We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Villano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what principle do you value most?
There’s this pervasive idea that we are all in competition with one another or that there isn’t enough space or resources for all of us to thrive or be successful. That outlook never really resonated with me and I’ve always been of the mindset that working together, sharing resources – whether that’s tangible ones or intangible resources like time and knowledge – and cultivating community is beneficial to everyone and is how we all become successful. Choosing to see the world through that lens is an important principle for me.
In the same vein, I try to move through the world being conscious and considerate of the impact and consequences of my words, decisions, and actions. We are all connected and a part of a community – one in which our individual choices can have far-reaching consequences.
Whether that’s in terms of the choices I make as a consumer –What does this purchase support? How was it made? What are the social and environmental costs? – or how I interact and communicate with others.
This is a really helpful guiding principle with my brand, too. I have a lot to learn and am always trying to do better, but considering impact and consequences helps me to stay on track and not lose sight of the reasons I started my brand in the first place. I want to create things for people that are beautiful and make them happy to wear or have in their homes, but I also hope to reconnect people with and remind them to slow down and consider the time, labor, skill, and resources that go into making many of the things we’ve grown to take for granted.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I fell in love with textiles during my first trip to Indonesia in 2006, where there is a very rich history and tradition of textile weaving throughout the entire archipelago. Weaving techniques and motifs vary from island to island and even from village to village on the same island.
After that initial introduction, I casually began to learn more about textile traditions in Indonesia and in other parts of the world and have cultivated a deep respect and appreciation for them.
My brand was born, in part, out of my appreciation for these crafts and the stories told through cloth.
I partner with artisans in Indonesia, Guatemala, and Mexico to produce small batch collections of apparel and home décor, inspired by the tropics.
Many of the pieces we create are made using techniques practiced by indigenous communities in their regions for generations upon generations. Unfortunately, many of these traditions, which are deeply rooted in culture, community, and identity, are being eroded as fewer and fewer people choose to carry on the traditions.
The act of skilled hands, guided by the knowledge of ancestors, weaving materials into art and cloth is remarkably beautiful and important to preserve.
My brand is a celebration of this incredible skill, artistic talent, and culturally important work of the artisans with whom we work, and it is my hope, in a very small way, to help to support the preservation of some of these crafts.
Here & There is also inspired by the bold colors found among the flora and fauna in the tropics.
The tropics, in particular, is filled with such an incredible spectrum of color – the inspiration for most of my color pairings and palettes are drawn from flowers or animals that are native to this region.
I think it’s exciting to see such a proliferation of so many small brands and designers who are committing to ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices – many of which are also partnering with artisans and artisan cooperatives to share with their customers these special crafts and traditions.
But, I think that much of what we see in this particular space is very neutral and minimal in aesthetic.
I can appreciate and enjoy a neutral space or wardrobe, myself, but I also think that it can be a little drab and austere. I want to carve out a niche so that my customers know they can come to Here & There if they’re looking for something a little more playful for their wardrobe or just to add a pop of color (or a lot!) to their home. I want to spread joy, through color!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I first moved from the East Coast I landed in Long Beach, and it has a special place in my heart and I feel like it is sometimes left out of conversations of things to do in and around Los Angeles.
Long Beach has some really great walkable neighborhoods, great shopping, and some amazing food.
If a friend was visiting we’d definitely go on a walking tour, starting with a stop at Gusto Bread on 4th street to stock up for the week on the most delicious sourdough bread (and baked goods!) you’ve ever had in your life. We’d pop into the many cute shops on 4th as we make our way to Wide Eyes Open Palms, which is one of my favorite cafes/brunch spots in Southern California. I dream of their cardamom latte. There are lots of parks and spots to enjoy the outdoors throughout Long Beach, so we’d wind through the neighborhoods on a nice long walk from brunch to the Colorado Lagoon, walk the trail there, and then just hang and enjoy the park before. In “normal times” there’s usually some live music happening somewhere for the evening.
Each neighborhood has its own vibe – there’s really so much to do in Long Beach!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband is my most solid, reliable, and unwavering source of encouragement, support, and reassurance.
I am so grateful to have a partner who not only supports me and gives me space (figuratively and literally – our garage has become the Here and There Collective warehouse and ship station) for all that is required to start a small business, but is there for me when I am panicking or having a bad day or having imposter syndrome and doubting my ability to even do this. He is a sounding board when I need advice, and is there when I need honest and constructive feedback about a new design.
He works so hard at his own job but then offers his free time and energy to help me with all sorts of projects, whether that’s building product displays, mailing orders, or dedicating many weekends to loading up the truck and driving with me to all-day markets. I really don’t think I’d be able to do this without him and he deserves so much recognition.
Sophia Walsh / Phia Studios (only for the photos of the model AND the photo of the scarf on the chair)