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Introducing Holly Shae Design

I honestly do not remember when I met Holly Jarvis ... I just know the months since we met online I know I have come to respect her and adore her immensely.  She "slid" into my direct messages introducing herself to me and I am so thankful she did.  She is not only an incredible designer, but also a strong and wonderful woman, mom, and second grade teacher.  I am blessed to have met and get the opportunity to work with Holly and to introduce you to one of my favorite new brands ... Holly Shae Design.

When it comes to fashion I am a classic prep at heart.  There is nothing I love more about great pieces of color, pattern, and so well made and that is 100 hundred percent Holly Shae.  When she first reached out and introduced herself and her brand I dug into her Instagram and was blown away.  Her clothes, jewelry, and bags were so pretty.  She loves color, her love of the water is so present in her designs, and pattern?  She loves it just as much as I do. 

I call that a major win, win

A few months later she told me she had designed something she knew was so me and she was sending it over before it sold out.  She told me she was designing something she felt like I would love ... and she was correct.  When her package arrived and I unpacked the Haley shirtdress in pink I almost gasped.  It was a shirt dress ... which I love so much ... pink ... which I love ... and the perfect weight and midi length with a collar I could POP ... and a huge tie for the waist.  I truly did not know I could fall that hard for a dress so fast.  The pink is now sold out but her fall release includes both a sky blue and a gray and I can't wait to get my hands on the gray one.  The dress is quite possibly one of my favorites in my closet ... I have worn it with the tie and without many times and have it on at least once a week.  I am a true lover of a great dress and I am here to tell you this one is a GREAT DRESS.

But the goodness does not stop there. 

Not only does Holly design clothes and jewelry, but her darling block designs also appear on home items.  Her gorgeous designs come on napkins and tablecloths and her oyster creations can be bought as art, salt and pepper cellars, and even trinket dishes.  I am completely in love with the salt cellars and will be using one of her tablecloths for a special Sunday dinner this week.  Block prints are so popular and so gorgeous with their hand blocked details and colors.  I am definitely a fan and love how they are both timeless and so popular at the moment.  The weight of her home goods are so good and will be stunning on any table.  I am partial to both the Lemon Sun and Royal Fern patterns.  I think they will go so well with all of our blue and white, don't you agree?

What a darling combination ... I think there is something so stunning about an oyster shell!

One of my favorite things about meeting new people and brands is diving in with an interview and Holly delivered in a big way when I sent questions to her.  She is wordy and open and I could not love it more.  You will really enjoy getting to know her, I definitely have. 

Tell me about Holly! Where did you grow up and how did that childhood impact your life today?

I spent the first 12 years of my life in Moultrie, Georgia, a very small town in South Georgia. I grew up on a large farm in the middle of a peach orchard with ponds, woods...all of it. My mom and grandmother LOVED decorating and design, both interior with textiles and furnishings and they loved making their own clothing. I spent countless hours in fabric stores, antique shops and design studios. I swam all summer and played tennis. We also spent a lot of time in the woods looking for arrowheads and pretty rocks with summers spent at the coast. My sister and I dressed up and had photoshoots with a Polaroid camera a lot! You can say that the combination of exposure to the art of design and fabrics along with watching the sewing process and lots of free time to think and explore laid the foundation.

My parents divorced and my mom remarried an Air Force officer. We moved all over the country, living in California and Louisiana during my middle school and high school years. We traveled a lot... and it was during the time in California that I became addicted to style and fashion! My best friend and I would scour thrift stores, once even finding a Diane von Furststenberg wrap dress! In Louisiana my mother owned an art gallery where I worked both framing and helping to restore gilded framing. Her gallery specialized in antique etchings and lithographs and she also specialized in the art of French matting using French and Italian papers, gold leaf, and watercolors. I was absolutely amazed by this technique. We moved to Savannah after high school and I attended college. Again, I worked at a gallery and spent all of my time with students that went to the Savannah College of Art and Design, wishing I knew what it was I wanted to do!

The combination of both exposure to design, the ability to explore and travel laid the foundation for the love of art and design but I didn’t know what to do with it!

You do a lot! You are a second grade teacher, (I LOVE teachers!!), you are a wife, a mom, you paint, you design, and now you have a clothing and accessory line. And can we talk about how you started this business during a pandemic?? Upon listening to your interview with Patricia for the Preppy Podcast I loved hearing your journey to designing clothes and goods. It all started with an oyster shell ... can you share it with us?

I have never been bored, I can honestly say that. I LOVE learning and doing. My mom said as a baby I would just not sleep and lay there with my eyes open. I can remember feeling as a child if I went to sleep I would miss something. There are so many things to do and see and life is too short!!! Having said that, since I had spent so much time raising a family and teaching, along with supporting my husband through many moves and deployments as he is an officer in the US Army, doing anything creative took a backseat for about 12 years. The pandemic forced me to slow down, spend time taking walks with our now 17 and 15 year old children, thumb through Southern Living more, drive around small towns, try new recipes and do some redecorating. Something came alive again and I knew it. I had a conversation with my dad and last July he sent me a bag of oyster shells because he knew I loved the coast and painted. I had some old gilding paint that I used on a frame and old rattan napkin rings so I made some oyster napkin rings. A friend came over and said that looks like jewelry...a business started organically. I put some on Etsy, they sold. I literally started putting shells on everything. I had an old straw clutch, put a shell on it. Some gallery canvases, put a shell on it. I started an Instagram and began sending samples of the jewelry, clutches, cuffs and necklaces I made to retailers. (I had dabbled in jewelry over the years, remaking vintage necklaces and reselling clothing on Ebay back in the early 2000s.) Some businesses started placing orders. I sent products to influencers, I got more orders. I grew to 50 stores through the help of Faire. It was in April that I started sampling clothing designs I had always had in my mind. My first collection was released in June.

We both had families who encouraged us to pursue more than a fashion degree, my degree is in prelaw, but I wanted to design clothes and windows more than anything!, ... do you wish you had pushed back ... or are you thankful for your path?

I was floundering in college, having way too much fun. I declared first a public relations major then fashion merchandising. I worked in clothing stores after the galleries and always obsessed with style…I just couldn't hone in on exactly what I wanted, therefore I had no goal to focus on. Without this I felt completely lost and my parents knew it. My dad said, nursing or teaching, with the idea that women could have a family with these conventional careers and of course the retirement and healthcare benefits. I don't like blood, so I chose teaching. Luckily, I liked it! I was also able to travel in the summer and had several side businesses! My mom and I had an art consultation business, I bought and remodeled several houses and even won a Better Homes and Gardens home design contest! It was this time in my 20s I began painting and then selling to galleries. So to answer your question, I am not sorry at all. Teaching afforded me the structure I needed, the absolute joy and fun teaching young children and then the time to pursue other things I loved simultaneously.

I love that you paint!! Tell me more about that journey and how that began.

The love for art was born at home! I can't remember a time where I didn't know who JJ Audubon was or how to spot an authentic lithograph. My mom was a collector of art and antiques which refined my eye. Also, her love for toile and quality textiles kept us in fabric stores! I distinctly remember how our flamestitch wallpaper and matching cushions in our dining room made my heart happy and I must have been 8 years old. The colors of the marshes we would visit always just brought something alive for me, turning over shells on the beach to see the color just brought me joy. It was always there I just never did anything with it. Working in a gallery that sold Ray Ellis work in Savannah was such an inspirational time. I would use my check to put art on lay-a-way in college. I began visiting museums all over the USA. It was during my late teens that I took a train trip across the US by myself and made it a mission to visit as many art museums as I could. It wasn't until after I married and bought my first house that I found out an art teacher lived across the street and I took my first lesson at 25. About the same time we took a trip to Portugal and spent about two weeks travelling. I remember being wildly inspired by the painted ceramic tile all over Lisbon and the beautiful coastline in Cascais. I came back with more inspiration than ever and I don't think I put the brushes down for 6 years, I painted constantly. We spent a lot of time in Savannah during this time as we still had a vacation house there and I would stroll the streets with the kids...getting constant inspiration. We would so often go to the beach...just all of it.

I also heard you share how both your mother and your grandmother made their own clothes. I think this is truly incredible and clearly sparked your desire to do it for yourself and others. Can you tell me what you thought of this when you were young and then now? Did you always love it and want to do it as well?

My mom is the daughter of a farmer so she grew up on a large farm in rural Georgia. Her mom, my grandmother, sewed out of necessity at first and then pure pleasure later in life. If my grandmother wanted a nice dress, and they didn't have money early in their married life, she would make it. And her dresses, curtains, quilts, needlepoint, on and on ... flawless. In addition, we spent hours on some Sundays after church and a huge lunch thumbing through Talbots catalogs for my mom and grandmother to call and place their orders. It was during this time I knew clothes needed lining! I truly was taught at a young age, through Talbots and the Liz Claiborne department in stores, that you buy outfits, you spend money on quality and you invest in wardrobe. My grandmother no longer had a need to make her own clothes when she got older as she could afford what she wanted but she continued to do it. We would go together in my 20s to fabric stores and thumb through patterns. She would always rework them before cutting, make it her own. She custom made dresses for me during this time for parties around my wedding.

What has been the hardest part of this new business?

The hardest part is not knowing when to stop. I feel like a faucet has been turned on and I don't know how to turn it off. I wake up at 2 am with ideas I have to text to myself. I dream in color and design elements. I wake up and get up to draw something...sleep has been a real issue. The artisans that construct my clothing live in India so they are 10 hours ahead of us. I often wake up at 3 or 4 am to message or video call about this or that.

And the best part?

This part is three fold….Feeling like I am living an authentic life finally at 46, seeing a woman try on one of my pieces at a trunk show, mart or online and hearing how it makes them feel and also the relationships I have built over the year.

Is there a piece that you truly think is just Holly?

The Holly, our Holiday dress coming in October. It is classic in design but with a little extra twist. Carolina Herrara once said her first collection in 1981 was inspired by her own personal style…I have to say that is what this is for me! Just wait!

My favorite item you sell is the shirt dress! I bought my first shirt dress in college and was instantly hooked. There is something about the cut and fit that just works. And yours, it is the softest and most comfortable one I own. I am obsessed with it and would wear it every single day if I didn't share what I wore. Tell me about this piece and what we can expect from it for the fall.

Thank you so much!!! This is designed based on a classic popover shirt. I have worn them since my 20s, Talbots inspired. I also am absolutely in love with both Carolina Herrera’s personal style and classic designs of the 80s, that white button down and popped collar. I created the ease of a one size dress in two lengths and then combined it with a sash, one that is extra wide to almost give a corseted waist effect. To accentuate the waist creates an ultra feminine look. Pop that collar and you are untouchable! Leave the sash off and be casual…perfect. In Fall we will have more colors and one more fit…a tunic to wear with pants!

Any regrets?

Not one.

With Holly Shae Design... what do you want to do next?

I was recently brought on with Soleil Sales so I am extremely excited about Britt and Lia representing me! I will continue to make my mark on this industry by designing things that I have always had in my mind, bringing fresh ideas with color and texture along with classic lines that I love! My jewelry designs will be made to compliment my clothing as will my clutches.

I am just getting started! Xoxo

You can shop Holly Shae Design online and follow her for new styles, inspiration, and just all around stunning images on Instagram.  I have paired with Holly and some other incredible women for a fabulous giveaway which started today, so make sure you enter that as well.  You can bet you will see more of Holly as our time working together has just begun.  This girl is going places and I am definitely here to watch all of it. 

Happy Tuesday ... 

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