across your company perusing @designlovefest and was completely taken aback (in the best way possible) by the soap packaging. The colors & the branding are incredible. What was most important to you when deciding on the look & feel for your brand? For the soap packaging, we wanted something minimal to contrast with the ornate and painterly patterns often found in the bars. Overall, we wanted our our packaging to both contrast with and compliment the fresh and organic feel of our products. In the end, that meant keeping graphics bold and crisp and the packaging elements concise and clean.
This May, you participated in Pop Shop Houston (woot!) & regularly sell your goods at local markets. What is it like having the chance to meet people face-to-face? What have you learned? It is extremely rewarding to interact with customers and other vendors. A lot of times, you’re by yourself in the studio and you don’t always have the luxury of bouncing ideas off of someone or getting another’s feedback. It’s nice to see first hand how other people respond to your products. That information is invaluable and allows you to adjust or change something in your display or production early on. We have also loved getting to know other vendors in our community. We have been so overwhelmingly fortunate to meet some amazing people in the past year, and they have always been willing to encourage and help us as we continue to grow. And, here, we have to plug Houston’s artist/maker community a bit. There is so much talent and opportunity in our city and its really growing by leaps and bounds. Among others, people like Ren Mitchell at Tinderbox, Brittany Bly with Pop Shop Houston and the crew at Fresh Arts have really been influential in providing us and others with the opportunity to really grow and sustain our business.
Since launching Birch & Goldberry in September of last year, what has been your greatest moment? I’d say its really been a combination of our first and most recent “great moments”. Doing Fresh Arts’ Winter Holiday Art Market and having it go so successfully for our first show really gave us the confidence to pursue additional opportunities. Most recently, we were so fortunate and honored to be mentioned by DesignLoveFest on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Since then, our internet following and exposure has greatly increased and we’re so thrilled about the opportunities that are developing through this. As Birch & Goldberry’s one year anniversary approaches, we can’t help but feel a little reflective and misty-eyed at the support and opportunities we have received from some really wonderful people.
What is your dream for the future of your business? We would love to have our products in more retail stores around the country and possibly have a storefront one day!
Cake or pie?Hillaree: Definitely cake Stephanie: Cake Beth: Cake, always.
Guilty pleasure? H: Romantic British Period Dramas S: Ke$ha B: Baby-talking to my dog
Benedict Cumberbatch? H: Where to begin? I will limit myself to saying that he is one of the most utterly handsome, dashing and talented men to grace humanity. S: Good actor, talented, but not a fan in the looks department B: A million times, YES.
Item you can’t leave home without? H: Chapstick & pepper spray S: Sketchbook and microns B: Gum
Favorite background studio music? H: Yann Tiersen S: Andrew Bird B: Copeland