MEET THE MAKER: HEW + Co.
We have been huge admirers of Jessie Pickren's work for the past several years. With a fine arts background in fabric design from the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art and years of experience in print design, Jessie has established herself as an artist with a truly unique perspective. One look at her HEW + Co. wedding stationery suites will confirm as much!
Upon moving to New York City post-college, Jessie found that she was able to translate her fabric design knowledge and experience into print and pattern-making. What began as an entry-level job in production at the well-known stationer and printmaking outfit Mr. Boddington's Studio, quickly morphed into an opportunity of a lifetime. Within a matter of years, Jessie found herself manning the helm as Brand Director and President of the company, a serious accomplishment for anyone in their mid-20's.
In search of a slower pace of life, though, Jessie and her husband decided to pick up and move to Nashville a few years later, where they could re-connect with the outdoors and breathe a little more deeply. Once settled in to their new life, Jessie launched her own stationery design studio, HEW + Co., in 2014. In recognition of the important roles they played in her life, she chose the name "HEW" as a nod to both her childhood mentor, Edna, and her maternal grandmother, Betty. HEW represents Edna's initials—penned Hyatt, Edna White—while the design studio's brand imagery is a take on Betty's family crest. Drawing inspiration primarily from the natural and botanical, Jessie's greeting cards, wrapping papers and stationery suites are the most perfect, smile-inducing designs to behold. Cheerful and special are truly her forte.
Read more about Jessie's journey to becoming her own boss in our interview below, and be sure to check out her cozy Nashville cottage home tour via Lonny Magazine for some major home inspiration.
S&A: You studied fabric design in college. When did you first fall in love with printmaking?
HEW + Co: It absolutely stemmed from my fabric design courses. I was immediately drawn to repeat patterning in school, to screen printing and surface design. Really all that's shifted is that I've applied those same techniques I've always loved on to paper instead of fabric... for now! Textiles will always be my first love, and I hope to return to them someday, to include them under the HEW + Co. umbrella.
S&A: You worked for several years as Brand Director and President of Mr. Boddington's Studio in New York City. What was that experience like?
HEW + Co: I was working in textiles and fashion when I first got to New York and quickly realized I wanted a shift. I applied to a Craigslist ad to Mr. Boddington's Studio and was hired as a production worker. I glued liners into envelopes on a rickety old table in a tiny studio by day and bartended and waited tables at night. A few months later that position shifted to Production Director, then later Brand Director, and a bit further down the road to President of the company. It was a tremendous experience that I will always feel grateful for. New York was wild and weird and wonderful but never felt like home to me. Pouring myself into work and that company kept me focused. I worked very hard and was able to learn and grow really fast in a way that I don't think I would have somewhere else. I will always look back on that time fondly.
S&A: What inspired your move from NYC to Nashville? How do the two compare personally/creatively?
HEW + Co: It was both a long time coming and also a bit spontaneous. I was recently engaged and we knew we wanted a family and a slower pace for that and for our work. We weren't really in a hurry but knew we wanted a chance and a new adventure. Last minute we took a road trip down to Nashville to spend some time with family and friends for the Fourth of July. We went to a total stranger's party (uninvited, ha!) at this beautiful old home (it used to be a motorcycle gang's club house!) surrounded by greenery and acreage and the water. We met the nicest people and had the best time. After that, we were sold. We found four acres right on the river a few minutes outside of town that we've been fixing up and enjoying since the move.
New York spoiled me in some ways... so much visual stimulation, endless options for food and fun, the grit and grind. I will always value my time there and nothing will ever be quite like it, but both personally and creatively I feel so much more myself in Nashville. I take more time for myself, for my hobbies and interests. I feel so connected to and inspired by my surroundings. It feels like a return to my roots in so many ways. It's been good for the soul all around!
S&A: What was the transition like going from Mr. Boddington's to being your own boss at HEW + Co.?
HEW + Co: Pretty fluid. It was all great practice and training. I've just taken the skills and tools I learned while running a company for someone and applied them to running my own solo venture. I run a really tight ship when I'm answering to someone, when there's the possibility of letting someone else down. Now that I only answer to myself, I am pretty relaxed. I just try to keep a routine, to set goals, to stay focused.
Staying inspired is equally as important when you are in total creative control, so I have to make time for walking away from the screen. Some work days are partially spent working in the yard and somedays I play hooky altogether. You're working so hard on this thing you love and care about to intensely, your brain never stops thinking about it, about your clients, about where and how to improve this and that... it can make you nutty if you let it! I've learned it's really important for me to find balance. I didn't have much balance in New York, and it's been liberating to find through HEW, and through breaking out on my own.
S&A: What's your favorite thing about the creative community in Nashville?
HEW + Co: I've found that the folks here are supportive more than competitive. People genuinely want to help others out, collaborate, put people in touch. It's incredible how generous people have been with their time and how thoughtful and kind they've been. Now, I have no idea what it's like to be a musician in such a music-focused city... they might have a different take! But the community we have found surrounding our crafts has been very warm and welcoming.
S&A: Where do you feel most inspired?
HEW + Co: In any natural body of water. Give me a swim in a cold river or a clear ocean and I am all set!
We are so grateful to Jessie for her time and talents! Check out her magical greeting cards, designed especially for Scout & Arrow, in our online shop.