Thank you for joining the Briar family and being the reason we continue to make beautiful, functional bonnets that are so much more than a tie-hat. Our behind-the-scenes starts with our intuitive, ambitious founder, Rachel, who started the business out of necessity when she couldn’t find the style of baby bonnet that she wanted for her daughter, Gracelyn Briar. She took matters into her own hands (literally), created the perfect bonnet, and got compliments and questions everywhere they went. This is where the pretty special journey began.
Describe your family
We’re a fun bunch of people that really enjoy each other’s company. We are at our best when we’re traveling, camping, playing outside, or doing something all together. Taylor is the glue that holds our family together, I am the optimist, Noah is our thoughtful adventurer, and Gracelyn is the life of the party.
Who is your mom icon?
When I think of the attributes that make me a great mom, I can attribute most of them to what I learned from my own mom. The times when I feeling like “I’m doing something right,” I often remember my mom doing the same thing, which is reassuring.
What does this space mean to you?
Other than having my house back? It means a lot. I am instantly inspired every time I’m here. It’s a blank canvas that we’ve been able to tailor to our exact needs. It signifies growth and opportunity.
In our early dating years, Taylor and I used to frequent the restaurant which actually used to expand into Briar’s current space. When we first previewed the location, it brought back a lot of good memories.
How did you make the choice to house production?
For a long time, I debated over whether to keep production in-house or source it to a factory in the US. Ultimately, with consideration of the end-product and overall control, we decided to keep production here in the studio. For the first two years, production was actually housed in my home, with several employees coming in and out daily. Last May, we moved Briar HQ into this beautiful space and couldn’t be happier.
What dreams do you have for the “bonnet factory”?
As much as I love our current location, I’d love to grow out of it someday! Regardless of our location, our “bonnet factory” will always be an inspirational space that employs wonderful people and produces an amazing product.
How would you describe your business self?
First, let me clarify that I have never identified myself (until recently) as a “business person” or entrepreneur. Come to find out, I’m pretty good at it, and more importantly, I enjoy it. I’ve always had a pretty high-achieving personality, so I’m always trying to be the best at what I’m doing. My business self realizes that there’s a lot I don’t know, so hiring the right people to fill in the gaps is extremely important.
What is the biggest inspiration for your bonnets?
I really find inspiration everywhere. For an upcoming bonnet, I walked into a botanical nursery and amongst all of the beautiful greenery was an employee wearing an “outrageous” colored beanie, with the same color of scissors sitting on the table. It was basically the only color in the shop. My immediate thought was that I HAD to do a bonnet in this color.
What has been your favorite success?
In general, I’m very proud of the people I’ve brought on to work with Briar. We have some of the best in the industry, and we certainly would not be successful without them. Another proud moment was physically moving into our space. It was a goal for that to happen at some point last year, and ended up happening sooner, rather than later (which, in hindsight, was the best thing that could have happened!). Getting the keys and moving in was a big step in the right direction.
Can you share any exciting news coming soon?
We have an amazing partnership forming with Indego Africa, a non-profit that works with artisans in Africa, and provides education and employment opportunities. Through our partnership we have a special collection coming out soon that will feature the work of an artisan group in Rwanda. We are so excited!
How do you divide your family time & work time?
As a rule, I have two dedicated, childless office days a week at the shop. Occasionally, some things come up where I have to work a little extra, which means I bring my little “assistant” (AKA Gracelyn) to work with me. It took a while to find this balance, but I’ve found that I’m able to get so much done during my dedicated work time. In the age of social media and connectivity, it’s easy to “work” in the evenings and weekends, but I’ve gotten much better about making sure I put my phone away.
What do your kids think of the studio?
They love it and ask to go there often! Because we’re next to a bagel shop, it usually means they can have a special treat too, so that helps. :) I think it feels like an exciting home-away-from-home for them. We’ve tried to add some special things for them to do there.
How is your family involved in the business?
Taylor is probably more involved than he thinks. I run big decisions by him and value his input very much. He’s also the muscle of the operation when it comes to heavy lifting. :) His support and encouragement are very evident. Gracelyn has modeled/fit-tested/color-approved for us from day one. Noah just likes to come to the shop and play basketball.