Interviews

Haley Wayman of Ornate Chaos

Haley Wayman—the designer and maker behind the new St. Louis-based jewelry and home decor line, Ornate Chaos—creates pieces of hand-crafted jewelry and decor with the utmost precision and detail. Inspired by the fusion of creative scenes in St. Louis, New Orleans and Colorado, Wayman envisioned the Ornate Chaos brand. With designs juxtaposing rugged modern and classic Southwestern aesthetics, Wayman creates distinct collections that paramount into timeless pieces of art. Having recently nestled into a St. Louis city home with her husband, Matt, we chatted with the designer to learn more about her creatives process and Ornate Chaos’ upcoming collection debuting in the New Year.

Sandy Gutierrez Photography

Sandy Gutierrez Photography

Tell us how Ornate Chaos came to life. What drew you to create your line of handmade jewelry?

Ornate Chaos came to life after my move to Denver. Surrounded by creatives and makers, I felt the need to jump into the scene. Delving into any resources I could get my hands on, I eventually found a metalsmith that was willing to provide private lessons out of her studio.  After filling an entire notebook with sketches and watching countless instructional YouTube videos, I created my first line, entitled MUSES (which eventually developed Ornate Chaos). The theme was developed after the culture and life that I experienced after living New Orleans for a few years. I'm inspired to create pieces for people that feel open, strong and independent.

Your new collection is slated for release this Winter. What can we expect from your new collection?

My Winter collection revolves around a stone that I have fallen in love with — White Buffalo Turquoise. The stone evokes a sense of strength and pride when I wear it, and I want to share that experience with others. I have been playing with mixing the stones with different types of metals like copper, brass and sterling silver.  My designs made from copper and brass will cross over to decorative home goods as well.  This will be my first time creating home goods in this upcoming collection, and I couldn’t be more excited!

As a new St. Louis resident, what do you find to be most inspiring of our city? 

I love that St. Louisans are willing to support small businesses, it provides me with a sense of home and belonging.

Relocating to St. Louis has been a dream come true. I find the history of our city to be most inspiring. I’ve seen a resurgence in our city, people are actively supporting more artists and makers. I love that St. Louisans are willing to support small businesses, it provides me with a sense of home and belonging. The people are great, the culture is fun and I have quickly became a fan of the Cardinals! 

You can purchase Ornate Chaos’ jewelry and home decor directly from their website

 

Jason Burton of Burton & Levy

Burton & Levy is a Detroit-based small business established in 2014 that specializes in handcrafted beard and hair combs. Owner and maker Jason Burton designs his combs by hand and constructs each piece by using machining processes. Inspired by his lineage, the company’s namesake is drawn from two very important people in his life: his mother and father. Each of Burton’s designs expresses the style and character of his male relatives: his great-grandfather, grandfathers, and his older brother. While Burton & Levy may be based in Detroit, the small business is rapidly growing and gaining stockists across the Midwest. We chatted with Burton to learn more about his business, design processes and interest in the St. Louis market.

What inspired you to develop a line of handcrafted combs?

I started making combs because I couldn’t find the right one for myself! Many fine comb companies are working with beautiful-yet-fragile acetate, and I wanted to make combs that are tough enough to keep with you all day. My background is in traditional metalsmithing and jewelry-making. I have a love for good luck charms, beautiful tools, and mementos. That’s how I chose to make them out of stainless steel and brass. I want my customers to own a product containing solid, classic materials that get better with age.

Tell us about your process. How are your combs designed and manufactured? Where do you source your materials?

The design process starts with research: finding examples of combs that show fine craftsmanship and display a timeless style. I look for inspiration in design elements that contribute to a distinctive, but somehow familiar, feel. I search through objects from past times and different regions of the world, adding details to my designs that make my combs special.

While I draft the design, prep and prototype for production, I work with domestic companies for the computer-driven production steps. Finishing and packaging happens back in the Burton & Levy studio. I may bring the whole production process in-house someday, but I’m not rushing to that stage. It’s such a pleasure to work with and support small, local businesses that use their own materials and low-waste production methods.

What do you find most exciting about branching Burton & Levy out into new markets, and what do you find to be particularly exciting about St. Louis?

St. Louis knows that the style you wear and the style you project makes a statement, it has a voice.

I love imagining what place Burton & Levy goods will find in the style trends of the communities surrounding a new market. Michigan loves our goods because we’re local and represent thoughtful, ground-up industry; Chicago and eastern Illinois have embraced Burton & Levy’s clean, understated style.

From what I’ve learned, St. Louis has a lot in common with Detroit. Culturally, it’s a link between the East Coast and the Midwest, the North and the South, aboriginal cultures, colonial cultures, and worldwide cultures. I think St. Louis understands, much like Detroit, that the kind of business you own and the kind of business you support can impact your community. St. Louis knows that the style you wear and the style you project makes a statement, it has a voice. I’m excited to see what place Burton & Levy has in that mix.

What’s next for Burton & Levy?

We have so many new and up-and-coming collaborations in store! I can’t pass up on a chance to work with others and make something totally new. We recently launched our earthy, heady fragrance, ODIN, with Detroit business Sfumato Fragrances, and we’re working on beautiful, one-of-a-kind toiletry bags from textile designer Tim Eads. I’m very excited to be creating a signature comb with international mustache record-holder Jackie Lynn Ellison, which we’ll release this fall.

You can shop Burton & Levy’s full line of handmade combs and fragrances at BurtonandLevy.com.

Stephanie Larimer of Ruby Francis

Stephanie Larimer of Ruby Francis captures the essence of what it means to be a fashion-forward Midwesterner. Her brick-and-mortar storefront opened in October 2015 in the Antique Row District on Cherokee St, and her line of modern folk fashion has been steadily growing since.

Ruby Francis showcases timeless pieces of wearable fashion for both men and women, carefully balancing trend and originality in each piece Larimer designs. Rather than replicating saturated and fast trends, Ruby Francis finds themselves one step ahead of the curve — this time with their newly added line of menswear.

When did you decide to introduce menswear to Ruby Francis?

I realized it was time to add some fine duds for men to our repertoire when customers would come into my booth at local craft shows asking for menswear. We’re planning on adding even more accessories and outfit options for our male customers in the future!

Where do you draw inspiration from when designing menswear?

I draw inspiration for menswear mostly from the Old West and rural fashion from the turn of the century.  There is nothing more good lookin’ than a working man in overalls, or a western button down with decorative panel yokes with his sleeves rolled up! 

What can your male shoppers expect from Ruby Francis this fall?

This fall, we are gearing up to bring some more fashion choices to the table. I love to release new garments by surprise, but I'll just give you some hints of what to expect:  We’re working on accessories and outerwear for fall and winter, and will continue to design with leather, faux fur, and denim. Also, two words — floral and embroidery!

Shop their full collection at Ruby Francis’ storefront  (2310 Cherokee St, St. Louis MO 63118), or online by visiting www.ruby-francis.com.

Jason Butler of The Beer Lodge

Founded by Jason Butler—The Beer Lodge is a St. Louis company specializing in hand-crafted wooden beer and wine carriers. 

The Beer Lodge offers a four bottle wine or beer carrier (4, 6, or 8 bottle capacities) in a natural light or dark stain, affording shoppers the ability to find a meaningful, yet practical gift for every special occasion. Carriers can be customized with the recipients’ name or your own—placing a personal touch on a gift juxtaposing both rustic and modern looks. 

How did you come up with the concept of creating customized beer and wine carriers?

Throughout the years I’ve gained an interest in drinking a variety of beers, but found that it was inconvenient to continuously buy variety packs and attempting to transport them from place-to-place. I wanted to create a solution and product that was portable and aesthetically pleasing. It was important that I create a product that would look good on a bar top, and would allow someone to mix-and-match different beers. 

Share with us your background, and how did it play a part in creating The Beer Lodge?

My Grandfather and his brothers started Butler Die Co. in 1963, a manufacturing company specializing in steel rule cutting dies. I worked alongside my Grandfather for many years, and later purchased the company with my Dad. 

My experience and knowledge in the cutting die industry afforded me to create and design a carrier using a CNC laser and CAD software. After creating several carrier prototypes, I was able to create a finished product with the right dimensions and fit. It also became much easier to adjust the carrier to accommodate different bottle sizes and hole counts - making our product even more accessible.

What's your favorite part of the creating process?

Assembling the carriers has become my favorite part of the creating process because it allows me to remove myself from the digital world and create something with my hands. It helps me clear my and allow my creative juices to flow. 

What's next for The Beer Lodge?

We’ve been tinkering with new designs, as well collaborations with other local makers that we’ll be excited to share in the future. Additionally, we’re looking at an artisan series where we will encourage designers and artists to take a blank carrier canvas and add their own designs to them. 

Shop The Beer Lodge online, or purchase their products locally at Urban Matter.

Jenny Hill of Lonesome Traveler

Jenny Hill—the designer and maker behind the beloved St. Louis-based menswear accessory line, Lonesome Traveler—creates ties and pocket squares that are carefully designed and skillfully constructed by hand. Her personal story is a life less lonesome than the name suggests—made of traveling, collecting and creating. Each tie holds a story, as she selects high-quality fabrics from around the globe. Lonesome Traveler has a certain quality and uniqueness beyond replication; unlike mass-produced products that become the norm - exchanging origination for presumed discount.

Tell us how Lonesome Traveler came to life. What inspired you to create your line of ties?

The response I got during the holiday season made me realize I had created something special, and I began my transition to making Lonesome Traveler a full-time job.

Before moving to St Louis I spent a single year in Dallas, TX while my husband completed a medical fellowship at UT Southwestern. I was working as a personal trainer and cooked at a vegan diner.

I needed a way to spend my free time and harness my creative energy. Thus, Lonesome Traveler was created, in my kitchen using my Singer I bought when I was 16 years old and vintage fabric I had been collecting. I have a degree in interior design but have always loved fashion, and more specifically menswear. I also noticed that there was a lack of products aimed towards men in the world of high-end, handcrafted goods. This was right before Christmas 2015, and the response I got during the holiday season made me realize I had created something special, and I began my transition to making Lonesome Traveler a full-time job.

What do you keep in mind when you're fabric shopping for your collection?

When searching for new fabrics I keep three things in mind; quality, feel, and aesthetic. I use a mix of vintage, dead stock, and new fabrics. Quality is the first thing I look at and is non-negotiable for my products. I try to work with 100% natural fabrics, either linen or cotton. This is one reason I love working with vintage fabric when possible, as it is generally very well crafted. Next, it's the way the fabric feels, or the "hand" of the fabric.  I am a very tactile person, and I need the fabric to feel just right, and have the correct weight for the end product I have in mind. Finally, and most importantly, I look at the aesthetic of the fabric - the color, pattern, and style. This process is impossible to put in words, but it is the most creative part of the process. I basically pick whatever I fall in love with, and magically, the fabrics I love manages to fall into a beautiful, cohesive line.

What keeps you inspired while working in your studio?

My customers are what keep me inspired while I work in my studio. My customers, and deadlines of course. I find I have a lot of repeat customers and referrals, which is so touching and makes me want to continue to put out the best products I can. I also absolutely adore doing weddings. Wedding party ties end up being about 50% of my business, and I couldn't be happier about it. Nothing inspires me more than being included in a couple's big day. Lately, I've been doing a lot of custom fabric wedding ties, which is so exciting! I offer wedding package discounts and I am always looking for new couples to work with. Oh, and also, books on tape help me get through the long sewing hours. I'm currently re-listening to the Virgin Suicides and just finished A Little Life. Audible and Goodreads are my two most frequented websites. Feel free to drop me a line and send book title suggestions!

You can purchase Lonesome Traveler online and locally from Urban Matter, Ruby Francis, Union Studio, and May's Place.