Although I enjoy a good scone most anytime, there is something almost magical about eating them straight from the oven when the edges are still crispy and the blueberries are still warm and soft at the center. They are one of the more subtle morning pastries, ones I tend to prefer most in their simplest form without the jam-filled centers or decadent icing tops. When we planned Olive’s small morning party, I knew lemon-blueberry scones would be an easy pairing with her tea, and serving them with sliced strawberries smothered in a little maple-cinnamon whipped cream would substitute the traditional birthday cake perfectly–without becoming too labor-intensive for me. (Wink.) But more about that later. To make Olive’s scone a little more special, I pinned two scones together using six ecru party picks–six tiny balloons just for the birthday girl–with a layer of whipped cream in the middle, something special, without being over-the-top.
When Kara, from ecru collection, first introduced me to her shop, I immediately fell in love with the minimal design and muted tones of her aesthetic. Her handmade pieces, whether for the home or body, are playfully simple and transitional–and I always enjoy things that can be used in more than one way or for more than one occasion. I asked Kara to share a bit below about her inspiration as well as a few tips for mothers of crafty children and young women starting a new business. You’ll find her responses below along with my newly favorite blueberry scone recipe and a chance to win $100 to Kara’s shop, ecru collection.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Kara. Though I currently live in LA, I’m an East Coast girl. I grew up in DC in a house full of lawyers, and never really considered I could make things for a living. I spent a year studying painting, and art history in Florence, Italy during college, and was lucky to land an internship in Emilio Pucci’s palazzo, working with his vintage textiles. It was a pretty great education in color and pattern. And if that wasn’t enough, I met my hunk of a husband, Giampiero, while I was there. Talk about the trip of a lifetime.
How did you begin making jewelry and home wares? What inspired you to more specifically begin Ecru? I have always been a maker. After graduating college, I started working the safe 9-5 but needed a creative outlet. As much as I love the world of fine art, I wanted to make something more accessible so I started making simple statement necklaces. People really responded to their minimalist, almost sculptural quality and I started selling them off my neck. It kind of just snowballed from there. Now I’m interested in the intersection between home decor and fashion; how something functions in both realms. I decorate the same way I get dressed so it feels like the natural next step.
I was immediately drawn to your choice of materials and muted color palette. How did you select them? Palette mixing was always my favorite part of painting and often I liked the look of my palette more than the painting itself. I could experiment with the way colors balance or fight each other all day, every day, but I wanted to incorporate geometric form so I began making my own beads. The clay gave me both the tactile process and color mixing. Life in Los Angeles has really influenced my sense of color and my use of natural materials. A lot of color combinations are born from walks with my dog, pausing to check out a succulent garden. I know the people on the East Coast are hating me right now.
You often reference another piece of art in your product descriptions. Do you have an artist who has inspired your work more than others? I love the art world but it can feel stiff or exclusive so I wanted to incorporate the artists and processes I love, with a wink. Right now, I am really into Alex Katz’s paintings. His colors feel like shapes outside of their subjects. I’m also drawn to Cy Twombly’s fantastic squiggles. There is so much artistry to his work, but that appearance of effortlessness is really the mark of a genius. Helen Frankenthaler, Amy Sillman, and Esther Stewart’s works are also a great inspiration.
Do you have any advice for mothers who have young daughters interested in jewelry making? Use what you have! I have seen some pretty chic pasta necklaces. Truly! I rarely go into bead stores, finding much more inspiration at the hardware store, the sports store, and supermarket. I go just to check out materials and consider shapes. Materials don’t have to be expensive if they’re well considered. Just don’t tell your brother or dad I told you to steal their tools!
Do you have any tips for young women wanting to start a new business? I’m still figuring it out myself. I’ve worked for small businesses for years and you think you know what it takes until you start your own. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. I work harder now than I ever did for anyone else but I love it! I will say though, balance is a struggle. My husband is constantly reminding me to step away from the computer to enjoy a meal together. You have to remember that though it is your business, you have other things going on. Don’t stay in your PJs all day! Sometimes going out with friends or getting dressed up for a date night puts everything in perspective. But the rejection can be tough. It’s hard not to take it personally because it can feel like they’re rejecting you. You need a thick skin for sure. I can’t tell you how many emails I send out everyday and it feels like they just go out into the ether, never to be heard from again. So when I get a rejection I actually plot to turn it around because at least they took the time to respond. Ha! But that’s what makes finding good collaborators and people who are stoked about your business so awesome!
Enter the giveaway below and all Cloistered Away readers can enjoy 10% OFF ecru collection during the month of March with the code CLAWAY10. Happy weekend! xo
This post is in partnership with ecru collection, a lighthearted collection of accessories for self and space handmade by Kara Templeton. All opinions are always my own, and thnak you for supporting businesses that help keep this space afloat.