It is fair to say that our team sees a lot of homes. Between helping our sellers get their homes ready for market and touring a wide variety of homes with our buyers, we know firsthand the power of good home design. We share this philosophy with our newest notable woman, Erin Atkinson of Chancery Custom. Erin has taken her passion for textiles, creative eye, and dedication to quality workmanship to create a thriving home decor business. We were thrilled to sit down with Erin this month to learn more about how she and the Chancery Custom team help customers personalize and elevate their homes with unique custom creations.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to launch Chancery Custom.
I graduated from Purdue University in 2004 with a degree in Apparel Design Technology. In 2006 I moved to Charlotte from NYC, leaving behind my design job with Theory. After that, I just couldn’t seem to fulfill my need to design and create. After mulling it over, I thought the only answer would be to pursue custom clothing design and fabrication. However, in the meantime, a couple friends and acquaintances asked me if I could make some pillows and curtains for them. I said yes, then the requests snowballed in the months to follow. The universe gave me a hint, I needed to switch gears because there was a need for custom home interiors.
What services does Chancery Custom offer?
We mainly focus on creating window treatments, cushions (custom designed and covers for existing cushions), pillows, and bedding. We customize each project based on the customer’s request, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to what we see coming down the production line. Every day is different in terms of the projects we fabricate. This holiday season we will be branching out, designing, and offering stockings and tree skirts too. Eventually, we may even segue into designing some small handbags and clutches to make and sell in local Charlotte boutiques, a creative itch I have had since leaving my accessories design position in NYC.
What is the advantage of going custom for some of your home design elements?
The most notable advantage of custom home furnishings is the fit. Whether it’s a specifically long or wide window that needs covering or one-of-a-kind banquette seating, it’s made to perfectly fit the space. Not to mention, add in the exact fabric, color, and trims to top off the look. These details elevate a space to a level that nothing else can, which is why I’m constantly fulfilled by what I do.
Creativity is a big part of your business’ success. Where do you get your inspiration?
It’s not hard to be inspired when working in our workroom. The designers and clients we work with on a daily basis provide us with such great fabric selections and are constantly pushing the boundaries of design. When not in the workroom, I’m obsessed with analyzing decor wherever I go. Whether I’m out to eat, or at a friend’s house, it’s fascinating to see how a space comes together. I love to see how someone else fills a blank canvas.
What are some fabric trends you are loving right now?
After 10 years in this business, I’m not one for trends. I often find myself gravitating away from trendy fabric patterns (probably because I see a lot of patterns each day). I’m more interested in mixing different textures, colors, and patterns together in a room. I find it so fulfilling when the perfect balance is reached in this way, and each fabric helps to bring out the best in the next.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Most days, I get up a little before 5 to run or workout with friends. I get so much from my workout group in terms of support and encouragement. I’ve found this time set aside for myself early in the morning makes all the difference. I never used to be an early bird! After I get home, I have to get the kids to the bus by 7:00, then walk my pups, and arrive at the workroom around 8:15. Once I’m there, I’m managing the projects I have on my docket for the day and advising on other projects being made by our team when necessary. I’m also constantly quoting yardage and answering questions about project execution. There’s definitely a lot of bouncing around from task to task. I stay at the workroom through lunch so I can maximize my time, then head out to get the kids from the bus at 3:15. Once we get home I’m juggling my mom and house responsibilities with answering emails and working on my computer. After about 5:00, I turn it all off and try not to do anything else work-related. Though I want to make sure my kids see me working hard, I want them to have their time too. Most of the time I’m in bed by 9:30, so I can wake up and do it all over again.
What is the best part of your job?
Hands down, the best part of my job is creating things. I absolutely love what I do. Each day I’m making something different, and I love working with my hands. There is a certain feeling I get from completing a really meticulous project or making something really complex. It’s quite addictive! Add to that the fact that I now have a team of really talented women (and my dad) making things alongside me, and it’s really so much fun. I couldn’t ask for a better job.
What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
I love being outside. Walking the dogs whenever I get the chance, and running with friends are my guilty pleasures. We purposefully live close enough to Plaza Midwood to be able to do things like walk to the store, or the coffee shop, or to dinner. Above all else, I love spending time with my family, immediate and extended. My husband Shaun and I have two children, Oliver (8), and Isla (7). We often go for bike rides, camping, and are up for any adventure really.
You live in Plaza Midwood. What are some of your favorite neighborhood spots?
Oh man, I’m such a Plaza Midwood fangirl! I fell in love with this neighborhood 15 years ago, and we used to go to The Penguin (RIP) and Common Market every weekend. Nowadays, my new favorite spots are Supperland (just went there Saturday!), and I also love Calle Sol (just went there last night!). I love Giddy Goat and Central Coffee. I’m always down for some sushi from Soul Gastrolounge. I often grab drinks with friends at Workman’s Friend and The Bohemian. You could say I have a bit of a food and drink obsession. Oh, last but not least…for interior design inspiration, I never turn down a chance to go browse around the curated booths at Slate Interiors and my favorite gift shop Moxie Mercantile. One-of-a-kind shopping!
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
Oh gosh, don’t tease me! I always say I need at least an extra day in the week. If I had an extra hour in the day, I would probably spend it sleeping. I often push off sleep to fit in everything else going on in my crazy schedule.
As a business owner, what is one piece of advice or lesson you have learned that you can share with other female entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs?
My best piece of hard-learned advice is to realize the importance of embracing challenges and failures. I have learned more from my failures and missteps than I have from the successes. If you never fail, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.