Spotlight on Nicole Fuller

Nicole Fuller, founder and principal of Nicole Fuller Interiors, is an award-winning luxury designer specializing in sophisticated, highly customized residential and commercial projects in the US and abroad. In honor of our new collaboration, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Nicole to learn more about her work and inspirations.

We are thrilled to bring Nicole’s contemporary, yet timeless aesthetic to our paper with the Key, Stripes, and Feather correspondence card sets! #nicolefullerxdempsey

 

How did you get your start as an Interior Designer? 

I love what I do and I fell into it very organically! I never went to school for it or studied it in any formal manner. I was living in London and designed my home which ended up getting a lot of press; people then started reaching out and inquiring if I could decorate for them.

When I reflect on it, though, I had been studying design my entire childhood. My mother was a multidisciplinary artist and raised me in a very creative environment. She taught me about art, architecture, interiors, and she also fostered a deep appreciation in me for the natural world and organic forms.

 

As a respected name in the design world, you’ve been awarded many prestigious honors in your field. Was there a specific moment early on in your career when you knew that you had “made it” in the industry?

I don’t think there is such a thing as “making it.”  I’m blessed to do what I love and I’m humbled to be recognized among other inspiring, talented creatives. I’m not one for resting on laurels– I keep my nose down and work into the future. Truthfully, I’m just getting started.

 

How have your travels inspired your work? Are there any cities or destinations that have had the most impact?

Travel feeds my creativity. I love going to Lamu, Kenya for textiles, Paris for antiques, and Italy for fine linens and furniture. London is my home away from home, and I return often to source art and enjoy the city’s incredible array of galleries.

 

Do you have any favorite projects that you’ve worked on recently? Is there anything coming up that you’re excited about?

I’m currently working on a spectacular Malibu project nestled in a private beachfront cove. We are gutting it to the studs and rebuilding, which I revel in doing. Moreover, my client is an avid art collector and I am curating a very important art collection for the property. I also recently signed on to design an iconic New York City hotel. I can’t go into the details just yet, but let’s say it boasts a dazzling park view.

 

We’d love to hear about your inspiration behind our stationery collaboration! How does each product speak to your design aesthetic? 

This collection marries my interest in organic, natural forms and my eternal fascination with art. The rainbow design (Stripes) is a celebratory homage to Frank Stella and his genius with shape, color, and balance. I am always inspired by his body of work.

The natural patterns and brilliant colors of nature form the other two parts of the collection (Feather and Key). Feathers, which the Navajo believed were good luck, have such a beautiful and complex pattern and texture to them. Lapis and malachite have the most intense color– but they are also from the earth. They represent pure distillations of color.

 

Where is your ideal place to sit down and write a letter? 

At certain times of day, my dining room table is flooded with gorgeous light. I will sit at the head, peer out the window, and find inspiration to write my letters.

 

What are your favorite ways to spend your downtime when you’re not working?

What downtime? My favorite way to spend any free moment (a rarity) is with my husband, our 3 Maine Coon cats, and my dearest friends.

 

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Nicole! Learn more about Nicole’s work on her website and Instagram @nicolefullerinteriors.   Shop the collection on our site here

 

A peek into Nicole’s world

 

Brand Friend Spotlight: Brett Braley-Palko

With the launch of our Brand Friend program, we’ve been able to connect with others who love the art of the handwritten note, our products, and our brand. If this sounds interesting to you, learn more about how to be a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend on our website!

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We are delighted to introduce you to Brett Braley-Palko as part of our Brand Friend Spotlight Series. Based in Pennsylvania, Brett works as a marketing manager while writing, baking, and tending to his farm and animals.

How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll?

Actually, it was through an Instagram rabbit hole. I have always been a huge fan of stationery, but living in in a more rural setting, I rarely get exposed to brands outside of big box stores! Now that brands are more readily accessible online, I’m able to find ones I love and stick with them, including Dempsey & Carroll. It was love at first sight! The crisp designs, the craftsmanship that’s evident, the little bit of irreverence in some of the marketing. I really loved it all.

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Do you have any favorite Dempsey & Carroll collections that helped to draw you in?

I think the collection that I first liked was the John Derian collaboration, particularly the Fly Fisher set. Derian has been a favorite store of mine (particularly the Papier-mâché animal heads and the collection of vintage Christmas ornaments they stock), and the collection was just right up my alley in classic and whimsical style. I also liked the mixed-media usage in the Lingua Franca Collection. So cute and innovative!

 

How do you make traditions modern?

I think about this a lot and I think, for me, it’s about injecting tradition into the small moments of the day. Whether it is writing a thank-you note to an old friend or taking a few hours to bake some bread instead of buying a loaf, I try to step back and appreciate what brings me joy in slow, intentional ways. I think that’s what tradition means to me these days.

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Can you recall the most memorable letter that you’ve received (or sent)?

To be honest, I don’t receive as much exciting mail as I’d like (poor me). Hardly any of my family writes, and I notice that letters tend to not act like boomerangs in that they’re almost never returned automatically. I’m going to turn this question on its nose a bit and say the most memorable letter(s) I’ve received actually came by request. I’m currently working on a project of collecting letters from literary and aristocratic figures of Early 20th Century Britain — think Nancy Mitford, Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, Heywood Hill, James Lees-Milne. As it turns out, the most exciting letters being sent my way are archival scans from Yale, Oxford, and Princeton these days.

We’d love to hear more about how got involved with this interesting project! What inspired you to start collecting these letters?

It kind of came out of nowhere! For the last couple of years, I have read quite a few books regarding the Bright Young Things and aristocracy in early/mid-20th Century Britain. I just really love that time period. When I strayed away from biographies and started reading more letter compilations, many of the prefaces would thank specific archives.

Being a lover of stationery, I was extremely curious about what their stationery was like; the paper colors, fonts, sizes. I was especially curious about the heading conventions for aristocratic figures (do they have their official title on the top? Their birth names? Just a location?). My hope now is to work with a stationer to design my own stationery in this same vein – simple, but not performatively “retro” – just to the bare bones of quality and design. Further, I’ll be pitching some ideas I have brewing of how these design elements have changed and what has stayed the same, such as the beautiful collections Dempsey & Carroll has maintained for 140 years!

 

 Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?

Working from home means I’ve really carved a space for myself in our little house. My desk is an ancient and comically large work desk. It was my husband’s college desk and it kind of floated into our spare bedroom. It houses a scattering of iPhone cords, a typewriter, a thousand little notes to myself, and a few dozen library books that are surely overdue as I type this sentence. But it’s mine and once the door is shut, I’m able to get to get right to work while nursing my morning tea.

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 What are a few of your favorite things to do in your spare time?

Reading is a big pastime for me, so I aim to read at least a half hour before bed each night. I’m also trying to be fluent in French, so you’ll often hear Duolingo from my office. I live on a 5-acre farm in Pennsylvania, so much of my spare time goes to cleaning the house or taking care of our animals. We have 27 chickens and 3 spoiled dogs, so you can imagine most of my time goes to them. I’m also an avid baker, but just easing myself back into baking after a year hiatus (we got married in November, so most of 2018 was spent planning and staying busy with “life” things).

Tell us more about living on a farm! Is farming a main profession or just a hobby?

It’s just a hobby for now! After living in California for about five years, we were happy to move back and claim a piece of land for ourselves. My husband and I are both from this area of Pennsylvania, so once we maxed out a few credit cards and had a couple of nieces and nephews to meet, we decided it was time to return. A farm just seemed like the next step, being able to stretch ourselves out over the land versus being stuffed into another apartment (our landlord lived in our backyard at our last house).

With three dogs, I wanted them to have the freedom to run and play and exhaust themselves on the little plot that’s theirs as much as ours. I work full-time as a Marketing Manager from home, so my days are flexible enough I get to punctuate my breaks from conference calls between the barn and the yard with the dogs.

While farming for me will never be a large-scale operation, I’d love to transition into a more professional role with the farm. I’d like to write on the subject in more freelance work, and some of my work is actually being published this month in the Greenhorns Almanac. My goal is to carve out a space for myself in the farming community to speak of my experience and my philosophy behind animal rearing and stewardship.

But, alas, for now, the eggs we get are sold to librarians, my in-laws, and a select few neighbors!

 Thank you so much for sharing with us, Brett! Keep up with Brett on Instagram @brettfbraley, Twitter @brettfbraley, and brettfbraley.com!

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Learn more about being a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend!

Brand Friend Spotlight: Danielle Murdock

With the launch of our Brand Friend program, we’ve been able to connect with others who love the art of the handwritten note, our products, and our brand. If this sounds interesting to you, learn more about how to be a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend on our website!

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Danielle Murdock as part of our Brand Friend Spotlight series. Based in Connecticut, Danielle just completed her Masters in Education at the University of Hartford and is an avid blogger, traveler, and fashion aficionado.

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How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll? Are there any particular collections that stood out to you?

I originally learned about Dempsey & Carroll through Instagram. I knew that there was something innately charming about the Dempsey & Carroll “look,” and once I experienced the quality of the paper myself, I was sold!

I was first intrigued by your beautiful holiday card collections because I love classic stationery and Christmas is extremely important to me. There are so many family traditions around the holidays, and handwritten Christmas cards are always an essential part of the season. A handwritten holiday card is a personal well wish to a loved one to let them know that you’re thinking of them during that magical time of year.

 

 We’d love to hear more about your love of letter writing! How do you make traditions modern during the age of instant communication?

I have always been a paper person, particularly when it comes to handwritten correspondence and journaling. There’s something refreshing about writing a letter; it provides a more personal touch than an email or text. My boyfriend and I write thoughtful cards for every birthday, anniversary, or “just because,” and each one is really special to me. It’s far more romantic and meaningful, and it serves as a reminder of what we mean to each other.

 

Can you recall the most memorable letter that you’ve received (or sent)?

One of the most memorable letters that I received was my acceptance letter to New York University (my dream school) back in 2013. It was a stressful time as I was in the process of transferring schools, but I will never forget the shock and happiness I felt when I saw the word “Congratulations” on the page. Receiving that piece of mail changed my entire life and it gave me the opportunity to fall in love with New York City. Although it wasn’t the most personal letter I’ve received, it certainly had the most impact!

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Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?

My favorite place to write is my vintage desk that was given to me by my boyfriend’s mom. She’s an expert on all things vintage, and this piece was such a special find for a history-obsessed girl like me. It’s the perfect area to store my pens, stationery, and journals; it’s my go-to spot for letter writing, blogging, and more. The desk is in such pristine condition, and it makes me feel like I’m in a different time period.

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 What are a few of your favorite things to do in your spare time?

I really am a writer at heart–I love to blog and read in my spare time. Fashion is important to me, and my joy in clothes was actually the basis for starting my blog, The Minty Pink. Trends come and go, but classic pieces never go out of style!

I spend a lot of time hanging out with my family and friends; I’m quite social and seeing people I care about is a must! My friends and I have a lot of game and movie nights and we take weekend trips in the warmer weather. Just like everyone else, I enjoy my fair share of TV in my downtime – Game of Thrones, The Crown, Crime Documentaries—the staples, of course.

 

We’ve heard that you’re planning moving closer to New York City (our home)! What are a few of your favorite things about New York and what made you want to move back?

I’m head over heels for New York City. Having gone to NYU for undergrad, I really was able to take in a lot of different parts of the city during those years. I consider it my “second home” and have yet to find anything that comes close. For starters, the food is unbelievable! I have a handful of favorites, like Patsy’s in Harlem for pizza, and the Union Square Greenmarket for fresh produce and local goods.

One of my favorite things about New York is being able to take long walks from the east side to the west side to take in the history and beauty. Exploring the streets of NYC is such a fun activity because it changes so much from neighborhood to neighborhood. Although I don’t know where I’ll be moving, being closer to the city is an absolute must in my book!

 

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Danielle! Keep up with Danielle on Instagram @danimurd, Twitter @themintypink, and The Minty Pink blog!

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Learn more about being a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend!

Brand Friend Spotlight: Jon Prince

With the launch of our Brand Friend program, we’ve been able to connect with others who love the art of the handwritten note, our products, and our brand. If this sounds interesting to you, learn more about how to be a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend on our website!

It is our pleasure to introduce you to Jon Prince as part of our Brand Friend Spotlight series. Based in Pittsburgh, Jon is a world traveler, candy expert, long-time Dempsey & Carroll fan, and more!IMG_4912

How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll? 

While attending boarding school in the early 80’s, I took a trip to Washington, D.C. and stumbled upon Dempsey & Carroll (Editor’s note – Our only Dempsey & Carroll store is in New York City, though we used to have a Washington, D.C store as well).  Ever the fan of the written word, I treated myself to a few boxes of beautifully made stationery – I still remember that it had a Jockey motif – and the brand has remained a favorite ever since.

 

Do you remember the first letter that you sent on your new stationery?

I recall I sent my parents a letter on my new equestrian emblazoned stationery, thanking them for letting me put the purchase on their charge. Kidding aside, if memory serves me, it was to a woman in Pittsburgh that I had a crush on who always commented that I used “beautiful stationery.”

What’s the most memorable handwritten note you’ve received? 

As a young man, I received a note from Gary Trudeau, author of Doonesbury. I also received a handwritten note from Walter Annenberg which I treasure and is tucked into the desk blotter in my office.

Where is your favorite place to catch up on correspondence?  

I enjoy catching up on correspondence at home in my study, often in the early morning hours. There is something cathartic about putting pen to paper while the house is quiet and life is at a temporary standstill

Pictured below, I have the Annenberg letter along with a letter from the chef of Tailevant Restaurant in Paris wishing me a happy 40th birthday (amazing meal). The wine vintage chart given to me by a dear friend and mentor who is deceased.

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Some of the coolest mementos on my desk include the actual diploma given to JFK when he got his honorary degree in 1963 from University of Galway, Ireland as well as a picture of my dad in basic training in the 50’s.

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We know that you have a pretty sweet job! What is your role at Candy Favorites and what are your main goals at work?

I am the President of CandyFavorites.com, the first online candy store. I am also the Vice-President of McKeesport Candy Co., which is the oldest wholesale candy company in the nation!

Robert Rauschenberg once said that his role was to “work in the gap between art and life.” I wear many hats, but my job is to bridge the gap between old world customer service and the impersonal nature of the internet to create an online experience that goes beyond selling a commodity.

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An insider look at the Candy Favorites warehouse

What does “making traditions modern” mean to you?  

Much like running my business, I love finding ways to keep old world traditions alive while embracing changes in social mores and technology. I loving sending handwritten notes to customers, and I always send notes to friends the day after a party or special meal.

Where business is concerned, most transactions occur on the “great electronic divide” and you can’t imagine the response when someone receives a well-written, witty note. It is a personal connection and bridge to a bygone era when saying “thank you” was the norm and not an exception.

I also have a stationery travel set and nothing is better, or less expected, than slipping a note under a friend or family member’s hotel room door or sharing your appreciation to a hotel, restaurant, or venue where you had a special experience.

I have received a few “thank you” notes via text and consider it a faux pas as it lacks effort or permanence. There is something intimate about choosing appropriate stationery, finding an elegant stamp, and making the effort to find a mail box.  Often, effort is as much appreciated as outcome.

What are a few of your favorite things that you do in your spare time?

I collect art and wine and I love to exercise, read, travel, and keep up with my two boys (aged 9 and 15).

My wife and I recently traveled to Cuba which we adored. It was akin to taking a step back in time and is a place where even the most mundane subjects make for beautiful photography. The colors are breathtaking and the people charming and hospitable!

Most summers, we take a family trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer in the South of France and were thrilled to see our favorite beaches emblazoned on the lining of the envelopes of your Cote D’Azur stationery.

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As an avid swimmer, I sent a note from this collection to a friend and drew a line showing where I swam across the bay! This, along with your baseball motif cards, served as a call to action for our boys to get into the habit of putting pen to paper!

 

Brand Friend Spotlight: Tadd Casner

With the launch of our Brand Friend program, we’ve been able to connect with others who love the art of the handwritten note, our products, and our brand. If this sounds interesting to you, learn more about how to be a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend on our website!

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Tadd Casner as part of our new Brand Friend Spotlight series. Based in Reading, Pennsylvania, Tadd is a Gilded Age historian, architecture enthusiast, writer, and more!IMG_4333

 

How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll?  Were there any particular products that drew you in?

I actually found your firm a couple years ago while looking for a proper engraved calling card.  I used my Emily Post etiquette book (1924 edition) as my guide!

When ordering my calling cards I knew that I only wanted my full name centered in the middle and my street address only (not city & state) in smaller font size in the lower right corner.  Very old fashioned!  I live in a city, albeit much smaller than New York!  The font style and card stock thickness were very important to me.  The calling cards that Dempsey & Carroll produced for me are perfect in every way!

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How do you make traditions modern? We’d love to hear more about the work that you do in your historic neighborhood!

My husband and I live in our 1908 Queen Anne twin townhouse here in the Centre Park Historic District here in Reading, PA.  The Centre Park Historic District, Inc. is a volunteer neighborhood organization that was established in 1982.  Its mission is “to promote architectural preservation and enhance neighborhood living.”  We have various events throughout the year including our annual Gourmet Garden Tour and Christmas House Tour.  We promote our events on our website as well as on our Facebook page.  In 2008, “This Old House Magazine” named Centre Park Historic District one of the top ten neighborhoods in America to purchase an historic fixer-upper.

I am now in my third year of serving as President of the Centre Park District. Truthfully, I became President because few people were interested in undertaking the task, though it has been a rewarding experience so far!

 

When did you know that you wanted to be a historian? Are there any particular time periods that interest you the most?

I’ve been fascinated by history and architecture since childhood. I suppose I was born with a talent for it!  My main focus is on The Gilded Age in America and Britain because I’ve always loved the style of that period. I can remember reading the same books over and over again and being obsessed with photographs taken during that era when I was young.IMG_0397

 

Are there any interesting projects that you’re working on now?

I am currently working on writing a Biography of J.H. Sternberg, a steel magnate here in Reading during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.  He was a very important pioneer in the iron and steel industry, as he patented machinery to produce nuts and bolts.  For seven years,  I actually resided in the home he had constructed.  The home, “Stirling,” sits on a five-acre property in the Centre Park neighborhood.

I am the co-host for two live TV programs at our community television station. One of the shows covers the Centre Park Historic District events, and the other show, “The Passing Scene,” is focused on local history in general.

 

Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?

As we are restoring our home, I’m limited to writing at a small built-in desk in one of our dressing rooms. I also use the dining table in our restored dining room, though I am currently looking for an Edwardian period writing desk. IMG_1989

I love writing letters and notes. In our modern era of texts and emails, a handwritten missive seems so much more special and permanent.

Brand Friend Spotlight: Kerrie Kelly

With the launch of our Brand Friend program, we’ve been able to connect with others who love the art of the handwritten note, our products, and our brand. If this sounds interesting to you, learn more about how to be a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend on our website!

Based in California, Kerrie Kelly is an award-winning interior designer, author and contributor, product designer and multi-media consultant, and more! On Kerrie’s trip to NYC last weekend, she paid us a visit at our flagship store on the Upper East Side to work on a bespoke stationery project and see our latest collections.

How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll? Do you have plans for your next set of bespoke stationery with us?

I was born in California and my husband was born on New York’s Lower East Side. When we would come to visit New York (we live in California now), we would each share our version of the city. My husband would take me to his church, his school, and Katz’s Deli. Having worked for Ralph Lauren Home Collection, my version of the city was all about Park Avenue, the Polo Bar, and MoMA. While enjoying those neighborhoods, I came across Dempsey & Carroll and fell in love with the quality, history, and brand story. That translated into creating bespoke stationery for my husband, and ultimately for myself. I am currently putting together a bespoke collection that highlights my Blonde Fox accessory collection with GO Home, Ltd. It will be a flat card with a navy blue border and a side profile of a golden fox leaping.

 

How do you make traditions modern?

I believe traditions can be made modern by adding our own personal spin to family tradition along the way; add modern glassware to a china set, cover a family heirloom in a modern looking fabric, or use an updated font or stamp on a traditionally patterned card or note.

 

Tell us more about your love of history and how you incorporate vintage pieces into your work and own home!

When it comes to history, I love to celebrate my family’s heritage. Our dining room is painted a deep navy blue and has a wall of white shelving that features my great grandpa’s trumpet, my in-laws’ wedding photos, my grandma’s old encyclopedia set,  and my grandpa’s shaving kit and camera. Being surrounded by these pieces in a place where we entertain and enjoy friends and family is so comforting. We reminisce about so many good times while creating even more!

Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?

I love to write in my home at a secretary that I designed for one of my furniture collections. It has several letters posted with special messages from dear friends and family. It also has my stamps, beloved pens and letter openers. To be surrounded by my favorite things always makes for better letter writing.

What are a few of your favorite things to do in your spare time?

As an interior designer and product developer, I appreciate unique designs, rich experiences, and quality goods. I love practicing yoga, visiting art museums, enjoying special dinners in the city with friends, and taking weekend trips to nearby Napa Valley. These experiences will always keep my creative juices flowing while providing the opportunity to meet new people (and send more correspondence!).

 

Thank you for sharing with us, Kerrie! Be sure to check out Kerrie’s Instagram (@kerrielkelly) and website to learn more about her work and travels. 

Learn more about being a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend!

Spotlight on Sister Parish Design

In honor of our new collaboration with Sister Parish Design, we had the pleasure of interviewing its President and Co-Founder, Susan Crater. We learned about her decorating style, inspirations, and the lasting influence of her grandmother, legendary Designer Sister Parish.

We are thrilled to bring the Parish-Hadley design legacy to paper with the launch of our Desmond and Serendipity correspondence card sets!

What inspired you to revive your Grandmother’s work and start Sister Parish Design in 2000? Did you always know that you wanted to work in the design field?

The truth is that I did not always know that I wanted to work in the design field. I did always know that I appreciated a beautifully decorated room, and especially appreciated and loved the rooms that my grandmother and Albert [Hadley] designed. It is these rooms that inspired me to create this collection.

Many of your patterns are from the Parish-Hadley archives, though you have also launched new patterns along with a home accessories collection. How do you find a balance between honoring the Parish-Hadley tradition while continuing to update your offerings?

We look to the rooms that Parish-Hadley decorated and we look to the rooms that inspired Parish-Hadley to guide us in building our collection. How are textiles being used and what types of textiles are being used in these rooms?  Will decorators today want to use these textiles in the same way or will they want to use them differently? These are the types of questions we ask ourselves in order to build a collection that will continue to honor the Parish-Hadley legacy.

What is your favorite piece of decorating advice that you like to share with friends and clients?

“Innovation is often the ability to reach into the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, what is useful, what is lasting.”  -Sister Parish

Photo: Horst P. Horst/Condé Nast Archive

Sister Parish, 1974

What do you think that everyone should avoid when decorating a home? Do you have any design-related pet peeves?

One thing my grandmother taught me was the importance of scale. Overly large and overstuffed furniture will ruin a room.

 You have a gorgeous house up in Bedford, New York!  How would you compare your personal design aesthetic to that of your Grandmother’s? Do you have any favorite pieces of hers that you have out in your home (furniture, decorative pieces, etc)?

I’ve always wanted to create the same comfortable and beautiful rooms for my family that my mother and grandmother created for theirs.  I’m particularly in love with a green velvet Lawson style sofa designed by Billy Baldwin. Baldwin was small in physical stature and would use the Lawson sofa as his bed in his studio apartment. The same green velvet has been on the sofa since the 1980’s and it has only gotten better with time!

We’d love to hear a bit more about the Desmond and Serendipity patterns that are featured as part of our collaboration. How did you end up choosing these particular designs?

Both Desmond and the Serendipity are small all over prints that make a big impact. They are tried and true patterns that have added depth and sophistication to many rooms over the years. We knew they would have the same effect on stationery as they’ve had on rooms.

You have priceless handwritten letters from First Lady Jackie Kennedy to your grandmother in your archives—a perfect tie-in with our partnership. Why do you think that handwritten correspondence is still important in 2018?

A beautifully handwritten letter is like a beautifully decorated room. If properly cared for, it will last forever!

Where is your ideal place to sit down and write a letter?

My porch in Maine.

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Susan and her daughter, Eliza, at the Dempsey & Carroll office during the photo shoot for our collaboration

Many thanks to Susan for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to shop our collaboration on our site here!

Spotlight on Marcia Selden Catering

For over 30 years, Marcia Selden Catering has been creating unique events with an accent on extraordinary food, creativity, and highly polished professional service. We sat down with Managing Partner and Executive Chef Robin Selden to learn more about the family business!

Can you tell us how your mother became inspired to begin Marcia Selden Catering?

I always start by saying that my mom was an entrepreneur before the word was in the dictionary. When Martha Stewart published Entertaining forty years ago, Marcia exclaimed “I can do that,” and that’s exactly what she did!

She spent the next 20 years cooking for countless dignitaries and celebrities, catering everything from intimate dinner parties and cocktail receptions, to galas for thousands in New York City. At this point, her business was booming and she tapped me and Jeffrey (my brother) for help. He was on a fast track in the New York Luxury Hotel world and I was fairly happy in my job, but we figured that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The rest is history as we grew the business to twelve times its size in revenue and staff and moved to our current home at 65 Research Drive in Stamford.

Being an entrepreneur is all about wearing multiple hats. How did each family member find their perfect spot within the business?

Jeffrey joined us the summer of 2011, leaving the New York Palace Hotel as the second-in-command for their Food & Beverage department. He brought a wealth of business knowledge to the company along with his NYC Catering contacts and clients, so we felt that it was important to have a presence in the city. In the summer of 2014, we took over a floor of a building on 38th street to dedicate to our NYC offices, kitchen, and venue called Above Twelve. As a Managing Partner, Jeffrey wears a variety of hats and is responsible for Sales and Operations along with our beverage program called Liquid Kitchen.panna cotta

I am responsible for the Culinary Team, our Creative Operations team, and all of our Marketing efforts. I’ve found that I’m happiest when creating our advertising campaigns and working on research and development for new recipes. Mom is the “name on the door” and she is responsible for whatever she wants on any given day—much deserved after working on building this amazing company for 40 years. She is the creative force that pushes us all to do our best and she reminds us to never accept mediocrity. She is the greatest mentor to us all!

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Could you describe the happenings in your kitchen on the morning of a big event?

Like the opening night of a Broadway show– very organized and perfectly executed mayhem!

What looks fresh to you this year as we head into the summer months?

I’m most excited for the local farm fresh produce.  I’ve never met an Heirloom tomato that I didn’t love!

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Is there a recent food trend that you’re glad to see disappear?

Yes– Activated charcoal!

Is there a classic you’d love to see come back in vogue?

I would love to put a modern twist on traditional dishes like Chicken a la King and Beef Stew.

You’ve just served up another successful wedding reception on a lovely Saturday evening. What does your perfect recovery Sunday look like? How do you treat yourself?

I’d definitely head to the local diner for breakfast before my “real” job as a parent kicks in. I’ll hit usually the grocery store, do laundry, help with homework, and then maybe treat myself to a pedicure.

And when you’re cooking for yourself, what’s your favorite comfort food?

I love anything cooked out on the grill and big pots of soup chock full of veggies (usually with beans and quinoa).  I’m also obsessed with breakfast and will never turn down an awesome omelet!
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Imagine you’re marooned on a desert island. What three kitchen tools would you like most to have with you and why?

  • My favorite Stainless Steel mixing bowl because I can prepare anything in it and even eat out of it and it won’t get damaged by the sea water.
  • My Shun Chef’s Knife which is my favorite, “can’t live without it,” tool in my kitchen
  • My Porcelain Enamel Coated Cast Iron Casserole (with the lid) because I can use it to boil water, cook soup, sauté, braise and even fry if I’m lucky enough to start with a few pantry items like oil!

 

Spotlight on Little Red Fox Bakery

Kristi Tursi of Little Red Fox Bakery knows how to please the eye just as much as the palate. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles recently grilled her about celebrating with sweets throughout the seasons.

 

In just a few words, could you tell us about your bakery? 

I’m the owner of Little Red Fox Bakery located in Essex, Vermont.  What’s with the name, you may ask? When I was six I told my family that I was the owner of Little Red Fox Bakery, thus a dream has become a reality. The majority of my business specializes in ‘Celebration Cakes’ for weddings and ‘Elevated Events’ as the component of my bakery that focuses on all catered events. I incorporate locally sourced and ‘Made in Vermont’ ingredients in all of my bakery goods. I’m lucky enough to be able to use maple syrup that is produced down the road from where I live!

I’m also a food stylist and photographer with ongoing assignments throughout New England and the New York Metropolitan area where most of my work is based. Yes, I focus on the visual presentation, but I live by this rule: Flavor Leads Style.

 

You’re living in a perfect world: So many of us love to bake and everyone loves baked goods! How did you discover this passion?

I’ve been baking since I was a little girl, but the road to opening my bakery and catering business wasn’t a straight route! My mother’s side of the family is Hungarian, so I was fortunate enough to start my baking adventures with some of the world’s most classic recipes. Holidays, birthdays, and special occasions were all opportunities to learn my beloved recipes. I’m not embarrassed to say that on a recent trip to Budapest, Vienna, and Paris, I sampled pastries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

I studied psychology and art history in college and even pursued post-undergraduate work in those fields, but my love for baking and the desire to run a business ultimately led me to opening the doors to Little Red Fox Bakery.  I love the exactness and precision of bakery life paired with the creative freedom and design work for wedding cakes and sweets.

And you’ve a great deal of experience as a food stylist down here in New York City?

I worked for a few luxury e-commerce sites and quickly segued into food photography and styling assignments–It’s an aspect of my business that I truly love. My work was recently published in PDN (Photo District News) for food photography and I also have ongoing collaborations with brands such as CARGO Cosmetics and Fjallraven for styling and photo work.

 

If you’re planning sweets for a large event, logistically speaking, what is a good direction to go in? And what types of treats might not go so smoothly?

For large scale events, I always work to appeal to everyone’s unique tastes and requirements; treats for people with nut allergies, some gluten free selections, and a show stopper type of dessert to add an element of surprise. I generally try to go with things that tease the palate, so I include a variety of textures: gooey, crunchy, smooth, and fluffy, to name a few. I also always like to include savory sweets, like rosemary or caraway biscotti. The latter goes well with wine at cocktail parties, so you can say that I cover the taste sensations that begin the meal and those that end it.

 

We’d love to hear more about some of the work you’ve done for weddings.

I specialize in wedding cakes, favors, and full service catering under the part of my business known as ‘Elevated Events.’ I love making wedding cakes that incorporate unique details, like calligraphed messages on wafer paper affixed to the surface.

A current trend is to have a dessert table in place of a cake. Brides (and grooms) come in for a consultation and talk about all their favorite memories of getting to know each other and the foods associated with those memories. We like to curate a menu that is truly a culinary reflection of their courtship.

 

Spring is just around the corner. What tastes and textures do you think are best served as people tire of heavy winter foods?

People generally want things with fruit and palettes that are reminders of the awakening of spring on the landscape. Small fruit tarts, fruit mousses in mini chocolate cups, and mini cheesecakes topped with fruit tend to be popular choices. On the more elaborate and fluffy side, we have meringues, a crowd favorite. They are feather light, perfectly sweet, and customizable to pretty much any flavor profile.

 

A truly elegant show stopper is a layered mocha dacquoise cake, which includes layered hazelnut meringue with mocha butter cream. A Spanish Windtorte, a Baroque looking construction of fancy meringue piping, is also excellent as it can be topped or filled with a pastry cream and seasonal fruits and berries – the perfect transition from decadent holiday treats!

 

What goodies do you think can keep cool in the summer heat?

I love trifles. The flavors are so versatile, and they can be made in large or small scale; it’s the ‘just right’ amount of cake to cream to fruit ratio! I also love fruits tarts and shortcakes, both of which incorporate fruit and can be made on the lighter side for those 90+ hot, humid days.

Last year, we did an event held in a non air-conditioned old barn at the edge of a river; think ninety degrees, humidity, and mosquitoes. We made a lemon three-tier cake with lemon and lavender infused pastry cream filling. It was a semi-naked cake that we adorned with frosted berries and mint leaves. On the side, I had chilled raspberry champagne-soaked watermelon mini cubes on a stick—they were almost as popular as the cake, maybe more so!

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And how is chocolate best served in the summer?

Hopefully not melted! I think a ganache tart can be served in hot and humid weather quite well.  My two most popular flavors in the summer incorporate orange blossom or lavender; both have a hint of flavor that is balanced by the semi sweetness of the chocolate. I love to garnish the tarts with edible flowers—always a gorgeous finishing touch for tying in the color scheme of a wedding. Time management and organization are key when baking and presenting food, especially when it’s warm. In summer weather, a cooler or two may displace diamonds as a girl’s best friend.

 

As fall returns, what ingredients do you like to bring forward from the back of the pantry?

Fall is one of my busier times for weddings and catered events, so I created a theme called ‘perfect pairings’ to help those planning a Fall wedding with some level of continuity among their sweet and savory choices! I tend to reach for nutmeg, cinnamon, or even smoked maple! I love mulled cider, as it pairs wonderfully with cider doughnuts and apple pies. As a Vermont-based baker, it goes without saying that I sweeten my desserts with maple syrup and maple sugar any chance I get. I think a dark maple syrup provides for the best pronounced flavors in my pumpkin pies, butter creams, and compotes! 15099470_1475730969123730_2837803386319929344_n

I also love chestnuts. I include a chocolate chestnut ganache tart as a holiday selection and I make Chestnut Mignons, a Hungarian specialty with chestnut cream, chocolate, and rum shaped into a chestnut shape and enrobed in chocolate and mocha couverture.

 

For winter holiday entertaining, whether it’s a cozy get together following an afternoon of ice skating, or a more formal holiday affair, what could we surprise our guests with?  

Who doesn’t love to fawn over a dessert table? For a small, casual gathering (after skating, say, by a roaring fire),  I would have a menu that includes cinnamon hot chocolate paired with Belgian brownies and whipped cream, hot cider paired with maple churros, and piping hot mochas with chocolate éclairs filled with blood orange pastry cream. 16122724_271096073310002_9068248877664043008_n

For a formal affair, I love to present a crepes cream cake that looks like it has a thousand layers. Another favorite that I made for a Scandinavian event was the Princess cake; a green dome of pistachio marzipan adorned with delicate pink flowers covering layers of cake, pastry cream,  and lots of whipped cream.

 

In terms of classic recipes, what do you think never goes out of style?

A classic genoise cake, which is a French-style cake that serves as the foundation for simple jelly rolls and many elaborate pastries. It is perfect ‘as is,’ but even better as the cake layers on a scrumptious wedding cake. A genoise holds up incredibly well year-round and can be made with ingredients that a home baker will have in their kitchen.

And when the ovens have cooled and you close up shop for the day, how do you like to spend your down time?

I live in Vermont for a majority of the year and love getting outside to enjoy the Green Mountains! From November through April, my skis are by the front door so I can literally step outside, don my skis, and off I go! In the summer months, I turn into a kayaker. I’m also the happy owner of a German Shepherd puppy, so hiking, trail running, and sailing on Lake Champlain are perfect departures from a chaotic day of baking and decorating (and it keeps the puppy happy)! My time in nature keeps me focused and serves as a beautiful work/life balance! When I’m in the city, I walk everywhere–I’ve been known to walk from SoHo to the UES. I love the contrast of solitude and city buzz. I think art and beauty and truth are found in that contrast.

 

Spotlight on Caitlin McGauley

In celebration of our brand new collaboration, we sat down with Watercolor Artist and Illustrator Caitlin McGauley to learn more about her work and how she gets inspired. We first met McGauley through our friend Michelle Adams, founder of The Maryn. In fact, the artwork from our collection in partnership with The Maryn was also designed by McGauley!

We are excited to launch the whimsical Caitlin McGauley Animal Collection featuring the Cheetah and Fox motifs and envelope finishings customized by McGauley. We hope that you are as charmed by this collaboration as much as we are! #caitlinmcgauleyxdempsey

 

How did you get started with watercolor?

I was constantly drawing as a kid, so my parents signed me up for group watercolor lessons at 9 years old. I had a great teacher who was in her mid-eighties, and we would sit at card tables in her dining room and copy pictures of landscapes that she tore out of magazines. My next painting teacher was a friendly hippie who taught in a 70’s A frame cottage on a lake. I really loved watercolor and I never pursued any other medium.

 

What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on recently?

Custom projects with interior designers are always fun and diverse, and it’s nice to collaborate with fellow artists. Currently, I am designing a wallpaper with repeating feathers for the ceiling of a restaurant, and I’m in the sketch phase for an animal-themed wallpaper mural that will span a massive playroom without repeating itself.

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What inspires you the most?

Spending time at book stores and antique/secondhand shops! My daughter and I like to go and ‘look for treasures,’ and I keep my eyes peeled for weird or beautiful objects and vases that can be incorporated into my paintings. If I have an hour or so to kill, I would probably spend it at Books of Wonder on 18th street looking at children’s books. I am a picture book fanatic and I always attend the Children’s Book show at the Society of Illustrators, where they show the original work from all of the best picture books from the previous year.

 

Your two young children must have so much fun when they get to visit you in the studio! Do they share your creativity?

Yes, they definitely have the art bug! My six-year-old daughter stays up later at night than I do I presume, since in the morning she has all kinds of new ideas and drawings in the sketchbook that she keeps on her bedside table. My son is a perfectionist and asks me to put white-out on any of his coloring pages where he’s gone outside of the lines.

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Are there any places that you’ve traveled that have had the most influence on your work?

I worked at a small textiles company in my 20’s and was lucky to travel to Asia several times to source fabrics and visit factories. India and China have such a rich textile history and I am so grateful that I got to soak it all up in person. I still reference fabrics and pictures from my trips for inspiration. Time to go back, I think!

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What inspired this collaboration? We’d love to hear a bit more about the colorful prints that are featured!

I love to paint animals, so I started with the pink cheetah and orange fox, and the prints evolved from there. The fox felt masculine and preppy so I looked at vintage ties on eBay, which resulted in stripes and an abstract collegiate-feeling crest print in primary colors. For the cheetah, I drew from animal prints and foliage, but I used colors not necessarily found in nature.

 

Where is your ideal place to sit down and write a letter?

In the peace and quiet of my studio. I always send a hand-written note with paintings– it shows a kind of appreciation that cannot be conveyed over email!

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Where else can people find your work (aside from our stationery, of course!)?

I have a collection of wallpapers available through the showrooms Studio Four in New York, James in Austin and Dallas Texas, and Nicky Rising in Los Angeles. I also have a shop on my website which I consistently update with original paintings, mostly florals and animals.

Shop the Caitlin McGauley x Dempsey & Carroll on our site here!