Isla Mujeres, Mexico

It felt like a dream. We flew off to sunny Mexico for Erica's bachelorette party (The Big Day is NEXT WEEKEND!), and it was magical.

Liz enjoying her happy place: being on a boat.

Liz enjoying her happy place: being on a boat.

I'm getting excited for the 2nd snorkeling stop and massaging my foot. Like you do.

I'm getting excited for the 2nd snorkeling stop and massaging my foot. Like you do.

Erica making friends wherever she goes. Sí, claro.

Erica making friends wherever she goes. Sí, claro.

Isla Mujeres had everything to offer: adventure, golf cart joy-riding, snorkeling, strange skeleton-themed souvenirs, and delicious food. We ate all the lobsters and all the ceviche. We drank all the tequila. We watched some super jacked women fight, and discovered why UFC is so hypnotizing. We invented new words like "bjorscht" (when you're so drunk that things start getting weird... Icelandic weird) and made new friends like "Herve Bird the Perv Bird" (a pervy bird that seems to be watching your every move...). All in all, it was an incredible trip, and I tried to capture a few moments with ye olde DSLR. 

And we're back in NYC, hitting the ground running with a ton of fun events on the horizon. There's still a chill in the air, so we'll be dreaming of sunny, summery Isla Mujeres until we return. #MujeresRuleAndBrojeresDrool 


TINSEL + Kinfolk 94

A few weeks ago, we worked with photographer and artist Erica Simone to create some arrangements for her art charity exhibition at the Kinfolk Gallery in Williamsburg. Here is a little sneak peek:

The vision was to combine oversized leaves and interesting textures with unexpected hues. We took huge monstera leaves and incorporated black and gold spray-painted fruit. The day started with a trip to the Flower Market to get the monstera leaves, then the team worked its way trough Chinatown to find fruits like durian, dragon fruit, and pineapples to add interesting textures. 

Then, we got back to the studio and went at it! We spray-painted the fruit gold and black, then added a touch of white to the monstera leaves to add dimension. Stay tuned to see the photos of the results along with the amazing space with the folks at Kinfolk 94.

Until then,

Immigrants as Entrepreneurs

Came across an interesting article in Inc Magazine a few months ago. (We know. We're late with the blog post. You forgive us, yes?) It outlined how, interestingly enough, the most entrepreneurial group in the United States comprises folks that are not born here. They are, in fact, immigrants.

From the article: Anurag Jain of Prepay Nation, Ruby Polanco of Ruby Makeup Academy, and Derek Cha of Sweetfrog are among the 21 percent of Inc. 500 CEOs who were born outside of the United States. IMAGE: Evan Kafka

From the article: Anurag Jain of Prepay Nation, Ruby Polanco of Ruby Makeup Academy, and Derek Cha of Sweetfrog are among the 21 percent of Inc. 500 CEOs who were born outside of the United States. IMAGE: Evan Kafka

As everyone and their mother (and grandmother...) knows, the United States has a deep history of attracting immigrants from all over the world. In 1587, the first English immigrants set foot on American territory in North Carolina. At this time, only Native Americans ("Indians." Right...) inhabited these lands. The first people who began to build what will be later the United States of America were immigrants.

Today, immigration is the subject of a nationwide political debate, and even the use of the language is interesting. While most people will refer to "uneducated" populations from less developed countries as "immigrants," it's interesting to note that more "educated" populations from, let's say, Western Europe tend to be called "ex-pats." Yeah. Don't think we didn't notice. But, we digress. The topic of immigration has always been polarizing, and today's political arena is no exception; it's always been a hot topic of debate. Between the 80’s and 90’s, the U.S. was the most attractive country for skilled and foreign scientists and engineers. Today, the U.S. makes immigration much more difficult.

Immigrant businesses are 60 percent more likely to export, a key factor to U.S. economic growth in recent years.
— Inc. Magazine

Though the economic ramifications can be debated ad nauseam, immigrants can help bolster the U.S. economy by creating companies, and in turn additional jobs, or they can simply take on the positions that the majority of current U.S. citizens don't want to occupy. And while other countries such as Canada, England, and Singapore are trying to attract and facilitate immigration by creating new visas, the U.S. is actively seeking to reduce the number of immigrants. Limitations on qualification categories–even varying from country to country–are put in place. Today Silicon Valley, CA, is arguably the best place to work for entrepreneurs that have immigrated to the United States. Here, they can establish companies in engineering, technology, or science. Between 1995 and 2005, over half of the businesses founders were immigrants. Over half! And when you think about the variety of hindering factors most immigrant families have to face when coming here, that number is even more surprising. Not surprisingly however, since 2005, the percentage of firms founded by immigrants has lowered, as a result of stricter immigration policies.

“I don’t believe in handouts from the government. But I believe that newer immigrants from poorer countries are hardworking. If we can responsibly help them come here, it’s a good thing for the country.”
— Derek Cha, Korean immigrant and founder of SweetFrog

But why are immigrants more apt to take the risk of setting up their businesses than native-born Americans? Perhaps because they already took the risk of leaving everything behind them, to start a new life in a new country. Immigrants, by nature, seek better opportunities for their future and for future generations. In addition, for several decades, the United States has positioned itself in the image of the American dream, a country where anything is possible, and everyone has a chance to success if they work hard.

Sadly, the truth is that it is always more difficult for immigrants, especially those with lower qualifications. Approximately 37% of immigrant business owners do not posses a high school diploma, and only 33% finished college. Ruby Polanco, founder of Ruby Makeup Academy is an immigrant from the Honduras. She moved to the US at the age of 12, and she said that school was "very hard on kids who didn't speak English." So, maybe it's not just the risk-taking mindset that has allowed immigrants to start their own businesses. Maybe it's also the fact that they've had to work harder than people U.S.-born. Derek Cha moved to the U.S. from South Korea. As a kid, while other children played, he helped his parents support the family by delivering newspapers and working at McDonald's. Today, Derek is CEO of sweetFrog, a yogurt franchise he founded 5 years ago. Now, they have over 335 stores spread across 25 states and international branches in the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic.

What we've learned from our immigrant brethren is simple: work hard and take a chance. As we say in Tinseland: échale!

To the moon,

SPOTLIGHT: Nicolas Ouchenir

Welcome to our second installation of our Spotlight Series, where we feature people that have inspired us: bold designers, fellow entrepreneurs, and creative kindred-spirits. Last time, we took a peek into the life of wallpaper and pattern designer Florence Broadhurst, and we're shining today's spotlight on The Calligraphy Wizard himself, Nicolas Ouchenir. 

We all love France for it’s exquisite wine, effortless style, seductive language, and equally seductive ham & cheese croissants. (And can we talk about baguettes? How on earth can bread taste so damn good?) As city mice here in New York, Paris has always captivated our hearts. It's our prettier, more fashionable, more got-it-all-figured-out big sister city, and we can't help but look up to it in wonder. Who hasn't hummed Edith Piaf's “La Vie en Rose” while meandering through the Jardin des Tuileries? Who hasn't daydreamed of eating all of the duck confit, people-watching at the picturesque cafés along the Seine, and hunting for treasures at the markets of Clignancourt? And while we're caught in a reverie, behind a door of famous Rue Saint Honoré, Nicolas Ouchenir is caught in his own dream land: penning invitations or a poem for one of Paris's elite.

With his intense scintillating eyes and curly chocolate brown hair (I would say oo la la la la la la. La.), Nicolas Ouchenir has established himself as the most sought-after calligrapher of the 21st century. His hands are as valuable as those of a surgeon, and his writing as beautiful as the ones found in the books of the greatest writers of eras past.  

He grew up in Paris and has always been interested in art. As a kid, he regularly visited the museums (Quai d'Orsay and the Louvre, mais oui) with his parents, who were crazy about film and art. He himself had always been fond of the 40’s and the Art Nouveau aesthetic. He studied business and trade but ultimately wanted to work in a gallery, so it was only natural when he opened a gallery with César Pape, taking care of the finances and accounting end of things.

It was at an Andy Warhol exhibition, that Nicolas had an epiphany. Seeing the paintings and different labels, he began to write them all, one by one, on an envelope while waiting for a client. He returned that evening at the gallery and hand wrote 1,800 invitations to send out to the guests of their upcoming exhibition. The rest was history.

After his departure from the gallery, Nicolas spent a year in Brazil, only to return to Paris at the request of Jean Gabriel Mitterrand, the JGM gallery owner, and Pia de Brantes, a good friend. He worked as calligrapher for the gallery, writing all their invitations. Soon, personalized hand-written invitations caught on as a trend for the most exclusive of events.

Other examples of gorgeous handwritten work that we will undoubtedly be stalking: Marina Marjina for Louis Vuitton (left and center bottom), Danae Blackburn-Hernandez (center top), and Silvia Cordero Vega (right).

Other examples of gorgeous handwritten work that we will undoubtedly be stalking: Marina Marjina for Louis Vuitton (left and center bottom), Danae Blackburn-Hernandez (center top), and Silvia Cordero Vega (right).

Today, Nicolas works as an ambassador for several brands. He regularly creates invitations for the best-known haute-couture houses such as Lancôme, Chloé, or Miu Miu. During Fashion Week in Paris, he sends more than 1,000 invitations per day using his favorite tool: a Mont Blanc pen. (Again, mais oui.) In addition to his invitation calligraphy, he is also often commissioned for special projects for the Louvre or to create Visual identities for large companies. Hashtag NBD.

Nicolas Ouchenir is a true self-made man and lives his passion every single day. He pursued his craft relentlessly and worked his way to the top of the industry. He established an artistic and completely personalized trend through the dying art of calligraphy, and he's helped revive it and spread a little more beauty in the world. Plus, we have a long-standing love affair with good ol' pen and paper. As digital as we've become, first loves never die.

Not going to lie, we will probably fangirl it (hard, and with little to no shame) if we ever spot him traipsing about the streets of New York. (Traipse. That's French for "walk." They fancy.) As they say à Paris, "Ceci n’est pas un adieu mais un aurevoir..."


The TINSEL Studio

"Bold, edgy, and avant-garde"  were the couple ideas that came up during our meeting with our interior designer–and good friend–Lee. Today, we thought it would be fun to introduce a little bit of our vision for our studio, our home in the creative heart of Dumbo, Brooklyn. We've been here in the new space for only a couple of months, from our previous studio two floors up. Now, we've found ourselves with about 1200 sq. ft. of unencumbered potential: exposed brick walls, soft brick arches, and a wide open layout. We want to design a space that's warm and inviting–to both clients and our team. A place that inspires us. A place that's truly designed. So, we asked Lee Piper, our amazing interior designer, to helps us create this magical space. We brainstormed, and came to the conclusion that the studio should reflect TINSEL's image: Bold and hip, but also warm and avant-garde.

The Color Palette:

The main tones that we wanted to implement were a mix of blue-turquoise, warm chocolates, and all the gray. The dark gray walls will bring out the edgier, darker side of the spectrum and will be a perfect contrast with the light, natural wood and stark white conference table. The blue-turquoise hints would bring a pop of color in the office and luckily for us, “blue has been said to illicit productivity” as, said in a Lifehack office design article. Various design elements like chairs, canvases and other props, will bring the blue-turquoise touches and bring on the productivity.

Desk & Black Wall.jpg
Conferance Table.jpg


The different materials and textures Lee wanted to incorporate were natural wood, metal and rope.  For the partners' office space partitioned off, we will build a wooden continuous desk. The wooden desk will run along the room and will be in ideal foil for the dark gray walls. The conference table and other tables will be highlighted with bright white lacquer wood and metal table legs, designed by Ceci Thompson, as an airy steel pedestal base that radiates a fresh attitude. Finally, but not least, the rope wall. We chose a studio as an open office because we want to work together as a big team in a big space. For this reason, we decided to introduce a black fine rope wall as a noise barrier and for a little privacy for important meetings but still open to the rest of the office.



The bold and the edgy will clearly be the items bringing in the bold and edgy aspect of the studio. At first, we wanted to include a large skull canvas, but we finally fell in love with a gorgeous turquoise snake. I mean, look at it. It's incredible. So, we're thinking of getting an entire back wall featuring it, behind the floral workstations, and by the team lockers. We also found a beautiful flower still-life with shades of dark grey, blue, and yellow–perfect for the rest of the studio.

We're very excited to start building and putting all the pieces in place. As Chris Pullman said: “Design is not the narrow application of formal skills, it is a way of thinking.”

Happy designing,