i went over and checked my mail today and was surprised to find a package waiting, from an unknown address and marked “do not bend.” i carefully opened it and out slid two pieces of cardboard taped together, inside of which were two pieces of art and a card.
“dear julia…here is a little fan art i created for free people. i am an artist and budding textile designer from queens, new york. i have been wearing free people for years now and i am a faithful follower of the building 25 blog. i love the free people aesthetic. it’s refreshing how interactive the company is with their customer base. free people is more like a community than just a brand. thank you for all the cool clothes and inspiration. love, melissa.”
this means so much, melissa! thank you!
as if that wasn’t enough, i was also sent this amazing bouquet of flowers from sullivan owen.
i am very excited to welcome our guest bloggers for the month of march, erica and lauren of the amazing blog honestly…wtf! these ladies are a constant source of inspiration for DIY projects, art, fashion and more, and i’m thrilled they will be sharing some of their projects and inspiration, as well as an exclusive DIY for free people this month – and keep an eye out on our website for some items from erica’s awesome line the 2 bandits!
Lauren and I, a fashion stylist and designer respectively, started Honestly…WTF several months ago as a way for us to document a shared love of art, DIYs, travel, and most importantly, fashion. We were beyond thrilled when Free People asked us to contribute to their guest blogger series with a few things that inspire us. Honestly, we can trace our love of Free People as far back as we can remember (circa 1990s)! And so in true FP spirit, we are sharing a handful of images from a DIY Tepee Sewing Workshop we hosted on my family’s ranch in California last Fall. After 3 days of handling 400 yards of heavy canvas, sewing 160 button holes, carving 40 willow pins, attaching 36 stress patches and ripping through 20 spools of thread, we successfully made a beautiful 20 foot tepee. Stay tuned this Spring when we paint the outside of the canvas and decorate the inside!
if you haven’t already, check out erica and lauren’s blog here.
earlier this week i had the wonderful opportunity to visit the studio of floral and event designer sullivan owen, which just opened in queens village in philadelphia. i love talking to people who are passionate about what they do…their love for their craft is infectious. i could have spent an entire day in her beautiful studio listening to her talk about the artistry behind floral arrangements and watching her work.
when designing her studio space, sullivan wanted to use a soothing palette with shades of soft gray and white so that when entering the space, your attention goes straight to the flowers. indeed- when i walked in, my eyes were immediately drawn to the pops of color peppering the studio.
when she was younger, sullivan worked at one of the first urban outfitters stores. she recalls the president of the company visiting often to chat with employees and see how the store was doing, and it was a huge inspiration for her to see someone with a dream who was able to make such a successful career out of it. her dream was to tie together her fine arts background with her love of flowers, which is exactly what she is doing today.
in addition to floral arrangements, sullivan owen offers complete event design – from mood boards and color palettes to textiles like bouquet wraps and table linens. to her it is about creating an entire atmosphere- an idea that reminded me very much of our free people stores.
bits of inspiration from around the studio: vintage knick knacks, beaded belts, books and handmade table linens from her own wedding.
a beautiful wall of vases and jars that can be rented for events – with the exception of the shelf of vintage glass bottles, which are her private collection inherited from her grandfather and serve as inspiration.
when i arrived, sullivan was in the back finishing up an arrangement, and i sat and watched while she talked excitedly about how the floral industry is starting to attract a younger audience of people who appreciate the fine arts. with her own background in the arts, her approach to putting together an arrangement is very much like an artist painting a picture – paying special attention to color and texture, and layering in a way that is also almost like fashion.
a mood board hangs over her work table and incorporates fashion, color and landscape – all things she thinks about when putting together a bouquet.
the flowers sullivan works with are all very special – for example at top left, a ranunculus that comes from japan where these delicate flowers are designed to be perfect. the one at bottom right is a dutch variety of the ranunculus, with a really unique color gradation. at top right is the anemone, a beautiful black and white flower with hints of purple that is one of her favorites to work with.
above and below are what she calls the “spare parts vase” – where the flowers go if they’re cut the wrong length, the stems break or they just don’t make it into a final design. she doesn’t like to throw them away, plus they’re quite beautiful!
she gave me a quick little lesson in putting together the above bouquet, and then i tried my own:
i think i could use some help… luckily sullivan is going to be holding classes at her studio so you can go learn all about how to put together the perfect bouquet, and then take it home with you :) i will definitely be attending! you can find more info on the classes here.
the studio is open by appointment only – i definitely recommend checking it out. go see the website for more info and to see more photos of her incredible work: sullivanowen.com.
with our latest catalog being shot in california, i wanted to get some insider scoop on what its like to live there – i’ve been to LA several times but could never see myself settling there…san francisco was much more my speed. so who better to ask about life in so cal than two fashionable bloggers that were born and raised there – natalie and dylana suarez!
where in LA do you live?
in the valley area of los angeles.
what is your favorite thing about living on the west coast?
natalie: i love the beautiful weather and constant sunshine. i’m not much of a gloomy weather type of person!
dylana: my favorite thing definitely has to be the beautiful weather we always have year round, all the amazing beaches we can go to on a sunny day, and the amazing thrift / vintage shops.
what are some essential pieces every girl in LA must own?
natalie: a great pair of skinny jeans and comfortable boots! also, a big bag is great for toting around everything you need on hand.
dylana: every LA girl must own a good pair of denim shorts, maxi or ankle length skirts, a good pair of leather ankle boots, silk blouses, and a lightweight blazer.
where are your favorite places to shop/eat/go out?
natalie: we were born and raised in santa monica so that is definitely my favorite part of the city. i love main street and montana avenue for the cute, little restaurants. i love 3rd street for the shopping. from there, i usually walk to the boardwalk and beach.
dylana: i love to shop on the santa monica promenade or the americana in glendale. my favorite place to eat is also santa monica because you can get just about anything there and there are a lot of cute little restaurants to eat at. i also really love main street in santa monica.
3rd street promenade, santa monica
is there a certain spot/place you like to go to get away from it all?
natalie: i love hiking up will rogers park on the westside. you get beautiful views of all of los angeles and it is super relaxing.
inspiration point, will rogers park
dylana: if i want to get away from the city, i can just stay right at home in the valley, where things are of a much slower pace. i also like to go up to ventura and to relax on the beach or do some thrift shopping on main street over there.
what’s your ideal way to spend a day off in LA?
natalie: my ideal day off would be biking along the beach from santa monica down to venice. in venice, i usually grab abbot pizza and gelato at nice cream!
dylana: i like to meet up with friends at a new restaurant that i haven’t tried yet to just hang out and laugh. i also love to spend a few hours at the bookstore reading magazines or i head to the movies. another thing i love to do on my days off is take a nice long bike ride or hike around my neighborhood. it totally clears the mind!
and here are their picks from our february catalog – i could see them wearing any of these pieces and looking lovely in them!
one of our fp girls out on the west coast sent me these adorable photos that i had to share…
our so-cal DVM had a day at her daughter’s school called “occupation celebration” where she talked to the kids about her awesome job at FP – she dressed up the girls like mannequins and chatted all about being a district visual manager – how cute?!
and this is claude, a new pup belonging to our visual manager on the west coast! above is claude as an itty bitty pup, and here is is on his first fp store visit, in santa monica:
one of our designers celebrated a birthday yesterday and how lovely is this spread some of our fp grils put together for her? fresh fruit, yogurt with honey, oats, cute cookies, cake and flowers…perfect! (raspberries…mmmmmm…my fave).
lizzy janssen is an amazing artist, has great style, and is just an awesome person- so its no surprise that her home (in fishtown, philadelphia) is a reflection of all those things. lizzy describes it as somewhere in the early american, meets 1950’s housewife, meets mid-century modern neighborhood :) another fun fact – it was designed by our creative director, who lives here!
i’m completely in love with her place…the exposed brick, the spiral staircase, the amazing bathroom and her adorable cat arlo in the above picture (named after arlo guthrie).
most of the stuff lizzy has decorated her place with – the furniture, paintings and figurines – was found at thrift stores, garage sales, and sometimes even on the curb! her favorite thrift stores in philly are germantown thrift and three potato four, in manayunk.
here’s a quick little interview with lizzy, and check out more photos of her sweet place in the slideshow below!
you can check out another tour of lizzy’s home here!
today’s fan story is from sheila from portland OR, a student and artist who sent in some of her recent work. she wrote that she loves fiber art and is always inspired by the materials that free people uses, and has incorporated some tears from fp catalogs into her work.
i love how personal her work is, some of it containing little sentences or phrases that are like a peek into her diary. awesome stuff, thanks for sharing shiela! you can check out more of her work here.
and don’t forget to keep the stories coming to firstname.lastname@example.org!
looking through our january catalog, i’m sure more than a few of you were wondering… who’s the handsome guy? his name is gauthier and he is a french model – our team found him on the street! we asked him to give us the insider scoop on his favorite places to eat and hang out in paris.