Lambert: My inspiration for Mae B started out of frustration. I have always had a passion for journaling and writing handwritten notes. I still have every birthday card and handwritten note anyone has given me since my first birthday. Cards are keepsakes so I was always on the lookout for cards that were stylish and the looked like me. Unfortunately, finding those types of options in high-end stationery boutiques and big box retailers are still few and far in between. I was sitting talking with my mom back in 2013 and I said to her, " What if I start my own line of stationery for women of color"? That's when my journey began.
When did you realize you had a gift?
I have always been very creative. I live to tell a story. I now do that through every card we sell at Mae B. There is always a personal reference or a story behind each card. My mom, my sister, aunts, and my best friends are my greatest inspiration. My life experiences also play a major part in the stories you all see on each card.
What makes Mae B. unique?
Mae B is unique in that our brand is a place where brown women can see themselves and be uplifted. The brand is named in honor of my grandmother Mae who we lost to pancreatic cancer. She always had this way of making everyone around her feel loved and valued which is a big part of how I run my company. It is also important to me to make sure our images are diverse in skin tone, body style, and hair styles. Brown women are so diverse and it's important to me that everyone is represented.
I'd also like to think we give our customers beautiful items, but also leave them inspired too. In a few of our items, you will see inspirational messages hidden in the images. On our weekly calendar, there is a box at the top that says, " I am". In that space, you have to write a positive adjective that describes you. That is a practice I adopted a few years ago when I was going through a really difficult time. In every new product we develop there are beauty and inspiration.
How often do you add new items to your collection?
Quarterly. When I first started Mae B, I felt pressure to add new items each month, but that became overwhelming. You can't rush the creative process. You have to leave room to find inspiration and listen to what your customer wants to see next.
What is next for Mae B.?
My focus right now is on wholesale. I want our customer to be able to walk into her neighborhood retailer and purchase our cards. Most people don't plan ahead to purchase a card for a special occasion and they shouldn't have to. There should be a diverse representation of cards beyond a tiny section on the card and stationery aisles in retail stores. For many this might seem trivial, but it's so important. Representation matters.
Where can we find your items in the Atlanta area?
We aren't in any stores yet, but we hope to be very soon! We had a great Trunk Show at Swoozie's for Mother's Day and they invited us back this fall!