Boss Lady: Natalie Holst

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Natalie Holst, founder and creative director for the New York based jewelry line Holst + Lee. Natalie shares with us the uniqueness of her latest collection, her inspiration for creativity and her advice for those wanting to thrive as an entrepreneur.  

natalie profile

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
Well, I’m originally from the South and moved to NY 14 years ago. I worked in Fashion for many years (Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler to name a few) and I was a maitre’d at some of NY’s trendiest restaurants. I used to have to get dressed up every night for work and I started making statement jewelry to accent my outfits. People responded and would try to buy things right off my neck and HOLST + LEE was born.

2. What prompted you to start your own jewelry line?
The response from people was what really got the ball rolling but Mara Hoffman gave me my first shot on the runway, styled with her collection. That’s when I went full steam ahead with the line and started selling in stores.

3. Tell us about your latest collection. Is there a story behind it?
Yes! I’m obsessed with my current collection because it really speaks to my soul. I wanted to hark back to the defining things that make HOLST + LEE what it really is. The current collection is called Color World and it is a celebration of vibrancy and strength. I was pregnant when I was designing it and I think it has a strong sense of optimism and passion. Something maybe we all need in these tumultuous times.

4. Describe a typical work day.
Well, I am a new Mom with a 6 month old so days have certainly changed in the recent months! I recently moved my studio into the bottom floor of my Brooklyn home. It’s such a great thing to be able to work out of my house. My day starts around 9 AM and the first part of the day is logistics (emails, bills, organizing…you know the fun stuff :)) Then my assistants get in around 11 and we go from there. They work on making orders and I work on designing or doing more business related things. My son hangs in the office and plays while we work and takes naps in between. Thank God for naps :).

5. What is the best part about being your own boss? The worst part?
I think the best part of being your own boss is to know that you get to do the thing that you love. It’s such a treat to be able to be creative everyday. I think if I didn’t have that I would go a little crazy. I’ve been making things since as far back as I can remember. It really fills my soul. I also love that I can have a flexible schedule.
I think probably the worst part is the stress of staying on top of everything. There are a lot of nights where I wake up in the middle of the night and I’m making lists in my head about what has to be accomplished and by when. I mean I think all women do that actually but it’s different when you’re itemizing your taxes in your sleep.

Natalie Holst

6. What is your brand’s most successful form of marketing?
I would definitely say Social Media and word of mouth. Social Media has really changed the whole game. It’s a great thing to be able to communicate to the world through an app and to tell visual stories.

7. Who would you love to see wearing your jewelry?
I’ve had the privilege of seeing some really amazing women wear my jewelry. Some highlights were Solange Knowles, Vanessa Hudgens, and Mary J. Blige to name a few. I would love to see anyone who is confident and feels amazing in my jewelry, but while I’m dreaming I’ll go with Iris Apfel!!!

8. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Oh wow, so many things. I draw inspiration from art, fashion, travel, and popular culture to name a few. I’ve always got my eyes open looking for inspiration.I studied Art and Art History in College and I’m still a painter (when I have the time) and I feel like my jewelry speaks to the painter in me with the use of color and unexpected materials.

9. Who is a Boss Lady that you admire and why?
I think I admire any woman who is out there being a Boss. Women are so important. I became a mom this year like I said and that experience really made me realize that awesome power women have. You definitely don’t have to have a child to obtain that, but it was very empowering to see exactly what a woman is capable of. I think women who are able to “give birth” to their dreams and seek out a way to run a business speaks to that awe inspiring power. If we’re talking about specifics though I’m gonna throw it back to my girl Iris Apfel. She has lived such an amazing life and was able to curate such a cool and confident existence. And to be hitting her stride in her 90’s is just unbelievable.

10. What advice do you have for anyone wanted to go from employee to entrepreneur?​
I think the best advice I ever got was, “get as much advice as possible from everywhere.”  It’s then up to you to take what you’ve learned and apply it or don’t apply it. I ask questions constantly when I know someone has information to offer. Also, I would say to anyone starting a business, never give up. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to take everything you have. Sometimes it will be tough, sometimes it will be great. it is not linear. It is a struggle. But if you want it enough, you have to work hard to achieve it.

Natalie Holst

More on Natalie and Holst + Lee Jewelry:
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Boss Lady: Samantha Hahn

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Samantha Hahn, a New York-based illustrator, author and the creative director for an amazing new book box subscription company called quarterlane. Samantha takes us through the daily hustle of playing many roles in this industry and shares with us her passion for success. 

Samantha Hahn
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career. 
I’m a Brooklyn based creative director, illustrator and author. I work with a range of clients such as: quarterlane, the Paris Review, Vogue Japan, Lela Rose, Marie Claire, Chronicle Books and Apartment Therapy.

2. What is a typical work day like for you?
It really varies. I often have a couple of illustration projects going at once and I’m creative director at quarterlane so I’m often sending off interview questions to authors, planning lifestyle photoshoots or having plotting and planning sessions with founder Elizabeth Lane about our upcoming season.

3.  Can you explain your involvement with quarterlane books and how you got involved? 
I came on shortly before the launch to do some illustrations. I wound up really connecting with Elizabeth the founder, who is the amazing book curator as well. I wound up advising on the site and brand visuals and staying on as creative director along with Courtney Peterson. I spearheaded the launch of an editorial sister site called The Edit where we conduct author interviews, lifestyle features, book reviews and where we simply celebrate our love of reading and reading culture. It’s honestly the most fun project I’ve had in a long time. I really love collaborating with Elizabeth and being part of such a brilliant brand as it rapidly grows. My role has become nebulous. It’s not just simply visuals. If I have an idea I pitch it. We have a really natural, humanistic and organic way of working together which I love.

Samantha Hahn- quarterlanebooks
4. Out of all of the hats you wear, whether it be illustrating, publishing, writing, etc. what is your favorite role? 
That’s a hard question and it varies from day to day depending on what I’m working on. Sometimes at the start of fashion week I’m so excited to illustrate shows but by the end I want to use a different part of my brain, so working on quarterlane feels like heaven. Then a publisher will reach out with an amazing project to create a set of notecards for The Smithsonian of famous gems and I’m all excited to put my brush to the paper again. I love coming up with concepts for lookbooks and have recently had the pleasure of creative directing some for people whose work I’ve long admired. My main passion is collaborating with people and companies I admire. At the end of the day, that’s what I thrive on.

5.  What social media platform has been your biggest form of success for marketing yourself and quarterlane books? 
For myself I would say Instagram. I don’t have a ton of followers but my quality of followers is good. A lot of editors and art directors and brands I work with follow me there so it’s a nice way to showcase what I’m working on or what’s come to fruition. I run quarterlane’s Pinterest which is still pretty new but is growing all the time.  I love curating images that speak to the visual mood and tone of quarterlane. The Edit is my main focus though. There’s an endlessly fascinating stream of people and books to showcase and it’s just thrilling.

6. When it comes to building a brand, what is an important lesson that you have learned? 
I think having a clear vision of who you are speaking to is essential. It can be a group of people but picture the brand as a lecture that you are sending a flyer out about and see who would file into the auditorium to listen. That’s your audience.

Samantha Hahn

7. Your illustrations are beautiful and full of variety, is there a specific subject that you enjoy drawing the most?
I love painting the female form. I do this mainly through fashion illustration. It’s just an opportunity to celebrate movement, gesture, texture and color.

8. Are you currently working on any of your own books at the moment to publish? 
Gosh no! I did 2 and that’s enough for me at least for the foreseeable future. Doing a book takes tremendous bandwidth and emotional, intellectual and creative energy. As aforementioned I thrive on collaborating and doing a variety of projects and I feel being the sole author of a book just sucks too much out of me and isn’t the platform I’m most excited about. I’m happy to do other people’s book covers though and who knows, maybe someday I will get an idea that I just can’t imagine not publishing. It could happen but not for a couple of years at at least. I’m still recovering from my last book.

9. Who is a Boss Lady that inspires you?
Christene Barberich, global EIC of Refinery 29.

Behind the Boss Lady: Samantha Hahn’s Mood Board
Samantha Hahn

More on Samantha:
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A Day In The Life Of Our Graphic Designer: Julia Johnson

Here is my typical day working as an artist and freelance graphic designer in Philadelphia!

Wake up! I’m not much of a night owl and I love the feeling of being up early. I try for 7am most of the time but getting out of bed is pretty tough. If it’s a workout day then I’m usually doing that first thing in the morning as well.

First thing’s first: coffee! Off to La Colombe for coffee or a draft latte (and maybe a scone). I’m not too great at making coffee myself, so I’m really happy to live just a few blocks from their Fishtown location! I’ll pick that up and bring it home to have with breakfast.

A Day In The Life As A Graphic Designer | Social Stylate

After the coffee’s kicked in I’ll crack open my laptop to check e-mails and line up projects that I’ll be working on today. As a freelancer, my schedule fluctuates depending on the number of live projects I have. After that I’ll run through my morning routine and get ready to run errands.

A Day In The Life As A Graphic Designer | Social Stylate

Time to head out! I like to get out of the house early in the day. My main stops are Blick in Center City Philly, or Artist & Craftsman Supply shop in Old City where I’ll pick up paper to use for sculpture. I’m also always on the hunt for cool frames or odds and ends as well. Resource Exchange is my favorite place for that. If I’m in need of inspiration I’ll take a walk around the neighborhoods around Fishtown, Northern Liberties, and Old City on my way into Center City. I love long walks and there are super cool facades and murals and even sculptures in unexpected places.

A Day In The Life As A Graphic Designer | Social Stylate

Lunchtime! After the day’s errands, I’ll be either making something at home or I’ll venture out to a spot like Good Spoon for some awesome soup and a sandwich.

A Day In The Life As A Graphic Designer | Social Stylate

After I’ve been out and about I’m ready to settle down and work on the day’s projects, whether it’s graphic design or paper flowers. I have a little ritual of lighting a candle when I hunker down to get work done, though there will probably be a break for a snack or teatime. I’m currently working on a big paper flower piece so that means a lot of cutting and folding. I’ll alternate between that and computer-based graphics to give my hands a break.

A Day In The Life As A Graphic Designer | Social Stylate

Either making dinner at home or heading out for dinner! My boyfriend and I like to cook together and it’s a good time to connect and chat about our days with a beer or glass of wine (or two) in hand.

After dinner I’ll pick back up with any work that needs to be done for the day. By now I’ll realize that I’ve put off doing any chores around the house and will scramble around getting those done. Bedtime typically falls around 11pm-midnight.

A Day In The Life As A Graphic Designer | Social Stylate


Guest Post: Creating a Stylish Home Office

Social Stylate welcomes Modernize, an award- winning online service that connects homeowners with contractors. Based in Austin, TX, they specialize in energy-efficient home improvement projects. 

Tips for Creating the Ultimate Stylish Home Office
Kaitlin Krull
When it comes to working from home, most of us dream of perfectly decorated home offices with an enviable combination of style and professional atmosphere. The reality of working from home, however, can leave much to be desired. At Home Improvement Leads, we believe that a home office can be both functional and stylish at the same time. Here are a few of our top tips to help you get your home office looking its best.

Modernize: Home Office

Follow color trends
Style and trends are inextricably linked, so before you decorate your home office, make sure you know exactly what’s in and what’s out. As far as color palettes are concerned, we love the subtle combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity in Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year—these muted pinks and blues combine better than you might think. If you want something bolder, bright Brazilian blues, purples, greens, and other jewel tones are right on trend as well. In both cases, adding metallic accents will give your office an opulent and trendy edge.

Invest in quality furniture
As attractive as your office decor and accessories may be, all your effort will be for nothing if your furniture doesn’t match in both style and comfort. Investing in quality crafted furniture will give your office the professional feel it requires and will also save you money in the long run, since well-made pieces tend to stand the test of time. A large wooden desk and comfortable office chair are essentials, but if you plan to hold meetings or require additional workspace, a large table or sideboard won’t go amiss either. Stick with stylish midcentury favorites from designers like Charles and Ray Eames, or create your own bespoke pieces to suit your personal office style.

Modernize: Home Office

Personalize it
Working from an office can feel impersonal and mundane, but the best decorated office spaces have an aspect of familiarity that make everyday work feel like less of a chore. Adding a few personal decor elements to your home office will motivate you to perform to your best ability and spur you on when you need it most. Give personal effects like family portraits and artwork a stylish edge with metallic or textured wooden frames, making sure they match the design style of the rest of the office. Other personal items are encouraged in offices, but don’t go overboard here. A marbled glass vase filled with fresh cut flowers will add both color and style to your office without making your workspace too cluttered.

Modernize: Home Office

Keep it tidy
Even the most impeccably styled home office requires regular attention and care to keep it looking its very best. Give your office a head start on cleanliness by clearing plenty of storage space for office supplies, paperwork, materials, and anything else you might possibly need. When setting up your workspace, assign a place for everything and keep everything in a designated place. Initial organization aside, a regular cleaning schedule will help you keep yourself accountable for the condition of your office. One of our top tips is to tidy your workspace as much as possible at the end of each working day, which helps you to clear both your office and your mind of what has been and will help you to focus on new tasks in the morning. Less mess means that the focus can be on your stylish office rather than the piles of unfinished paperwork on your desk.