Back in the spring of 2020 as I set out on my creative journey as an interior designer and decorator, I found such an amazing community of female entrepreneurs and other independent creatives through Instagram and my day-to-day life. That spring, I decided to highlight my current friends and new Instagram friends that were running their own businesses in a weekly feature simply called “Feature Friday.”
Fast-forward more than two years later and I’m bringing a permanent “Feature Friday” to the blog through this series.
This week’s Creative Feature is Jessica Schwan, owner and artist at Pebble & Palm, a mother and Army wife who is inspired by travel and the cultures of the countries she’s had the privilege to visit. Currently based in Huntsville, Alabama, Jessica and her family will be making a military move to Williamsburg, Virginia this summer. Before Jessica starts packing up all of her linens with Pebble & Palm, she sat down with me to share her creative journey and business venture.
Bee: Without inspiration, where would we even be? Tell me, what inspires you to create and are there any places particularly inspiring to you?
Jessica: I have always had a deep-rooted interest in learning about other cultures whether that be abroad or subcultures you find in the US, state to state. My favorite thing to do when traveling is to find an indigenous craft or artisan product from that location. Clearly the Japanese fabric dyeing technique, Shibori, caught my attention and has had me diving deep into the history of the process as well as the varieties of techniques. When I’m creating my products, I look towards the things I’ve found along my travels for inspiration. Take the elephants you see peeping throughout the collection – they originate from my time in Thailand. The sarongs, caftans and the coastal colors come from my years living in Hawaii. The robes remind me of time in China while the patterns themselves have a repetition that brings me back to nature. It is important to me to try to honor the ancient Japanese process by using traditional folding, binding and stitching techniques while also modernizing the final product.
Bee: Your designs are striking and so unique, I was immediately drawn in by the vibrant colors and patterns created by making your own dye and folding to create unique patterns. Tell us more, like what does your creative process entail? Do you have a favorite color palette, tool, or technique?
Jessica: My creative process tends to begin with a season. I think about what colors are trending as well as the traditional colors of those seasons – warm colors and dark muted colors are great for Fall and Winter whereas cool tones and bright colors are great for Spring and Summer. I then think about some of the products I want to introduce that season. I can almost always imagine the best Shibori print, and which color the item should be dyed by looking at the fabric. I try to consider my customer and incorporate colors I know they love and not just stick to my comfort color which is blue.
Truly, I am in love with blue. If you asked my husband, he would tell you it is the only color I know outside of white, grey and black. He says that we always match because I pick out his clothes and they are all from the blue section of the color wheel. Because of this, I am obsessed with working with indigo. I love the technique of dipping fabric in indigo and watching it oxidize from green to a deep blue. It is like magic performing in front of your eyes. Dyeing with indigo is a much more complex process but I always find it well worth the effort.
Bee: I sure can relate on the color palette of blues, I think at times my husband would love to see something other than blues (and greens) in our home! Tell me, what would you consider your own design style to be? What does every room need in your opinion?
Jessica: My design style is modern with a coastal vibe. I like clean lines; white walls; wood design accents; and pops of colors, patterns and textures layered in fabrics and accessories. I think every room needs something personal as the feature piece that the room is designed around. I tend to use the items I have collected from around the world as inspirations for the overall look. They have an intentional purpose in the space and are not knick-knacks which feel out of place. In our own home, my oldest daughter Makena, has a room designed completely around an indigo Shibori blanket and string of pennant flags I handmade when I was pregnant with her. I built off that with a feature wall of a wave mural, white furniture and framed Makena Beach prints by Nick Kuchar. My youngest daughter’s bedroom is designed completed around a Mexican Otami embroidered lamp shade that I had for seven years before she was born. Both spaces are cohesive and personal which brings a feeling of love.
Bee: I absolutely love modern coastal, there are so many interpretations of it and it sounds like your home takes an artists’ spin on that design style! Those personal touches are truly what makes house feel like home, which is extra important to us as military spouses, when we find ourselves in new homes every few years! I’m soon to be unpacking our household goods in Washington (state) and I know that the unique items I’ve collected along the way, go a long ways in making a new place feel like home. Tell us, what inspired you to get creative in the first place?
Jessica: I worked in the fashion and gift industries for over 15 years before I met my husband. When the
Army moved us to Hawaii shortly after we were married, I needed to find something that would fill
that whole that was missing in me creatively. I took a Shibori class at the Honolulu Museum of Art
and quickly became hooked on the process. From that moment on, I was dedicated to learning as
much as I could on the subject through research and online studies. It was also important to me to
travel to Japan in order to immerse myself in the culture and see Shibori in everyday life.
Bee: I love seeing the common thread of this series continue to be that a “part of me was missing” and that a creative passion is what fuels you ladies to create! It’s a beautiful honor to the Japanese culture (and anywhere you’ve traveled) to learn a historic art form. Of all the various art processes you’ve learned, do you have a favorite piece?
Jessica: I truly love most of what I have made. No matter what fold, bind or stitch technique is used, the
reveal is always so exciting. No piece is ever the same. I am sure it is silly to say my favorite piece is
my daughter’s blanket because it was one of my first Shibori creations. It is also done in one of the
easier resist techniques. However, the indigo blue color is so deep and rich, and the blanket has been
well loved for the past four years but still looks incredible. Every time I see her snuggled under it, my
heart swells. It means so much to me to be able to share my passion for this dye process with my
babies and know they appreciate it in their little way.
Bee: Sharing your creative work takes such courage and I’m continually blown away by the passion to share that gift with the world that creatives have! Before we sign off, please tell our readers where they can find your apparel and home accessories, local or online.
Jessica: Pebble and Palm is currently based out of Huntsville, Alabama but the Army is moving us again this summer to Williamsburg, Virginia. So aside from local markets, P+P is sold on Spouse.ly and Etsy.
You can follow us on Instagram @pebble.and.palm and Facebook @pebble.and.palm.shibori.
Our website is www.pebbleandpalm.com and we hope to have an online marketplace there soon.
Bee: How wonderful! And I love that you’re on the military and first responder platform, Spouse.ly.
I’ve chatted with their founder, Monica at length and love what she’s created. If you’re unfamiliar with Spouse.ly, get to know what their vendors are doing by checking out their site here.
Brittany “Bee” Zimmerman