In this series on The Southern C, readers get to “meet” many of the interesting and creative entrepreneurs we know online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits. These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Take a peek into their day to day life, find out what they are working on, discover their “a-ha” moment and gain insight into 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 we are happy at The Southern C to do our part in sharing the creativity!
Laura Johnson, an entrepreneurial artisan inspired by the celebrations of her own life, founded Coton Colors in 1995. Influenced by a childhood immersed in the colorful culture of old Miami and ingrained with the Southern charm of her current home in Tallahassee, FL, Laura has created a leading lifestyle brand in the giftware, dining and decor industries.
From its inception, Coton Colors relied on Johnson’s family ties to make it a successful endeavor. With her father, mother, sister and now daughters working beside her, it’s a family affair as they design and manufacture their colorful, handcrafted pottery, creative giftware and seasonal pieces, which are currently available in more than 3,000 retail locations.
Coton Colors motto “never miss an opportunity to celebrate everyday” lives up to that promise as it delivers chic sophistication and a touch of whimsy to exclusive designs. Their three signature collections – kitchen and home, ornaments, and the fun line aptly titled Happy Everything – are meant to encourage people to celebrate life’s milestones – both big and small!
Describe your brand and business:
Coton Colors designs and manufactures three collections for all of one’s celebrating needs: Kitchen & Home, Ornaments, and Happy Everything! We created all three collections from the inspiration from my own life celebrations and to encourage people to celebrate life’s milestones – big and small. Our products and designs are coveted pieces for many discerning hostesses, entertainers, and gift-givers, encouraging all people to embody the celebratory Coton Colors lifestyle.
Such a unique name – what’s the story behind that?
Coton Colors was born in 1989 when I began hand-dying and painting colorful cotton dresses for my newborn, Kyle, and also for friends. I have always loved bright colors, and from painting dresses to pottery, the name stuck!
What did you want to be when you grew up and how has your background influenced your work?
I have always loved creating things. I was constantly doing so when I was younger. Growing up in the colorful Miami and having a mother who always encouraged my artistic spirit has had such an impact on my work, as well as my passion for entertaining. I’m lucky that my love of creating allowed me to start a business where we are designing every day!
Favorite business tool(s)?
Traction by Gino Wickman. Might not be considered a tool, but our entire management team read it and it has helped us refine our business and work to improve it so much.
Where do you find inspiration?
Learning new things through reading and travel always serves to inspire me.
The rare day off – what do you do to unwind?
On my days off, or the few and far between, I love to head to our family’s beach house at Alligator Point, a short drive from Tallahassee.
Too many. I’m always reading – if I could read all day, I would! If I had to select, it would be Cross Creek, by Majorie Kinnan Rawlings or anything by Pearl Buck. See, I can’t pick just one!
Out of Africa– love the scenery!
Hmm. I’m not too up on music, but I absolutely loved the “Cheerleader” song by Omi… so fun to dance to that song!
A diet Arnold Palmer! I always try and bribe co-workers to grab one for me when they run out for lunch.
Nice hotels anywhere in the world.
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 Q&A series offers her the perfect opportunity to do so!
For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below: