Every new year instead of a resolution, I like to come up with a word of the year to always keep in the back of my mind as I move toward my goals. 2015's word was 'healing' - 2016 is 'strength'. I tell you what, there are some phenomenally amazing women out there who were by my side through the healing process and are still by my side now, but this time to support me with strength, perseverance and resilience! I am so incredibly lucky to call these women my friends and have them in my life as people who are making waves and changing the game. When women support each other, AMAZING things can happen!
The global wedding market is now a $300 billion industry. $55 billion of that is in the US and includes over 500,000 businesses and one of the few industries where the majority of businesses are run by strong, bad ass women entrepreneurs. So we are celebrating these women in 2016! We will feature their stories, hear their voices, swoon over their art and most importantly get to know them, learn from them and support their journeys. Enter the"Who Run the World" dGE Blog Series (a tribute to the Queen Bey of course)!
Kicking off January are two of my favorite people and bad ass women (have I said that phrase enough?) Nichole Michel, Owner of Coral Pheasant Stationery + Design and House of Michel, interviewed by my Boss Lady Event Manager, Ashley. I met Nic about two years ago through our mutual friend, creative sister and my mentor, Candice Coppola, Owner of Jubilee Events and co-author of The White Dress in Color Series. Nichole has since become a massive inspiration and game changer starting with telling me that there is only ONE space after a period, NOT TWO! Mind. Blown. Let me tell you ... that messed with me for mooooonths and I actually went back and edited my whole website and blog because of it! Thanks Nic! :)
Other than messing with my head, Nichole's unique style and passion for design is one of a kind and one to be jealous of! She has a love for all things vintage and spends a lot of her time traveling from estate sale to flea market to find just the perfect piece. Her house is a life goal for me and her closet is to die for! When Candice first described Nichole to me way back when, she said, "I want to be her sometimes", and yes, she was right, I DO! Nichole continually is a huge inspiration with my ongoing re-brand, offering up tips and advice from writing to visually pleasing web design, and we are now currently working on my new logo together. So without further ado, the talented, luminescent, strong, bad-bad ass woman and taste-maker, Ms. Nichole Michel!
ASH :: Kicking off our "Who Run the World" blog series is someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting just recently. Although I’ve met her only a hand full of times, I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. One of the first more personal encounters I got to share with Nichole was having my photo-shoot taken in her home; someone I just met and already she was kind enough to welcome me into her gorgeous house, (see photos below)! Other occasions were at various industry networking events and weddings we have worked on together. How I remember meeting her each time stays with me every time. Nichole is always dressed very stylishly and always in something eye catching and unique, usually a one of a kind article of clothing she finds during one of her vintage hunts that you won't find anywhere else! She has a way of carrying herself in a poised fashion and I always find myself swooning over each outfit wondering how she pulls it off in a way I could never! You wouldn’t need to have a conversation with her to know she is such a genuine and approachable person. Her work has been featured in Style Me Pretty, The Knot NY, Southern Weddings and Oh So Beautiful Paper just to name a few! So when Maggie asked me who I wanted to interview, there was no one else in my mind!
I am so excited for all of you to meet and obviously see how amazing and creative Nichole is and fall in love with her style ... and I don’t just mean her stationery. Nichole is a powerhouse all on her own!
ASH :: Where did the name Coral Pheasant come from? We love it!
NM :: Thank you! When thinking of a name for my business I was sitting on the couch in my living room and looking around the space. Sitting on a credenza that was a vignette I had styled that was composed of a tall cylindrical vase filled with pheasant feathers and a piece of coral. (I've long had a thing for what I like to call "animal ephemera"). I put the two words together and really liked how they sounded. After doing a quick internet search I confirmed that the URL was available (not an easy feat to find one that's not been taken!) and knew I had a unique name. For a while there, I always associated the word coral with the petrified piece that was the original inspiration. It wasn't until I stared at the clothes hanging in my closet that I realized I owned multiple coral-colored things. Of course coral was also a color!
ASH :: What got you started in designing and who / where do you get your inspiration from?
NM :: Art has been in my blood for as long as I can remember and my parents encouraged my pursuits wholeheartedly. One of my earliest memories of creating was building my dollhouse with my Dad. Everything on that miniature house was handcrafted from laying the chimney brick by little brick, to wallpapering the walls using pages from discontinued wallpaper books, to building the furniture. I delighted in working with my hands to make sure the tiniest of details was perfect. In college, I followed my love of design by enrolling in a Fine Arts program and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. It was during those four years that I became infatuated with typography and knew that I had found my calling. After graduation I worked for a large consumer products company designing packaging, brochures and promotional pieces as well as art directing photo shoots. But what really tripped my trigger was outside the realm of my real gig: designing wedding invitations for recently engaged friends. (Yes, it’s a story many of us stationers share)! Custom invitations allowed me to combine my love of beautiful materials and tactile printing methods with out-of-the-box typography. When the time came to design my own wedding invitations, I pulled out all the stops and the process confirmed my true passion. Coral Pheasant Stationery was born!
ASH :: What does a day in the life of you consist of? Meaning, how many flea markets and estate sales to you go to a week?
NM :: Haha! Most of my days are spent following up with inquires and designing stationery. I am also very passionate about buying and selling vintage. When the weather warms up in the Spring, you can find me canvasing the local towns as I seek out estate and tag sales on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings. Sales are much more abundant when the weather is warm and on a busy weekend I might go to as many as 8. I get such a rush when I find the perfect set of retro cocktail glasses or a killer mid-century light fixture.
ASH :: Tell us the process for designing invitations and day of paper? Where do you like to start with your clients? Do you have any advice for couples choosing a stationery designer?
NM :: Learning as much as I can about a couple's loves and interests is the first step in the design process. I want to know everything about their favorite restaurant to the most treasured piece of furniture in their home. These little details are very telling about their personal style. Equally important is information surrounding the celebration that they're thoughtfully planning. Where's the venue, how did you meet, what's your favorite detail, what are your top priorities for your guest experience and why? All of this information is the jumping off point for their paper story.
I think it's really important for couple's to seek out a stationer that aligns with their personal style – and personality. The design process can take several weeks or months and you certainly want to be collaborating with someone you enjoy working with! I love working with couples who appreciate the rules and break them just a bit to create hip, on-trend, thoughtful and highly personalized celebrations. If that's you, let's talk!
ASH :: You obviously designed your own wedding stationery; what was your greatest source of inspiration when you created them?
NM :: Cheeky language and strong typography. I love using language to make the recipient smile. I wanted to have fun and to have my guests experience that when they opened the invitation. To do this I crafted fun phrases for each card in the suite and had them "dance" across the page. The main invitation, for example, reads "Come for the love, stay for cocktails and dessert" in a playful script at the top of the card. The announcement is designed in a modern sans serif at the bottom, leaving an expanse of negative space in the center of the invitation. For me, being super thoughtful with the invitation design was (and IS!) key to having an amazing event. It's the first glimpse our guests had into the celebration we were planning – and I wanted them to know it was an event not to be missed!
ASH :: What are some of your favorite invitation suites you've made?
NM :: Of course my personal wedding invitations are near and dear to my heart! They’re playful while still having an air of formality to them. Two others that are high on my list is a suite inspired by Old Hollywood glamour and hip-hop and a modern and black and white suite. The Old Hollywood suite is foil stamped in gold and letterpress printed in grey. I adore the overall elegance of the suite combined with rap lyrics like "Pop champagne and make it rain". With the black and white suite, I love how graphic it is with it's unconventional design and bold fonts, and again – the playful language.
ASH :: Describe your design style in three words!
NM :: quirky, chic, unexpected
ASH :: What made you decide to become a bad-ass entrepreneur and what are some of the great rewards and challenges you have faced so far?
NM :: Prior to going out on my own in 2012, I was working full time for a large consumer products company and concurrently designing invitations. In the beginning, the stationery I was creating was for close friends who were getting married. It wasn't until 2010 when we were planning our own wedding, that I established Coral Pheasant. Vendors that we hired for our wedding quickly became industry friends and I was invited to collaborate with them on editorial shoots that they were working on. My involvement in these creative projects and their support was the kick in the pants I needed to formally develop my stationery business. For the next two years I worked my corporate job and my own business. In 2012 I attended the engage! Luxury Wedding Conference and had the great fortune of meeting Sarah Haywood, one of Britain's top wedding planners. It was this serendipitous encounter that led to our collaboration on the redesign of her 240-page Wedding Bible and her Wedding Bible Planner. Meeting Sarah and landing the job gave me the confidence to dedicate myself full time to my business.
Working for yourself certainly has its rewards and challenges! One of the rewards is I realizing my world got so much bigger. When I was working for a company, that was my world. I went to work, did my job and came home. I loved the people I worked with and they were essentially my "network". For the most part we were all similar in age, doing similar things. When I started working for myself, I crossed paths with so many new people, with a multitude of talents, from wildly diverse backgrounds. It was – and is – wonderful to connect with people who are different from me. Each person brings a new perspective and can challenge you to see things in a new light. On the flip side, being a company of one can be lonely. As I mentioned a moment ago, I loved the people I worked with at my past job. There was definitely a social aspect to work where we all had lunch together and it was easy to bounce ideas around. I also had others to hold me accountable for tasks and projects. When you work for yourself, you have to make a concerted effort to network and you're the one holding yourself accountable. On that note, and to be completely candid, I struggle with accountability in terms of setting goals. It's very easy to get caught up in doing what needs to get done each day – without taking time to work towards goals. I recently connected with another stationer – who knew of me because of local industry friends (see, networking is key!) – and we've chatted about being accountability partners. I'm excited to work on this in the new year!
ASH :: I know from stalking your Instagram that you are a big collector! What are some of your favorites you have collected and where did your love for vintage stem from?
NM :: Gosh, there are many. I luuuuuuurve my things, they bring me such joy! I have a pair of celadon Asian figure lamps that I cherish.The color is the most delicate shade of blue-green and Asian-inspired design is always a win in my book. They were one of the first pieces of vintage that I invested in. Usually I try to find great items at great prices – but these lamps were an exception. I love them so much that I incorporated them into our wedding reception design. Another favorite is a console table where the front legs are carved to look like elephant heads with their trunks extended. It's so fab!
My love for vintage came from my Mom and was later fueled by my uncle. My Mom was always pulling over to see what treasures could be found at a neighborhood tag sale or popping into a consignment store to see what new gems were out. My uncle has a background in interior design and has filled his home with amazing estate sale scores. It's the history and one-of-a-kind uniqueness behind each piece that draws me in. I'm also obsessed with the thrill of the hunt and meeting people on that journey.
ASH :: Tell us about ‘House of Michel’ and its inventory and where you want to see this business venture go.
NM :: The House of Michel is an outlet for my vintage obsession. I "pick" for a couple shops, and other things I sell myself. Despite wanting to hoard everything I find, I can't! The next best thing is sharing these pieces with others. It's really fun knowing that treasures I find also appeal to others and that these pieces go on to live in their homes and bring them joy. I also enjoy styling and creating interesting vignettes with the things I find. It would be fun to work on projects as a stylist!
Well I am SPEECHLESS! Nichole's work is beautiful, unique, desirable, spunky and we can't wait to see what's under her belt for 2016! We will continue to stalk her Blog, Instagram and Facebook feeds for inspiration. Her style, her home, and her PHENOMENAL paper porn is beyond words and I don't have enough space on this blog. She is an utterly remarkable woman and her brand and her work speak for itself! Get it girl!