Juliette, your brand Gusta is inspired by your first-born daughter. Can you speak a bit more about what ultimately encouraged you to launch your own line?
I was moved to dive headfirst into hand embroidery and ultimately this “overnight” brand because I was feeling creatively frustrated. I work full-time in retail finance and no surprise, it was not fueling this part of me. I made my daughter’s owl costume a few months prior for Halloween, and I stayed up until 1am for one week cutting and gluing felt/feather pieces on a cape and headpiece. I felt alive! Fast forward to my wedding anniversary, my husband gifted me cotton yarn (year 2 gift). I usually knit about one and a half scarves each Winter, but I was craving to take my crafting to the next level. This was the catalyst for my trip to Michael’s where I purchased my first embroidery supplies, including A~Z of Embroidery Stitches. It was the beginning of many long nights, combing through tutorials, videos, and dog-earring my new book, teaching myself stitch by stitch. I had no guidance but a real urge to learn. The two new exciting and challenging things in my life were embroidery and my baby daughter (Augusta), and I felt that the name Gusta embroidery was catchy and spirited.
I started with embroidering one friend’s baby’s name with a twig of lavender, and a commissioned dog portrait for my cousin. It took off organically from there. Since becoming a mother, I have become a more confident person, so when I get an inspiration, I go with it. I believe in my ideas and artistic ability, and I trust my gut. Creating things with my hands fulfills me so deeply. This allows me to give my daughter and husband more positivity and energy (since we don’t sleep)! My husband has also supported my work from the beginning and takes a genuine interest in each commission, project and my overall branding. His support has been integral to the launch of Gusta embroidery.
Hand-embroidery lends itself to a particularly personalized consumer experience. What first attracted you to the technique?
The monogramming/personalization world is evolving as more people are being drawn to customizing their own style and lives, and this was true for me. Although creative, the act of stitching can be quite monotonous. Call me odd, but I love that part of it. It has a mindful and meditative quality that I craved after a challenging day in the corporate world and new motherhood. A lot of my clients ask for generic images with their child’s name on it, but many of my commissions have very special meanings and stories behind the images and designs. I take pride in every piece I put out, but it is especially an honor when I am asked to bring emotional stories to life.
Your sister, Elena, is also a designer. How often do you seek each other’s counsel as it pertains to business?
My sister designs and sews clothes for herself and other members of our family. She works full-time as a Nurse Practitioner and has 3 small children. We have similar values and lifestyles, so we have a lot of fun collaborating on passion projects. I want to mention and give credit to our mother who has spent her professional life as a fine artist and has exposed us to the art world and encouraged creativity throughout our lives. We each have different styles and venues, but it’s invaluable and fun to have input from and collaborate with other creative minds.How has your outlook on pregnancy and motherhood evolved - or shifted - now that you’re excepting baby number two?
I have learned there is a lot of competition in parenting. Knowing that the second time around has helped me silence the noise and focus on what is best for me and my family. I always think about the quote “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” During my first pregnancy, my husband and I thought we knew all the right soothing/sleeping techniques according to the books we read, and advice given to us from seasoned parents, however, two years later our energetic daughter still does not sleep well! This time around, we are ready to be even more flexible and are preparing ourselves to adapt to the chaos. The degree of adaptability that is required of a new parent is truly remarkable.
Are there any products you’ve discovered this time around that you wish you had known about during your first pregnancy? What are they?
I started using Beauty Counter products during this pregnancy and will never go back to anything else. My mother-in-law just recently gifted me a loungewear set from Eberjey, and I have been living in them these days. I also wear my crocs every day and wish I had joined this club sooner.
Did you grow up with siblings? If so, what favorite childhood memories are you hoping to help your children recreate?
I have an older sister and a younger brother. We each had a strong imagination and were good at creating magical worlds whether it was in playhouses, forts or the woods. We were always outside. It makes me smile when I see my daughter playing with two rocks and chattering to herself, already in another imaginative world.Is there a motto - or “words to live by” - that you’d like to instill in your children as they grow up?
Growing up my dad would tell my sister and me “Be good, be smart, and if you want you can be pretty.” It’s catchy and quick but it’s a nice reminder of priorities. I have only been a mother for 22 months, so I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet, but I hope to instill compassion for others and humility in my children which I believe will yield meaningful relationships. I would also like to teach them that uncomfortable and daunting situations will build a strong sense of self-worth, self-efficacy, and overall confidence.
Besides growing your beautiful family in the New Year, what else are you most looking forward to in 2022?
I look forward to growing my brand through continued commissions and some exciting collaborations, one, in particular, being with a new children’s boutique in the West Village called Shoppe Balloo, opening this Spring. Through building my brand, I have also reignited my love for sketching. I have been an artist my whole life, and I hope to (somehow) spend more time drawing and perfecting images/designs before the embroidery process begins.There are so many people and brands that fuel my creative energy, and I would love to be that source for someone else in any type of art form. Since becoming a mother, I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. The timing of my emerging small business has felt like an alignment of the stars, and I am very grateful.