Q+A WITH CARMEN SATCHELL NASH OF LOFT AND THOUGHT
Carmen Satchell Nash is a talented creative with many skills. She is a vintage dealer, interior stylist, designer, artist, and mother. I have been a massive fan of Carmen's since I stumbled across her account about a year ago. Her Instagram is chock-full of one-of-a-kind quality vintage finds. I am lucky enough to own a stunning white ceramic vase she sourced and a quirky travertine table that I had no spot for but just had to have (who can relate?). Carmen has mastered the "mix," combining materials, styles, and textures with a practiced eye. I am thrilled to feature my Q+A with Carmen as our first journal entry of the new year.
How would you describe your style in a few words?
I am a self-described visual poet. My style encompasses collecting, styling, and articulating the stories I see, find, and feel in objects. These stories are rooted in my own recollection and memories of growing up as a woman of color in rural southern America.
You made a career switch from beauty to home; tell us a bit of how that happened?
My first career was in spa management and aesthetics. I worked in some of the top resort spas in Florida, such as the Ritz Carlton and Hyatt hotels. I eventually even opened my own beauty studio on the ocean, which was an amazing experience. I fell in love with how self-care rituals uplift the individual and how holistically nurturing oneself could create inner happiness. For about ten years, that was my life until I had my first child, which changed everything. Motherhood changed my whole perspective on life. After staying home with my baby for a while, the urge to create and beautify came over me again, so I started buying for my home with the same philosophy of slow, ritualistic collecting and decorating. I would paint, weave and even make pottery at night. Eventually, after I had no more room in my own home, the idea to buy vintage and sell it came into my mind. I would be able to stay home with my child and earn income as well...It was a no-brainer transition for me.
What are your own artistic practices, and how do you feed your creativity?
I try my hands in everything to feed my creativity. I've tried weaving, carving, painting, and pottery, and I am now even attempting basketry. I have many interests, and I allow my hands to explore different things. It is often simply the practice of creating and figuring out the process that satiates my artisticness. I've always dreamed of selling my art once I truly find my voice in my medium. Product design is another one of my passions!
You have such a signature aesthetic and a fantastic ability to mix vintage and antique finds from different eras; how did you develop your style?
For the longest time, when I was developing my style, I refused to look at other furniture accounts. I wanted to find out what furniture felt like for me outside of what others were doing. So I would explore things in literature, my own spirituality, my culture, and nature to connect and be inspired. Looking closely at my curation style, you will see all these things reflected. Once I discovered that there are no rules in curation, I felt safe to trust my own heart and show things as I see them in my own little world. Items that are fanciful, like umbrellas, bowls of fruit, and sunny vignettes, became the signature in the world I had created in my head. When it comes to mixing furniture, I feel the furniture speaks on its own and often moves me to combine certain things or remove them. I think my perspective of collecting and styling has its own language.
When you source vintage or antiques, what are you looking for? Is there a style or period that you gravitate towards?
I never really consider the period so much as I do the style of the object. When I buy, I mainly consider the object’s shape, texture, material, and obscurity. I also follow my own themes that tell the story of Loft and Thought. For example, I often buy white ceramics because it reminds me of what people wear to baptisms in my culture. This remembrance and honoring of “wearing white” plays heavily in how I purchase and in the storytelling of my brand.
Favorite places to source vintage and antiques?
I leave no stone unturned when I am sourcing vintage. I buy online and in auctions and at flea markets and vintage shops. I can always get a sense of who the good sellers are and make mental notes on my favorite spots to land great vintage.
Who are your style heroes?
I have a few style heroes who have inspired and taught me in developing my style. I don't limit that inspiration to interior designers. Some of my style heroes include Toni Morrison, Nina Simone, Kelly Wearstler, Tess Guinery, and Simone Evette Leigh. A variety of strong women from different genres with strong and distinct perspectives.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I look for inspiration in music lyrics, photography, and my own life experiences. I am a lover of language, so books always bring great inspiration. I also look for inspiration from other artists that I have found on Instagram. The great thing about the internet is that there is never a lack in finding new inspiration.
Is there anything you personally collect?
I collect umbrellas and just recently acquired one that belonged to my grandmother. I also collect books and beautifully carved mirrors.
How do you balance being a mother to three young children, running a business, sourcing, and finding time for your self-care and creativity?
This is my biggest struggle, and I am still learning my way around what balance looks like. However, I will always prioritize my children, and I try to integrate them into aspects of my business. I read, light candles, and take long baths in my moments of quiet. I need creativity like I need to breathe, so I often have to force that time. I continue to tell myself that I will have more than enough time one day.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned since founding Loft and Thought?
Since founding Loft and Thought, the biggest lesson I have learned is that everyone may not connect with my aesthetic and to be ok with that. I want to speak my truth, inspire and create a brand that I am proud of. I leave room for myself to expand and not stay stuck in one place because growth is good. I have also learned that meeting the mark of being "as good as other accounts" is not as important as clearly delivering my aesthetic and perspective.