Welcome to the fourth edition of the "Meet the Maker" series here on the Mix & Match blog! If you enjoy reading this interview, check out the others in the series here.
I'm so excited to introduce you my new friend, Colleen Wisniewski, the woman behind the beautiful home decor, accessories, and jewelry shop, Corduroy Company.
Colleen and I met through Instagram - I love it when online connections turn into real life ones! Soon after we started following each other, we realized that we were both based in Philadelphia and had similar styles and interests, so we thought, why don't we collaborate on something? I had fallen in love with her amazing selection of home goods and art, and was so excited when she offered up a few pieces to style in my home. When she dropped them off, we got to talking and decided to take this collaboration a couple of steps further. I thought the story behind Corduroy Company would make a great interview for my Meet the Maker series and Colleen was on board! Though she's not *technically* a maker herself, her shop represents a whole lot of makers, and the heart of this series is to introduce you to small businesses that are doing great things, so her biz is a fit in my book!
I'll also be hopping on her podcast soon to talk about Mix & Match, so stay tuned for that. I'll be sure to share those details when it goes live.
I can't wait for you to get to know the gal behind Corduroy Company and fall in love with the pieces in her shop just like I have, so let's get this show on the road. Next week, I'll be back on the blog to share how I styled up the a few of her pieces in my home!
Tell me a little bit of your story. Where are you based? What’s your personal/professional background?
Hi, I’m Colleen! I’ve been writing my lifestyle blog Sincerely Colleen for the past 3 years + recently started a home goods and accessories shop that I call Corduroy Company. I’m currently based in Philadelphia, PA, but my story started all the way across the country.
I was born in Northern California + bounced around quite a bit before age 18. We lived in Upstate New York, Pittsburgh, PA, and Boston, MA by the time I headed off to college in Rochester, NY. I eventually found my way back to Pittsburgh where I finished my psychology degree, graduated a semester early, and jumped right into working with a startup fitness media and marketing company and thus not furthering my psychology education like the rest of my classmates.
I eventually transitioned to working for a well known food blogger who was in the process of shooting her second cookbook until and my husband and I ultimately packed up and moved to Philadelphia in the fall of 2017.
Once here, I briefly worked at an ad agency (I absolutely hated it!) and on day 3 I was already plotting my exit, which was to eventually launch my shop to run parallel to my blog in February 2018.
Tell me about Corduroy Company - how did you get started and what was your motivation behind opening up an online shop?
I’ve always had a dream to share products in some capacity, and in the winter of 2017, this idea became persistent and I simply felt the need to act on it. I didn’t overthink it, and started reaching out to some artist friends of mine who would eventually become vendors for my shop. Corduroy Company features dozens and dozens of small batch makers around the world: painters, ceramicists, jewelry makers, and so many other artists. It’s such a blessing to share these vendors stories and support them.
I run this shop from my home in Philadelphia. Whenever orders come in, I literally do a happy dance. It’s such a joy!
How did you decide what types of products you wanted to carry in your shop? And how do you find them?
I simply choose based on my style and taste. I want to sell things that I think are beautiful and I find that I’m best able to market and promote them if I love them. Many of these people who I feature I met at markets through the years or became friends with via Instagram!
I noticed that you have profiles for a lot of the makers behind the products you carry. What made you want to introduce your customers to the faces behind the products?
There is such value to getting to know the person and the story behind a product. It’s so much more complex than just buying a product for your home - it’s about being able to support an actual individual with a family, and hopes and dreams. I know that for me, at least, it makes me think twice about the things I buy and which brands I buy from. With our products, you can find something beautiful for your home, and feel good knowing the actual person and story behind the product.
What are some of your favorite pieces in your current collection?
I absolutely love our Monstera Earrings. They are cut by hand by a talented maker in Pittsburgh, PA - what I consider to be my home town. I also am so captivated by a few of our prints: this moth print and this gorgeous abstract. In fact, I’m currently putting together a nursery for my daughter due in September and featuring at least one of these prints.
In addition to running your shop, you also host a podcast! When did you start that and what’s it all about?
I started it based on my desire to meet more creative people and hear their backstory - maybe it’s all of those years studying psychology! I’m really inspired by passionate people who are working extremely hard to make their own dreams come true, rather than someone else’s. I also am genuinely interested in people’s creative processes and love to bring these to light.
When you imagined your career path, did you ever think it would involve becoming a small business owner? What are your favorite parts about having your own business and what’s most challenging?
Since I graduated from college, I’ve basically worked freelance or been a contractor for companies. So yes! I really could never imagine working for a huge company or any company really. I know that I work best for myself. I’m able to motivate myself and give myself tasks and goals to complete which helps me propel forward.
There are so many rewarding and challenging aspects. The rewards definitely outweigh the challenges, which keeps me going. I love the autonomy I have. The more I work, the more successful I am. It’s a fairly simple equation and I thrive off of that. Difficulties include anything involving the business logistics, taxes, and finances. I’m a creative and those things give me serious headaches.
If you were to dream big, where do you see your company in five years?
That’s a good question! Like I said, I’m due with my first baby in September, but in five years I’ll have an almost kindergartener! My favorite part about running my businesses is seeing it evolve and shift as my interests change. Maybe in five years I’ll have a brick and mortar shop back in Pittsburgh, PA. Or maybe I’ll continue running the shop and my blog from home while raising kiddos. Both of these dreams make me smile. I love knowing that my kids will see me being creative and doing something I love.
Where can everybody find your products and follow along with you?
Yes! You can find me blogging at Sincerely Colleen, selling treasures at Corduroy Company, and I’m also instagramming from both my personal account and shop account. Be sure to stop by and introduce yourself. I’m fairly convinced most of my friends these days come from Instagram, and I love that!
All photos courtesy of Corduroy Company.