Needlepoint has been around since the 15th century and has developed so much over the past 400 plus years. From a learned "accomplishment" to a treasured gift for another the art has not lost its charm but in fact has only grown more popular. With the help of Tory Burch, Jonathan Adler and antique auctions you can add some adorable pillows to your decor. From Smathers & Branson you can purchase belts and key fobs and from Stubbs & Wooten you can snag amazing needlepoint loafers and darling bags. Needlepoint has never been more popular!
I can recall my grandmother needle pointing a pair of pillows for her new sofa with a Goebel pattern of a boy and girl in an apple tree. She spent hours creating those canvases for finishing and then had so much pride when they were complete. I will never forget them. As I grew up my mother taught me to cross stitch and I created many ornaments and small pieces but I always hoped to learn to needlepoint. From belts and key chains to pillows and ornaments there is so much charm in a finished needlepoint project after the hours and time spent creating these one of a kind pieces. It is now on my bucket list of things to do ... I will learn to needlepoint and create some one of a kind pieces for my family!
Enter the darling Jessica Chaney of Lycette Designs. I recall the first time I came across Jessica on the instagram feed of a fellow blogger The Glam Pad in spring of last year. When I spotted the post I immediately clicked to read more as Andrea is one of my favorite people. Her style is impeccable and her blog is the same. I knew if she was recommending Jessica I most definitely needed to know more. We chatted via email and I immediately adored her. She offered to teach me the art the next time I am in Palm Beach County and I truly intend to take her up on her offer. Now to plan a trip to see family and make some time to see her.
First of all, tell me about Jessica Chaney. Where did you grow up and how did your childhood influence your path to this year?
I grew up splitting my time between South Florida (Boca Raton and Islamorada) in the school year and Vermont in the summer. My childhood and my teenage years were dedicated to horseshowing. Every winter was consumed by weekends competing in The Winter Equestrian Festival, while every summer was spent traveling along the Eastern seaboard competing in the summer circuit. In fact, it was at a horseshow that I picked up my first needlepoint project!
Competitive show jumping taught me many things including time management, and, of course, needlepoint, but most importantly I learned the necessity of style AND substance. In show jumping you have to be the fastest and the most effective in the ring, but you also must be tailored! Every weekend was a fashion show and I delighted in choosing my shirt, jacket, and even though you couldn’t see them, my lucky socks. I try to apply the concept of style and substance to Lycette by providing followers with a colorful and cheeky canvas line AND needlepoint related content on the Lycette blog (http://lycettedesigns.com/blog/). It is double the work, but well worth it!
When did you decide to turn a passion for needlepoint into Lycette Designs?
I worked at The Point of It All (a beloved needlepoint shop in Chevy Chase, DC) part-time during college, and then managed the shop for a year after graduation. After too many slushy, grey DC winters I decided to return to the land of Lilly and sunshine, aka Florida. I had originally planned to open a store in my hometown, but felt overwhelmed by being tied to a physical location. So, I decided to enter the needlepoint market in a different aspect- as a designer of wholesale needlepoint. I packed up my paints, and headed to my mother’s house in Vermont where I designed Lycette’s first collection. After six months I returned down south, set up Lycette in my house, The Pink Bungalow, and began selling to the trade. I am proud that in less than a year Lycette is carried in over 70 needlepoint stores nationwide and online!
Anything along the way you wish you had done and didn't do?
I wish I had the courage to go after copy cats in the early days of Lycette. Since the beginning there have been companies that copy my marketing techniques, send canvases to Lycette’s “Women on Point” after I feature them, and even copy designs. I did not pursue these companies because I was afraid of developing a “tough” reputation, but I wish I had aggressively dealt with the situation early on. I have learned as a business owner you should worry about your reputation, but you also have to protect your brand.
I wish I hadn’t been so caught up in developing a “lifestyle brand.” Yes, needlepoint carries a lifestyle with it, but “lifestyle brands” are developed through time, and usually by celebrities. In the beginning I was swept away by the trendiness of owning and promoting a “lifestyle brand” that for a moment I forgot to promote the most important aspect of Lycette, needlepoint!
Share two people who have inspired your business and why?
My friend Meredith’s support and enthusiasm constantly inspires me. When I have mascara pooling under my eyes, and am feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a small business owner she is on the other side of phone saying, “Look how far you have come, and imagine how far you will go.” All of my girlfriends inspire me, but Meredith is always pushing me to dream bigger, to do better. She is even joining me at an upcoming tradeshow!
Meredith and I at a wedding this past fall
I grew up in South Florida, and thus it is ingrained in me to find inspiration in Lilly Pulitzer. With the success of the brand today it is easy to forget that Lilly started at a juice stand in Palm Beach, and pivoted her company when she realized she sold more dresses than juices. Beyond her lovely bright colors, I admire that Lilly Pulitzer stimulated the Florida economy. She produced her fabrics in Key West, and had her factory located in Miami. She was a visionary who owned her company at a time when business was dominated by men. I just love Lilly!
The Queen, Miss Lilly P
What inspires you to create?
Selfishly, I am inspired by what I would like to see in the market! I founded Lycette after working in a needlepoint store and noticing a gap in the needlepoint canvas industry. There were a plethora of canvases designed for a mature audience, and some designed for a younger audience; however, there was not a line that would appeal to both demographics. Most of Lycette’s designs are adaptations of traditional aspects of interior design- Staffordshire dogs, florals, foo dogs, and ginger jars. Of course, I am most passionate about cheeky needlepoint sayings. I would love for cheeky needlepoint to be Lycette’s signature!
Do you have a favorite thing to needlepoint?
I adore needlepointing cheeky quotes from Lycette and colorful geometrics from Kate Dickerson. Currently I am in a phase of stitching needlepoint purses. I am patiently (not really) awaiting the arrival of “Southern Charm,” so I can finish my needlepoint lightship basket from Rachel Donley needlepoint.
Working on my Rachel Donley Lightship Basket
Do you have a favorite color?
When in doubt I always refer to Kay Thompson’s infamous line in “Funny Face,” Think Pink! I adore pink, and all of its’ soothing and invigorating shades. I am so passionate about pink that I even painted the outside of my house, The Pink Bungalow, pink! God bless my future husband as I always plan to live in a pink house.
Describe the feeling you get when people get excited about needlepoint?
Yes! Yes! YES! The feeling is a combination of discovering calorie free chocolate and being the first to arrive at the annual D. Porthault sale. Pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm.
Audrey perfectly expresses my feelings when people get excited about needlepoint!
Who are your style icons?
I adore Jackie O, Eloise, Bianca Jagger, and Edie Beale. My modern day style icons include Jules Reid and Rebecca de Ravenel, they embody boho elegance with a touch of preppy chic! Of course, I also want to own everything from MDS stripes. There is nothing more classic or elegant than stripes.
If I spotted you on a random Saturday what would you be doing?
Oh gosh, now I would be painting to fill orders, but before Lycette you could find me strolling along Worth Ave or South Dixie hunting for treasures, or needlepointing on the beach. I also love diving into my favorite magazines, “Tatler” and “Town and Country.” As for the perfect Saturday evening it would involve hosting a dinner party on the patio enjoying stone crab, chilled white wine, and of course, key lime pie and fresh fruits.
What is your favorite way to unwind?
I currently work where I live, The Pink Bungalow, so it is hard for me to “unwind” and tune out Lycette. However, my two favorite outlets are cooking and walking my darling pups, Oreo and Rusty. I also love creating playlists on Spotify, which I listen to when strolling with the furry munchkins. I adore music and grew up playing instruments. I was the only female trombonist in my middle school band, and even played drums in a “punk” band, Oxximoron, in my teens, if you can imagine!
Five must haves.
My bangles, every woman should have a signature accessory. I like to joke that my menagerie of enamel bracelets and gold bangles also double as a dowry.
An Hermes scarf, multifunctional and can be used in a variety of situations ranging from an accessory to a sling to a sleeping mask. V. practical and should be included in any emergency kit. I always keep mine tied around my straw handbag, in case of peril, or to cover my eyes for a quick nap.
Oreo and Rusty, my trusty pups and resident therapists
Stationery, pen included. There is nothing more thoughtful, and endearing, than a handwritten note. I order mine through Walton Street Stationery, I just adore the owner, Nancy.
Needlepoint, but of course.
Don't you love every single thing about her? I am ready for a road trip to south Florida just to shop for vintage and learn to needlepoint. Who is with me? Could we really make that happen? #dreamer I can leave right after I get home from the beach. Let me know how many of you are in!! #yesplease
Have the best Friday ... and make it a cheeky one!!