New England Maker: Sara Fitz Studio

As you know by now, I love sharing about companies and products we love on the blog and our Instagram - and most especially those made right here in New England.  Next in our series of interviews from New England Makers, we have the Sara Fitzgerald O’Brien of Sara Fitz Studio!   

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

Sara Fitz is best known for her beautiful coastal-inspired watercolor prints and stationery. More recently they have expanded to carry fabric and wallpaper as well as home goods such as pillows, plates, and more!

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your business.

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

I'm the mom of two beautiful little boys and the wife of a super sweet guy named Miles. We've been married for almost 11 years.  I'm an artist and designer with a Master's in architecture and minors in visual arts and painting. I've been in the creative industry since about 2007 (on and off around having babies). Our family lives along the coast of Maine and frequents Nantucket Island. I'm constantly inspired by the beauty around me. We spend a lot of time at the beach, exploring seaside towns, and feeling grateful to love where we live. Together with Miles, I own Sara Fitz. Our company is a New England-centric lifestyle brand, launched in 2016.  Sara Fitz incorporates my watercolor illustrations onto a variety of goods; various lines including wallpaper, textiles, gift wrap, and other small-batch collections. The aesthetic of our brand is coastal and clean, yet detailed, colorful... with a bit of whimsy. My goal as an artist is to celebrate those simple everyday things that one comes across when they're in New England, like a vintage life jacket or a vase of hydrangeas. 

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

How did you start Sara Fitz Studio? Had you been making watercolors for a while or was this a new venture for you? How did you make the leap into offering home goods as well?

Back in 2007, prior to having our boys, I founded a custom stationery studio. It was focused solely on weddings and events, and the papers were designed around my watercolor artwork. I very much enjoyed my day-to-day and ran the studio happily for quite a few years.  When I found out we were having our second baby, I decided to take a step back from the industry to soak in all the amazing mama moments. I stayed home full-time with my kiddos (and loved every second, knowing it was a fleeting time). There was always the intent and desire to re-enter the industry in one way or another when the time was right. And Miles and I had dreamed of one day working together -- designing a family business. In 2016, our dream became reality and we officially launched Sara Fitz. In many ways, the company is a rebrand of my original studio, in that we continue to offer custom wedding stationery, as well as our lines of home goods. 

As far as watercolor goes, I've been enjoying the medium for as long as I can remember. Most people think of watercolor as lax and unbound. Funnily enough, what I thrive on is my ability to control it, to give it shape, detail, and crispness. I love the range of color one can achieve, the lightness, and the transparency. There's an authenticity to watercolor that I gravitate toward.

Expanding Sara Fitz into the lifestyle arena came somewhat gradually, but very intentionally. Both Miles and I grew up around interior designers (our moms) and find ourselves drawn to many aspects of design in our daily lives. It felt very natural to branch into collections that encompass what we enjoy most about design: simplicity and color, a coastal casual look. We began by introducing framed art prints and then gift wrap. This past summer we announced lines of wallpaper, textiles, pillows, dishware and a few other fun goods! It's been an exciting road!

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What does a typical day look like for you?

I tend to be an early riser (when you have little ones, there's not much of a choice!). We start our day at about 6 a.m., taking our time with family breakfast and chatting about the day ahead. The boys head off to school and Miles and I have a quick work meeting to get on the same page. Often I'll spend some time in my studio painting (either a commission project, custom wedding or new design for the brand). I'll likely be on the phone quite a bit, and answering emails. When we're introducing a new product, there's a prototyping period that I really enjoy, including testing out/tweaking designs. Each day looks a bit different, and some are more creative than others, but I love so many aspects of running Sara Fitz and feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to pursue my goals for the company.  

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What is your favorite part about owning your own company? And least favorite part?

My favorite part is the creativity... turning my ideas into reality. To see our products used and enjoyed by our clients is so satisfying. It brings me a lot of happiness. It means a lot to me and Miles that our boys can witness our hard work and determination, as well... and they take pride in Sara Fitz. That's quite special for us. 

My least favorite part? I think when you run your own business you want to do all the things. While wonderful, working for yourself can certainly be exhausting and stressful. It is definitely non-stop.  I struggle with feeling like I'm not accomplishing as much as I'd like.  (I'm a perfectionist, for sure -- so keeping that in check can be a challenge).

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What has been the most exciting moment for Sara Fitz Studio since you started?

Honestly, there have been so many moments since we launched that have felt surreal. We've had the chance to work alongside some very inspiring people, which is always a treat! I'd say our recent home goods launch will stand out to me as an exciting achievement! There was a tremendous amount of effort put in behind the scenes, a team of people coming together, a lot of balls in the air. I'm proud of the direction we're headed.

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

I think the most important thing I'd say is to keep your eyes on your big picture. Remain authentic and true to your vision. I believe it's important to emphasize what makes us unique. Believe in yourself and your ideas and know that everything takes TIME... more time than you'd think, and a ton (a ton) of hard work. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Guidance and advice from others can really go a long way. Roadblocks will happen often, you've just got to stay motivated and push through. 

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

What is your long-term goal? Where do you see yourself in five years?

We have quite the long to-do list over here! Over the next few years, I'd be thrilled to continue doing what we've been doing, branching into the interior design arena with our product lines,  exploring new designs, and enhancing our existing collections. I love the idea of collaborating with other brands on creative projects and hope to do more of that in the future. Perhaps at some point, we'll have a small flagship shop that represents our brand.

New England Maker:  Sara Fitz

Who’s one of your favorite New England makers?

There are so many talented makers in New England! One that never ceases to inspire me is Erin Flett. You know what she does that I just love so much? She cares. She sincerely cares about encouraging others, putting out positivity, and creating beautiful, happy products. I really appreciate and respect that :)

Sara Fitz Logo

Keep up with Sara Fitz Studio!


DO YOU OWN A NEW ENGLAND-BASED BUSINESS AND WOULD LIKE TO BE FEATURED IN AN UPCOMING INTERVIEW?  OR WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN HAVING ME STYLE, REVIEW, AND FEATURE ONE OF YOUR PRODUCTS?  
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Bean Boot Buying + Styling Tips

Those iconic bean boots - everybody's wearing them and everybody wants them, but they can be hard to find!  Last year they were backordered for months - this year I'm sure L.L. Bean will be well prepared and they will be easier to find, but I'd still recommend buying early so you don't risk having to wait.  But before you order, there's some things you should know first!  | This post contains affiliate links |

Tips on Buying Bean Boots

Sizing

The sizing for L.L. Bean's "Bean Boots" is definitely kind of tricky and I'd highly recommend trying them on in-store before purchasing, even if you're going to order them online. Bean Boots only come in whole sizes and run BIG. For example, I typically wear a size 8-8.5 (sometimes even a 9) shoe but in Bean Boots I'm a size 7 and they still feel roomy. When trying on the boots make sure to wear what kind of socks you're planning on using them with (whether it's regular thin socks or thick ragg socks ), to get a better idea of the fit.

Women's Bean Boots come in two different rises too - 6" rise or 8" rise.  Try both on to see what's more comfortable and what style you like better.  I personally prefer the 8" rise - here in New England it's a bit more practical with the deeper snow in the winter and I also feel like it's the more classic style. 

L.L. Bean also makes Bean Boot Moccasins and some limited edition styles with fun colors and linings - there are so many options!  

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Where to Buy

During Fall and Winter when there's a big rush on Bean Boots and it may be very difficult to find the exact style and size you want in-store or even online.  You may need to shop around a bit to find what you're looking for.. or wait for your backordered item to come in.  L.L. Bean Outlet stores can be a great resource too!  Boots and other items that were ordered online and returned often end up at the outlets - and at a discount to boot!  (Ha, couldn't pass up a boot pun.)  In fact, I got my Bean Boots for 40% off at the outlets - now that's a great deal!  

One thing to keep in mind about outlet shopping is that they will likely have a large selection of bigger sizes of Bean Boots, and less of the smaller sizes... this is because so many people mistakenly order their normal size without realizing how big they run.  When I bought my Bean Boots at the Outlets, they had tons of sizes 8, 9, and 10 - and the ones I bought were literally the very last pair of size 7's.  

If you decide to purchase your Bean Boots online, keep in mind that coupons or regular L.L. Bean sales may not apply to them because they're such a popular item - you may have better luck earning some rebate money back on your purchase with a program like Ebates.

Styling

What doesn't go with Bean Boots?  Seriously - just about anything goes with them (I've even seen people wear them to their wedding!).  But really you can't go wrong with some fitted jeans, ragg socks, and a cozy pullover.  I've linked to some of my favorite L.L. Bean looks below and all would look great paired with Bean Boots.  

L.L. Bean Style

Scroll sideways to see more ->

Related Posts:  

Originally published 11/1/17

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New England Maker: Simply Equine Design

As you know by now, I love sharing about companies and products we love on the blog and our Instagram - and most especially those made right here in New England.  Next in our series of interviews from New England Makers, we have Jennifer Fisher from Simply Equine Design!   

New England Maker:  Simply Equine Design

Jennifer Fisher is the woman behind Simply Equine Design - she is best known for her incredibly realistic, hand-painted horse stall portraits and signs.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your business.  

Jennifer Fisher:  I am a graduate of Colby-Sawyer College and have been a full time graphic designer for the last 13 years.  I've been running Simply Equine Design (SED) on the side officially since 2012.  Through SED I've branched off into photography — I often would travel to people and photograph their horses for painted portraits.  From there, I frequently received photo requests so 2 years ago I decided to split the two and keep SED strictly for art.  So currently, I quietly run the two simultaneously alongside working full time and being a mom — it's crazy haha.  Holidays get hard, as my turnaround time often takes 4 weeks from start to finish, but I'm very strict about deadlines, and once the order deadline for holidays is up, that's it.  I generally will close the shop after the cut off to reduce the number of requests I continue to receive.  But it's fun.

Jennifer Fisher of Simply Equine Design

How did you start Simply Equine Design?  Had you been making stall signs for awhile or was this a new leap for you?  

JF:  I made my first sign in 1999, for the horse I was leasing.  I wanted him to have a fancy sign, but I couldn't afford one, so I hand carved and painted one myself.  It wasn't long after that I was asked by other boarders to make signs for their horses.  I ended up painting signs for the entire barn that summer.  Ten years later, when I bought my first horse, I revisited my signs and due to the amount of interest, I decided to open up my Etsy shop. 

What does a typical day look like for you?  

JF:  Currently, SED is a weekend job so weekends can be a little chaotic.  There is no typical day for me, I grab a time to work wherever I can find it — thank goodness for nap times!  

New England Maker:  Simply Equine Design

What is your favorite part about owning your own company?  And least favorite part?  

JF:  As what I do is completely custom, I love connecting with clients and learning their stories.  Each portrait is very personal to the owner.  Whether it be a simple stall sign or a memorial portrait.  Knowing their stories is part of my process and makes each portrait a little more personal. 
My least favorite part?  Finances. 

New England Maker:  Simply Equine Design

What has been the most exciting moment for Simply Equine Design since you started? 

JF:  The majority of my business comes from word of mouth, even now as I don't do any sort of advertising.  So I would say one of the most exciting moments was to receive my first international order. 

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What advice do you have for people just starting out with a handmade business?  

JF:  Work hard, and keep pushing on.  Small business are HARD and a lot of work.  

New England Maker:  Simply Equine Design

What is your long-term goal?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  

JF:  I see myself expanding my product base to include a handful of non-custom products.  I'd love to be able to attend some larger events such as the Equine Affair in Springfield, MA.  

Who are some of your favorite New England Makers?  

New England Maker:  Simply Equine Design

Keep up with Simply Equine Design

Simply Equine Design

All photos courtesy of Simply Equine Design


DO YOU OWN A NEW ENGLAND-BASED BUSINESS AND WOULD LIKE TO BE FEATURED IN AN UPCOMING INTERVIEW?  OR WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN HAVING ME STYLE, REVIEW, AND FEATURE ONE OF YOUR PRODUCTS?  
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New Etsy Listing: “Gather” Sign

New sign design in our Etsy shop!  And I think this makes for the third new listing/design in the last week!  (I have a been a busy bee, haha.)  This farmhouse-inspired "gather" sign would make the perfect finishing touch to any gathering spot in your home!  Shop this design and our others at our Etsy shop:  

Farmhouse-inspired "gather" sign by Birch Landing Home

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New Etsy Listing: Rustic CAMP Sign

New sign design in our Etsy shop!  These distressed CAMP signs are just what you need to bring some rustic charm to your cabin/lakeside retreat or your everyday home.  This sign has a hand-painted, antique feel to it and is just what you've been looking for.  Shop this sign and more in our Etsy shop:  

Rustic CAMP sign by Birch Landing Home

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New Etsy Listing: Custom “Established” Signs

New sign design in our Etsy shop!  This one is for a Custom Last Name Established sign - perfect for a wedding, anniversary, or housewarming gift!  This rustic sign is made on a wide grey-stained board with crisp permanent white vinyl lettering.  Shop this sign and more in our Etsy shop:  

Last Name Established Sign by Birch Landing Home

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Featured by BostonVoyager Magazine

Honored to have been recently interviewed by BostonVoyager Magazine for their Trailblazers series!  You can read the interview and see more photos here:  

Birch Landing Home at Work

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New England Maker: Sewcialite

As you know by now, I love sharing about companies and products we love on the blog and our Instagram - and most especially those made right here in New England!  Next in our series of interviews from New England Makers, we have Roula Rallis from Sewcialite!   

New England Maker:  Sewcialite

Roula Rallis is the one-woman show behind Sewcialite, a seacoast-based company best known for their gorgeous coastal-inspired creations - all made of rope, fabric, and paint!

Roula Rallis of Sewcialite

Tell me a little about yourself and your business.  

Roula Rallis:  I am a wife, full time IT project manager, and mom of 2 (ages 7 and 4).  Sewcialite is a part time home decor business.  I design baskets, planters, wall baskets, bowls, coasters, and most recently tote bags and clutches using clothesline rope.  All my designs are inspired by the coast and I am a huge fan of modern coastal interior design. 

How did you start Sewcialite?  Had you been making rope baskets for a while or was this a new leap for you?

RR:  Sewcialite began as a hobby and has since turned into a side hustle.  In March of 2017 I decided to make myself a basket for my home and I just fell in love with the design process!  With the support of family & friends I opened my Etsy shop.  And over the past 1.5 years I have continued to refine my designs by weaving them with fabric and hand painting them. 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

RR:  My days are typically very long!  I’m up at 6am packing lunches, orders, sometimes styling and posting products, and getting my kids ready for school!  I drive my youngest to school, I then commute 45 mins to work.  After working all day I am back in mom mode, I help make dinner, give baths, do homework.  But once my kids are in bed the Sewcialite studio opens (my guest bedroom).  My husband has been so very supportive and he does quite a bit of heavy lifting to give me time at night to design!

New England Maker:  Sewcialite

What is your favorite part about owning your own company?  And least favorite part? 

RR:  My favorite part is being my own boss!  Having worked for someone else my entire career it’s great to be able to call all the shots. 

The least favorite part is being responsible for everything!  Sometimes I wish I could clone myself!  I’m designing, styling, photographing, advertising, fulfilling orders, blogging, etc. it can get overwhelming at times and I’ve had to learn to say no to be able to balance my full time job with Sewcialite. 

New England Maker:  Sewcialite

What has been the most exciting moment for Sewcialite since you started?

RR:  I’ve been so fortunate to have a few so I can’t choose just one!  I am a HUGE fan of Serena & Lily!  It’s one of my favorite home decor brands!  They have actually liked a few of my social media posts and designs which is mind blowing!  I’ve also been lucky to connect with a few amazing interior design social influencers who I’ve worked with like Jordecor and Coastal Interiors! 

Also getting to meet many of the amazing entrepreneurs I follow on social media in person has also been so exciting and inspiring! 

New England Maker:  Sewcialite

What advice do you have for people just starting out?  

RR:  Be prepared to take risks and work your butt off!  Being an entrepreneur is not easy!  Success does not happen overnight! 

Make sure you have a good support system of family and friends!  They will be crucial for those rough days where you may feel overwhelmed or frustrated! 

New England Maker:  Sewcialite

What is your long-term goal?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

RR:  My long term goal is to continue to slowly grow my social media presence, as it’s been the my primary channel for all of my online sales.  I would also like to design a better/bigger studio space for myself too! 

New England Maker:  Sewcialite

Who's one of your favorite New England Makers?  

RR: I love Watts in Maine she designs the most beautiful jewelry and she works full time. I was lucky enough to meet her in Portland this year!

New England Maker:  Sewcialite

Keep up with Sewcialite!

All photos courtesy of Sewcialite.


DO YOU OWN A NEW ENGLAND-BASED BUSINESS AND WOULD LIKE TO BE FEATURED IN AN UPCOMING INTERVIEW?  OR WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN HAVING ME STYLE, REVIEW, AND FEATURE ONE OF YOUR PRODUCTS?  
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