These cold and long North East winters really make you yearn for the tropical weather and laid back lifestyle of Florida. But if you can’t make it to the sunshine state you can bring a little of that FLA flavor to your home with Baker+Brown, a line of totes, tee’s and home décor inspired by beautiful Sanibel Island Florida. I talked with the husband and wife duo behind the brand, Neil and Jen Brown, to find out a little more about Baker+Brown and what’s coming next.
How did Baker+Brown start?
We started with lots of vision and a little bit of knowledge. This past winter I created the shell illustrations, for no specific purpose other than practice in illustration and pattern design. The shells were inspired by my family’s annual vacation to Sanibel Island Florida—we’ve been going there for 25 years. I decided it would be fun to see if any retailers on the island would be interested in a product line featuring the shell illustrations. So my husband and I spent one day of our vacation talking to a few stores, showing them digital samples of what the collection would look like and seeing if anyone was interested. It worked, we got one brave retailer interested, and moved forward with producing the majority of the line.
I have great respect for the retailer that was interested in a collection presented on spec. We didn’t have any of the products produced until after the order was placed…but it worked out really well. If you’re in Sanibel, you can find the Baker+Brown line at MacIntosh Books and Paper.
We love how eco-conscious your company is. Can you speak a little about the importance of using eco-conscious companies for the products you produce in your line.
Baker+Brown values people, transparency, and the environment. This is my first adventure into the exciting world of production and sourcing. With the Sanibel Collection, we sourced our accessories from amazing companies that we share common values with. Since the collection was inspired by Florida, I found the best screen printers in Florida to work with as well. It takes a lot of research to find the right people to partner with.
I am constantly redefining and gaining new understanding of our values and global impact. The driving force behind the decisions we make as a company is actually people—we have the opportunity to directly impact others with our purchasing decisions. Through this process I have become increasingly aware of the environmental impact our purchasing decisions have as well. When we make decisions that negatively impact the environment we’re negatively impacting people. So it’s something that I am still wrapping my brain around and learning more about everyday.
I truly believe that companies will be required to become more transparent about their products and supply chain based on consumer demand. At Baker+Brown we’re just flat out proud of the suppliers and manufacturers we have had the opportunity to work with; that’s why we’ve made their profiles directly accessible from each product within our online store.
Your freshman line is very tailored with clean lines and brightly colored graphics. What influences your designs and color choices?
The path I went down when designing the Sanibel Collection was interesting. My research started with Florida’s Spanish heritage, and the Moorish Revival-style architecture in places like St. Augustine. I created a few incredibly intricate tile inspired patterns that included seashells. It was while working on the patterns that I decided to focus on creating the intricate, fluid shell illustrations. The final designs ended up being quite reductionist.
The color palette is 100% Florida. Brightly painted houses. Lush green trees. Crystal blue water. Fruity Sherbets. Citrus.
After the ocean, what’s sparks that creative light?
In general, my surroundings are my inspiration, that’s why I love living in New York City and travel any time I have the opportunity. Observing and learning about different cultures always fascinates me and nurtures my creativity. Nature, flowers, and organic lines tends work their way into my illustrations. I’m pretty obsessed with pattern; I turn to designers like Jonathan Adler, Marimekko, and Florence Broadhurst for inspiration there.
What’s next for Baker+Brown?
One fun thing we’ll be releasing soon is a screen printed poster store on our website. My husband has a large collection of posters that he’s collected over the years from various artists, designers and printers and after 10 years of toting them around we’ve decided they need a good home.
My vision for Baker+Brown is to work with and propel artisans and small manufacturers in the USA and throughout the world. My next collection will likely be small, one to two items, developed from the ground up. We definitely have no shortage of ideas.
Thank you for talking with us Jen and Neil Brown. Your line makes us homesick for Florida but it’s comforting to know we can bring a little of the Florida flavor home with us. Looking forward to what’s coming next.
To shop the line please check out the Baker+Brown site.