MEET THE BRAND: BAUBLE STOCKINGS
MEET THE BRAND: BAUBLE STOCKINGS
Our collections are filled with beautiful products from niche brands, each with their own unique story. This week, we're chatting with Kate Stewart, the woman behind Bauble Stockings. Founded as a way to carry on the tradition begun by her mother, Kate brings whimsical, hand-stitched Bauble Stockings to every family.
Below, Kate shares the story behind the tradition, how she selects guest artists, and her favorite items to give (and receive!) as a gift.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU LAUNCHED BAUBLE STOCKINGS?
Before I started Bauble Stockings, I ran a bakery, worked as a grant writer for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and ran a study abroad program in Panama.
WHAT WAS THE VERY FIRST BAUBLE STOCKING DESIGN? WHY DID YOU PICK THAT DESIGN?
We actually started with twelve different designs, each of which was a motif I came up with that our lead artist, Sarah Watson, brought to life. Every time I wanted a new design in our first few years, I’d make a Pinterest board of my vision for that design to really home in on what I wanted it to look like. As Sarah once told me: “A Kate Spade polka dot is not the same as a Ralph Lauren polka dot. We need to know what a Kate Stewart polka dot looks like.”
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
We aim to keep office hours from 9am – 3pm, but inevitably, we’re in the office from 7:30am – 6pm some days (especially once fall begins!). I’ve gone from wearing all the hats in the business to having just several that I only need to wear every once in a while. But most of my day is fielding emails; keeping partnerships and launch details running smoothly (partnerships and collaborations are a huge part of Bauble Stockings!); planning, planning, planning…and pesky things like accounting. This is the first year I have a team with me here every day, so it makes my life so much better!
I KNOW THIS IS A HARD ONE! WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR VERY FAVORITE BAUBLE STOCKING DESIGN?
The Partridge in a Pear Tree design by Kelly Fielden of Mason Brooks Designs means so much to me. Kelly was our first ever guest artist and I felt like she took such a leap of faith on me. That partnership has since opened so many doors for us!
As for my favorite of our core designs, Sarah has really put our stake in the ground that all Bauble Stockings are tiny works of art. But if I had to pick, I’d say my favorite would be our Home for the Holidays design. It’s our white house with the American flag out front and proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. It’s just so classic!
HOW DO YOU SELECT GUEST ARTISTS TO CREATE NEW DESIGNS?
Our process is ever evolving! I’ll share how we selected our guest artists for 2022:
- For Pete’s Sake Pottery, the owner, Susan Brown, has forever been a champion of ours and radiates positivity and love.
- Fig and Dove literally reached out to me six days after we launched on Instagram and asked if we could collaborate. We had a partnership then and four years later, we did it again!
- Shuler Studio initially reached out to me, and I told them no. But when they sent me what they had designed already, it was so good that I changed my answer to yes!
- We are in our third year of collaborating with Dogwood Hill! They have over 30 artists in their collective, so this is a dream collaboration.
- Our collaboration with Hazen started as “how many pieces of Hazen can you fit in a Bauble Stocking” and just grew from there.
- We are Instagram friends with Vana Chupp and wanted to work together!
- Katherine Knuth won our guest artist competition and I adore her so much.
- Courtney Whitmore of Pizzazzerie was an early supporter of Bauble Stockings. Courtney has created some of the most iconic table scapes and used Bauble Stockings for some of her designs, so when the idea of creating a Bauble Stocking with her popped into my head I immediately DM’d her!
- Kathy Hilton – where do I begin?! Her daughter, Nicky, is on our Advisory Board and is perhaps the most generous woman in opening doors and connecting people without needing anything in return.
TELL US MORE ABOUT BAUBLE STOCKINGS’ CHARITABLE INITIATIVES.
Since we launched in 2018, we’ve donated more than $70,000 to charities! Five percent of the profit from every Bauble Stocking sold goes to the Joan Rose Foundation in Haiti, where our embroidery team is based, and helps pay for books, afterschool programs, medical expenses, and a host of other things. Ten percent of the profit from every guest artist design sold goes to their charity of choice, so it’s different for every guest artist. A few of those organizations include Animal Haven, LifeWay Network, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Wounded Warrior Project, No Kid Hungry, JDRP, and The WellHouse to name a few.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH GOOD THREADS NEEDLEPOINT?
I actually tried to start my business in China and I flew there to meet the stitchers. The only problem was I couldn't meet the stitchers. And they couldn't provide photos of the working conditions. For me, these were big red flags. I spent the next year searching for a fair-trade partner. It was REALLY hard and took almost every waking moment in between having my daughter Abby in September 2017 and chasing my 2-year-old around my house, while also working full time. It was stressful.
One faithful night, when I told my husband I was going to give up, he told me to search "needlepoint belts" one last time. And thank goodness I did because Good Threads popped up. I got on a plane and went to Haiti. We interviewed the women there with a translator. Common themes were sentiments like "I am respected here," "David respects me and my hard work," and "I am paid fairly.” I knew it was a win and we moved all production to Haiti.
WHAT IS THE BEST BAUBLE STOCKING GIFT YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
I tell this story over and over, but it’s really the best of all time and it wasn’t even for me – it was for my mom! I was in high school, and we’d opened all of the gifts, so my dad told my mom to go get her Bauble Stockings. She opened it to a rolled-up piece of paper, which was pretty common, and it was an almost full-page explanation of how he had gotten her art lessons on Thursdays. My mom thought it was kind but was still a little puzzled. My dad then announced that he’d spoken to all her best friends’ husbands, and they had purchased the same art class for their wives, so they would have a built-in girls’ night once a week!
WHAT ITEM FROM TRULY GIFTED WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE? WHAT ITEM WOULD YOU LIKE TO RECEIVE?
I’d love to give and receive anything from Luxe Dominoes! They are the coolest company.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I like to watch movies with my kids. Honestly, I feel like I work all the time; I love work and I get that from my dad, but I always feel guilty when I don’t have any big hobbies to tell people about!