We are excited to be celebrating a DECADE since Stephanie Housley founded Coral & Tusk! What an incredible 10 years it’s been! So much has evolved through her hard work and perseverance to get to where we are today. We wanted to share Stephanie’s story, starting with the leap she took when she purchased her first embroidery machine, working out of her small Brooklyn apartment to hiring her first employees and quitting her day job to captain C&T full time out of our first studio space. From her early start at the Brooklyn Flea, to exhibiting at international trade shows and selling to over 200 stores worldwide, Stephanie’s hand-drawn, embroidered illustrations remain our connecting thread.

Stephanie in her studio. Photo by Will Ellis.

 

STEPHANIE HOUSLEY

Born and raised in the Ohio Valley, Stephanie comes from a long line of Appalachian women who could make something from nothing. Her great-grandmother made lace while her grandmother made dolls, each instilling Stephanie with a deep appreciation for self-expression through craft. Stephanie always did hand-embroidery for fun, she constantly had a project going. Transferring to the School for Creative & Performing Arts in high school from neighborhood public schools, opened her eyes to a whole new world and she saw opportunities that she never realized existed. After taking a year off in between highschool and college and working as an apprentice making stained glass windows, she applied to Rhode Island School of Design. Much to her delight, she was accepted and received a scholarship to attend. The first in her family to attend college, she received a BFA in Textiles from RISD and moved to NYC in February of 1999, where she worked as a textile designer for a woven fabric mill that produced interior fabrics until October of 2012.

Logo tag evolution from upper left → lower left → today’s embroidered tag.

 

BEGINNING

Coral & Tusk was founded on December 26th, 2007 by Stephanie with the idea of translating her hand-drawn illustrations into tactile embroidered textiles. With the initial partnership of her husband Chris Lacinak, Coral & Tusk began as a side business. First inspired to recreate the beloved childhood game Memory as gift for a friend, she started hand embroidering each alphabet pair. After countless hours stitching, she began to wonder if there was a faster way to embroider 26 sets of matching cards, so she did a little research. She knew she needed something smaller scale that would translate the detail of her drawings and convey the hand-embroidered feel. While flipping through Martha Stewart Living, she noticed a photo of Martha’s own craft room which featured an embroidery machine. After tracking down the same machine, a Husqvarna Viking Designer SE, Stephanie took a leap of faith. The machine itself was a huge investment, inspiring Stephanie to find a way to justify the purchase and support paying the machine off. Setting up shop at the Brooklyn Flea, she embroidered and sold Onesies, T-shirts, Accessories, and the Sea and Match Game, which started it all.

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With the launch of our Spring Summer Collection we are excited to introduce pillows, stationery, and accessories that draw on one of our favorite destinations, Japan! Our travel expeditions come to life in a series of new embroideries inspired by the landscape, architecture, rich traditions, landmark visits, amazing meals and animal folklore as experienced by owner Stephanie Housley and colleague Asumi Tomita in December 2015. Here we will dive into the details of their trip and share inspiration behind each design!

今回の新作は「春の訪れ」をテーマにしたデザインに加え、2015年にステファニーが初来日した際の日本をインスピレーションに、日本の文化、建築、食、動物、昔話などをテーマにした新作も作りました!

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Our A Wish to Protect Pocket Pillow is inspired by Stephanie and Asumi’s visit to the Fox Shrine in Kyoto. Endangered species appear on the bold orange gate where visitors are invited to inscribe their greatest wishes and hopes. Our wish is to protect animals who face harm and extinction. Wishing Fox Pal lights a candle with his fellow animals in mind.

A Wish to Protect Pocket Pillow” には特別な思いが込められています。このデザインには、ステファニーが日本で体験した思い出と、絶滅危機にある動物達を守りたいという思いをこめています。

来日した際、京都の伏見稲荷大社を訪れました。その美しさと、平和な気持ちにさせる自然やキツネ達の姿にとても感銘を受けました。鳥居の上には、絶滅危機にある動物達を守りたいという気持ちをこめて。そして、ロウソクを手にしたキツネはそのメッセージを届ける役を担っています。

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Stephanie was extremely taken by the beauty and peaceful nature found at the Fox Shrine along with the concept of foxes as messengers. When interpreting her own experience visiting the shrine, Stephanie included detailed drawings of leaves and ferns to give a sense of serenity to the A Wish to Protect design.

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Raccoon Abode Pocket Pillow is a culmination of sites and scenes that stood out to Stephanie in each city and town she ventured to in Japan. The Raccoon’s abode is adorned with traditional good luck charms including a Shimenawa to the left of the door and a mask to ward off evil spirits, above the window. Lucky Raccoon, peeking outside of his door, is drawn from traditional. ceramic raccoon dogs, or Tanukis, that are placed outside many homes in Japan for good fortune. The Tanuki statue looks charming yet mischievous, Stephanie brought his jovial presence to our Lucky Raccoon Pal.

京都でよく見かけた信楽焼の狸。ステファニーはとても気に入り、新作のデザインにも登場しています。タヌキが住む家は京都の町屋にインスピレーションを受けています。しめ縄や暖簾など、ステファニーが日本滞在中に興味をもったものも描かれています。ちなみに、暖簾のデザインは、ぶんぶくちゃがまの物語に登場する魚と茶釜です!

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In mid October we packed up our Coral & Tusk goods and headed to Houston for our trunk show at Kuhl-Linscomb! Our first store visit and trunk show of the season coincided with Kuhl-Lincomb’s annual Holiday Shopping Card Event, where participating businesses donate a percentage of sales to the American Cancer Society. We felt so lucky to be included in the Holiday Card festivities, as one of many trunk shows and events taking place for the ten day fundraiser. We had a blast connecting with customers and fellow designers!


Kuhl Linscomb Coral & Tusk

Kuhl-Linscomb’s sprawling campus is comprised of five buildings filled to the brim with furniture, antiques, bedding, table linens, apothecary, jewelry, baby, kitchen, garden and so much more! It’s impossible to see everything but was such a treat to try! We set up shop in the Main Building, displaying the entire C&T home line, including our brand new Framed Artwork!

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C & T Merit Badges and Stationery!

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Here at Coral & Tusk, we are proud to have our products stocked in independently owned shops both near and far. Visiting our stockists in person and meeting our customers is always an exciting experience! The partnerships we’ve created with our wholesalers are unique and we are very lucky to have the opportunity to work with some of the most beautiful and truly inspiring stores. We are thrilled to share our store visits with you on our blog this holiday season!

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Last week we joined k colette at their 5th annual Harvest Gathering, where we displayed our entire home collection for a trunk show! We’ve worked with k colette for nearly 3 years now, but this was our first visit to their beautiful Portland, Maine store.

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photo courtesy k colette