We are so lucky that our buyer extraorinaire, Allison, still calls Baton Rouge "home." Because whenever she goes "home" for the weekend, she always seems to discover another artist whose unique and unusual finds are just the right touch for our store. This happened several years ago with Helen Bolin, whose gorgeous art and decorative accessories have become a staple of the store and perenial favorite for our customers. And now we introduce with great enthusiasm another of Allison's home town finds, the talented designer for the line Fig and Dove, Colleen Waguespack.
You may remember that last holiday season we brought in the gorgeous acrylic and brass stocking holders to Huff Harrington Home, and they flew off the counter before we could even reorder more. So this season we decided to stock up on more of the holders and add some of the beautiful ornaments and Christmas stockings that complement the line.
So who is Colleen Waguespack? As you know, we love a good story and like to dig deeper into the backgrounds and motivation of a designer of unusual and hand crafted products. So we decided to ask Colleen Waguespack about her personal progression from interior designer to product designer – and the fuel that fires her passion.
HH: How did you evolve into product development?
Colleen: Clients would often ask me to decorate their homes for the holidays after projects had been completed, and I struggled for years to find ready-made Christmas décor that would complement the elegant interiors of their homes. After realizing the serious void in the market, I began to approach artisans whom I had worked with in the interior design world, knowing that the quality of their workmanship as well as their fabrics would result in a high-end product that a discerning customer would appreciate.
HH: We were honestly (and pleasantly!) surprised by the level of quality and detailing of these pieces.
Colleen: Thanks! We have taken great care to ensure that our items reflect the high standard of quality of the homes they decorate. After studying countless Christmas stockings and tree skirts on the market to determine what was missing, I worked with a local design firm to turn my vision of the perfect stocking in shape and size into a reality. I also applied the level of workmanship that went into our high-end drapery and pillows – including lining, interlining, and cording – to ensure that these items were made to last.
HH: Do you think of them as heirlooms?
Colleen: Yes! We’ve created and curated each item in the Fig & Dove collection because we truly believe it’s a piece of art – a collected treasure meant to complement the well-appointed home – and an heirloom item meant to be passed down.
HH: It’s certainly a beautiful collection and we are thrilled to have it in our store. You’ve also maintained a full interior design firm. Tell us about your style:
Colleen: I spent the first ten years of my career in Washington, D.C. designing modern corporate offices for commercial architecture firms. When my husband and I purchased our first home, which was a condo on Capitol Hill, our first big furniture investments were all mid-century modern pieces. After moving back South, I changed my focus to residential interiors. With each new project, I have really listened to my clients’ design direction and have been able to create something unique that speaks to them: where they are from, their lifestyle, how they like to entertain, their travels, etc. I have traditional projects and contemporary projects, but the common thread is that they are all more minimal and each piece has been carefully considered. I have thoroughly enjoyed a change in design style from one project to the next and I typically make one change to my own home or make one purchase during each project.
HH: That can be dangerous! Tell us more about it.
I love that there is a little element of every one of my clients’ homes in my own home. My foyer wall paper is the Sister Parish wallpaper from the Garden District home in New Orleans (below). My John Dickinson lamp I bought along with a client’s home I did in Dallas. I split a pair of antique stools I found in New Orleans with a Baton Rouge client. Though none of my clients’ homes are very similar, they all seem to love mine. I describe my own home as a modern creole cottage which is very fitting for Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
HH: In addition to two full-time businesses, you also have a full-time family life, right?
Colleen: Yes! I have three sons: Craig, Christopher, and Brady. They are 14, 12, & 10 so our lifestyle right now is just… busy!
HH: Do you ever get away?
Colleen: We have a few favorites far away, but for a quick weekend getaway, we love the Grand Hotel in Fairhope, Alabama. It’s only three hours from Baton Rouge and I just love change of pace, the landscaping, and the gorgeous oak trees along the bay.
HH: Did we hear that you are related to one of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans?
Colleen: Antoine’s, which is oldest restaurant in the United States to be in single family proprietorship, is in my family lineage. We recently celebrated the 175th anniversary of the restaurant and extended family came from all over the country to celebrate. My Dad cooked in the kitchen during law school and studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, so everyone in my family loves “spending time in the kitchen”.
HH: It sounds like you also love to cook?
Colleen: Yes! The weeks seem frantic and you think the weekend will be relaxing, but it’s sometimes busier than the work/ school week. My husband and I usually spend the second half of Sunday unwinding in the kitchen. He will work on Sunday night dinner and I’ll be chopping and maintain weeknight meals to get us through the next week. I also like to entertain at home. I think you make lifelong friends when you invite them to eat at your own table or peel crawfish with them in the backyard.
HH: Agreed! One last question. As a woman entrepreneur, do you have any tips for others wanting to embark on a similar path?
Colleen: Last year, I applied for and was accepted into a competitive business accelerator program, The Circular Board, that equips women entrepreneurs with the skills and tools to further their businesses. This proved to be a tipping point in our business, and shortly thereafter Fig & Dove expanded to the wholesale market.
HH: Wow. Sign us up, Colleen! And thanks for letting us pick your brain.
P.S. To see more of Fig and Dove at Huff Harrington Home, visit our website. And keep in mind that the tree skirts and alpaca stockings can be monogrammed for an extra special personalized Christmas.
P.P.S. The photos for the Chi O house and Baton Rouge house were done by Sara Essex Bradley who just published a fabulous book that we just happen to carry at the store (and another one of Allison's Louisiana finds): Dog Decor. Check it out!