Boss Lady: Molly Hatch

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we talk to Molly Hatch. Molly is the artist, designer, ceramicist, and owner of Molly Hatch, a tableware and home goods company featuring whimsical and contemporary heirlooms.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.

I started as a studio potter and was making my living selling functional pottery and handmade things out of my studio 10 years ago. An executive with Anthropologie saw my work at a gallery in New York at Greenwich House Pottery on Jones St. and thought this would be a great fit for them! I was a team of one and was starting to bump into the fact that what I was doing was more labor-intensive than I could afford. Anthropologie could manufacture everything, which would make it more affordable for me and for customers. I wanted to build that up and at the same time buy more time to create. Anthropologie was the real opportunity to try that out without taking the financial risk to do it on my own, it was an amazing opportunity and the perfect marriage. Clearly, things went well between us. They sold the first collection of mugs really well and very quickly. After that, we were doing glassware, my best-selling items. We’ve been working together since then. They’ve sold over 500 of my product designs and gave me a platform to launch the brand and work with other partners.

I intended to sell pottery and be a professor. It worked for a while, but the business of being a designer and artist took over so much I stopped teaching five years ago. I still teach workshops, but I focus on designing one of a kind objects. I’ve almost always been in New England, I fit in that world, and it makes more sense to me aesthetically. You can see that in some of the collections, like the New York Breakfast Icon Collection with Bloomingdales we’re putting out next year.

2. What prompted you to start Molly Hatch?

I’ve always been interested in ceramics as a surface for drawing, I fell in love with the idea of things being functional and beautiful. As a studio potter, you can make anything you want. You can make anything handmade and Anthropologie gave me the platform to launch my career. Everything starts with a hand-painted drawing and I’m filling a need for something that doesn’t exist already. The stoneware we love in America is a heavier, cozier mug and those designs are reflected in what’s being manufactured. You get the same integrity and design as a handmade mug but at a more affordable price point.

Molly Hatch was launched because I couldn’t continue to make pottery without the help of the industry. I couldn’t afford to make pottery without making it more affordable for customers to buy. If I could make one mug by hand and send it off to the factory to reproduce, I’m still making them the same, but handing it off to a manufacturer with licensing has given me the opportunity to become an explorer of ideas instead of explorer of making things, in a fun way.

3. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?

I’ve looked to history a lot. Whenever I’m stuck I go back to history and reinterpret it in some way. A lot of designs and motifs are something old I’m making new, like adding a new color or a contemporary saying or drawing historic imagery with my own hand and changing it so that it fits into our lifestyle. History is a huge source.

4. What was the first piece you ever sold and where did it go?

I sold it in college, either at an open studio or holiday sale, but I have no recollection of what the first sale was. In starting this, I wanted to make something to give as a gift, maybe I’m just a gift designer. I wanted to make something useful and artful, I love making people happy and giving things. I believe in gratitude and generosity. That drove me to make things to gift to people that they would love and appreciate the function of. Ceramics is such a clear way to do that. Money wasn’t the driver; it was more the ability to give a gift.

5. What’s your most effective marketing strategy, either to customers or to potential stockists?

Our most effective marketing is driven through Instagram; it’s been an account I’ve worked on for a long time. We also work with a PR marketing agency and the most effective press from them is through a gift guide or larger magazine article. When articles are written, the customer makes a personal connection and I’m very much part of the brand and the brand story, it’s my name, after all. It’s important that people have a personal understanding of who you are, so people are seeing and making a connection with a person and not just a brand. A story behind the brand makes it more meaningful. Marketing is an ever-shifting thing and I just try to connect with the customer personally.

6. How did you decide to start teaching classes and workshops?

It’s part of the personal connection. I’m an open book and I didn’t get here by myself. People who have taught me along the way have been just as important to me as the customer. Anytime I can get people to come into my workspace I can connect to them, and I get great ideas when I teach! I miss being a professor, so I wanted to make sure I stayed connected with teaching through workshops and interaction. I really enjoy it.

7. What do you see for Molly Hatch’s future? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

We have a bunch of new icon collections we’re working on in the new year. We’re expanding into paper entertaining and collaborations that will be coming later in 2020 with new brands in party & entertainment. We’re expanding on anything to do with the table. We’re trying to give people more of what they’re telling us they love.

8. Who is a Boss Lady who inspires you and why?

I look to Anna Bond with Rifle Paper Co. She and her husband, Nathan, craft paper goods and created such a huge business out of that. It’s exciting! Fine artist and illustrator, Lisa Congdon is doing interesting things and allowing her politics and personal life to be a large drive-in to how she thinks about her relationship with her customers. Her personal passions and messages are such a huge part of why she’s so successful. It’s inspiring to see someone take huge risks and put themselves out there. Jane Mosbacher Morris of TO THE MARKET is connecting manufacturers and retailers with ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices abroad. She’s working to end human trafficking and slavery in the contemporary world. It’s something we need to become a standard in the industry. We’ve been working together and I’m hoping to launch our projects soon. She’s inspiring, motivated, and an answer to a prayer. I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this on my own, and someone who is taking it straight to the market (ha!) is really impressive and exciting and so genuine. I hope she’s able to do more of the good work she’s doing.

Just for fun!
A new (or new to me) restaurant I want to try: Le Coucou in NYC would be amazing.
In 2020, one goal I have: spend more time drawing and painting
My favorite winter outdoor activity: skiing
If I wasn’t an artist, I’d be: an art historian or curator or florist or all of them!

More about Molly:
Website | Instagram } Facebook


Morning Reads: Sites and Newsletters to Start the Day

Morning Reads: Sites and Newsletters to Start the Day - Social Stylate

Where do you get your morning news? From political debates to humanitarian crises, to the newest technological advances, staying up-to-date on current events should count as a fulltime job. The news changes fast and it changes often, it’s important to our team that we foster a well-rounded outlook and stay current on as much as possible, using only reliable and honest sources, all while maintaining a sense of hope and humor.

These are our favorite morning reads that help keep us informed.

Tech Crunch
For stories about up and coming medical technology, Silicon Valley’s latest news, and all things app related. We love knowing what’s happening in the tech world since most of this stuff affects us on a daily basis and we’d like to be the first to know when our robot vacuum can start running errands outside the home.

The Good Stuff
Every day should begin with a smile. The Good Stuff, a CNN newsletter, features uplifting stories, inspiring events, and heartwarming tales. Because who doesn’t love videos of watching an adorable deaf baby’s reaction when her hearing aids are put on every day? Spoiler Alert: All stories are happy and you might cry a little.

The Newsette
Featuring wellness advice, lifestyle tips, and career inspiration all in a bright and bubbly format. We learn how to streamline our own morning routines while reading about the routines of powerful women in all sorts of industries. It’s confidence-boosting and makes us want to binge true crime podcasts on the way to work!

The Skimm
A condensed newspaper delivered straight to your email, The Skimm teaches us how to be adults in a fun, light, and informative way. The material is easy to read and feels like it was written by our best friend who somehow keeps up-to-date on everything…and then gives us the Cliff Notes with corresponding links.

BBC News
Our go-to international news outlet, BBC features a well-rounded collection of articles in a wide range of global topics including work-life, culture, and business stories. We can learn where in the world the best dumplings are made, the latest in climate change science, and what’s happening with technological advances in space.

Articles curated for powerful women and about powerful women, Fortune’s daily newsletter solely focuses on influential women in the world, their stories, and their achievements. If that’s not empowering for this female-founded company, we don’t know what is.

Billy Penn
Knowing what’s happening in our own backyards is equally as important as staying informed on international issues, and that’s where Billy Penn comes in. Philadelphia’s local news source, we look to them for reliable and relevant stories close to home.

Cheddar Need2Know
We love Cheddar. The cheese, the news, we love it all, especially when we’re on the go. We turn on Need2Know videos when we’ve got our hands full or would rather watch our news than read it, and we listen along as we’re checking in on clients, both driving around and on the train to the city. From topics like the latest opinions on the upcoming last Star Wars film to predictions of corporate mergers and acquisitions in 2020, we know we’re gathering important intel.

5 Things
Life gets busy, so we’re loving this streamlined version of the news. The efficient and trustworthy information from CNN’s 5 Things is the perfect way to start our day. With 5 stories in 5 minutes, we get the important news while still sticking to our morning agenda.

The Hollywood Reporter
Seen any good movies lately? This is a common question around the Social Stylate team. We love shows and movies across many genres, so it’s natural for us to regularly check in with the happenings of the entertainment world. And yes, we attend Oscar viewing parties, as if you needed to ask.

The New York Times Morning Briefing
An informative summary of the day’s news, this snapshot (with links to more in-depth info) of important topics is sent directly to our inboxes each morning. We learn about what’s happening now in politics, new recipes, and what the top comedians are saying about it all.


Boss Lady: Jillian Ryan

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we talk to Jillian Ryan. Jillian is the owner of Marie Mae Company, a professional gift company that features ethically-made products and provides business training opportunities to entrepreneurs around the world.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.

Hello! I originally started my career off in DC as a geopolitical risk analyst and loved every minute of it. My job was to help Fortune100 companies do business – and do business well – in emerging markets around the world. Throughout the 10 years I worked in geopolitical risk, I would see time and time again local groups doing amazing things, but simply lacking in some basic business skills to help scale their companies. I started Marie Mae Company as a side business just to fund a business boot camp I wanted to hold in Rwanda with a local sewing cooperative – and it took off way more than I expected! Today we provide professional gifts that give back. All of our products are ethically sourced both here in the US and with artisan groups around the world, and for each gift box sold, we provide an hour of business training for underserved women. Currently, we are working with trafficking survivors here in the Dallas area.

2. What prompted you to start Marie Mae Company?

Funding the business boot camp I mentioned above was the impetus to start Marie Mae, but what kept it going was the desire to provide an avenue for companies to provide branded “swag” that people actually love and will use and not simply throw away, and give companies an opportunity to give back with money they were already spending.

3. Why is creating a positive social impact using sustainable materials important to you?

Beyond the fact that I have a strong desire to only do good with my business and promote that it is possible to do good in your business, it just makes sense! In the day and age where small businesses are competing with less expensive products that can be delivered to you in an instant, our target market values the high quality of our products and knowing that their products are made ethically AND provide amazing social impact.

4. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?

Working on our business school classes and with the students, we are able to work with. We take so much for granted in the opportunities we were afforded in school. Being able to provide a little of that to those that want it fuels everything we do at Marie Mae.

5. Who is your ideal student for the Marie Mae Business School?

Our business school is still evolving and we evaluate each group we work with and tweak our classes accordingly to what they need. Currently, we are working with trafficking survivors in Dallas, and what they really need at this moment is help on the basics – how do you prepare for a job interview, how do you search for a job, how do you pull together a resume, what kind of careers are out there? In 2020, together with the non-profit, we are working with, we are focusing largely on developing a leadership track for these women and helping to expose them to the types of career opportunities that are out there.

6. You were part of Ellen’s Holiday 2019 Be Kind Subscription Box!! Congrats, that’s so exciting! What behind-the-scenes action went into creating that opportunity?

Thanks so much! It was a dream to work with Ellen’s team. They really do embody the message of the box. We actually were introduced to her team by someone we had never met that thought we would be a good fit! You never know where opportunities will come from, so we always say do your best to create all the opportunities you can – and run with them once they come along.

7. What do you see for Marie Mae Company’s future? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Ah, I wish! We’ve got so much coming up in 2020 that we can’t wait to share!

8. Who is a Boss Lady who inspires you and why?

I know this is one who is mentioned a lot, but the tenacity and honesty of Sara Blakely always inspire me! In the days of social media and photoshopped photos, it’s so easy to believe all is rosy for the businesses and leaders we admire. I think it’s important to show the day to day as well.

Just for fun!
My go-to cocktail: Moscow Mule
The one dish I’m known for making: Chicken enchiladas
Current guilty pleasure Netflix show: Jane the Virgin
If you could have dinner with 3 famous (writers, actors, artists, singers) people, dead or alive, who would they be: Sara Blakely, Reese Witherspoon, and Justin Timberlake

For more on Jillian;
Website | Instagram | Facebook


Boss Lady: Erika Dawkins

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we talk to Erika Dawson. Erika is the owner of Bon Ton Studio, a collection of thoughtfully curated designs, wovens, and cozy goods from artisans around the world.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.

A California native and fashion school graduate, I lived overseas in Australia for six years with my South African husband prior to opening our first brick & mortar. Whilst abroad I was introduced to a friend and together we created a women’s clothing label, ANIKA. Years later I acquired the business, rebranded as Bon Ton Studio and moved back to my hometown of Healdsburg in Northern California. My career has evolved as much as I have personally. It is fun (and sometimes comical) to think about everything I’ve done and worked on.

2. What prompted you to start Bon Ton Studio?

Bon Ton Studio was the result of hitting the reset button on ANIKA. After having a clothing label known for our simple designs for everyday basics, I was ready to make the pivot from the wardrobe to the home. The concept of Bon Ton Studio quickly evolved and we still sell ANIKA in-store.

3. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?

Naturally, I’m a really observant person. There is a quote by Grace Coddington in The September Issue, where she is sitting in a taxi and says: “Always keep your eyes open… keep watching, because whatever you see out the window, or wherever, can inspire you.” Simply put, there is so much that inspires me. Sometimes it’s being on a treasure hunt at my local antique store, and other times its scrolling Pinterest, makers markets, coffee table books, or traveling. There’s always something, just keep your eyes open!

4. How do you discover and choose the artisans you work with and feature?

Items curated for Bon Ton Studio come from our travels and living abroad. We’ve been fortunate enough to have met a few artisans along the way and some we were introduced to. Our relationship is more than a simple B2B transaction. We give back to each other in a way that creates a mutually beneficial connection.

5. Describe a challenge you faced in the workplace and how you overcame it.

When you are in business for yourself, it is inevitable that you will face challenges, or roadblocks I like to call them. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned not to stress over the small stuff and have become very solution-oriented. I’m good at “fixing” things and I see myself as a problem solver. Back in October, one week before we were set to open our first brick & mortar, our entire town was evacuated due to the Kincade Fire. I had to pack up my entire home and store not knowing whether or not we would have a home and business to return to. Once we were evacuated we knew there wasn’t a lot we could do except waiting. As a business owner, it’s important to have everything in order from your bookkeeping to insurance and everything in-between. During the evacuation, I found peace of mind knowing I had everything organized in case something did happen.

6. What are the marketing similarities/differences you’ve found between owning an online store and opening your brick and mortar shop (which looks incredibly cozy!)?

Our marketing efforts for our social channels have stayed fairly the same. It is easier since we can direct followers to both our brick & mortar and online store. Differences we have noticed is our customer retention, in-person, and word-of-mouth marketing. It’s had an invaluable impact on our brand and we are focusing a lot of marketing efforts in this category in 2020.

7. What do you see for Bon Ton Studio’s future? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Our first month of being open we hosted three pop-ups at the store and will continue to host smaller brands in 2020. We are flirting with the idea of taking Bon Ton Studio on the road, maybe destination pop-ups or something overseas. Watch this space!

8. Who is a Boss Lady who inspires you and why?

There are so many women I could list. I gravitate towards female-owned/led businesses that are doing something big, valuable and meaningful. Specifically, Erin Gore of Garden Society, Christy Baird of LOHO Bride and Helena Price Hambrecht of Haus.

Just for fun!
This is how I feel about Christmas music: Totally into it. We love the Elf soundtrack at our house during the holidays!
Favorite activity to do to relax: I enjoy working out, playing with my 14-month-old daughter, enjoying a home-cooked meal with my husband and of course traveling.
Something you may not know about me is: I’m an “extroverted” introvert!
How I take my coffee/tea: At home, I do a stovetop percolator coffee for my husband and I. When I’m out and ordering in a coffee shop, it’s typically a latte with oat milk.
Currently binge-watching: I just finished season three of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The costume designer, Donna Zakowska, has done an amazing job throughout the series. I’m (obviously) a huge fan!

For more on Erika
Website | Instagram | Facebook