Nicole- Nicole Crowder Upholstery | Makers Series

Happy Makers Monday!

Two weeks ago, the Makers Series kicked off, and we received wonderful feedback:

“What a dope idea! I definitely enjoyed it! Looking forward to the next Makers Monday!” -Nabu

“Thank you sooo much for this series! I get souped up hearing about creatives. Your series will be a Monday bright spot!” -Vicki

Considering how much work went into getting this project to see the light of day, I’m really happy that you guys are loving it too :)

Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to another brilliantly talented maker- Nicole Crowder of Nicole Crowder Upholstery.

Nicole and I first connected on social media over 5 years ago through mutual creative friends. At that time Nicole was a photo editor and I loved her creative eye- seriously, just take a look at her instagram! As I saw her dive into the world of upholstery, I was consistently impressed and inspired by her designs, and that feeling has only grown over time. Nicole and her work have been featured in The Washingtonian, Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy, Modern Luxury DC, Washington Post Express, and most recently she was named to Washington Life Magazine's 2019 Young & Guest List 40 Under 40!

I am honored to share her feature with you today. Nicole is dropping GEMS ya’ll. On top of sharing her creative process, I love that she shares some practical tips that you may also find helpful with your creative work! I was super inspired by our interview, so I know you will be too 🧡


With your background as a photo editor, how did the shift to upholstery take place? 

I shifted to upholstery because I was just a bit burned out from working behind the desk and executing the visions of other people. Working this way didn’t feel tactile, like I could really see the fruit of my labor.  I initially discovered upholstery very serendipitously in the fall of 2012, and just began playing around with fabrics and some small, old pieces of furniture in my apartment. That first set of chairs set off an affinity that has stayed with me for the past seven years. Years later I left my job as a photo editor, but definitely took some time removing that title from myself as I was transitioning into furniture designer. Slowly, I became much more comfortable in a new identity, and started to identify as an upholsterer and furniture designer. That’s when I really felt like yes, this is where I am right now in my life and I can fully claim that identity and walk in it. 

I love how you incorporate bold colors and eclectic prints in your furniture designs. What guides your decision-making when it comes to what your final product will look like? 

Thank you so much! So much of my decision making is based on a gut feeling. I am inspired by various things at any given point, and so sometimes when I’m designing for myself I’m inspired by the color palette of fruit, or a mood, or some details that I saw on a beautiful lace or beaded dress. I’m inspired by my ancestors or by a story that I read. That’s the beauty of working in design- inspiration can be the touchstone for so many fantastic creations, and there is a well of things that inspire my decisions. But central to any creation is making sure that there is a feeling that resonates with me when designing the furniture, and then being able to translate that into the piece.

Walk us through the creation process. What does it look like from idea to final product for one of your pieces? 

The creation process changes from piece to piece. For example, if I’m working with a client, I begin by asking them for a few buzz words about different types of aesthetics that they are drawn to, or about the color palettes of their home. From there I will put together a swatchboard of fabric types that correlate with those and I will come up with a few design proposal for how I suggest we reupholster the pieces. From there it’s a little bit of a volley of ideas that go back and forth until we solidify a primary print or set of prints. Once that’s done, I will order the fabrics, pick up the furniture, begin stripping it down and cutting out the patterns of the fabric, and then finally, reupholstering the piece. 

The process is generally the same if I’m designing a piece for my personal collection, with the exception that I do hem and haw a lot more over fabric choices, just because there is such a wide range of color options and prints and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed with ideas. That’s why I have to be really firm about the vision that I have for piece, otherwise my imagination will take me in 1 million different directions and I’ll spend months trying to come to a design idea resolution. Sometimes that’s OK too. 

You have a piece that's being really difficult- the fabric's not laying correctly, you've been stabbed by more staples than you care to count... How do you reset? 

I put away my tools for the day, and spend a little time just looking at beautiful inspirational photos, usually of travel or fashion.  Or I will treat myself to a nice meal, probably outdoors where I’m sitting in the sun. And I try to give my mind a rest by focusing on a completely different area; nothing to do with upholstery, but just relaxing. I love taking long baths where I’m just soaking by candlelight. That is such a fantastic mental restart for me because it reminds me to slow down and be still and to be present.  I used to beat myself up over mistakes or wasting fabric because I didn’t cut it the right way or I tore a hole in it. But now I remind myself that this is work but it’s also joyful work. And the energy that I create it is the energy that it’s going to be received, so I’d like to be in a space where I’m working from joy and from confidence and calm. So I essentially step away from upholstery completely until my mindset can come back to it and be fully present. 

What's the most fulfilling aspect of owning your own creative business? 

It is the creation process, when I’m designing and creating moodboards for a very clear idea from my imagination. I love surrounding myself with various fabrics watches, and coloring images into a Pinterest swatch board, and then thinking about how different textures will marry with one another and how various color palettes can work together. I love the process of figuring out how something will ultimately look and trying to execute a piece of furniture that does not exist anywhere else in the world. I know that it sounds selfish (because it doesn’t involve creating a piece for someone else specifically), but there is nothing like the feeling when an idea crystallizes in your mind, and you can execute that in a very tangible real way that elicits a great response from people who have responded favorably to it. 

As a small business owner, sometimes motivation can ebb and flow. What slows you down and how do you overcome it?

I tend to slow down by being distracted by doing 1 million other things, when I should really just focus on the task in front of me. A lot of times when I’m upholstering I will just stop midway and then pop on over to Instagram, or check Twitter, or check my email.  Just for no reason at all. Those little distractions are mini energy leaks throughout the day, and I only imagine how much more I could be finishing in terms of projects if I were distracted less.  As I become older, I think more about how much time I am losing because of distraction—whether due to my own fault or someone else—and by my own mismanaging of time, and  it’s something that I think a great deal about and how I can use my time more mindfully. 

But distractions are very clear indicators that I’m not motivated to work in that moment, And sometimes I will push through that feeling by turning on a podcast or a playlist and putting my phone away and just keeping my head down and finishing as much of the work as I can. I also get through those slow periods by not beating myself up when I’m not as “productive” in a particular day as I wanted to be. And I’ve also tweaked my language to go away from being “Was I productive or was I busy today?” to instead asking “How was I fruitful today?” Sometimes I’m not always fruitful as it relates to Upholstery, but perhaps I helped a friend get through a difficult situation, or I did something for my self care. Essentially, I try to measure my productivity less on how much work I got done in a day and more about did I make well use of the time that I had in the day and how I feel at the end of that day. 

What's been your favorite entrepreneurial highlight so far? 

One highlight was definitely when I signed the lease for my first upholstery design studio just before the 2 year anniversary of my business. For two years I worked out of a 300 sq ft space in my apartment, and having a dedicated workspace in DC—on a main strip that gets a lot of foot traffic— was a dream because I was able to afford that place with the income that I made from my craft. And it was such a turning point in the growth of my business. It marked a point where I pushed past a comfort zone of wondering: can I be successful in this industry, can I sustain myself in an expensive city doing essentially a very antiquated craft, and will I be able to find spaces that help foster that? That studio space was a dream manifested, and I’m excited to grow into the next space beyond it. 

What's the most important thing you've learned so far about yourself as a maker?

I’ve learned that I am extremely adaptable and open to shifting how I think and how I work and the pace at which I work much more quickly and easily than I thought I would be. I’m used to thinking and working and responding to situations very quickly, but being a maker I’ve been forced me to slow down my thinking. To be more strategic in how I spend my time and my resources and my money.

That was dope, right? Thank you Nicole for being apart of the Makers Series and sharing your creative insights with us. As mentioned, Nicole recently moved into her own studio space and it is so beautiful! If you’re in the DC area, I encourage you to go visit! We took the photos for her feature in one of the final weeks where she was working from home, just before her move.

Keep up with Nicole online: Visit her website: and give her a follow on instagram, pinterest, and twitter- she’s @nicolemcrowder everywhere!

Miss last week’s feature? Check it out here!

Want a makers photo session for yourself ? Check out the details in this newly announced service 🖤

Let me know what you thought of Nicole’s interview! Stay tuned for our next Makers Monday feature on June 3!

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Maya- Herpothecary | Makers Series

It’s here, it’s here!

As announced last week, today is the official start of the Makers Series- a biweekly series that will feature some inspiring and talented women makers! So beginning today, that makes every other Monday, Makers Monday :)

I am so inspired by creators- especially when I can learn more about the processes behind their work, so it was really important to me to bring this series to life because the work just doesn’t magically appear. Often we see the the final product someone has created, but not necessarily what went into the creation process, so I’m really happy to have the opportunity to share this with you.

To kick things off, I would like to introduce you to the woman responsible for my smell goods- Maya Johnson of Herpothecary!

I happened to stumble upon Maya’s beautiful soaps last year when I saw her pop-up at the Spice Suite. Let me tell you… this is one of the rare times I wish the internet had a scratch and sniff option lol. I was already super drawn to her products by the gorgeous designs, but after experiencing them for myself- not only did they smell great, but I couldn’t get over how nourishing everything was! The cherry on top? Her soaps, butters, powders, and scrubs are all created with natural ingredients you can pronounce and that are good for you! I became an instant fan and told everyone I could about her! So now it’s my turn to share her with you :)

Your products are absolutely beautiful! What guides your decision-making when it comes to what you will offer and how the final product will look? 

Thank you! The soap designs are definitely driven by the seasons as well as by things I see around me and in nature. Oh and lot of Pinterest color palettes! LOL

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Walk us through the creation process. What does it look like from idea to final product for one of your soaps? 

While it's usually ideal for me to draw a sketch of what I'd like the final soap to look like, lately I've been diving into the making process blindly and letting the colors and scents lead the process. So once I've prepared my lye solution along with my melted oils, butters and additives, I combine them with my stick blender until emulsified. I separate them into different containers and color each one with a different mica or skin-safe colorant. I fragrance each color and further combine them until smooth and cohesive. From there I start to pour them into my soap mold. Depending on the design, I'll either do a hanger swirl where I drag my swirling tool throughout the soap in random directions, or I'll leave it as is. I love gold on tops of my soaps and will usually finish everything off with a gold mica drizzle swirl. The next day, I'll cut the large slab into loafs, cut the loafs into individual bars, stamp, bevel and cure them for at least 4 weeks.

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What is the soundtrack to Herpothecary (what's playing in the background when you're creating)? 

99% of the time, some type of lo fi hip hop is playing as I soap. It's super soothing and really allows me to focus. 


As a small business owner, sometimes motivation can ebb and flow. What slows you down and how do you overcome it? 

Some of my soap designs can make me feel a bit stagnant at times. It can feel like there are only so many drop swirls one can do before all the soaps start to look alike. I like to keep it fresh by watching the trends in the soaping and handmade world and put my own spin on them to keep me inspired.  


What is the most fulfilling aspect of running Herpothecary? 

I love getting the testimonials and reviews of customers who at one time were loyal Dove or Lush junkies tell me that they've "made the switch" to making me their Soap Pusha lol. I never thought this would be a "thing" and it really inspires me to keep going to hear that something as small as a bar of soap really brightened someone's outlook on their self-care routine.

What's been your favorite entrepreneurial highlight so far? 

Hands down, having the experience and chance to build and grow with The Spice Suite and the Spice Girls. Those women are SUCH a rock of inspiration and I doubt that Herpothecary would be such a "thing" without my tribe. 

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What's the most important thing you've learned so far about yourself as a maker?

I've learned that I'm pretty resilient, even as a die hard introvert. As this entrepreneur trend seems to tick up and I find myself surrounded by people from all walks of life who look like me, support me, or folks who would even be considered "competimates", its forced me to change the lens of which I view those interactions. I've had to pivot with more precision and intention. There are bumps and bruises but I've found those moments to be teachable ones that I've been able to grow from. 


It was such a joy photographing Maya and getting to learn more about her creative process. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Maya a little better! And if you’re interested in experiencing her smell goods for yourself (which I do highly recommend), please visit her website, and follow her on facebook and instagram- she’s @herpothecary everywhere!

Let me know what you think of the new series! Also: stay tuned for our next Makers Monday feature on May 20 :)

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Something New + Spring Availability | News & Updates

Happy Monday to you!

Today I am excited to share (a teaser of) a project that's been in the works for months:

Next Monday will kick off a new biweekly feature: the Makers Series.

Similar to my Artist Spotlight feature from some years ago, this project will be highlighting some of my favorite makers of all kinds! The Makers Series will be slightly different from the aforementioned though because this will be more focused on the process and thinking behind the creative work.

I can’t wait to share this passion project with you and introduce you to some amazing women makers ♥

For now, I’ll leave you with this teaser :)

The Makers Series will go live the first Monday of May!

I have just one more update for you today, and it's regarding Spring availability:

Spots have been M O V I N G!

Here’s what’s left: 
2 May dates 
4 June dates

50% of which are weekdays, so if you’d like to grab one of those for yourself or your family, you might want to secure your date sooner than later :)

That’s it for today!

I hope your day treats you well and (if you’re in DC or the weather is great where you are) that you get out and enjoy it!

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Spring Update + Chicago Booking for May!

Happy Tuesday to you!

How is the Spring season treating you? 🌸

Mine is going fairly well! Especially compared to about this time last year. I have been working with some amazing clients (as always, honestly lol) and managing my mental illness much better than I have been in quite some time. That’s huge for me, so I’m pretty happy about that :)

My last Truthy Tuesday at the beginning of the year was a not great one… Since then, I’ve been incorporating a number of things in an effort to craft some semblance of wellness and… although the bad days aren’t gone completely, I can say that I have been doing a bit better these past few weeks and I am super grateful for that. If you’re interested, I can go more into detail on that in another post :)

Before I get on to the availability updates and whatnot, I have a new book recommendation:

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day.

This book has been really helpful in regards to changing how I view my personal priorities vs what’s important to others and combined with the principles from the previous books I shared, I think I may be onto something! As soon as I can successfully apply these things to my life lol. But having the tools is a great first step :)

Onto the availability updates!

I do hope you’ll forgive me for the late notice BUT-

Chicago, I’ll be in your city at the beginning of May!

You guys didn’t get as much notice as Atlanta unfortunately because quite a few spots were booked ahead of time, but I have 3 spaces left available on May 2 and 5.

You can check out the details and secure your session here!

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On the home front, weekends are going F A S T.

I updated my calendar this week, and… there are only 3 weekends left available for May and June! Plenty of weekdays available, so if you’d like to get on the calendar sooner than later, that may be your best bet.

Also, you may have noticed that I typically have early appointment times listed. Why is that? 3 reasons:

1. Less people which means less car and pedestrian traffic, 2. Cooler temperatures. As the weather heats up, this means that we’re able to shoot comfortably without being super hot, and 3. Although good light can be found at any time, I tend to enjoy morning light. So even though I’m not a morning person, I don’t mind sacrificing for the sake of art, and I do hope you’re open to creating in the morning hours with me as well :)

Want to get on the Spring Calendar? Check out the available dates and if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email! I’d love to photograph you this Spring for your headshots, brand, graduation, or family photos!

That’s it for today! I hope your week is treating you well and I look forward to creating beautiful art with you this Spring season!

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ATLANTA | April 2019

Happy Monday to you!

Towards the end of last month, I shared that I was coming back to Atlanta in April! Booking opened up last week to the mailing list, and now? Just 3 spots are left! 😲 I even added an extra one just so I’d have the opportunity to work with at least one more person while I’m in town :)

Check out the info below if you’d like to grab one of the last few spots!

The following sessions are available for booking in Atlanta from Friday, April 5 to Sunday, April 7:

Please note: If no dates are shown as available, the time has been booked. You’re welcome to inquire if you’re interested in a time that’s not shown as available, but I cannot guarantee calendar availability.


This session is perfect if you're just looking for a updated photos for your career. You'll for sure walk away with a few great headshots, but full body photos are included as well.


This session is perfect to celebrate a milestone for yourself or your family. Or if you're feeling cute and just want to shoot :)


This session is for the entrepreneur in need of full brand imagery. You'll walk away with a versatile final gallery with images that you can use across your online platforms and for print marketing.


This session is specifically designed for photographers looking to improve their natural light portrait photography. Please view the full course description here. This is an all day (roughly 7 hour) session.

Ready to secure your spot?
Just click on the button above for the service that you'd like, and you can book right away!

Have any questions?
Click over to the
FAQ page! You can also shoot me an email if you don’t see your question there, and I'd be happy to answer it for you!

I look forward to creating with you in Atlanta!

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