Recently a couple of fantastic makers visited the Innovation Hub to work on products for their Etsy shop. Brooke and Belle Co. is the collaboration of two sisters—Megan Brooke and Emily Belle. Megan lives and works in Nashville, TN while Emily is about to start her master’s program at Washington University in St. Louis. The two reached out to me to ask if I knew of a makerspace in the Little Rock metro area where they could make epoxy coasters. It just so happens, I work at the Innovation Hub which is a great place for makers—even ones who only need the space for a short while.
Megan and Emily set up and went into fullout production creating unique coasters. Some are a mix of different colored epoxies while others include dried flowers. These makers aren’t limited to coasters though. Their Etsy store features a variety of hand-dyed fabrics, quilts and pillows. I personally have a fantastic pillowcase made from their hand-dyed fabrics and quilted. It’s seriously awesome stuff.
Before their visit was over, I was able to pull Megan and Emily away from coaster production for a few minutes to ask them some questions.
When did you two start making things?
When we were kids we would make things as a way to spend quality time together. We found it was a great way to bridge the eleven-year age gap between us. Regardless of the medium, making has always been a connecting thread between us.
How long have you been making coaster and fabric items?
We made our first set of resin coasters as a gift for our mother when I was just 12 years old and Megan was 23. We didn’t really know what we were doing and the epoxy never fully cured. We recently found those first coasters and they were still sticky to the touch! We started making them more seriously in 2020. I take the lead on the resin coasters and Megan does most of the fabric dyeing and quilting. She has been quilting for many years, but got into fabric dyeing during the pandemic and has fallen in love with it.
When did you decide to start selling the things you make?
We had been talking about selling some of our designs for a while, but with Emily in college and my life as a freelancer, we never had the time to pull it all together. But when the pandemic hit and everything shut down, we finally had the time and space to devote to getting things off the ground.
Do you have any plans to expand your offerings?
We are always looking for inspiration and ideas for new designs. One thing we’ve been curious about playing with this summer is naturally dyed fabrics and ice-dyed wearables, like tank tops and T-shirts. And having previously designed and built an epoxy chair in her design program, Emily is excited to explore larger resin projects in the future.
What’s your favorite product to make?
I really like making the resin coasters, and Megan loves quilting and dyeing fabric. With all of our products, every batch or piece is a little bit different, so it’s really fun to see how unique everything turns out.
I’ve heard you talk about ice-dying fabric, what does that mean? How do you do that?
Ice dying is a technique for dyeing fabric that creates almost a watercolor effect. Basically, you spread ice across your fabric and sprinkle the powdered dye on top of the ice. As the ice melts, the colors run and swirl and create really unique and interesting designs. Because it’s dependent on the way the water moves, every piece is one of a kind. It’s just a really beautiful process and comes out with amazing designs.
How do you decide what to make and what to sell, if that’s different?
We rely a lot on our own curiosity and interests when it comes to what we want to make. We wouldn’t be making quilts and coasters if we didn’t enjoy the processes behind those things. So when we enjoy creating something and we end up with something we love, we hope others might love the finished product too. But there is also always a little bit of trial and error in deciding what to sell. Sometimes pieces don’t sell, or you make just one of something just for fun and end up selling a dozen of them, which is what happened this past Christmas with our dried orange garlands. Those, along with our dyed fabrics, ended up being one of our best-selling products, which was a really fun surprise.
So, that’s the story behind Brooke and Belle Co. It was a delight seeing them for a week and we’re honored that the Hub could be their makerspace away from home for the week. For those that want to learn more, their Etsy shop is here and you can follow their makes on Instagram. I’ve seen the hard work they put in to make these coasters and they are beautiful and well-made.