Photographed by: Rachel Maucieri | Coffee Shop: Atlantic No. 5

I (Rachel) went to Kentucky to spend some time with my family a couple weeks ago and I rarely ever make the trip without going into Louisville and spending some time there at some favorite spots. The last Coffee Run post we did from Louisville was Please and Thank You which is where you can find my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie! 

The spot that I visited this time was actually new to me, so I was really excited to try a place that has popped up since I have moved. Atlantic No 5 is an awesome cafe in the heart of downtown. Their food looked amazing and the coffee and no bake cookie I got were delicious. The building is beautiful and right there in the middle of all of that lovely Louisville architecture. Check it out if you're in the area!

Feast + Dwell | Austin Artist

Photography by: Katie Jameson | Interview of: Jessica Scott of Feast + Dwell

How did you get started?

Feast & Dwell was originally born out of a love for baking. A couple of years ago I realized that baking was a way for me to wind down and take a breather from work and the general craziness of life. I would choose one day a week to put on records and bake something delicious. I would take photos of what I baked and as I started posting the images, I had people emailing me for the recipes. The more emails I got, the more I started thinking about starting a blog. My vision for the blog wasn’t just to be a food blog. I have always had a heart for cooking/baking specifically for others and my husband and I love having people in our home, so I knew I wanted a blog that would also be centered around hospitality and loving others. That’s how the idea of Feast & Dwell was born!


What influences you? / Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration for hospitality has mostly come from my mom. Growing up our house was the “hang out” house and my mom always had cookies or some treat ready for friends. She was so great at making it a wonderful and safe environment for everyone. In recent years my inspiration has also come from seeing friends love others well in their home and love those around them. 

Trying out different types of food gives me inspiration for what I bake or cook. I love the way that different cultures use different flavors and it always inspires me when I taste a new flavor combination. 

On a more artistic level, the inspiration for the images and styling comes from how I want our house to feel when people walk in the door. I love dimly lit rooms and a more moody and warm atmosphere, so that’s what I try and accomplish in my images. 

How do you balance your personal time + work? / how do you create separation?

Now that we have a kiddo, I feel like I have been more forced to find that separation which has been a good thing for me (I can be the type that works day and night to get things done). Our sweet boy is on a consistent napping schedule during the day, so I use that time to get work done. My mom also watches Liam on Thursdays so those are my designated days for getting a lot of work and meetings done.
Before kids, I used cooking dinner as a way to wind down from the work day, put work aside, and get into a restful mindset for the duration of the evening.


What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?

This is a topic that I’m so passionate about and knowing that I can help others cultivate community and make their space a refuge for those around them gives me all the joy in the world. I have such a longing to see homes filled with friends, neighbors, and coworkers, sharing a meal together and sharing life with one another. I honestly think this is something that we all long for and knowing I can help people create that in their home keeps me motivated.

Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / What’s next for your brand? 

In 2-5 years I want to be one of the go-to blogs for inspiration on hosting and hospitality and all that involves. I want to hear stories of how my blog inspired people to bring others into their home and break down the walls that we can so easily build between us and others. 

I also want the Feast & Dwell Shop to blossom into an incredible, curated shop filled with handmade goods for the home and kitchen. I want people to be inspired by these items and use them for when they have people over or just for everyday life with their family.

Lastly, I want to be hosting events - such as baking and cooking classes - where I can also share hospitality and hosting tips and motivate people to share their space and make it a safe and inviting environment.

The Neighborgoods | DC Artist

Photographed by: Rachel Maucieri | Interview of: Jodi of The Neighborgoods 

How did you get started?

For the past 11 years, I have been running a design business: Hello Neighbor Designs. For the first few years, I took on any kind of job offered to me —fashion, real estate, non-profit, and everything in between. After starting to feel burnt out, I attended a design conference in the hopes that I would learn how to manage my work load and that this new knowledge would magically change my life, and I'm happy to report that it did!

The conference is where the seed was planted that I should have a niche, and figure out what my favorite type of project was. After taking a few months to feel out my favorites, I realized what I enjoyed most wasn’t my typical client work, but the jobs I gave myself, packaging up the cookies I made to gift to my clients every year for the holidays. In general, I found a lot of joy while baking in the kitchen and purusing the beauty found at farmers markets. Once I figured out the foodie scene is where I wanted to be, I needed to find clients in that industry interested in working with me.

I didn't have any food clients at the time, so in order to build up my portfolio to include the food-related work I wanted to be doing I began painting some of the produce I’d pick up at the farmers market, as well as illustrating some of my favorite recipes. I started with the cupcake recipe I made for my husband every year for his birthday because it held a special place in my heart, and because: cupcakes! I then moved on to our favorite pancake recipe, which showed up on our breakfast table at least once a month. This was in November of 2013 and with the holidays coming up I thought it would be fun to print these personalized recipes onto dishtowels to give to family and friends that year.

After doing some research and discovering screen printing was a much more time consuming process than I had originally thought, I decided not to print the towels that year and to sign up for a full semester screen printing course the beginning of 2014 to really learn the process and see where it took me. My very first print was that cupcake recipe printed onto a dish towel, and I haven’t looked back since!

I started creating new designs and a printing a LOT of towels. Soon people in the print shop started to ask if they could buy them. Once my inventory was building up I decided to give myself a company name, The Neighborgoods, and see if I could make it work. And now I'm creating dish towel gifts for everyone!

What influences you?/ Where do you get your inspiration?

I’m inspired by the beauty of food, and how it brings people together, whether through baking cupcakes, making homemade jams, or sharing a love of beets. I could spend hours at the farmers market or grocery store just ogling the produce section, and of course taking pics for instagram (which is where I also find a ton of inspiration). There are so many amazing and talented people out there, and being able to connect with them with just your finger tips, while waiting in line for coffee, is awesome. 

Since I work from home by myself, I also try to find time to get out and connect with people when I can. I just moved to DC a year and a half ago from Brooklyn and the artist/maker community here has been so welcoming, inspiring, and supportive, which has been great and exactly what I needed creatively and socially. Whenever I meet up with those ladies (and a few gents), I always come back full of new information and ideas, ready to get back to work.

How do you balance your personal time + work?/ How do you create separation?

If you find a good answer for this please let me know! ;) 

Running two businesses, I definitely struggle with dividing the time between both of them and still trying to leave some personal time. It all pretty much blends together and changes daily depending on what the priority is that day.

I admit I sometimes let work take over, but it is mostly because I get excited about wanting to get a new product or design out, so I’m still enjoying my time, and my husband often works late as well so it works for us. When I start to feel overwhelmed and am not having fun with what I’m doing I try to take a step back and see what I can do to move a few things around on my schedule so I can free up time for myself, friends, and family.


What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?

I get so much joy out of creating and making people happy. I’m definitely a people pleaser by nature so when my products bring a smile to someone’s face or I can help a customer find the PERFECT gift for their pickle loving friend it makes my day! The same goes for my design business. I work with small- to medium-sized clients, so I’m mostly working directly with the owner/creator. It makes me feel good to know that what I’m doing helps them grow their business and succeed. And the food samples my clients often send me don’t hurt either!

Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years?/ What's next for your brand?

I have declared this year my “year of transition,” and writing it here where it will be published online makes it feel super official. I have been running The Neighborgoods as my side hustle for 3 years now and always want it to be more of my main business one day, but never really change anything to make that happen. So this year I’m consciously taking on a little less design work and putting more of that time into Neighborgood-ing to help it grow. I don’t want to give up food branding and packaging design all together since I enjoy that work as well, but am being more selective and want to try to only take on the really awesome design projects and clients (which means keeping all of my current clients because they are great!). 

I know this transition isn’t going to happen overnight, so hopefully in 2-5 years I’ll be slinging more foodie goods on a daily basis and working a dream design job, like illustrating a cook book…just putting that one out there into the universe. ;) 

Cherry Blossom Creative | DC Artists

Photographed by: Rachel Maucieri | Interview of: Torie of Cherry Blossom Creative, Washington DC

How did you get started?

My journey to being a creative business owner definitely took some twists and turns before arriving at Cherry Blossom! I’ve always had a passion for design, even before I really knew what that term meant. When I was a teenager, I would paste labels from products that I thought were particularly beautiful in my notebooks, and create sets and posters for local theater performances. You couldn’t get me out of the art room if you tried. But when I went to college at McGill University (a school decidedly sans art classes) I decided I had to ‘get serious’ and study ‘serious’ subjects that would lead to ‘serious’ job opportunities. I landed in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, which brought me to Washington after graduation to work in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Two years of miserable office jobs later, I decided what I really needed was to get into the field. I spent a year working in Baghdad, Iraq with the US Army, working on interviewing Iraqeis to help the military understand how the occupation was affecting local communities.

You get a lot of alone time when you’re deployed, especially as a woman. I had time to reflect on my future, and realized I couldn’t see anyone in my field whose life I wanted in 10 years. I couldn’t picture myself jumping from warzone to warzone, working with people who viewed the world through the context of threat and conflict. When I looked into my heart, I wanted to be part of a community. I wanted to be creative every day. I wanted self-determination, and the capacity to live life according to my own rule set. Out of this came Cherry Blossom Creative, which I viewed (and ultimately still view) as an act of personal liberation.

I returned to DC and started handing out business cards. I was lucky enough to find a few amazing small businesses who hired me to do creative work for them. Within the first year of owning a creative studio, I’d designed logos, created marketing materials, drawn custom chalkboards, painted murals, built art installations, and developed websites. I got the chance to use my creative talents every single day, and it felt like a miracle. In my second year I’d hired my first employee and moved into a small co-working space in DC’s Union Kitchen. The work continued to pour in. By year four I’d illustrated a cover for the Washington Post, created a series of highly popular neighborhood map prints that were selling in over 20 stores around DC, designed custom packaging for products on Whole Foods shelves, branded and created the event design for DC’s TEDx conference, and countless other milestones that I couldn’t have imagined when I started out. We (it was a team of five, by this point) moved our studios into a storefront location in Shaw, and opened up a small stationery shop in the front of our office focused on design-forward creative tools and officewares. Cherry Blossom Creative just turned five years old last month. Sometimes I still can’t believe I took the risk to start a design studio when I did, especially given how little experience I had in the field, and just how well that bravery (or stupidity!) has paid off.

What influences you?/ Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is actually a really tricky balance. You want to stay informed about design trends, and what’s current. But at the same time, the more you absorb, the more you risk creating work that feels overly similar to what everyone else is creating. Same-iness is really worrying for me as a creative person. What happens to us as a creative community when we’re all designing in royal blue and the lovely dusty pink that my designers have termed ‘awkward peach’? What happens when everything has a split leaf philodendron on it? (True confession: I didn’t even know what that plant was called, I just knew it as ‘that trendy palm plant thing that everyone’s using in their design work’.) What happens when we’re all using marble texture, or widely-kerned sans serif’s in all caps?

That said, for all my fretting, I go to the same places as most for inspiration. I legitimately adore Pinterest. I try and pepper my Instagram feed with designers and illustrators whose work I admire. And ultimately, I try and search for work that takes my breath away when I see it. I try to absorb but not overanalyze. When I see something that makes my heart beat, and flushes my mind with delight (and, often, envy!), I take note. Recently, that’s been the illustration work of Mari-Laure Cruschi, the dark humor and stunning calligraphy of Nim Ben-Reuven, and the inky, moody storytelling of Nate Powell’s graphic novels. I do my best to avoid anything that won’t have staying power in my professional design work.

For maps, my main need for inspiration is in the color palettes I choose for each particular neighborhood, which is a process all in its own. It’s driven by emotion, and is certainly qualitative rather than part of any defined process. Sometimes I walk the streets of the neighborhood, and try to absorb the colors I see around me. Sometimes I think of the people I love in that neighborhood, and the colors that remind me of their personalities, or their houses. Sometimes I try and capture the vibrancy of a particular street, or the trees in the parks. I generally start with an idea of the colors I think I’ll use, but as each new block is colored in, I look for tones that will balance or enliven the overall palette. Each one is distinct, and I couldn’t cite a single source of inspiration for any of them.

How do you balance your personal time + work?/ How do you create separation?

You’re catching me at a tough moment for balancing work and personal time. The honest answer is that I’ve spent the past several years not doing a very good job of it, and in the past several weeks I’ve been taking steps to remedy that. Especially in Washington DC, where we tend to reward people for how hard their hustle is, it’s difficult to remember that there’s so much more to life than the work that we take on professionally. Building a creative business takes time. It takes long nights. It takes weekends. My business is my baby, to a certain extent, and I’ve been in a state of fairly constant stress surrounding it for the past five years. I’m lucky (or perhaps unlucky?) to also have a partner who’s also very devoted to his work and his craft, but this often has meant that we’ll come home from a full day’s work and pull out our laptops as soon as we get home.

At the beginning of this year, we made a pact to change this, and I can’t really comment on the results because the transition is still in process! Suffice it to say that I decided that the right decision was not to keep growing the size of my design studio, and we’re scaling back the number of designers we have on staff. I’ll be focusing more on creating products than managing clients, partially so I can make myself a little bit less constantly available. I’m hoping to enjoy my days more, have more time for individual create projects, and more bandwidth to devote my design skills to progressive work (especially in this political climate!) I don’t necessarily believe that total separation is necessary, but I do think that it’s easy to continue to take on more and more and more work, until the point that it overwhelms your resources and time, leaving room for little else.

It’s been an incredibly difficult decision not to continue to grow into a larger design agency, perhaps because that’s what you’re expected to do when you own a business - make it bigger, better, and higher profile. But my good friend Sharon, who’s a small business owner as well, gave me a nugget of good advice the other day: “The only truly good business decision is one that leads to greater happiness.” And greater happiness cannot be found at the end of a to do list that’s 200 items long.

What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?

Motivation is an elusive quality, and one I try not to depend on too much. That said, there’s a lot of reasons I structure my life and work the way I do, and most of them have to do with maximizing personal freedom and choice. I love owning my own business because I am largely in control of how my days look, which includes everything from the type of people I choose to associate with to the clothing I wear to work in. John Waters gave an excellent speech at the Rhode Island School of Design a couple years ago, where he asserted that “real wealth is never having to spend time with assholes.” I love this. There’s so many toxic qualities that can come up in work situations, from condescending bosses to gossipy coworkers, and I’m glad to be able to avoid many of them by surrounding myself with people who’re solid gold. At Cherry Blossom, I’ve always worked to be protective of the kind of people we let in (colleagues AND clients) and to make sure we’ve got a culture of transparency and integrity. That ‘wealth’ is irreplaceable, and one of the reasons I love working for myself.

Creative control is a big motivating factor. I love having the capacity to take on the projects I want to engage in, build the skills I want to build, and experiments with new styles. I love getting to expand my artistic talent, and constantly work towards being able to create with my hands the beauty that I can hold in my mind’s eye. I’m always trying to close that gap, between what I can envision and what I have the capacity to create. To be able to share your vision with others is a truly wonderful gift, and something I think is central to our experience as humans. I like giving myself the space and the context to take that task of expression and connection on. In owning your own business, your working life becomes yours to design. That’s an incredible opportunity, and one that makes me lucky to be my own boss every day.

Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years?/ What's next for your brand?

This is especially challenging right now, because I think I would have given you a totally different answer if you’d asked me three months ago! Part of what’s magic about this moment is that I don’t necessarily know what my life is going to look like in two years (let alone five!) and I find that enormously exciting and freeing.

A few things I do know: I’d like Cherry Blossom to become a center for design and creative culture in DC. I’d like it to be a beautiful space that feels open and welcoming and that makers and designers know they can use it to launch their products or host their events. I’d like the maps collection to grow and expand to include other cities and neighborhoods. I’d like to take the time I’ve been throwing into building the agency to be redirected into creative activities that are more personally-fulfilling or more socially-driven. I want to find out what’s my part to play in the struggle against fear-based politics. I want to use art to break down walls between people, and help us understand and humanize each other. I’d like to work a bit less and play a bit more. Maybe more than a bit, if I’m lucky.