Maker of the Month : Five | Six Textiles
Colorful textiles from Côte d’Ivoire in traditional weaving techniques with updated modern patterns + colors radiated off the page as I scrolled for hours on instagram in search of some new sofa pillows. I felt urgently in need to know where these came from + learned of the incredible work behind Five | Six Textiles. From napkins to throws to bags, Five | Six hands-down has some incredible taste + heart.
Five | Six is one of those companies that I fell in love with immediately. Not only do they have killer textiles but they also work to empower + support the Waraniéné artist collective who makes them. When I started chatting with Five | Six I knew that I had to incorporate them into the blog somehow, + what better way than to feature them as our latest Maker of the Month!
The Brooklyn-based duo behind this brand is a fierce blend of artistic design, humanitarianism, + business savviness which, I think will take them to far, wonderful places + have immense success. Emma + Laine are the founders of Five | Six + I had the great opportunity to chat with them about their company + learn more about their passion + successes.
Check out the full chat below!
Meet the Maker | Five | Six
F + K | wHAT'S YOUR STORY + how DID YOU found Five + Six?
F + S | Five | Six Textiles WAS FOUNDED IN 2015 along with
Laine Henry in 2015. Laine + I met in New York when I moved there in 2013. At that time, starting a business was the furthest thing from our minds! Laine was working as a fashion designer in New York + I was at a frustrating crossroads in my life (as many others in our generation have found themselves). My background was in art. After finishing my Masters degree + working for over 4 years in the London + commercial art world, I moved back to the United States. I desperately struggled to find a job because I didn’t have a PhD but, I was also too experienced for internships + other entry level positions. I figured working as a freelance writer + a researcher at the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be a great way to be involved while I searched + applied for a PhD.
During lunch with one of the curators, we started talking about an upcoming trip she was organizing. Participants would explore Côte d’Ivoire with Jerry Vogel - a renowned Ivorian art historian - visiting artisans and studying the artistic practices of a country that was rebuilding after a 10-year civil war. I was interested in the intersection between art + craft, so I thought the trip would be a great opportunity to explore these ideas further.
While visiting Waraniéné (the weaving village we worked with), Vali - the head of the collective - asked if we knew anyone in the U.S. who might be interested in working with them to increase exposure to consumers outside of their community and help with product selection. More business beyond the borders of their community means a more sustainable operation + ensures the longevity of their practice. This conversation sparked my interest as I saw many parallels between what was happening before me + the ideas I kept playing with in my head. I saw an opportunity to continue studying how artistic practices evolved + effect global artisans, but
instead of sitting in a library reading + writing about it I could actually help people work towards something great
Once I told Laine about this, the idea for the business really came together. Without her design expertise, it would have never been able to get this far. She has a great eye for design.
F + K | What all does Five + Six Textiles offer?
F + S | We are a home decor brand, we produce a line of
home goods + bags in collaboration with Waraniéné. We have bedspreads/coverlets, throw blankets, throw pillows, table runners, napkins (brand new for the holidays!), a tote bag, + a small clutch bag. This being our first cohesive collection, we have designed all of our products to work together, so we encourage our customers to mix + match.
Our patterns are inspired by the motifs that Waraniéné have spent generations perfecting
The geometric patterns have beautiful visual + physical texture that soften through use. All our textiles are handcrafted with 100% cotton on upright frame looms, the same way cloth has been woven for centuries. We hope that in the future we can not only add new products but also expand our collaborations to work with some of the other artisan collectives in the area.
F + K | How did you come up with the name?
F + S | The name Five | Six Textiles is a play on ‘the Coast of
the Five and Six Stripes’, a name for Côte d’Ivoire occasionally found in old travel books. Five + six stripes refers to the cotton cloth traditionally produced + worn in this area. We thought it was a nice reference to the weaving traditions in this part of West Africa.
F + K | How does your location inspire you?
F + S | I guess we really have two inspirational locations.
Our home here in Brooklyn + Waraniéné. They have each inspired different aspects of the business. Brooklyn is definitely our silhouettes. We did not want to change the artistic personalities of the cloth created by the weavers so we focused on silhouettes. We thought about the types of textiles + home decor products that we use in our daily lives. Throw pillows, tote bags, etc. Things that can really make an aesthetic difference to a place or person. They need to be easily moved, durable, and have that rich story behind where it comes from. It also has to fit in with all types of style situations. Waraniéné has definitely inspired the color. They use a lot of dark dark blue, which they call blue marine.
The color’s roots are from indigo’s dark blue hue, a natural resource in parts of Côte d’Ivoire
F + K | What’s your favorite piece in the shop right now?
F + S | We just launched a collection of napkins for the
Holidays + I am absolutely obsessed + want to keep them all to myself! We chose to launch three different patterns. Two match our table runners. The third is a take on our original Waraniéné pattern.
F + K | What’s been a consistent best seller?
F + S |The pillows for sure. The textiles are so tactile +
the pillow (20 x 20”) is the perfect size to lounge with or prominently display. The patterns are different but the colors are neutral enough to fit into any decorative theme.
F + K | Any special events/pop ups/collabs coming up?
F + S | Holiday markets, holiday markets, holiday markets.
We have 4 coming up in the month of December in the New York Metropolitan area. We are in our first couple months of sales + our priority was to launch in markets. Since we are dealing with cloth, the tactile experience is vital.
Markets are a wonderful opportunity to introduce people to our brand But, for those not in the NYC area, our ecommerce shop stocks our full collection
We are working on a few other collaborations for the next year which we are really excited about. We also are interested in working with Waraniéné to start experimenting with other types of hand-spun cotton + natural dyes.
F + K | What’s next for Five + Six Textiles?
F + S | nEXT WE will be working on our spring collection
+ planning our next trip to spend time with Waraniéné plotting the 2017/2018 season. We also have a list of supplies we want to get for Waraniéné to ensure that they are as productive as possible. 10% of each purchase is put back into a fund for Waraniéné. We also want to start developing long term initiatives with Waraniéné that they want for their community.
We also want to expand a few markets to the West Coast. I grew up in Seattle + my family is based in Northern California. I would love to spend some time developing a customer base there as well.
F + K | What’s one piece of advice you’d give to female entrepreneurs?
F + S | Don’t be discouraged. Everyone has an opinion, but
that doesn't mean it works for you. Don’t be afraid of trial and error. I don’t think anyone has ever produced something smoothly. Overnight successes take years + try to relish that time when things aren’t progressing + you feel frustrated. That’s when the solutions + inspirations really evolve.
F + K | How do you define beauty?
F + S | I think things are beautiful because of the story
behind them. That is one thing I find so interesting about the cloth that Waraniéné weaves. Each stitch carries a meaning + the mere physical act of weaving cloth is something that has been perfected through generations + most likely taught to the person by their parent. In a day + age where there is not this familial tradition of passing things down + when we can buy or consume anything that is within reach of a few taps on our phone,
it is rare to find something that not only takes time to produce but, that is also produced with such careful craftsmanship steeped in history, is truly amazing
F + K | What’s your ideal Sunday morning look like?
F + S | I recently turned 30 + my birthday present to
myself was to take a 200 hour yoga teacher training course. I did it for myself with no goal of becoming a teacher but, then I got hired at two studios! I spend my weekends teaching yoga which I love. It is completely different from what I do the rest of the week so it’s a nice opportunity to re-fresh.
I also travel as much as I can
Whether it’s just a day trip to the Catskills for a hike, or hopping on a plane to some far off destination, I find it hard to sit still in one place for long. I have also found myself going to more museums + art galleries than I think I ever did before. It’s not work anymore so I can just enjoy it. I forgot how much I loved seeing + being inspired by art exhibitions.
I am so very thankful to these wonderful women who do such great work + have added so much needed heart to the world of production. I feel honored to share their work + I am so excited to see where they go in the future!