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Introducing Dear Keaton ...

Christie Shepard and Chris Hutcheson aren't new to the home textiles industry so it was no surprise that they hit the scene with a loud bang with they launched their lifestyle brand Dear Keaton. Perfectly described as "resort living everyday" Dear Keaton is the perfect choice for giving your life and home that well traveled and relaxed feeling.

I have known both girls for a few years and I was super excited to see them take the leap to launch their own brand.  With their backgrounds, passion for travel and fabulous partnership I knew they would succeed in a big way.  Their first collection was a huge hit and it has been so fun to see them add incredible products to their site season after season.  There are so many things I love about their brand and they all boil down to the same thing, they evoke a feeling of relaxation and vacation in me. From their clothes to accessories to furniture and more I instantly want to plan a weekend away or sit leisurely in a chair for hours just taking in the evening.  There is something about seeing and touching their products that instant makes my blood pressure lower and the day just washes away.  That is a feeling money truly can't buy but they are sure selling it in spades and doing it beautifully.

I had the opportunity to dive into the women behind the brand and it was, as always, the most fun. What I recognized instantly is how this collaboration of minds truly started long ago with their life paths.  Arriving here at the place they are now was truly only a matter of time.

First of all, tell me about each of you. Where did you grow up and how did your childhood influence your life and who you are today?

Christie: I grew up in Smyrna. Although landlocked, I have always loved the beach and have had a passion for travel since an early age. My mom, who worked many years for Eastern Airlines, spent her teen years living in a coastal town in Puerto Rico and my paternal grandmother's family is from the Cayman Islands. I traveled quite a bit as a child and greatly influenced who I am today.

Chris: Often times when I am asked where I am from, I respond with “Everywhere”. It’s easier than listing all the places I have lived. As a military child, I grew up all over and by the age of 18 had lived in 11 different places. I spent those years surrounded by people from all over the world and I think this honed my appreciation for different people, cultures and customs. Still do this day, I love traveling someplace new and truly submerging myself into the region and its people.

As a little girls what did you want to be when you grew up?

Christie: As a little girl I dreamed of being a fashion designer. My parents gave me a Singer sewing machine for my 10th birthday and I started making clothes for my dolls - and later for myself. I subscribed to W and Vogue as a teen and watched Style by Elsa Klensch on CNN religiously. I attended Parsons School of Design in NYC the summer between my Jr and Sr years of college and quickly learned fashion illustration was not my forte.

Chris: I think I was destined to be an entrepreneur. From a very young age I was always developing a business of my own even though I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. My first venture was making doll clothes from sewing scraps and selling them to my friends as “one-of-a-kind designs”. I like to think it was my introduction to product design, marketing and the love of handmade goods.

How did the two of you meet?

We met over 6 years ago while working for an Atlanta based textile manufacturer.

Tell me the story of how Dear Keaton came to be.

Christie: Chris and I both owned businesses in the past - after selling my first company, Sugarcoat in 2009, I knew I would have the entrepreneurial itch again. After 6 years building a brand for someone else, I knew it was time to step out on my own again. Chris had left the company we were with before me, so I reached out to her in early 2016 with a little idea I had. After a bit of brainstorming over wine, we joined forces and Dear Keaton quickly became a reality.

Chris: The creation of Dear Keaton is truly an example of perfect timing, having a dream and taking the leap of faith. After hitting the age of 45, I really started to reflect on my life and what I wanted the second half of it to be. I had been leading someone else’s company and though I truly enjoyed it, the constant travel and extensive schedule made it very difficult to maintain a work/life balance. I realized being present in the lives of the ones I loved and finding something which lit my soul was something I had to fill my life with. So I made a life change and left my job. Shortly thereafter, Christie reached out with the idea of building a brand with our personal aesthetic. After a bottle of wine and lots of brainstorming, Dear Keaton was created.

Your tag line is "Resort Living Everyday". What does that mean to you?

Christie: To me, Resort Living Everyday means bringing little luxuries into the everyday that make life more pleasurable.

Chris: For me, the meaning of Resort Living Everyday is the reminder to intentionally surround yourself with mementos or things which extend the vibe of a well-loved trip into your everyday life.

Anything you wish you had done along the way and didn't do?

Christie: I have been guilty of waiting for the perfect time and perfect opportunity to do things in my life. As I grow older, I have learned to step out in faith - there is no better time to pursue happiness than right NOW!

Chris: I wish I had done this sooner. Life is really too short to wait to follow your dreams.

Share two people who have inspired your journey(s) and why?

Christie: Swimsuit designer Malia Mills - she is an amazing entrepreneur who empowers women. I was lucky enough to work for her when I moved to NYC after college. I learned so much about branding, PR, manufacturing and entrepreneurship from her. 

Chris: There have been so many inspirational people I have met along the way, but I have been especially inspired lately by entrepreneurial women who are authentically their brand. Like Ashley Schoenith of Heirloomed, Gen Sohr of Pencil and Paper and Libbie Summers of A Food inspired Life.

Can you share a high point in your journey(s) and what was that like for you?

Christie: One of our first non-financial business goals was to be mentioned in Coastal Living. Eight months after our launch we were featured in the January/February 2017 issue. We were floating on air the day we saw our name in print!

Chris: For me one of our greatest highs was Dear Keaton’s very first photo shoot. It was an amazing moment to see our vision come to fruition and it being so authentically us.

I absolute love so many of your pieces, do you each have a favorite?

Christie: Honestly, I want every kaftan and coverup that comes in! My favorite right now are our hand woven tunics that have a jacquard trim that takes weeks to make. The fit is so flattering and they are beyond comfortable. Perfect for a day at the pool or paired with white jeans and a tank for everyday.

Chris: I have so many favorites. Honestly, there isn’t one thing on DearKeaton that I don’t absolutely love. My favorites tend to be the artisan made goods. Each piece is unique and has a story to tell. I am especially loving the hand woven yumminess of our Moroccan Pom Pom Bed Cover right now. 

What is your vision for the company in two years?

Our vision for Dear Keaton is to continue seeking out new and interesting global partners, especially artisan made and fair trade companies. We plan to create exclusive Dear Keaton products with these artisan makers and global manufacturers.

Anything you must have to spurn creativity?

Christie: Coffee and a clean workspace.

Chris: I love to learn new things and have found some of my best inspirations have originated while I am in classes or workshops. Weaving, pottery, cooking and even business classes transport me out of my comfort zone and provide the best atmosphere for creative thoughts. 

If I gave each of you $100 how would you spend it?

Christie: I would spend it on a massage! If I had endless funds (and spare time) I would get weekly, if not daily, massages!

Chris: I would schedule a facial and enjoy the peace and quiet of the spa.

If we followed you around on a Saturday what would you be doing?

Christie: I try to meet a friend for a Yoga or Spin Class with my Classpass on Saturdays, followed by lunch somewhere with a patio. Saturdays are also "project" days - right now I am working on painting and recovering a vintage faux bamboo dining set for my parents.

Chris: I love a weekend getaway and most Saturday’s are spent with my husband out of town, discovering and experiencing a new town, city or event.

Five must haves.

Christie: My Mac, Burt's Bees Wax lip balm, blowouts, snuggles from my dog, wine - preferably rose.
Chris: iPhone Camera (my memory is terrible and it serves as my memory most days), a thin Sharpie pen (makes my handwriting look better) , hand lotion (an addiction), extra pair of comfy shoes (for when cute shoes become unbearable) and sunblock (trying to ward off additional wrinkles). 

Favorite quote.

Christie: "You can. You should. And if you are brave enough to start, you will". - Steven King

Chris: Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.

If you are new to Dear Keaton you will instantly become a fan.  Not only are the women behind the brand truly amazing but they are devoted to finding the best artisan made and fair trade products. When you purchase their items you know they have scoured the globe to bring you the very best. Make sure you check out their new arrivals ... there are some darling pieces available.  

Clearly I love my beach hat, not only is it large and perfect for lazy days outside, but the message makes me super happy!

Follow along with the girls on Instagram and Facebook for the newest products and for a sneak peek into their well traveled lives.  You have my promise you will adore them both as much as I do. 

Have the best Wednesday ... I am already thinking ahead to a chair outside in my favorite hat watching the sun go down on this gorgeous day!  

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