Creativity – In the Studio with Emily Stroud
In this series on The Southern C, I am thrilled to introduce our readers to some of the great Southern creative minds we run across on our social network and at The Southern C Summits. These individuals are the artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Go behind the scenes to get a glimpse into their studio, read what they are working on, discover the path that led them to this moment and find out what motivates and inspires their work and lives.
The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions. We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region. According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious” and this is one thing we are happy to spread.
This week, I would like to introduce you to Emily Stroud, the creative mind and designer behind the popular line of sailcloth tote bags Hayden Reis. Her idea and business was born out of the need for a fashionable, yet functional, carryall that could be toted from the beach to the office and from the soccer field to the gym. Seeing a void, the fashion forward Florida native set out to solve the problem and create the perfect tote bag for her busy lifestyle. Now, with Emily’s chic, colorful and durable collection of sailcloth totes and accessories, made proudly in the USA, she has seen her vision come full circle. Sounds like a Southern creative to me!
Describe your brand and how it got started
Hayden Reis is the premier brand of sailcloth tote bags and accessories. I designed the brand and all of our products to be fashionable, functional and durable.
I always knew I wanted to start my own business, but wasn’t exactly sure what it would be. Being born, raised and now raising my own children in Sarasota, I’ve always spent a lot of time by the water and living an active lifestyle. Three years ago, I noticed that I couldn’t find the perfect tote bag. I wanted something that was large, lightweight and could carry me from the gym to soccer practice with the kids and from the beach to the boardwalk. So, I set out to create my own line!
Hayden Reis (named after my two children) is proudly made in the U.S.A. of the finest Dacron sailcloth available. Sailcloth is a brilliant material because it is so strong and yet, lightweight. It’s also extremely easy to clean with a swipe of a Magic Eraser. The bags and accessories can even be tossed in the washing machine to be completely cleaned. We love that our line is available in a wide range of playful and colorful designs—there’s something for everyone and for every taste!
Describe a typical day in your studio or office?
My days are a whirlwind! I am based out of Sarasota and my factory and fulfillment center are located in Indiana. A typical day starts with checking our social media, my emails and our latest sales from overnight. I communicate with our factory throughout the day regarding new designs, inventory and shipment requests. Some days find me answering Q&A’s like this one, which I love! Nothing makes me happier than sharing my story and the knowledge that I have gained so far with others—whether it’s through an interview or a quick coffee with a budding entrepreneur. I’m a big believer that it’s important to share and give back. Hayden Reis is where it is today because of so many generous people who helped me along the way. It’s a privilege to pay it forward.
What did you want to be when you grew up? How has your background influenced your work?
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but it took waiting until I noticed a void in the marketplace before I took the leap.
Prior to starting Hayden Reis, I worked in pharmaceutical sales. I had a fantastic career and am thankful for what I learned there: sales techniques, negotiation tactics, and tenacity—all mixed with the right amount of charm.
Favorite biz tool, app or resource?
I would have to say that networking and talking with other like-minded entrepreneurs is a tremendously valuable resource. I love listening to others experiences, takeaways, and words of wisdom. It’s like being the recipient of an ongoing education!
Where do you find inspiration?
One of the best parts of my day is working on new designs. We have a graphic designer, but most of the designs start in my head and are inspired by current fashion trends, friends’ requests and retailer needs. We are blessed to have a number of large resorts like Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton and Baker’s Bay that we design custom products for. So, if they have an icon that is signature to their location, we work on design concepts that will put that icon or symbol on our totes and wristlets.
I am also a big believer in thoughtful collaborations and thrilled to announce that this spring we’ll be launching totes designed by Rebekah Steen of Goldfish Kiss, Molly Miller of A Piece of Toast, Mandy Rye of Waiting on Martha, and Hanna Seabrook of Gadabout. The totes will be sold exclusively on our website (and the bloggers website as available). The idea started after the Palm Beach Lately ladies designed a very successful tote for our line. I decided it’s a fantastic way to spread the word about the brand and also develop wonderful relationships with such fantastic tastemakers and influencers. We love supporting them and I’m grateful for their input!
The rare day off – what do you do to unwind?
I love spending time with my husband and our children! We love to be outside when we can so we’ll take on anything from boating, bicycling, fishing and more. There’s nothing better than having quality time with them to re-charge my batteries!
Best business advice you ever received?
Only worry about, and focus on, the things that you can control. There are many ups and downs that come with owning your own business. If you focus on those, you will ride a constant roller coaster of emotions and experiences. However, if you always know that you are trying your best and treating others with dignity and respect, you will always come out on top.
For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below:
Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors. This series – “In the Studio With” – offers her the perfect opportunity to do so!
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