Beyond Her is a true cottage industry, specializing in artisan textiles for home and body that we produce in a small studio in La Grange, Texas.
I draw the mostly nature-inspired images in pen and ink; then we screen print onto natural fabrics using eco-friendly, water-based inks.
From the beginning, our signature product was dish towels, generally dyed and printed with images with a modern, yet organic aesthetic.
From the start I looked high and low for 100% cotton towels, the kind that are absorbent and get softer with each use. The kind that gets a little wear-hole after years of use.
I found the towels that met all the criteria (nice size, loop on back, dyeable fabric), but they were made in India. Still, we kept the same supplier for six years and created and sold literally thousands of towels.
The towels became one of the few products between us and legit Made in America status – which was something we wanted..
(The whole sourcing issue is made more complicated by the way cotton is raised, harvested, and milled. Here's the whole story.
Even though we were satisfied with our product, every so often I would check online to see if any US textile mills were offering a suitable 100% cotton fabric. This year, 2017, something actually turned up on the search!
The source wasn’t actually a mill, but a manufacturer of home decor fabrics offering cotton bolts completely made in USA. After a few phone calls, sample orders, and a trip to the plant in Sherman, Mississippi, we determined we could in fact use this fabric for high quality tea towels – if we could find someone to do the sewing.
A search on etsy turned up several sewing studios / artisans, one of which made towels of her own. We bought a dozen, started the conversation, and two months laters, she started work on several bolts of multi-colored fabric, using a custom twill tape hook announcing “Life is Too Short for Ugly Dish Towels,” the Beyond Her manifesto.
Then Harvey happened. I had been thinking of incorporating words, or affirmations, into my designs anyway. But that storm rocked my world, and even though we were facing production in a compressed time frame and headed into an uncertain holiday season, I couldn’t fathom creating just another pretty dish towel. So I picked four words that mean a lot to me – hope, strength, courage, wisdom – and came up with complimentary images.
I’m so happy with the outcome. The towels themselves are so straight and even; they were a dream to print on. I also made the designs as large as our equipment could handle for a bolder effect.
So far sales have been brisk. I love watching people ponder the images and the text, trying to decide what means the most to them or the person they’re headed to.
The best news of all is that, even with the freight back and forth, the Made in America towels are cost competitive to the imported version.
The value of persistence – in fact, that’s our next towel!
Shop our new towels here!
Exactly one million years ago, I was introduced to Becky Brooks of Take Two Visors, who makes what anyone who plays tennis or golf calls the "no headache, no hair muss" visor. And she makes them right here in the USA. I'm a big fan.
She just sent me a special order, custom made for my tiny head - and in return, I gifted her with some Beyond Her towels for her and her shop-mates. This is what I got in return.
Proud to be a new member of the Made in America movement. Happy to have made these ladies smile.
For 10 years, we've searched for a US made cotton dish towel - to no avail. The cotton was either sourced overseas, or milled overseas, or both. In the end, we purchased a high quality tea towel blank manufactured in India. That was settled.
But now, something wonderful is happening: we've got a handle on All American kitchen towels, under our private label. Oh snap!
Stay tuned. But in the meantime we're getting nostalgic about all the generations of original, hand-birthed tea towels we've proudly made and sold to you, our loyal customers.
It will only get better.
. . . why Apple goes to legendary lengths to make our iPhones look so sleek and elegant when the first thing we do is buy dumb rubber cases to keep them from breaking. What makes it even more absurd is that the stupid clunky cases are EXPENSIVE, adding to the cost of an already outrageous phone. Plus, they get dirty, so you end up replacing them when you reach your personal level of gross.
The last time I removed the multiple layers of protective devices from my iPhone, I actually gasped at how beautiful and sensual it was. It glistened in the light; it slipped in lithely and out of my hand.
So yay that iPhones are now water-resistant (20 years late, if you ask me), but if they're so smart, why don't the Apple geniuses design a phone that is scratch-, dent-, and break-resistant – so we can appreciate these beautiful little pieces of jewelry in the raw?
As it is, my iPhone seems afraid of her own sex appeal!
. . . why we have allowed technology to make our lives both more complex and less efficient. I'm referring to the tendency of manufacturers of everything from washing machines to (from what I hear) vibrators to incorporate computer chips into their devices.
I don't think I need to know that my toothbrush is recharged at a 75% level, thank you. I don't need to watch my car compute gas mileage on a minute-by-minute basis. And I certainly don't need to be viewing the interior of my refrigerator unless I'm standing in front of it trying to make something appear out of nothing.
You know what all this technological gadgetry does? It makes us crazy. My question is why, when it seems possible to know and control everything, do I know so very little and feel so out of control?
And I know the answer: it's because technology is so unreliable and frustrating and counterintuitive and, well, robotic.
The final blow came when my machine machine was on the blink. My instructions were to call the hot line.
When a person finally answered, his idea was that I would read him the information on the screens, and we would diagnose the problem together. Of course it was fruitless - just a huge waste of everyone's time. The problem was solved in a method decidedly Old School: by a human repairman, who informed me that unlike washers and dryers of old, today's laundry equipment is designed to last a mere five years "mostly due to all the technology."
"I don't get it!" I cried. "That's because you don't sell washing machines," said he. This kind of logic makes smart homes look pretty darn dumb.
. . . why I must face the opportunity of taking a survey every time I land on a web page, attempt a drive-through deposit, or order something on-line. I mean, really, dear company, if you're so keen on making me happy, just get me through this tedious task (probably #10 of 25 on the list for today) without making a mistake, okay?
Not so much any more, but people used to always ask me: why do you call this - looking at my booth - Beyond Her? Ha ha, I would laugh - it's because of an old friend who noticed that, once I reached a crescendo, I always concluded my rants with "Ugh! It's beyond me!" I guess you could say it's my manifesto, articulated here.
You'd think I'd understand a lot more now, at this ripe old age. But it seems like I spend more and more of my time shaking my head, pursing my lips and rolling my eyes.
Starting now, I'm going to chronicle my quandaries. And let me just say that this is going to be Her - raw & uncut. Why would I bother to be politically correct on my own blog? It's beyond me.
So here we go: Installment #1. The possibilities are, well, endless.
It's Beyond Her: Potty Talk
When I grew up, the old saying was that you had to eat a peck of dirt before you die. Look it up: that's a lot of dirt. This expectation, combined with spending a lot of time outside and covered in art supplies have left me pretty much immune to personal messiness and with very little fear of germs. Unlike everyone else, it seems.
So, why is it, that with all these manically clean, disinfected, Purel-ed people making a huge production of their personal hygiene, that every public toilet seat I sit on is wet? And we know what with, right?
These cleaner-than-thou germophobes have gone out of their way to whiz all over the public fixtures so that they can't catch anything from the seat (guess they missed health class that day). Meanwhile, the next person. AKA me, gets to sit in their waste.
Like I said, I'm pretty germ-insensitive, but even I find this disgusting. And a damp bottom makes it hard as hell to pull up my pants. SO rude, SO self-centered, SO entitled. Gives new meaning to the phrase pissed off.
This is the time of year when the Beyond Her pace picks up immeasurably. I mean, we're in a whole new gear! We've got lots of new products, new color combos, and so many ideas to make a house a home and your wardrobe a little more you.
Make a list and come & shop! And if you can't, don't despair - we're offering Free Shipping on Orders over $50 anywhere in the US. We want to celebrate with everybody! Just use the code TISTHESEASON at checkout.
For the most up-to-date information, check Find Her on the website.
Sat / Sun, October 29-30 10 am - 5 pm Rain or Shine!
The second annual Art Jam Marketplace is on the last weekend in October, from 10 am to 5 pm at Cment2B, 5121 Hwy 90 West in Schulenburg TX 78956. 15 local artists and artisans will be selling their work, accompanied by live music, Cajun food, beer and wine tasting, plus activities for the kids. Join us before or after Czhilispiel – it’s the same weekend! More info at www.ArtJamMarket.com
The Great Mix-Up @ Art + Tea, 613 1/2 W. 19th Street 77008
Just in time for the holidays, a boutique pop-up event with the art, jewelry, housewares, and textiles of 7 talented artisans. Starts Friday night, in conjunction with the opening of Clay Houston - then all day Saturday, half-day Sunday. Even the location is something to see! CASH ONLY, please. More info: Tea + Art
Pop-Up @ West Elm Highland Village
Sat. Nov 12, 2016 | 12 - 6pm
A quick little pop-up of local makers to add handcrafted goodness to your holiday purchases. We <3 West Elm! Learn more @ West Elm, Highland Village
Winter Holiday Arts Market @ Silver Street Studios (WHAM!)
WHAM is a holiday tradition--offering a variety of unique handmade gifts of painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, textiles, clothing, accessories and more. Kick off the holiday season with a weekend long bash--complete with complimentary beverages and live entertainment for the whole family. WHAM info here
Blue Genie Art Bazaar Austin, TX NEW LOCATION!
November 25 - December 24
10 am to 10 pm
Once again, we'll be part of Austin's unique holiday art show held every year from Black Friday through Christmas Eve. The Bazaar features handmade artwork & gifts from over 200 local & regional artists – with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish® Foundation. Parking & admission are FREE of charge. Full bar with snacks. Cash & cards accepted. Map & Directions
Design Craft @ Market Square
Sat. Dec. 3, 2016 | 10 am - 5 pm
An annual outdoor fair sponsored by Houston AIGA featuring the work of local artists, artisans, crafters and creatives! This one-day event allows Houstonians to discover local, well-designed and crafted goods in their city, and gives vendors an opportunity to sell their work. Design Craft on Facebook
The Market @ Sawyer Yards
Saturday, Dec. 10 11 am - 5 pm.
A new outdoor market in the courtyard of Houston's largest artist enclave! It's also Second Saturday Open House at the studios, so art & gifts await you! More information at the Sawyer Yards website.
Houston, Texas, is full of art and full of artists. Given its reputation and its location, that may come as a surprise.
We are also a city with plenty of street art, as you can see by Googling "graffiti" or "outdoor mural," or by reading blogs like this. In this day of social media, our walls show up in almost everyone's Instagram feed. But I have to say, to me it never gets old.
Houston's latest installation is meant to enhance yet another artist studio development by the Deal brothers (I can't help but get a kick of that). This is the firm behind the conversion of multiple industrial buildings in Houston's Sawyer Street / I-10 corridor into leased studio spaces. Judging by the prices and the occupancy rate, these guys are one step ahead of the marketplace.
Hey! We've got a lot of creative people here! The thing that always amazes me is the quality of work these artists produce. Show after show, we see professional, distinctive, mind-blowing art and crafts. It's a creative hotbed.
To celebrate the completion of the Silos at Sawyer Yard (60,000 sq ft in traditional warehouse flex space), several artists showed their stuff on the brick wall just adjacent. All distinctive, all gorgeous. We are all the beneficiaries - another place to take a selfie!
Art Wall 2016 included works by the following amazing artists:
Jessica Rice Art
Luisa Duarte Art
Michael C. Rodriguez
Pilot FX Crew
Royal McGee Art
Plastic bags have become the objects of our derision (find out why here), and I find that I miss them not at all. First of all, I nearly lost an arm due to blood loss a time or two while trying to unload my car in one trip.
Secondly, I find it so much calmer and less bother to unload my own bags, rather than those nasty plastic things. It's just adding insult to injury, having to consolidate all that petroleum product into one unsightly mass after emptying them of all the foodstuffs.
The third - and IMHO the most important reason - is that just like dish towels, market totes are one more opportunity to express your sense of style and originality! Yes, you can use the most utilitarian, plain and inexpensive bags for grocery shopping. Drudgery. Or, you can find one that makes you smile every time you use it.
Check out these beauties. The possibilities are endless!
Beyond Her has always had a thing for totes, and the grocery tote is no exception. The Fall 2016 edition is made of our current fave, waxed canvas. Plus, it features a healthy gusset, long leather straps and a perfect little pocket for your phone. You're gonna love it.
Her Point of View
Designer Paule Hewlett takes on design, culture and modern life.
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"Life is too short for ugly dish towels. Really, ugly anything."