Behind The Brand: Joanna Buchanan

Discovering exciting new brands is one of my favorite things about my job.  When I was introduced to Joanna Buchanan's line earlier this year, I was giddy with excitement.  Her products are exquisite, fun and truly unique.  
When Joanna and I realized that we lived in neighboring towns in Connecticut, we quickly made a coffee date.  After spending a morning full of great conversation and laughs, I had a deeper understanding of why this brand is so special.  With a 20 year career designing for iconic fashion brands before starting her own eponymous brand, unique design is at the forefront. Every piece is designed by Joanna personally and quality is one of the key components.  From the beautiful handwoven details of her products to the impeccable packaging it's presented in, each piece feels special and luxurious.  The brand also reflects Joanna herself:  chic and sophisticated, vibrant and fun!  
I'm truly excited to be able to offer Joanna's pieces through Cailíní Coastal and am thrilled to share a glimpse into the fabulous lady behind the brand.  Meet the lovely, and talented, Joanna Buchanan. 
xo Meg
CC: We love your brand!  For those who are just being introduced, can you please tell them about the Joanna Buchanan brand and what makes it so special?
JB: I design everything myself and use all the products in my home- so the collection is very much an extension of my personal aesthetic which is definitely a mash up of ideas. We primarily showcase tabletop and barware but during the holidays we go all out with tons of decorations for the season. You will find unique and whimsical pieces which hopefully bring a smile to your face as you use them!
CC: Tell us about your background in design and what inspired you to create your own business? 
JB: I studied fashion design in London and Newcastle and our collection is very much fashion for the home! I worked for some large and very corporate women's apparel companies - where the aesthetic is pre-determined to some extent - before I decided that I really wanted to express my own design point of view through my own brand.
CC: You shared a great story with us about launching your brand in just two weeks...can you share that story with our audience?  
JB: A friend encouraged me to bring in some ideas to One Kings Lane for the holiday season  (we had worked together previously in the accessory category) and I said I wanted to start with Christmas decor-  she said I was out of my mind, but to go ahead! I had to pull together my actual branding, product concepts, etc. in two weeks as they were buying holiday imminently. At my first meeting with the buyers, they were all totally silent and I felt I had really blown it...but turns out they were just shocked I wasn't showing santas and snowmen. I was showing jeweled insects and bedazzled critters.  I was thrilled to be proposing something that wasn't so widely available in the market and something new! 
CC: Your designs are playful yet so sophisticated. How do you balance creating products that are both fun and elevated? 
JB: I always look for things that will be timeless, but to me that doesn't mean it has to be boring. I think the way we mix things together - different materials and different icons - ensures that we stay chic and not  'jokey' or too 'themed'.  
I also think the quality of our products sets up apart.  The products have a craftsmanship that elevates them and moves them away from anything that feels disposable which playful products sometimes have.
CC: What inspires your designs? 
JB: My travels all over the world and exposure to so many cultures plays a HUGE part in my mash up of ideas. I have a vast visual library in my head that I call on whenever I start to noodle new ideas....and often, just the thought of something that I might like to use will get me designing. I also love to look at interior magazines and imagine how the table or bar should be styled in that specific home- and that definitely gets the creative juices flowing.
CC: What can our customers expect with your product? 
JB: I hope they will start to build a collection! Nearly all of our pieces work together in different ways, so you can personalize your tablescape or bar area but know that it will be cohesive. They will also find that we make the most amazing gifts and we take our packaging very seriously!!
CC: How would you describe your design style? 
JB: Colourful, full of pattern and texture, welcoming and eclectic. 
CC: Are there certain categories you find most fun to design? 
JB: I change my mind all the time! Sometimes I am really feeling the textiles that we do, and other times, I can't stop designing jewelry.  I am lucky that I have the luxury of being able to explore different areas at different times. We build our collection in a very organic way- so that the product is always the driving force rather than a calendar or a spreadsheet!
CC: I imagine you're a fabulous host!  What are your must-haves for entertaining? 
JB: Always plan ahead.  Get the setup done the day before and make sure you have enough help on the day so that you can really have a good time! 
The details really do matter.  Put time and energy into beautiful tables and bar setups.  People really appreciate the effort and it shows them how much you love them!  
CC: What are your some of your favorite products from the collection? 
JB: I adore the ruffle straw group made in the Philippines.  I was born there so it's a real thrill to be able to work with artisans in the Philippines on this collection. The seashell cocktail picks are a classic.  They literally make any drink much more fabulous and no matter where you are, you are sipping it on the beach!

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