philly creatives – chanee vijay



Born out of a passion for eco-friendly, sustainable and stylish design, Chanee Vijay Textiles specializes in hand-printed, organic and modern home decor. Despite the growth and success her business has achieved, Chanee’s slow design philosophy has not waivered–her dedication is inspiring. With her hand in each step of the design process, she draws, carves, paints and pulls her designs, before sewing them with her beloved vintage Bernina (read more about her process and see a fun stop motion video here). In addition to her pillows, I’m smitten with all of her creations, including framed prints, tableware, and her latest – aprons (made from a delicious European hemp), debuting soon! Her impeccable, restrained taste extends to every aspect of her life, and it’s a delight to call Chanee a good friend. We first connected online years ago, having both moved from Charlotte to Philadelphia, discovering later we have mutual friends and lived only a few blocks from each other.  We are currently working on an exciting collaboration…stay tuned!

what inspires you?

There are so many outlets for inspiration – blogs, print magazines, design books – but like many designers, I spend more time working than browsing for inspiration. I’m almost overly inspired every day because I’m a visual person. I have years of inspiration built up – after traveling to India twice, and cycling through France, Italy and New Zealand- there’s still so much to tap into.  Over the past few years I’ve found a wonderful online community of designers, makers, design bloggers and artists. Some of these creative people I’ve met in real life at design events, and others I hope to meet. They are so talented and supportive, which keeps me energized. I use Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to share new designs with them, home design ideas, and to see bits of their beautiful lives. Whenever I check my Instagram feed in the evening, I have the urge to go back into my studio and create.

what did you do prior to starting your own business?

I left my job in new product marketing at Bank of America in 2010. I spent my mornings writing new product concepts, creating marketing governance presentations, and other focused writing tasks. I spent my afternoons on conference calls. I traveled once a month to conduct focus groups to test the new product concepts.

at what point did you decide to make your passion a business, and what inspired you?

My husband saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. While I was still working at Bank of America, he encouraged me to start a blog about eco-friendly home decor. A year later, he encouraged me to make and sell something with that same eco-minded blog brand. I didn’t know I had a maker in me, but apparently he knew I did. Once you’re doing something you love and have the support you need to grow, it’s difficult to go back to writing Powerpoint decks full of corporate jargon. It’s really incredible that I have such a supportive husband that continues to encourage me to grow my business while staying true to my slow design philosophy.

explain your business and the idea behind it.

I remember sending a tweet on Twitter exclaiming that I was not a crafty person. At the time I was working in marketing at a bank and had an eco-friendly design blog, called {me}longings. Thinking back to that tweet now makes me laugh…as I glance around my studio full of screens, ink, test prints, bolts of fabric and stacks of pillow covers. I started designing pillow covers because I wanted washable pillows for my home – both sophisticated and eco-friendly – so I  made them from scratch. There’s definitely a sense of pride since I taught myself how to print. I probably do it a little differently, but it works for me.

as you’ve developed your business/brand, what has surprised you most?

I’ve watched my sales double and triple each year, and it’s great to make a profit. But I’ve learned that growth for growth’s sake doesn’t fit into my business model. I can’t increase my production much more, so I have to raise my prices to keep up with demand. I design what I like, what fits my aesthetic, and I work with people who appreciate it. This keeps me on a clear path that allows me to stay true to my design vision, my brand and the principles of slow and sustainable design. I feel fortunate that I get make something I like every day.

when did you know you’d “made it” as a creative entrepreneur?

I don’t think there was one moment when I realized it. There were little moments that built upon each other…like interest from West Elm and the Better Homes & Garden photo shoot of our former home in Charlotte. One of those exciting moments was when companies I admired wanted to collaborate with me or sell my textiles in their stores. For example, I collaborated with Schoolhouse Electric to design and print two pillows for their spring home wares collection. It’s wonderful to work with large companies who understand the nature of handmade items, give the maker credit and promote the collaboration.

where do you work from? tell us about your office and/or studio.

I work from the 4th floor of my 200+ year old Federal row house in center city. My studio has the best light for printing and photography – especially in the morning. It has 2 skylights and this incredible wall of windows that opens to my roof deck.  My bolts of hemp fabric are attached to wall over my super sized printing table. Adjacent to the printing table is a very large sink for rinsing my screens, and another large table on casters for cutting and packaging orders. I have an area dedicated to photography near the wonderful wall of windows, a table for sewing and serging, and a desk for my laptop, printer, etc. On the opposite wall, I keep my finished pillow covers and loose fabric in two glass hutches  atop three filing cabinets. It’s my sunny happy place.

what’s a typical work day look like for you?

With coffee in hand, I start the day on the computer – reviewing shop orders, printing mailing labels and writing thank you (by hand) notes to clients, answering client emails, and making the “to print” list for the day. By 10am I’m cutting fabric, mixing ink and prepping my printing table to screen print the day’s orders. Since my studio is on the 4th floor of our home, I try to have lunch in the kitchen to break up the day. I spend the afternoon sewing pillow orders printed a few days before, and wrapping up the pillows orders due for shipping. I walk the packages to the post office, then take my big dogs for their afternoon walk. In the spring, summer, and fall, I return to the studio to prep, print or sew until the light fades and the sun starts setting. In between all of those tasks, I’m cleaning up after myself. So much thread, so much ink!

what is the most challenging aspect of running your own business?

Finding time to design. I make things all day. But the more successful I get, the less time I have for design work. There’s a beautiful balance somewhere and I know I’m close to finding it. The biggest challenge was my transition from a handmade Etsy shop to a print making design studio – doesn’t that sound more official? It’s so true though. I was getting attention from national magazines, prominent design bloggers, West Elm, and many others wanting to sell or feature my pillows. I finally decided that the wholesale model doesn’t work for my design process. I simply can’t make 1000 pillows at cost, and have a life with time to do some actual designing. I learned to align my brand with companies and stores that have similar aesthetics, and an appreciation for ‘made by the designer’ eco-friendly textiles. Basically, I’m very picky.

what projects are you most proud of?

Sometimes it’s the little things. I love working with my mother. She’s an incredible seamstress and she’s taught me so much. She ran her own bridal shop for 30 + years, and sewed my wedding dress – made of hemp/silk, of course. When she visits we make pillows, aprons, pouches, bags and other pieces that don’t always end up for sale in my Etsy shop. I like the process of collaborating with another person. I tend to take risks that I wouldn’t necessarily take if I was working alone.


please check out Chanee elsewhere… shop / etsy / twitter / facebook / instagram / pinterest

 **philly creatives is a regular the archives here** 


  1. Thank you, Susan! It’s an honor to be included in your list of Philly Creatives. You’re the best!

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