If you are stressed about last-minute gift-giving, I’ve got a humdinger of a solution. Honey + Hank is a local company that began with a desire to create products that celebrate meaningful places and pastimes.
Jenny Smiley is the CEO and designer of Honey + Hank — a name derived from what her children call their grandparents. While Jenny is the creative force, having spent time as a creative director for Barrington Gifts, her husband Taylor is in advertising, so he brings the voice of the brand.
Taylor is from New Orleans and noticed some hyper-local brands celebrating The Big Easy. They both loved the concept but wanted a bigger reach. The Stateside Collection was born.
“One evening, I started sketching the states, then digitizing them,” Jenny said. “As I began to play with the states, I decided to forget the orientation as a state sits on a map, and instead use it as a graphic element. I could size the design to whatever I needed, rotate it, or flip it. But I wanted to make sure it would not be cut off or not recognizable as the state. I let the graphic shapes dictate the design, and I created a good 50-60 designs in that one night.”
Jenny then went on to do other recognizable prints, cool florals, and geometrics, including one design she calls her critter patterns. “For instance, I use the state of Texas shape and turned it into a cowboy boot. Each critter makes sense for the state.”
Her first product was her pillows, and now there are 156 different products in the Honey + Hank line, from tea towels and scarves to napkins and her latest launch of melamine dinner plates.
Now, you can find the perfect gift for friends and family in 13 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and of course Texas.
Although Jenny’s husband is peripherally involved, she also has co-founders on board. Erik Stiller and Rick Apple joined Jenny and Taylor in the company’s infancy.
“Erik handles the digital side, website, and ads,” Jenny said. “We got connected through a mutual friend. I asked for business advice, and when he saw the designs, he wanted to get involved. He and Rick have been instrumental in our growth.” The Honey + Hank team also includes a wholesale rep and a marketing person in addition to the founders.
“There is never a dull moment,” Jenny said. “But, the best moment of all is when the prototype for a product I’ve designed arrives, and I see it for the first time. It’s so exciting!”
Keep your eye on Honey + Hank. Collaborations with companies you know and love are in the works and they are on my list of Ones to Watch!