April Designer Highlight: Zoey Bloom

Bloom Your Walls with Zoey

Our very own student designer, Zoey Bloom, started her wall hanging creations the summer before her junior year at Belmont. She saw the intricate yarn wall hangs for the first time while exploring one of her favorite home good shops.

Zoey has a passion for exploring independent home goods stores here in Nashville and in her hometown, Chicago. This combined with her passion for interior design, she was inspired to create these wall hangings herself.

“I ended up falling in love with having something on the wall that has texture and that moves with the breeze of a fan. I think that these pieces really help the place I’m living feel more like home,” says Zoey.

Alongside her passion for design, Zoey loves to Travel. She finds that traveling gives her the opportunity to witness the beauty of other cultures. Her travels give her the chance to build upon her photography and cooking hobbies.

“I have found that the more I learn about the world and the endlessly inspiring things within it, the more I realize that my relationships and my personal happiness should be higher priority than my ambitions and status,” says Zoey.

Zoey plans on continuing to create the wall hangings for friends and herself when she graduates, but has many dreams that she wishes to pursue. She would like to continue to build upon her learning experiences in and out of the classroom. “If there is one thing I’ve learned in college, it is that I never want to stop learning,”.

Written by Emelie Harris

March Designer Highlight: Thistle Farms

If you love shopping with a cause, Thistle Farms is the perfect brand for you! The company, founded by Becca Stevens, offers a wide variety of products handmade by women who are survivors of trafficking, addiction, violence, and extreme poverty. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Belmont student and Thistle Farms intern Erica Rivero, who was kind enough to share a few words on the subject. Below is a sneak peek into our conversation.

What made you want to get involved with Thistle Farms?

“My mother is in recovery for alcoholism, so I think that knowing that this is a community of survivors and addicts seemed familiar to me. Recovery is a beautiful, often jagged road. As a community led by and employing almost exclusively women, I knew that this was a community I could feel good about working with. Plus, after getting one as a gift, I haven't used another candle! They smell amazing!”

What is your role in the company?

“I am a marketing intern. I get to be involved with marketing decisions including naming gift sets, organizing photo shoots, and thanking those that volunteer their time. I also do proof approvals and pick up our locally printed stickers and tags. I basically just do whatever needs to be done so the company is able to keep going!”

What is your favorite part about working for Thistle Farms?

“My favorite part is that even my absolute failure of a day is enough for the women of Thistle Farms. I love the "come as you are" company culture. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we meditate. Starting your days hugging and holding onto women while praying for the next woman coming off the streets really grounds me in my purpose.” 

What do you admire most about the company?

“For me, everyone that comes to a meditation and hears Becca Stevens speak or buys a product is not the same as they were before. Those products heal you and every time you use them, you know how much love was put into it. In a world where we are trying to find the best deal and a quick fix, taking the time out of your day to commit yourself to love and healing is really incredible. I love helping to market this game-changing product.” 

Do you have a favorite product?

“We have a new line coming out on April 1st (this Saturday) so from the new line, I'm in love with the body butter in Citrus Wood! The shave gel is the same formula as before, and I think it would be my all time favorite product. It's actually good for your skin and softens the hair you are about to shave (plus guys can use it on their face without irritation).”

Why should others invest in Thistle Farms products?

“I think that the products we use say a lot about us. For me, I want to support companies that support fair labor wages and genuinely help people. Our founder says that our mission is to help extraordinary people do ordinary things. Each product is probably something you use everyday anyway. Why not buy one that also helps a woman come off the street and get clean, get a car, and/or get her kids back?”

Is there anything else you would like to add about the company?

“I just think that as Women's History Month wraps up, it's our responsibility to make sure that we are still talking about the accomplishments of women in our society.”

Come into our store to hear more about Thistle Farms and support their cause!

Written by Clara Roy

February Designer Highlight: Bloom Brightly

Saving the World One Greeting Card at a Time

What do you do with a greeting card after reading it? Do you put it in a drawer to be forgotten? Or do you simply throw it away? Bloom Brightly, a greeting card company started by two Belmont University students, is giving paper a second chance at life with their cards. Their seed-filled paper cards can be planted into various types of flowers after being read. Instead of being thrown into a drawer or a garbage can, these cards are reborn into beautiful wildflowers or basil leaves.

I had the opportunity to speak with Annabelle Bright and Jacob Kissamis, the founders of Bloom Brightly, and gain insight into their brand. Here is a look at my conversation with these two blossoming entrepreneurs.

What is Bloom Brightly?

“Bloom Brightly sells seed-filled greeting cards that bring life back into paper. When planted, the cards grow into either wildflowers or basil.”

How did you come up with the idea?

“I got my original inspiration from a similar company in New York. I have always loved writing letters and have taken up gardening in the past few years, so it seemed to be a good combination of my interests. From there, I worked with Jacob Kissamis and Meg Schmalandt to adjust and validate the idea in Venture Planning class with Dr. Cornwall this past fall.”

How did you get started with producing your merchandise?

“Dr. Cornwall recommended that we establish proof of concept through actually creating and selling our products. We researched the best raw materials and found a designer (Suzanna Stapler). Our first day of selling 50 cards was at Green Door Gourmet farm in November, and we sold another 150 during the Christmas season to people around Belmont.”

How has the brand grown from your original idea?

“My idea was much broader initially; I wanted to make everything out of seed paper! However, we have learned that specializing in one type of product keeps us from ‘boiling the ocean,’ or trying to tackle too much at one time. Narrowing down our idea to greeting cards for the initial launch enabled us to give that product the best chance at success, but we may want to diversify down the line if we see that as viable.”

Who is currently involved in the brand?

“I work on organizing the trajectory of the venture, and I oversee our orders. Jacob Kissamis designed the website, prints the cards, and connects us with new clients. Suzanna Stapler takes our ideas and creates designs for the cards. Meg Schmalandt offers consulting for aesthetic. We also receive counsel from Dr. Cornwall and Shawn Glinter, the Entrepreneur in Residence at Belmont.”

Have customers appreciated how environmentally friendly your product is?

“Yes! We have received great feedback about how our products reduce waste and bring about new life. Additionally, our products give greeting cards a purpose after their initial receipt, and customers appreciate the value this brings.”

How easy is it to grow the flowers?

“Wildflowers are some of the easiest plants to grow. I have several plants growing inside at my house, and they sprouted within a few days of planting. Each card can be cut up to grow several wildflower plants; you just need a few seeds per pot.”

Have you faced any issues so far?

“I think the biggest issue we’ve faced so far is starting the venture while still in school. It is definitely hard to balance everything, but Belmont offers so much support, which helps offset the challenge.”

Where do you want the brand to go in the near future? Long-term?

“In the near future, we would like to wholesale our cards to Nashville gift stores, garden centers, and boutiques. We also aim to have pop-up shops around the city to gain exposure and new customers. Another avenue we are pursuing is special orders for weddings and real estate agents. Long-term, we plan to attend the National Stationery Show in New York, selling our products nationwide. Sooner than that, we hope to sell our cards at Belmont’s Entrepreneurship Village in April.”

What is the best advice you've been given about starting a brand?

“Talk to people! Entrepreneurship professors at Belmont hammer home the importance of primary research, and it truly is invaluable. Competitors and others in your desired industry have valuable insight and lessons learned to share, and many people are very open to talking to students. Of course, customer feedback is key, as well, and allows for necessary pivoting.”

What would your advice be for someone starting a new venture?

“Don’t be afraid to test out your idea. Getting out in the market and selling our prototypes is what showed us that we would like to give the venture a shot. Business planning and research are necessary steps, but putting ideas into action makes all the difference and informs how or if to move forward.”


Check out these innovative (and adorable) cards in House Of today!

Written by Kate Hornberger