My name is Phoebe. I'm the founder, designer, and maker behind Untold Imprint. I started my life as a textile designer 17 years ago in corporate design, after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. For most of my career, I worked for large companies, making my way from assistant designer to creative director, and all the stops in between. Several years into my career, I noticed that the gap between me and my creative self widened with each change of position and title. It was such a subtle shift, stretched out over a decade and a half, and bringing with it all sorts of positive happenings, that I hardly paid any attention to it. Then all at once, I felt lost, completely off course and not sure how to find myself again.
One day in 2011, at the behest of a teacher, I answered the question: What do I want my life to look like in ten years? The answer that formed very clearly in my mind was in sharp contrast to the life I was living – change was definitely on the horizon. Just a few months later, while looking back on many years of wonderful experiences and world travels that corporate design afforded me, and with a huge sense of achievement and gratitude, I made the somewhat scary decision to realign myself with my true potential and forge my own path. Untold Imprint has been the result of that endeavor and I can honestly say that it's been the most meaningful personal and creative work I've ever done. I design, print, dye, and make everything in my shop by hand in small batches. The collection is an offering of home textiles, accessories, jewelry, garlands, and a selection of art prints. New items and patterns are added throughout the year, as I'm inspired by my own ideas or requests from customers.
I’m often asked at markets what 'Untold Imprint' means. It’s difficult, during the hustle and bustle of shows, to explain in a few moments all that it means to me, and why it came to be in the first place, but this is how I usually start…
I welcome and encourage imperfection in everything I make because it leaves my trace. Lifting the screen from newly printed fabric usually has an unexpected outcome. I like to think of it as discovering something hidden, an untold story imprinted into every piece.
Many times this quick explanation opens a conversation about how I work: my favorite materials, inspiration, and the handmade process…
My favorite materials are: unbleached cotton, hemp, and linen, especially textiles with lots of irregularities or slubs – those that show evidence of the human hand. And of course, old textiles – the more worn and threadbare, the better.
A few things that inspire me are: old photographs (from the 1930’s are my favorite), antique markets, nature walks with Alice, vintage textiles, India, historical documentaries about the United States, my niece ("Peanut"), and the handmade community.
The handmade process is a calling for me; it's a part of my daily life, and a complete joy as well. I’m happiest when I’m making. It still amazes and excites me that with my own two hands and a few simple tools, I can create something that didn’t exist before in the world. The best part is knowing that someone thousands of miles away, in another country, living a different life, is wearing the apron that I made. It brings me immense joy.
The words untold and imprint by themselves are two of my favorites because they convey something immeasurable, lasting, and mysterious. Lofty ideas maybe, for a collection of handmade textiles, but I hope that in some way, my creations and the way they're presented impart a sense of these feelings and images – of stories that unravel with time and telling, and always get better with age.
Thanks so much for visiting my space and spending time reading a little bit of my story.
~ Phoebe Stout