When we see a Jenni Earle bandana while we’re out and about, we talk about these pieces of cloth like they are living, breathing animals: I saw Jenni Earle bandanas in the wild!
Even though there are piles of beautifully dyed squares of American-milled cotton, and freshly printed batches just arrived from our printer (thanks Machine Gun Graphics!) — we still get so excited when we see the final versions in a store, or tied onto a friend’s bag. Actually, the hardest part is not saying something when we see a complete stranger wearing a Jenni Earle bandana.
I’ve heard a story floating around the office for months that perfectly captures the magical connection that happens between a person and her bandana. The story belongs to Barb Skupien [she’s pictured at the top of this post], the owner of Embellish in Asheville, NC. Her shop is an absolutely beautiful collection of handmade, intentionally designed pieces: jewelry, bracelets, bags, and of course, Jenni Earle bandanas.
Read on to hear Barb’s wonderful connection made through a bandana.
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You carry Jenni Earle bandanas in your shop. Tell us a little about the shop.
I’ve always loved jewelry and accessories, it’s always been my favorite thing to give as a gift. More specifically, handmade jewelry and accessories that are accessible and affordable, made by small, independent makers. When I realized there was a void for such things in our old neighborhood in Chicago, I decided to open a store. Fast forward a bunch of years, my husband Scoop and I decided that we’ve grown weary of city living and wind up in this little paradise, Asheville, NC. I hadn’t planned to open another store but came to find that after even just a small break, I really missed it. I missed the interaction with customers, definitely missed the buying and merchandising. I just really love small business and retail!
How did you learn about JE bandanas and why did you choose to carry them in your shop?
I think I was first introduced to JE somewhere out there in social media land but the first time I actually saw JE’s work was at the Big Crafty here in Asheville, a super cool show that is put on twice a year here. I fell in love immediately! Everything about the work, all the hand crafted details and styling are right up my alley but the messaging is what struck me most. I love personal mantras, especially when they’re subtle, like JE’s which can be either tucked away or worn proudly, depending on the mood.
Jenni is always mentioning your story: at an airport in Guadeloupe you saw a woman with a JE bandana on her bag and you two connected over this. What’s the story?
My husband and I were in the airport in Pointe-a-Pitre headed home from Guadeloupe [the pic at the top of this post is from that trip!]. While we waited for our flight to board I saw that a woman had a Jenni Earle bandana tied to her backpack. I actually gasped and in doing so made the woman look up at me, much to my embarrassment! I whispered out loud to my husband, “look, she has one of the bandanas I’ve been talking about!”. Of course, I explained all of that to this woman who then told me she had bought it while traveling in Boulder, CO.
She explained that the message was exactly what she needed at the time, which was Feel The Fear, Do It Anyway. Now she doesn’t travel without it.
That kind of connection and messaging was exactly why I wanted to carry the line! It was perfect timing for me, I wasn’t 100% sure that my customers would appreciate the bandanas but decided to order them anyway. Meeting this woman confirmed that I had made the right choice and it’s still one of my favorite lines!
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Keep and eye out for our bandanas, alive and out in the wild.