Maison du Soir


So – the dirty secret of working from home (at least my dirty secret!) is that it’s very easy to spend a lot of time in your pajamas. As someone who has always been an advocate of dressing the part, I knew better – but when I was working from my couch, my laziness won out, and I’d spend all day in my workout clothes – if I was lucky – or my pajamas. But – the days that I left the house in the morning – and thus got dressed – were always my best, so the proof was there – dressing like a responsible, productive human being made me act like one.

Courtney Kates created Maison du Soir on the same concept – sleep is arguably the most important thing we can do for our health – and while we sleep we dream and build out our ideas. But most of us sleep in things we’d never be caught dead leaving the house in. We don’t respect our sleep, even though we know it’s incredibly important.

I’ve invested in my bed and bedding, knowing that we spend 30% of our day in bed. But until the last year or so, my pajama drawer was filled with holey, stained, mismatched tees and shorts – many from high school! Every night I had to go through the entire drawer to find something to sleep in, and I never liked anything I found. We make so many important decisions in a day, what we wear to sleep should not be one of them. I ruthlessly attacked my dresser, and now I only have a few items that I love to wear – and I sleep so much better.

My favorites – without question – are my Maison du Soir pieces – particularly the items from Courtney’s newest collection – which, if you are braver than I am, work just as well as separates during the day (out in the real world, not just on your couch!). Read on for an interview with Courtney on the inspiration behind this amazing collection and what she’s learned over the last year! (to learn more about Courtney and MDS, read our first interview here!)



The constellation print was inspired by a vintage map of the stars. Every season I have a mellow, easy print and a crazier, more fun print.  The brighter print this season was the multi colored floral and I love how it’s grounded back to black.


Oh such a tough question…it’s like asking which child is your favorite!!  I love the Begonia dress…it seems to embody the brand values in one style….it can be worn as sleepwear or daywear.  It’s flattering for different body types and simply makes you feel beautiful when wearing it.



The concept of the lookbook/Spring 14 photoshoot was inspired by Sleeping Beauty and was an attempt to evoke a bit of whimsy and fantasy.  Our first photoshoot introduced the Maison Du Soir woman and the second (Spring) was what happens in her dreams.  Eugenia Kuzmina, our beautiful model was given direction to imagine as if she was dreaming and all these colorful butterflies and adorable animals were drawn to her beauty.  Eugenia is fantastic, one of the hardest working and nicest models I have ever worked with.  For photography and concept, I worked with Scott Chebegia.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoy working with Scott.  He is hilarious which always makes for a fun day but he has the ability to take my concepts to the next level…he makes my vision come to life but also brings new ideas to the table. Scott is insanely talented and just simply a wonderful person.



I learned a lot about fit and construction from the first season.  Even though this has been my background for over 10 years, I’ve learned that even with all the knowledge and all the resources , it still takes a season or two to figure out what will make everyone happy.  The first season’s fabric had stretch which made it very difficult to sew. I reduced the stretch this season to keep my costs from going up.  The first season also had a European fit and was more petite…this season, I adjusted the blocks a bit.  We still aren’t perfect but striving to get there. We have a lot of new stuff in the works….new fabrications, more price tiers….I’m looking forward to trying new things and continuing to bringing women comfortable and stylish product to sleep in.  No more ugly jammies!

Thanks, Courtney! Follow Maison du Soir:

The Podolls

the-podolls-burlingameI’ve always been obsessed with a story and meaning behind an item or a brand – that’s essentially why I started TAE – but as I interview more makers and designers, I’m starting to become even more interested with the way they combine their business into their lives – the full circle implications of what they do and how they do it. Because if you are working to build an ethical, responsible business, it doesn’t make sense to let your work consume you – we all know that’s not sustainable, but in this case, it is in direct opposition with the ultimate goal.

Josh & Lauren Podoll are my new shining example of partners – in work and in life – who are building a conscious life and business. Alexandra and I visited with them at their store in Burlingame a few months ago and I am so impressed by what they have built. The Podolls is a carefully (gorgeously!) handcrafted apparel line with a flagship lifestyle concept store in Burlingame.

Josh & Lauren met over 10 years ago in California – Lauren was a retail buyer and Josh was an abstract artist and painter who sold a collection of tee shirts to Lauren’s store. They started dating and working together concurrently – moving from vintage patchwork and screen printed tee shirts sold all over the the world to a high end label that they presented at fashion week. Over time, they saw an opportunity to connect their lifestyle and their work and, in 2008, launched The Podolls, focusing on everyday staples made with great materials and interesting details. Since then, they have launched a kids line, podots, to manage scrap waste from the women’s line, and opened their flagship store.

The gorgeous store allows Josh & Lauren to share their overall vision for the brand- they can make special products, such as leather jackets, and sell them without wholesale markup, and they can support their friend’s brands and brands with a likeminded ethos. There is strict criteria for what is carried in the store – as explained on each item’s hangtang – but other than that, they don’t call it out – while shopping, you just think you are in a beautiful, impeccably curated boutique.

Read on for a little question and answer session with The Podolls that proved to me that Josh and Lauren are living the dream – amazing style, surfing everyday, an awesome little kid, and a business that takes an immense amount of hard work but complements and evolves their lifestyle. And on top of that – they are incredibly generous, and are giving TAE readers a discount. Happy Monday!

the-podolls-kids-clothingWHAT INSPIRES YOU?

L: Textiles every season – sometimes we make our own for the collection. The lifestyles of the women I know – how will they wear our clothes and what do they want them to be? We want our brand identity to take a backseat to the clothes working for the people who wear them.

J: Textiles – you see a fabric and you think, “What does that want to be?” – you can’t force it. Contemporary art. Historical art figures. Living in San Francisco.


L: A Goyard tote – everyday. Diamond studs. Boots year round. Our wing blouse in all of the fabrics. RGB nail polish. bkr water bottles. Shawn Burke pouches in a Podolls print. Clare V. Leopard Pouches. A great leather jacket.

J: Engineered Garments jacket. Converse. Raleigh & Imogene + Willie Denim. A short, cropped hair cut. Westward Leaning Sunglasses. Fairends Baseball Caps.


L & J: Blue Bottle Espresso. Our son, Dashiell – who is also why we need so much caffeine.

L: Yoga

J: Surfing – every morning.


J: The Ocean. Whether or not it’s a good day for surfing, you are still in the ocean…with dolphins. You get 100 yards out and and it’s wild and free and amazing.

L: Being in nature and away from this material world we live in. Stay-cations. Discovering something new – like a new neighborhood restaurant.


It is so satisfying to be able to provide jobs and keep people in business. We love to support our local economy and fellow artisans. We appreciate the ability to oversee our manufacturing and quality. Also, the relationships we’ve made are the best part of what we do – there is a human side of manufacturing, and we believe that is translated into what you wear.


The store – it still feels really new. Some exclusive products – including leather jackets! – that we have coming in just for the store. The collection we are currently designing. The physical interpretation of our ideas as our samples come in – it feels like Christmas.


The Podolls have recently launched their new e-commerce site, and in celebration, they are giving TAE readers 15% off the entire site through the end of April! TROUBLE!!! Use code TAE 15 and stock up for spring! Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my favorites from the site… get them while you can! Thank you, Josh & Lauren!!!

Follow along for more fun:

Cotton & Flax


I’ve followed Erin Dollar’s collection, Cotton & Flax, for some time now… I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of her modern, geometric prints on natural textiles and have been so impressed by the way she has grown her business (including a collection with CB2!). I was thrilled to connect with Erin and to get a chance to learn more about her brand and her work…


I studied fine art printmaking at UC Santa Cruz, which hosts an inspiring group of educators, and a surprisingly expansive and well-stocked print studio. There, I became obsessed with printmaking; it combined everything I loved about drawing and painting with the ability to work in multiples, making my artwork less frustratingly precious, and freeing me to experiment. After college, I joined a co-operative printmaking studio, and continued to experiment with printmaking techniques. I became curious about printing on fabric, and creating more utilitarian objects imbued with my designs, which led me to design patterns for pillows and tea towels. Those products led me to found a new company: Cotton & Flax.



I am inspired by the process. The things that I can reasonably achieve with printmaking are at the forefront of my mind when I design new products. I restrict my palette to only black or white ink on colored fabric, to maintain a bold and straightforward aesthetic. I want to create pieces that are fun and playful, without being overly trendy. That means keeping the designs loose and non-representational — I like the idea that my pieces can blend into a variety of styles of decor.

Lately, I have been finding lots of color inspiration in the desert – rocks, sand, sun-bleached cacti, and the inky nighttime sky you can only see when you’re far away from city lights. Moving to Los Angeles drastically changed the way I see color, and as I travel more, I soak in all that color inspiration.



really love when customers share photos of Cotton & Flax pieces in their homes! I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing my work in the homes of cool, creative people from all over the world, and it’s inspiring to see how each person makes the piece their own.



In my tiny home studio. My printing room is only 10′ x 6′, so I have to get very creative with my production routines. Nothing like working in a small studio space to motivate you to get organized! Since space is so limited, I am extra vigilant to use up fabric scraps, which means that my production creates very little waste!



Too many reasons to mention – but mainly because I can guarantee the quality of everything I produce locally. Every product I sell is sewn here in LA, either by me, or by my sewing assistant who works from her sewing studio just a few miles away. If I had to ship samples back and forth between production facilities, or deal with the logistics of overseas manufacturing, my business would be overly bureaucratic, and probably very boring for me to manage. I love that I can design new products and produce them using materials I purchase from trusted local sources. It keeps the process exciting and vibrant!



I worry about the effects of relying exclusively on globalized manufacturing, especially when it comes to human rights, global warming, and the world’s limited natural resources. While it’s certainly possible to create ethically-made goods outside of America, I think it’s important to be conscious consumers, and to strive to support companies who treat their workers fairly, and do their part to protect the environment.



Find a group of supportive makers and creatives, and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Other makers in your community have a wealth of knowledge, even if they are working in an entirely different medium than yours. Finding a like-minded group of creative friends can be a life-saver when you run a creative business, and most people are more than happy to lend a hand when they can.



Collaborating with other American artists and makers! I am very excited to be taking on some design projects that will see my pattern designs on other types of products. It’s inspiring to share ideas and learn new techniques — makes me feel like the possibilities are endless.
Photos by Laure Joliet for Cotton & Flax. Follow along:

Heath Ceramics : San Francisco Tile Factory

heath-sf-ceramic-studioThe San Francisco Design Studio. 

While in San Francisco last month I visited the new Heath Ceramics Tile Factory with Alexandra of The Merchant Home. It was fitting that this visit would follow my day at Faribault Woolen Mill; inarguably, Heath has set the standard for reinventing American classics and preserving traditional production methods. The two iconic brands share a similar history and are alike in ethos and meaning; I’d imagine that Faribault today is in a place similar to where Heath was a few years ago.

Heath was founded in 1948 by artist Edith Heath and her husband, Brian, and became known for minimalist tableware and tiles. In 2002, Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic stumbled across the factory while walking in their new neighborhood in Sausalito. The couple were consultants, in industrial design and engineering, respectively, looking ‘to build a more satisfying and tangible design life highlighting designing and making.*‘ Though they thought the factory and the business looked interesting, they also could see that it needed some attention, so they built a plan to preserve the brand while growing the business. In 2004, they purchased the brand from Edith Heath, retaining the 24 employees working at the factory at that time*

heath-sf-ceramics-red-vasesBeautiful, broken bud vases. 

heath-sf-ceramic-studio-collectionTung’s ceramics collection. 

heath-sf-ceramic-studio-bud-vasesThe collection of Heath bud vases.

heath-sf-clay-studioThe entrance to the studio. 

Today Heath Ceramics employs over 100 people, and along with the original Sausalito factory, has opened an LA store and design studio, a shop in the Ferry Building, and most recently, a state of the art tile factory, retail space, and design studio in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.

Alexandra and I had the opportunity to speak with Tung Chiang, the San Francisco Studio Director, in his incredible, light-filled workspace. The Heath Studio serves as a creative space to explore what Heath is and what it can be. The studio is self sufficient but set within the factory to increase interaction between the artistic, manufacturing, and selling processes. Heath is a perfect example of an end-to-end and wholly vertical process – there is no distance between making and selling.

heath-sf-factory-machinesBrand new, state-of-the-art machinery. Donna is petite, but that kiln is enormous. And this tile cutting machine reminded me of a transformer! 

heath-sf-tile-factory-3Working in the factory. Though the space and machinery is brand new, the process is still primarily the same as it was many years ago. The employees were methodical, attentive, and clearly happy and proud of their work. Likewise, Heath is equally as proud of their people.  

heath-sf-tile-factory-2Moving the tiles to the drying rack. 

heath-sf-tile-factorySmoothing the edges of the tile. Heath tiles are a little trickier to use than your typical tile due to the inconsistency inherent in hand-finished pieces and are typically installed by experts. Tile specialists at the retail space are available to help customers choose the right tile for their space. Edith Heath hated consistency, particularly in glazing, as it took away from the handmade effect. 

Although new colors are the norm for the traditional Heath ceramics (per Tung, color is Heath’s modus operandi), the brand is cautious to add new products. After seeing an opportunity to add candle holders due to the amount of handmade candles sold in Heath shops, Tung worked for an entire year developing candle holders, merging traditional Heath aesthetics with contemporary techniques. At the end of the year, the products were reviewed as an exhibit, in order to evaluate which items worked within the context of the Heath assortment. Along with the new products, prototype sets were also sold to the consumer, as a way to explain what exactly it takes to get to a final, sellable product. To me, this is the absolute fulfillment of Catherine and Robin’s quest to make design tangible. As someone who once worked on monthly product launches and refreshes that were focused on newness and trend as opposed to viability and sustainability, this attention to detail and focus on doing the right thing is astounding and amazing – and likely a driving factor in why Heath has become the incredibly innovative yet still classic brand it is today.

heath-sf-store-dinnerwareThe shop carries the entire Heath line and an incredible assortment of products from like-minded brands : Faribault, Commune, Matteo, Non-Perishable Goods, Iacoli and McAlister, Ladies & Gentleman Studio, Lodge, etc. While you are shopping, or drinking a cup of coffee at the Blue Bottle, you can see the light-filled factory through glass walls, allowing you, the consumer, to feel in touch with the maker and the process. 

heath-sf-store-vasesMy favorites from the shop… Garza Marfa leather chairs, test vases by Adam Silverman, the Los Angeles studio Creative Director, traditional white Heath vases. That grey Adam Silverman vase absolutely came home with me.

The San Francisco Factory will also be home to a new, exciting aspect of Heath – a creative campus for artists and makers. Heath has plans to fill the block with creative businesses (currently, Small Trades, an ethical apparel line,  The Aesthetic Union, a letterpress studio, and Blue Bottle Coffee have opened); it is designed to foster collaboration and facilitate communication, not unlike the relationship between the design studio and the factory. For this campus, for collaboration opportunities, and for retail products, Heath seeks out brands and businesses that not only fit aesthetically but are also run with a sense of integrity and value-driven goals. This, to me, was one of the most interesting takeaways from this exciting visit – it’s incredible to see a brand like Heath, which can and has aligned with some of the best brands in the world, focusing on developing the community of makers and designers at large.

Heath is an incredible example of what can be – if Faribault served to remind me why focusing on conscious design, production and commerce matter, Heath’s purpose is to teach us all that is possible and what can be. Ten years ago, Catherine and Robin did not intend to turn Heath into what it is today – they thought it was an interesting opportunity that would allow them to make design more tangible. Today, Heath is at the forefront of this movement, and instead of sitting back, the team is focusing it’s collective efforts on strengthening and building the community. That’s pretty amazing. And I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Thank you to Donna Suh and Tung Chiang for taking the time to meet with us, and to Alexandra for setting up this visit!

Original photography by The American Edit.

Heath is a TAE A-List Brand. Visit and follow: