Small Talk, Slow Fashion: Designing for a Local Business That Actually Cares

Last year, one of my most favorite projects was being able to work with Suzanne Riska and Chloe Crites of Small Talk. Small Talk is located on a cute strip in Clintonville next to some of my other local favorite shops like Eclectiques Antique Mall, Dough Mama, and Valiente Good Co.

Before they came to us for branding, I was drawn to them because they sell ethically made clothing. They actually introduced me to the world of slow fashion. What is slow fashion? Simply put, it’s buying quality-made clothing that’ll last a long time—brands that value the fair treatment of those who bring you that nice shirt you’re wearing. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m slowly trying to get my closet to be made up of 100% sustainable stuff so I’m not constantly buying more clothes. I don’t need more—I just need things that will last. Another reason why I immediately liked Suzanne and Chloe is because of how kind they are, and how they’re not constantly pushing for a sale. They genuinely want you to look and feel good in the clothes that they carry.

Suzanne and Chloe came to us needing to change their name because of some legal issues. It was really upsetting when they got the news; I can only imagine how they felt. Since we were in a time-crunch, the whole team was asked to come up with some different name ideas. We took all precautions to make sure we could legally use the names, and that no other retailer owned it already. We put together a presentation with each name typed out in a basic font to prevent distractions or bias, and then met with them soon after. We came up with about 20 names and let Chloe and Suzanne sit with them for a couple days. Ultimately, they came back to us having discovered their new name on their own. It felt more right that they came up with their own name since their store is like their baby.

After the new name was decided upon, I got to do their branding. They provided a lovely moodboard which I took inspiration from (you can find it here!).

Since they’re local to Columbus, it was nice to be able to present them their concepts in person. I presented them with four different concepts: the first being a dark color palette with a hard-edged font and halftones running through it, the second being more playful and noodly, because I took inspiration from their squiggle wall near the fitting rooms in the back of the store, the third I decided to try something more minimal, and the fourth I decided to take inspiration from some of the brands they sell in stores and came up with a delicate script. I also added colorful, muted brush strokes to add to how everything they sell is handmade—and that every piece they carry is designed by an artist. They were torn between the second and fourth concept, but ended up choosing the fourth with some different color options to the brush strokes. The fourth option was also my favorite because it was the one where I got to experiment doing some custom designing. I believe it fits their aesthetic perfectly, and it’s also cool to know that no one else will have a logo just like it because of how custom it is.

I remember someone asking me if I saw the sign yet when the new one first got put up, and I asked, “What sign?” I finally discovered they had a sign hand-painted for the front of their store. I’ve never seen a logo I’ve designed that big before. It made me want to throw up (in a good way).

This project was so great because, among the three of us, we share the same values and interests. I’ve always loved their aesthetic and the brands of clothing they continue to bring in. After getting to know them more, I just fell in love with how kind and genuine they really are. Chloe and Suzanne would even pick out outfits for me to try on just for fun. I always want to help people no matter how big or small they are. If I know they’re good people, I want to help. Truth be told, I would’ve been happy even if they didn’t choose to work with me. The fact is, I didn’t want to see them quit, because I have always believed in what they’re doing—which is investing time and money into something that will last for a while. Also, they have super cute, comfortable, and stylish clothing—I could practically live in those first pants I bought from them.

March 12, 2019
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