Interview and Article by Margot De Boer for Scarsdale Moms
This week, Rachel Schmerin gives us a peek behind the scenes of her growing apparel & accessories business – Whigstock Studio – and some kickass advice for any aspiring momtrepreneurs out there. In between hand-embroidering cozy sweatshirts while waiting in the school pick-up line and helping customers plan out the dreamiest tablescapes, we caught up with Rachel to hear how a fun quarantine activity with her family evolved into a full fledged creative studio and collection of handcrafted, one-of-a-kind table top, accessory and apparel pieces.
Tell us about your family and life in Scarsdale, please!
I’m a mom of 3 kids (ages 9, 7, and 4), and my family has lived in Scarsdale since 2015. I love the sense of community here and the walkability of our neighborhood (Fox Meadow). Walking to town for breakfast at Parkway, seeing kids on their way to school each day and knowing all the neighborhood dogs are some of the little joys I’ve found living here. We also love strolls down the Bronx River path and boating in the Long Island Sound in summer.
How did Whigstock Studio start?
Whigstock Studio is a pandemic baby born during the summer of 2020 in the thick of quarantine. I was hungry for a way to keep my kids busy and with no traditional camps in session, we had to bring some old school fun into our own backyard “camp” and started tie dyeing with my children and others in the neighborhood. It started with hoodies and t-shirts, and everything blossomed from there. The name Whigstock Studio is an homage to our little crew of families here in Fox Meadow that kept each other sane during Covid.
Was there an aha moment, when you decided to turn your Covid hobby into a business? What did that process look like?
I love to entertain and connect with people I cherish, something that was harder to do during the pandemic. I was finding the physical process of tie dyeing to be so therapeutic during this time, and one day my sister-in-law’s mother stopped by with a magazine clipping of a hand-dyed tablecloth and napkin set. It really threw things in motion: I started ordering everything I could get my hands on in white linen and cotton, and experimenting with different patterns. Pretty soon friends started to ask for sets of table linens in different colors and designs.
I grew up in a home where my mom was always hosting, bringing people together while pouring her heart into thoughtful menus and beautiful tablescapes. Entertaining and nourishing is in my blood, and so starting with table linens was a natural springboard for the brand. I then began branching out beyond linens into hand-dyed totes, pouches, and lounge sets and hoodies.
As we grew through word of mouth, partnerships and pop-up events, I was also learning how to embroider by hand. My grandma and mom guided me through my first stitches. Today I’m hand-embroidering custom orders and I especially enjoy the conversations and stories that come with collaborating with clients to pick the perfect phrase, or just the right palette for a rainbow on a denim jacket, that will make a piece hold special meaning to someone.
Any advice for other momtrepreneurs or someone who wants to launch their own business someday?
I was fortunate to have a hive of supportive momtrepreneurs encouraging me to have the guts to turn this into something bigger. Starting in your own backyard (not necessarily literally!) is so important and I have found a huge support system both here in Scarsdale and with other female entrepreneurs in the surrounding area.
As far as advice goes, don’t discount the power of believing in yourself and putting yourself out there. Take educated risks, and know that what looks pretty and perfect from the outside is often messy behind the curtain. I find there are a lot of chicken and egg moments and I continually tell myself not to be afraid to learn as I go and listen to my heart.
Know your priorities, and don’t lose sight of them. My kids will always come first but through founding this business, I’ve been able to show them that if they put their minds to something they can create their own success; having them be a part of and see my business growing is a lead by example moment that I hope will stay with them as they mature.
What’s next for Whigstock Studio and where/how can we buy your creations?
I am in the process of launching a capsule collection of table linens & hand dyed napkins, placemats, coasters, cloths and accessories. The collection will launch in March 2023 on our website with pieces in four colors that can be mixed and matched.
I’m also psyched about The Sweatshirt Bar by Whigstock Studio, which is launching officially on Feb 7th to offer custom embroidery on a line of super soft, sustainably-made bamboo/cotton sweatshirts in 3 colors (denim, sand, and after dark). The line is unisex in adult sizes S, M, & L, and soon will include pieces to match your big and little minis, too! I have several pop up events coming up where I’ll be selling and embroidering onsite: The Wellground (2/2), Dear Dreamer in Brooklyn (2/10), and The New York Flower School in Chelsea (2/14).
Both of these new collections will go live and be available to order on www.whigstockstudio.com. The best place to follow all future drops and events is my instagram, @WhigstockStudio; you can always DM me there with any inquiries or custom order requests!
Can you spill the tea on your favorite…
Book you’ve read recently or Bingeworthy TV show: Piggie + Elephant – should I share my ice cream? // I can never keep my eyes open by the time I finish bedtime x3 but I really want to watch white lotus
Splurge shopping destination (local or not!): Nike Jordans – I have a sneaker problem
Date night spot: Oko Rye
Bagel or brunch spot: Sammy’s for Bagels, Parkway for Breakfast
Ladies night out destination: Happy Monkey (Greenwich)
Meal out with the fam: Meritage
Place to treat yourself to something nice: Iris Nail mani pedi + foot massage
Outing with the kids: A day out on the water in the sound exploring the inlets from Mamaroneck to Rye and Greenwich
Hidden Westchester gem: Snackery in Rye, Stone Barns