Fern is a tea enthusiast, cat lover, dancer, and the creator of Fern + Cloth, a business whose goal is to bring apparel and art that represent equality and the beauty of the world. She began last summer with a seed of an idea, and it has sprouted into a business that aims to give back to the world.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I really wanted to create change in the world. Last summer I was reading about female entrepreneurs and simultaneously exploring my own artistic skills and the two interests melded into one!
I remember two women in whom I was particularly interested, an illustrator who had started her own business and Eileen Fisher. I wanted to meld my love for clothing, illustration, and creation to have a business whose ideals were those of a feminist gone artist who loves the world and wants to lift up the people in it.
Where is your business based?
New Mexico. It is the most beautiful state to gather inspiration for my business. Photographing the blue sky and hiking in the dry air is refreshing and mind-cleansing.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I found a goal for my business, amidst tea, drawing, and embroidering my Equality jacket. I realized I wanted to create empowering art that not only had a good message but was artistic and sometimes abstract. Before I even began to create inventory, I wrote a page of what was expected of this business and what I wanted to achieve.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I found that just walking out of my house wearing one of my own tee shirts or denim jacket is a good way to spark a conversation about my business. I have struck up conversations with people about Fern + Cloth in many places—from the farmers market, restaurants, to grocery stores!
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Making time for my business amidst life of school, dance, and family. I am a dancer, so every evening I am dancing, which doesn’t give me a lot of time to work on new designs, embroider, or even gather inspiration.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I found that inspiration doesn’t work as I thought it did. I thought “inspiration” came from sitting down with a stack of library books, cup of tea, and a new journal page with colored pencils thinking I could force out some ideas. That is not how it works!
I had to realize that inspiration can come from just walking into the grocery store and noticing how the colors from a larabar and peanut butter cup packaging go well together, or watching a documentary that sparks an idea for a new design. After realizing this, my own life coincides with my business as if they are one.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Music, podcasts, coffee, new pens and strong women. Whenever I feel unmotivated, the way I get out of that funk is usually by listening to an educational podcast (sparking my love of learning), discovering new music (my latest obsession is Japanese Breakfast), or meeting with some great women over coffee.
Those coffee dates usually last for several hours; and when I finish, I feel refreshed and ready to create again.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I like to think of myself as an aesthete, which is derived from the currently popular word, aesthetic. It means to have a sensitivity towards the beauty of art, music, poetry, etc. I like to use the root of that word in everything that I create.
Having that in the back of my mind helps me create pieces that are unique and sensitive to the beautiful world we live in. I want my art to appeal to the generations of people that have been fighting for equality and continue to press on, but with an aesthetic outlook.
Seeing the beauty in everything and looking at the world not with a pessimistic, but an optimistic eye. It is an interesting juxtaposition of fighting for injustices that have been happening for years but also having an optimistic artist look on the world.
Just because there are ugly things in this world, does not mean that we must reflect it, but deflect it.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
A quote that has stuck with me for the past few weeks has been a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
I love this! It has played through my mind like a song lately… It is hard in this day and age to find the love and the light, but Dr. King had a point when saying the only way we are going to drive out hate and darkness is by seeking the love and light.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Have confidence in what you do! If you have confidence in your own entrepreneurial endeavors, then other people will see that, and it will be infectious. Spread the love, confidence, and ideas! The more you share and talk about and act upon your ideas, the more confidence you will posses.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
- Instagram: I love being able to share my business, love of books, cats, and tea all in one place that represents not only Fern + Cloth’s mission, but also the little beauties in life. I also love doing art swaps with my fellow Instagram artists!
- Pigma Micron Pens: Getting the perfect texture and size in one’s art is really important, and these pens are perfect for that. They come in different tip sizes and are the perfect size for throwing in my pencil pouch!
- Tea: I would consider tea very much a tool of mine. Whenever I need a break from non-stop creating or just need something to sip on while working out the kinks in an embroidery design, I break out the tea. My favorite is a good Earl Grey or Masala Chai. Tea allows the body to slowly absorb caffeine, giving you a steady flow of caffeine rather than the hard punch you get from coffee.
- Decomposition Journals: I love that these journals are made in the USA with 100% PCW Recycled Paper. The books are printed with soy ink and the paper is processed chlorine free. They are a cute play on composition books and the artwork on the front is enough to inspire anybody.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
The Secret Garden. I remember beginning the book when I was in my pre-teens but quickly got bored of it, so last week I picked it up and began re-reading it. It is lovely!
Frances Hodgson Burnett does a breathtaking job showing us the simple wonders of fresh air and digging your hands in the dirt, friendship, and the miracles of self-discovery and transformation.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am learning how to get my business seen. My goal is to have more people of this world to see my work and Fern + Cloth’s mission – whether that be through Instagram or Etsy.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goal is to create pieces of art inspired from scientific botanical journals. I am reading these cute vintage handbooks my grandmother gave me and dog-earing the ferns, mushrooms, and things that catch my eye.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.