When it comes to decorating, I’m pretty good at selecting the big pieces (rugs, furniture, paint color) but always struggle with the details. Items like toss pillows and candles and random decor are often what make a room, but I get overwhelmed with the options and also with the investment. I’ve started to learn a few tricks – shop within a color palette, look for items with a similar base or accent color, and purchase items that can easily be stored or repurposed elsewhere (and of course, only buy what you really love) – but am still working on improving in this area. Which is why I love discovering brands like Caitlin Wilson Textiles.
A successful interior designer, Caitlin launched her textiles brand after finding an opening in the market for sophisticated, affordable textiles featuring exciting patterns and colors. The collection is created with easy pairing in mind, which is perfect for novices like me, and is hand sewn in Portland, Oregon. Read on for an interview with Caitlin, and be sure to follow along on Instagram for a gift card giveaway!
WHAT MADE YOU START YOUR COMPANY?
Starting as an interior designer: colorful, unique fabrics and pillows had always been the key to bringing my spaces to life. After a few years of seeing the same patterns over and over throughout my own and other designers spaces, I felt like there was a need for young, vibrant, fresh patterns in the market. I was living in Dubai at the time, so I didn’t have access to many showrooms. I began custom designing pillows with trim for my clients’ spaces and talking to textile manufacturers about the process of designing my own fabrics.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
When my husband’s job took us overseas for two years, my business continued to grow as I experienced life in London, Dubai, and Hong Kong. I was richly inspired by our travels; the classic patterns of the Middle East and Asia began to fill my head with ideas of textile design.
HOW DO YOU STYLE YOUR HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
Holiday decor is one of my favorites and I often start with boxwood wreaths on my windows and doors. Grosgrain ribbons and bows are my go-to for trees, wreaths, and everything in between. I always go for lots of layering with wool blankets and extra throw pillows. Throughout our home I love creating whimsical holiday vignettes in various themes on consoles and end tables. My kids really enjoy seeing each scene. It adds a touch of magic for them.
WHY DO YOU MAKE YOUR COLLECTION IN AMERICA?
Now that we’re based in Portland, it’s important for us to have access to the production process and be able to oversee the details. Some of our products are made on a smaller scale so this gives us flexibility to make each piece very custom.
WHY IS AMERICAN MADE IMPORTANT TO YOU?
For me it’s all about quality and detail. Making sure that my patterns match up from front to back is essential for me. So often when products are mass produced you lose the details and precisions that I feel is so important, especially when it comes to home products. The pillows are perfectly matched front to back and every pillow case and car seat cover is sewn with care.
WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER FAVORITE AMERICAN MADE BRANDS?
There are many things that I aspire to be, but gracious and generous are always near the top of my personal list. I want to be the friend that always has the perfect card or gift, or who calls at just the right time, but more often than not, I have the right intentions but the WORST execution. My home is littered with cards and bits of gifts I purchased with the best of intentions, but then never got around to assembling or sending to a friend. And while it is true that it is the thought that counts, you can’t exactly tell a friend, “let me tell you about what I was planning to give you but never actually got together!” (I unfortunately have done that before, but it just makes me an explainer vs. the thoughtful friend I want to be.)
Enter Simone LeBlanc. Gracious and generous are two traits that I would absolutely ascribe to Simone, right up there with effective, practical, and thoughtful. After working as a stylist for many years, Simone started a gifting studio where she focused on high end gifting. This year, Simone has added themed gift boxes to her shop, making gift giving easier for all of us. She puts together GORGEOUS boxes filled with thoughtful details and well-crafted products that allow you to gift a true end-to-end experience. These aren’t exactly things anyone needs, but the things that make everyone happy. Which is what a gift should do. And all the better if you can give a gift that makes someone else happy without stressing yourself out.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? WHAT LED YOU TO START THE GIFTING STUDIO?
I started my gifting studio three years ago. I had been working as a personal life-stylist where the
projects focused on client’s personal tastes and preferences. I loved connecting with people in this
way – finding an object for their home or a gift that was ‘just the right thing.’ It opened up a world for
me and I realized that there really was an opportunity in the marketplace for my perspective on gifting.
I really pride myself on our approach – personalized, high end gifting with a knowledge of
craftsmanship + fabrication from a maker’s perspective.
YOU RECENTLY ADDED A SHOP TO YOUR BESPOKE GIFTING SERVICES – HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THE SHOP?
My online shop of gift boxes, which we launched this year, is a natural extension of the custom gifts
and offers themed gift boxes for quick and chic gifting. Each box in the shop is handmade, handpacked
and designed around an experience and mood – a blissful breakfast in bed one weekend
morning, the nostalgia of the great outdoors, a relaxing afternoon of down-time. They are designed to
be very versatile while still being extremely thoughtful and detail-conscious. From the handpicked
assortment of products from some of our favorite creators, to the hand-packed and finished boxes
themselves, these gifts bare all of the signposts of the love and care we put into them.
IF YOU KNEW THEN WHAT YOU KNOW NOW, WOULD YOU STILL DO IT?
Absolutely. I’m always learning and always growing, which makes me more look forward even more to
evolving the shop. Part of the excitement is that there are so many possibilities, and I love stretching
my creativity to explore these.
YOUR HOME AND WORK IS MADE UP OF EXQUISITE, SPECIAL PIECES – WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHILE TRAVELING OR SHOPPING? HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU AND WHAT IS RIGHT TO GIVE AS A GIFT?
Thank you! I’m a keen editor and I know how to ask the right questions, find the item from the hidden
back room or uncover the semi-off-center piece that others overlooked. I hunt and dig. It’s really about
finding that item that is just a bit better than the other version of it – a bit finer, a bit more true. I talk
with people about their methods, the fabrication, the purpose, the origin. I love finding that one
amazing object – the diamond in the rough.
There is an idea of longevity, too – I’m not attracted to something simply because it’s the newest,
coolest thing. For me, it’s more about that object and its philosophy of quality and longevity, whether
from how it was made or the story it tells.When it comes to differentiating between what’s right for me versus for my clients and customers, I have to say it’s easy because I’m always thinking about them. There’s a natural switch that happens
when I’m sourcing or shopping, where I’m so tuned into them that I don’t even think about myself. That
is a huge part of what the job is and what makes me good at what I do.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GREAT GIFT?
The perfect gift is something unexpected, but at the same time very on point and touching. It’s
meaningful and nuanced, and resonates clearly and directly with them. It’s an experience and a means
for authentic connection.
YOU WORK WITH THOUGHTFUL AND RESPONSIBLE BRANDS – MANY OF WHICH ARE MADE IN AMERICA! WHY DO YOU SUPPORT MADE IN AMERICA?
Yes! Frankly, why wouldn’t I support them?! There are so many talented craftspeople here, reinventing
old world techniques and creating timeless new ones. I’m all about using quality of craft and
techniques that may have been forgotten. From day one I’ve always worked with artisans that
exemplified this – they are the people that help set my work apart.
On a broader scope, it’s quite profound to see the changing and evolving opportunities and
possibilities for entrepreneurs that have become a reality through this movement. I’ve always known I
am an entrepreneur, and being a part of it all feels really exciting.
YOU ALSO WORK DIRECTLY WITH SOME MAKERS – SUCH AS THE GORGEOUS LEATHER GIFT TAGS YOU USE – DO YOU SEE THIS EXPANDING? (I’D LOVE TO SEE A SIMONE LeBLANC COLLECTION!)
Absolutely. This is something we definitely have in the works and an area that is close to our hearts.
HOW DO YOUR BESPOKE CLIENTS FEEL ABOUT WORKING WIHT MORE UNCONVENTIONAL PRODUCTS RATHER THAN BIGGER NAME BRANDS? HOW DO YOU CONVEY THE STORY AND MEANING WITHIN A GIFT? (IT CAN BE AWKWARD WHEN I FIND SOMETHING THAT I THINK IS AWESOME, BUT THAN HAVE TO TELL THE PERSON I BOUGHT IT FOR WHY THAT IS…)
My bespoke clients really appreciate that we offer them a level of luxury in the form of something
different from the traditional luxury brand. They appreciate our offering them an alternative to
something they can buy over the counter. And even when we work with luxury brands, which we do
from time to time, it’s more about creating something new and meaningful for our clients, rather than
purchasing a single item as is.
To convey the story and meaning of a gift – this really goes back to my approaching gifts as an inclusive
experience. Think a note or custom menu, small tag or accompanying book, or even a balanced set of
products that were made to be paired together – these all aid in telling the story.
WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE ESSENTIALS? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE AMERICAN MADE BRANDS AND ITEMS?
I try to keep it simple. With a new baby and business that takes a lot of my focus I tend to lean on a few
key pieces that make me feel current and put together. My essentials are a great button down, the
watch that my husband gave me for our wedding, a great pair of oxfords, bold lipstick and the perfect
I’m an unapologetic sleep mask wearer. (My husband is too!) I need absolute darkness to sleep and our current bedroom is unfortunately quite bright and airy. It’s not our house, so instead of investing in light-blocking blinds, we started wearing eye masks – and now I can’t go anywhere without mine. I’ve tried several (and relied on my free airplane mask for far too long) and my favorite is definitely Perpetual Shade. The masks are oversized, preventing any stray light from getting in, and super luxe – which seems incredibly unnecessary but ends up being a nice little treat at the end of the day. Putting my mask on has become a bit of a thing for me… even when I’m sleeping somewhere dark and quiet, the act of putting the mask on somehow helps me turn off my brain and ready myself for sleep. And I’m totally willing to look a little funny (not that anyone watches me sleep!) in order to sleep well.
Read on for a great interview about sleep and American made with the founder of Perpetual Shade, Sasha Hlavinka. Sasha has also offered up a code for TAE readers which you’ll find at the bottom of this post AND we are giving away a mask on instagram! Treat yo self!
WHAT MADE YOU START PERPETUAL SHADE?
I have always had difficulty falling asleep due to any sort of light. I searched high and low for an eye mask that could help my problem, however, I found that none of the masks were comfortable, and frankly, most did not block out the light. I decided to create my own mask which I wore every single night. Friends and family became very curious about my mask and after many requests for their own, I decided to start Perpetual Shade.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Traveling to garment and fashion districts in different cities has been very inspiring to me. I recently spent time in Los Angeles and found that the fabric selection was completely different from the designs in New York City. That trip inspired me to create the Perpetual Shade Fall collection.
WHERE DO YOU DESIGN? WORK?
It depends. Sometimes, when I fall in love with a fabric or trim, I design around it. This means running around the garment district trying to find the perfect combination of materials to complete the look I created in my mind. Other times, I throw all of my materials on my bed and play around with possible combinations. Perpetual Shade headquarters is located in my home office. It is home base for creating, shipping, shooting our campaigns and administrative work.
WHY DO YOU MAKE YOUR COLLECTION IN AMERICA?
In my mind, America is the best country in the world. There is so much opportunity here-it is just a matter of finding it. My parents immigrated to America from communist Czechoslovakia. They thrived here and proved that the American dream exists. I wanted to continue that dream with Perpetual Shade.
YOUR PRODUCTS ARE MADE BY HAND IN NEW YORK CITY… WHY IS AMERICAN MADE IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Manhattan was once the mecca for apparel manufacturing. Now, many brands have chosen to produce overseas, leading to a drastic decline in American made products. It makes me feel good knowing that my brand is helping sustain domestic production.
Not only are Perpetual Shade eye masks an American brand, but they are made in New York City. I live in NYC and love knowing that stopping by my factory to check up on production and visiting my vendors to choose materials is only a subway ride away.
American made is important to me because I truly believe this is the best county on earth. We have the resources to produce the highest quality products- this has been proven in the past and continues today. I believe that if people become more conscious about purchasing American made products it will only help our economy thrive
WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER FAVORITE AMERICAN MADE BRANDS?
I love J Brand denim and anything Rag and Bone!
WHAT IS YOUR UNIFORM?
I walk A LOT, so high top sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt has been my uniform all season.
YOU STARTED PERPETUAL SHADE AFTER MAKING YOUR OWN EYE MASK TO HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER – WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER SLEEP REMEDIES?
Chamomile tea, lots of exercise, mediation and complete silence.
HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – AND MAKE SURE TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP – DURING THE BUSY HOLIDAY SEASON?
I like to keep a regimented schedule not only during the busy holiday season, but all year round. I find that waking up around the same time everyday helps keep my sleep schedule on track. Trying to keep healthy is very important to me. I am a huge advocate of drinking green tea throughout the day. Not only does the tea keep me moving, it also has major health benefits. Taking a vitamin D supplement has had a tremendous positive impact on my health and overall well being. It has increased my energy, mood and sleep. I am by no means a doctor, however, I believe that everyone should have their levels tested at least once a year.
One of my favorite ways to keep in shape is to attend a Refine Method fitness class at least twice a week. The workouts are addictive due to the motivating instructors and great music, and have become part of my weekly routine. They keep me fit, help alleviate stress (especially during the holidays), and relax my mind and body, leading to better sleep!
Make sure to follow TAE & Perpetual Shade on Instagram, because we are giving away an eyemask! In order to help everyone else get some great sleep, Sasha has also generously offered a 10% discount code for TAE readers, TAE10. The code expires 12/25/14. Happy sleeping, friends!
DISCLAIMER: Sasha from Perpetual Shade sent me a mask to try this summer which I wore happily for many months. My first mask recently had an unfortunate party with my sheets in my washer and dryer so I purchased another mask at full price. Totally worth it. The old mask is actually still ok, just a bit bedraggled and has now become part of my dedicated travel-kit.
In light of Giving Tuesday, I wanted to share The American Edit’s approach to charitable giving – and to also share some of my favorite charitable products!
Obviously, I realize that purchasing American made is discretionary – given my efforts to show the best designed, highest quality products, price points on this site tend to be somewhat high. And I believe in buying better, but buying less, and support many of the brands I share, but I’m not fooling myself into thinking that what I post here is accessible for all (including me!). But I do believe that if you are fortunate enough to consume products that fulfill more than your basic needs, you are responsible for knowing what you buy and doing the best you can with the dollars you spend.
Similarly, I believe I am responsible for doing my best not only in my purchasing and my actions, but also with the money TAE makes via agency projects and affiliate income. As stated in the disclosure, TAE does utilize affiliate links, which means that a small commission may be received if you purchase a product from a contextual link within this site or related social channels. I didn’t realize how this had worked till I was a blogger – when I found out, I wished I’d known so I could have thoughtfully supported bloggers I followed as opposed to my last indiscriminate click.
When I left my corporate career, I realized that I had to hold myself to the same standards and values that I had loved and respected in my previous employer. Namely, charitable giving. Many Minnesota companies, including my former employer, are a part of the Keystone Program and give away 2-5% of earnings to charitable organizations each year. When I started TAE, I pledged to do the same and am proud to donate 5% of all earnings each year. For me, it was important to do this from the beginning – to build the idea of giving back into the foundation of my company. TAE is still incredibly small, I know I’m not solving all of the problems with this donation, but sometimes the idea of giving back ends up being a more powerful motivator to grow my business than revenue alone.
Though personally I believe in giving locally, nationally, and internationally – and giving time as well as money – it is important to me that TAE’s donated dollars are kept in America. Deciding where and how to donate money may be even more difficult than deciding where and how to spend money, but this year I’ve chosen to donate to Feeding America. At the end of the day, we all have to eat. Every dollar donated allows Feeding America to secure and distribute 20 meals in virtually every community in America and the charity is highly rated by all accreditation organizations. Going forward, as this business (hopefully!) grows, I hope to learn more about smaller organizations that make sense for TAE to support.
I also want to make it easier for YOU to support charitable and philanthropic brands that make products in American so I have added a Charitable categorization to The A-List. Go the the A-list, dig a little deeper, category: charitable. Please share more American made charitable products in the comments!