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Drop by the boutonné studio in downtown San Diego, and you’ll be welcomed into a space that mirrors the company’s aesthetic. Housed in a historic warehouse, the studio is white from top to bottom. A vintage letterpress machine and a photo of a Nashville apartment building constitute the minimal décor. Gray stripes and clusters of blush flowers accent the white. Far from being stark, though, the room is an invitation to each client and visitor.

At the helm of the boutonné brand are Erin Pechtel and Hannah Moody, dreamers every bit as lovely and bright as their workspace. The two women are artists, best friends, and forces of nature. Erin is happiest perched atop a ten-foot ladder—blonde curls, towering heels and all—while Hannah changes the design world from behind a computer screen. Together this Dreamer/Achiever hybrid forms the impetus behind a design firm that extends beyond a business into a movement.

Boutonné comprises two entities: graphic and web design, and product design. The company offers print, web, and branding services for companies and individuals, and recently launched an original bag collection, its first foray into retail. And Hannah and Erin are just getting started: they’ve set their sights on building a design company with retail storefronts around the world (hello, Paris). Despite great professional ambitions, boutonné’s heartbeat stems from Erin and Hannah’s own. Their ultimate desire is to build a brand that walks further into love with its community.

Darling visited Hannah and Erin at the studio to hear boutonné’s story and their vision for creating a community-shaping brand.

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Darling Magazine: You two are best friends, roommates, business partners, and artistic collaborators. How did you find each other?

Hannah: Erin and I met in Nashville five years ago. We were neighbors in a beautiful warehouse building downtown. Ready for a change, we both picked up and made the move to San Diego last year. It was the best decision I’ve ever made and I know Erin is elated to be back in the city she grew up in.

 

DM: How was boutonné born?

Erin: Hannah and I were both walking through a rough chapter at the same time. Our bond was founded there. Both believers that everything happens for a reason, we knew that we weren’t only brought together to help each other rebuild, but also to share this next chapter together. That’s when we started dreaming. In a matter of months, boutonné was born.

Hannah: After lots and lots of dreaming, we just jumped. We quit our jobs and started Boutonné full time. We both battled the fear of not getting clients, or not making it, but because of our faith we trusted God would provide. And we now ask ourselves, how is it that we get to do what we love—make beautiful things, connect with other artists, help new companies brand themselves—each day? We feel so, so lucky!

 

DM: What’s the essence of Boutonné? Tell us about the studio’s mission—what kind of work do you strive to create?

Erin: The term Boutonné is French. Its meaning is someone who is put together, who exudes class and character, and who is educated and kind. We want to be a brand that is more than just a brand. We want to give back, to bless our community and show others what it means to love with character. We want to be positive women, positive creatives, and positive people in the design industry. We are all humans with areas of brokenness inside of us, so what would it look like if we were a community (and a brand) that walks into those dark places with people and love them there? Instead of walking away when it gets hard, what if we walked further into love the harder that it gets? We strive to do this daily with every client and fellow creative that we interact with. It can happen in even the smallest of ways.

DM: What do your individual design & professional pasts look like?

Hannah: I have a graphic design history. I studied journalism, photography and print design. Give me a computer and I’ll make anything happen. We describe my role at Boutonné as “all the bells and whistles.”

Erin: I have a background in visuals, specifically display. I love to build! Through studying Fine Arts in college, I found that I appreciate many different forms of creating. I am at my happiest when atop a ladder creating and building with my hands. A client once called me “the Jill of all trades” and the title stuck.

 

DM: Name two things that inspire your work.

Erin: We’re inspired by whitespace and clean or minimal areas. Neutrals, grays, whites… –

Both: – Stripes!

Hannah: We both really appreciate old…old buildings, old factories. Just like this building our studio is in now. Oh, and there’s one huge inspiration we share. On the count of three: one, two, three –

Both: – Music.

Hannah: It’s the best therapy, period.

 

DM: What kind of music are you listening to now?

Hannah: We like music that is expressive, and heavy on the emotion. One of the first bands we bonded over is a Nashville band called Paper Route, and their music is a good representation of that.

Erin: And drums, lots of drums. We air drum a lot.

 

DM: You initiated a movement called The Love Movement. What’s the background story?

Erin: This whole movement started at the mall one day… stick with me. A gorgeous woman—well-dressed, busy, clearly important—stopped in her tracks to tell Hannah that she had the most beautiful legs and made her promise to never cover them up and then quickly went back to her business. We both stood there in awe thinking the exact same thing: what if we all took time to compliment each other?! What if we were woman who made a conscious effort to love one another by verbal affirmation? So, we created cards that read, “YOU Look Amazing,” with #thelovemovement printed beneath.

Hannah: The idea is to stop strangers wherever they are and tell them they are beautiful. It’s the simplest thing and it can change your entire day. We want to be women who spur that change of verbal affirmation. Let’s start telling each other that we’re beautiful. Erin and I believe in this movement. It definitely takes courage. You have to set your personal feelings aside to love strangers like that. But I have so much faith that this kind of thing can change people’s lives on just the right day, at just the right time.

 

DM: Boutonné’s future seems pretty bright. What keeps you motivated and moving forward?

Hannah: Our dream. That’s what keeps us going. We want to create a company and a brand that we’ll ultimately pass down to our kids. We want to build something that is meaningful and timeless; something that stands. All this has been placed in our lives to build something strong, and we refuse to ignore that call. Yes, there are 16-hours days, but there are also dance parties to break them up.

 

DM: Do you have any advice for women who are seeking true beauty over vanity?

Erin: We have to pay attention to what’s going on inside of us, and live there. If you can believe that you are wonderfully made, that you are loved, that you are miracle simply because you are living and breathing, it’s empowering and it changes everything.

Hannah: Stay true to yourself and what you believe deep down inside. If listening to that and obeying and risking doesn’t radically change your inner beauty, I don’t know what does.

Learn more about Boutonné at www.loveboutonne.com. Also, find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photography by morganashleyphotography.com

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