“I never wanted a business.

In 2007, I went to buy the board game MEMORY for my friends as a baby gift, but the graphics were so horrible that I decided to make my own hand embroidered version. When I realized I was never going to finish it by hand, I bought a very expensive embroidery machine. To pay it off, I started making onesies and pillows to sell at the BROOKLYN FLEA.

That’s what started Coral & Tusk, which now makes embroidered products of all sorts: pillows, artwork, dolls, and other home accessories.

We moved into this office in October 2012. This is my inspiration wall. It changes depending on the projects we’re working on, or the season. I really like the mixture of patterns and hues, and how the different images and items live together.

Currently, there’s a lot of western-themed stuff, but colors are always my biggest source of inspiration.”

“The alpaca is our mascot. I got him when I was visiting my mom in Ohio, at a store where they only sell alpaca goods.

He doesn’t have a name because I like to keep things open.”

“The mask was inspired by the Costa Concordia crash that happened off the coast of Italy [in 2012]. The design is meant to recall a shipwreck, and it’s embroidered with coral and different sea life.

I’m not sure why, but I was super obsessed with the incident.”

“The stuffed couple was a gift from the owner of Makié, a high-end children’s shop on Thompson Street [in New York City].

My husband, Chris, has blond hair, and when she gave them to me, she pointed her tiny finger at the man’s privates and said, ‘This is Chris.’ I nearly died.”

“The woven baskets are full of feathers — a mixture of hawks, owls, and others — that were gifts from my mom. She collected most of them in the backwoods of Ohio, where I grew up.

“One of our employees made this doll version of my dog, a Cane Corso Mastiff rescue named Paco. He’s in a fox costume and has others: a fur seal, a lumberjack, a ballerina, all kinds.”

“The three pouches are from Istanbul, Turkey.
They’re antique Anatolian coin purses.”

“We’re working on a new product called a MEMORY MAP, which is a map of the United States we’ll sell with a set of felt charms that one can pin to remember special places, like your birthplace or favorite vacation spot.”

“I took the photo of the old cabin [at top] while traveling out West this past spring. That trip inspired a series of three pocket pillows in our Fall 2015 collection. The designs feature animals that make things and the spaces they dwell in, like the Apothecary Bear [at bottom] who lives in a walled tent full of the healing concoctions he creates.”

“This is the embroidery machine that started it all. Nowadays, I use it to prototype products here before sending them to our team in India for production.”


Photography byBramble Trionfo

As told toMichelle Rizzi

Stephanie Housley is the New York City-based founder of Coral & Tusk.

Did you see? Designer Waris Ahluwalia shares critters from his personal menagerie, milliner Gigi Burris remembers the first hat she ever bought.