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Sundance Artisan Spotlight: Stephanie Housley

October 26, 2017

Sundance Artisan Stephanie Housley founded her company in 2007 with the idea of translating her hand-drawn illustrations into tactile embroidered textiles. With a unique creative process and production method, Stephanie found a way to scale the feel of handmade, one-of-a-kind embroidery to a wide variety of heirloom-quality home products and fabrics.
Stephanie Housley. Photo by Will Ellis
Stephanie has created two different pillows for our new Holiday Collection: the Tree Trimmers Pillow and the Santa Sleigh Pocket Pillow. Inspired by the mischievous spirit of woodland animals, designer Stephanie Housley has imagined new adventures for her forest friends this holiday season! "As our families grow, we have grown our Christmas selection, introducing new yuletide characters embroidered on heirloom quality stockings, ornaments, tabletop, pillows, and gift items," Stephanie notes, "Our Tree Trimmers Christmas Collection builds on cherished holiday memories of decking the halls and lighting up the tree. With these nostalgic motifs we hope to bring joy and wonder to your family for many Christmases to come!"

She continues, "The snow is starting to fall and reindeer are on the roof, Santa Bear and Ms. Claus are finally here! Looks like everyone made Santa’s nice list this year, their sleigh is brimming with packages and presents. Santa Bear jumps down the chimney with a special blue box in hand. Our Christmas pocket pillows add to your treasured Christmas traditions."
A fascination with home and habitat informs every design that Stephanie creates, from finding inspiration in how a bower bird builds his nest, to considering what keepsakes and furnishings we surround ourselves with in our own dwellings.

Stephanie's Studio. Photo by Will Ellis
Every design begins as an original pencil drawing summoned from Stephanie's observations and imagination. She then re-draws each design stitch by stitch using specialized computer software. Once digitized, Stephanie's production partners in India machine embroider, cut, and sew each product. Her partners abroad embrace her company standards, maintaining quality working conditions with fair wages and benefits.

Stephanie's interest in homes and habitats extends to the bigger picture of our planet. Mindful of the environment, she primarily uses unbleached, natural linen for all of her products, avoiding the harsh chemicals found in fabric dyes. She strives to give back to organizations that support the planet and all its creatures, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Ocean Conservancy, ASPCA and many more.

The blend of exuberance and refinement now synonymous with the embroidery is the natural by-product of the hand-drawn process unique to Stephanie's company and the attention to detail at every step of production. Fine but not precious, Stephanie's artwork or accessory is sure to entertain daily and provide enjoyment for generations.

"Drawing is my passion. Embroidering these drawings makes them come to life," Stephanie says of her textiles. 

Inside Stephanie's Studio. Photo by Will Ellis.
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.

Steph working. Photo by Will Ellis
Stephanie’s natural creative aptitude paired with her intense drive and focus, led her to study textile design at RISD as the first in her family to attend college. After graduating, Stephanie relocated to New York City, pursuing a career as a wovens textile designer. She worked for mills both domestically and abroad, designing for top interior fabric manufacturers. With fifteen years of industry experience under her belt, Stephanie began her company. Her creative process is a special alchemy of storytelling, illustration, and machine embroidery.

At the outset of designing a new collection, Stephanie looks to the natural world for inspiration. Growing up, she spent most of her time exploring outdoors, in creeks and forests near her childhood home, and on family trips to the Eastern seaboard. Wyoming became a favorite destination of Stephanie’s, visiting first as a child, and then in recent years with her husband Chris. The two felt a strong connection to the landscape and way of life found out West. In 2016 they moved from Brooklyn to Bondurant, WY with their dog Paco.

Stephanie’s genuine love for animals is apparent to anyone who spends time with her. At her home in Wyoming, you may find her on the porch, stopping to appreciate the sight of a passing deer or on a rarer occasion, quietly observing a perched owl. On her daily hikes, she rattles off the names of wildflowers or points to the exact spot she saw a sandhill crane or small fox just days before, casually mentioning an unknown fact about the animal’s habitat and range.

Shop Stephanie's two pillows here and here.