5 Female-Led Design + Decor Brands to Check Out Now
Home by home, these talented women (and their shops and products) are changing the world.
According to a report from the Department of Labor, the 10-million-plus women-owned businesses in this country are a force to be reckoned with (and one that’s crucial to all businesses in the U.S. and abroad). HGTV fans have long known that, of course, given the legions of female designers, dreamers and damn-it-we’re-finishing-this-floor-tonight heroines you’ve encountered here. Might we introduce you to a few more? We’ve got a hunch that their creations will be game-changers in your space.
The Stockman sisters’ partnership with artisans in India traces back a decade, when Lily (a painter) met the Chhipas, a family of master printers, during a year-long apprenticeship abroad. Three years later, after she and her sister Hopie (once an investment consultant and then a business-school grad student) made countless visits to the Chhipas, experimented with traditional dye processes and prototyped a kaleidoscope of designs, Block Shop produced its first batch of 300 scarves (dreamed up by the Stockmans in the U.S. and executed by the Chhipas in Bagru). Five years later, Block Shop has become a handmade heirloom-textile business with fans all over the world: The international team now produces scarves, robes, table linens, paper products, bedding and rugs, and 5-percent of its annual profits are dedicated to empowering women in Bagru with health and financial training and education.
Architect Emily Fischer began making quilted maps in 2009 when her mother was diagnosed with glaucoma (optic nerve damage that can result in vision loss and blindness). Those first explorations with touch and feel, she has explained, were meant to be “wayfinding tools for the visually impaired” (haptic refers to our sense of touch). Emily eventually scaled those personal technology-and-touch projects into a collaborative company that produces a whole universe of intelligent-and-cozy quilts — in fabric and thread, Haptic Labs maps everything from cities and coastlines to the night sky — as well as a fantastic array of kites. If their team’s creative imagination sparks yours, they’ve got you covered there, too: Haptic Labs sells DIY kits for customizing their ornithopters as well as templates and instructions for creating their quilts at home. (They also donate kites to schools and classrooms in underserved communities and dedicate some of their profits to groups working for positive climate change.)
If you’re looking to ditch disposable plastics in favor of stylish reusable products, environmental consultant Kirsten Quigley — founder of LunchSkins, which are manufactured by 3greenmoms (an LLC formed with her friends Cris Bourelly and Stoller Barakat) — has you covered. Her team creates 100% plastic-free, recycled, reusable and compostable paper sandwich bags, as well as reusable Velcro bags, zip bags and totes. This year, LunchSkins is donating 50 cents from every order to The 5Gyres Institute, a non-profit that focuses on “empower[ing] action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, education, and adventure.”
Parsons School of Design graduate Sarah Cihat broke into the design industry with her collection of "Rehabilitated Dishware," a thesis-project-turned-beloved-product-line that gives found ceramics new life after she re-glazes and re-fires them with her own graphic images. She expanded on the success of that first venture with new collections of critically-acclaimed, ‘reincarnated’ products, and she now has her own studio in Nashville — and co-designs perfumes and home fragrances with Brooklyn-based Joya, and tags in on special projects with other makers.
Sprout Home began as a seedling in Chicago, where founder Tara Heibel developed a taste for gardening while designing and installing outdoor spaces for the homes she rehabbed. The plants and accessories she sourced weren’t keeping pace with the “out-of-the-pot” ideas blossoming in her head...so she decided to elevate garden and floral design with a storefront of her own. Sprout Home Chicago grew like a (fantastically good-looking) weed, and four years later, Sprout Home Brooklyn took root in New York. In 2015, Tara co-authored Rooted in Design — Sprout Home’s guide to integrating indoor plants and decor — with Tassy de Give (a Sprout Home Chicago Home alum who partnered with her to plant the Brooklyn store). Today, each Sprout Home location has a sister shop — Sprout Kitchen & Table — across the street.