Rebecca's Traveling Thread

Sarah Vizard and her Brittany Spaniel Birdie outside B. Viz Design New Orleans Atelier on Magazine Street in New Olreans, LA.

Greetings from the Pillow Pusher! Baby Viz here taking over the blog this month to tell you a little about my role at B. Viz Design..

Three years ago this month I officially began working with my mom to help keep the pillow business alive. Let’s just say that after nearly 25 years, Mom was starting to feel exhausted. Coincidentally it was just about the same time that I decided to move back home after living in Colorado for a few years. Mom likes to say it was just in the nick of time...

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that these aren’t your typical pillows we’re selling. Our designs are truly one-of-a-kind works of art, each with their own history. In fact, I often feel more like an art dealer than a pillow pusher. It never ceases to amaze me when I think about how these incredible creations were made or the hands that made them in the past. Sharing those stories with our clients is one of my favorite aspects of the job, I call that “Pillow Talk.” It just thrills me to see a customer’s enthusiasm grow after learning not only about the textile’s history but also about the work our seamstresses do to save the fragment.

Baby Viz Takes the Wheel

When I first started “pillow pushing”, I was on the road A LOT! Good thing I love to drive. It was a wonderful way to meet many of our collectors and a great chance for me to see friends along the way. Another perk of road tripping with Mom was having countless opportunities to learn from her and some quality one-on-one time to brainstorm and strategize.

After a few months on the road together, I began to feel more confident and thought I was ready to journey out on my own. Mom and I were headed north to Charleston after wrapping up a lovely pillow show in Sea Island, Georgia, when I can specifically remember telling her not to worry, that “I’ve got this road thing down.” A moment later and we saw a giant sign saying “Welcome to Florida!” We both fell out laughing. That’s another of my favorite things about working with Mom, we laugh a lot while making treasured memories.

Growing up, the textile hunt lingered in the background of every trip we took as a family. I can’t tell you how different it is now that I’m invested in the business. The first time I went on an official buying trip with Mom to France, I felt like my senses were on fire. That was when I really got into textile hunting. Mom always says you have to find the diamond in the rough and y’all wouldn’t believe what kind of “roughs” Mom has gotten us into!

I remember my first big textile score. It was in a brocante we stumbled upon by chance. I saw the piece before mom did and quickly ran over to inspect the tapestry. It was the most gorgeous tapestry fragment. When I picked it up I shouted “oui!” I was so proud and giddy with excitement. It was such a special piece and had all of the colors I know our customers love. To this day, those are some of my favorite pillows we’ve produced. Maybe because I was able to experience their full lifecycle - from discovering the textile, to repairing the fragment, to repurposing it into a pillow, and finally selling them. The B. Viz Design Circle of Pillow Life.

Rebecca Vizard and Sarah Vizard of B. Viz Design inspect an antique vestment in a Parisian Flea Market.
Sarah Vizard and Rebecca Vizard of B. Viz Design pose in antique embroidered coats at a Flea Market in Paris, France.
Sarah Vizard of B. Viz Design sets up the booth at the Nashville Antiques & Garden Show in Nashville, Tennessee (February 2020).
The B. Viz Design booth at the Nashville Antiques & Garden Show in Nashville, Tennessee (February 2020).

We opened our New Orleans Atelier in October 2018 after Gerrie Bremermann (the Interior Design trailblazer) retired and closed her eponymous boutique which housed our pillows among a number of other treasures. When Gerrie shuttered her business at 91, it signaled the end of one era but also presented us with a new beginning. We knew we wanted to find a space to keep the pillows in the city that started it all! One of Mom’s childhood friends, who is the proprietor of Balzac Antiques, heard we were looking and graciously offered us space in her beautiful double shotgun on Magazine Street. I manage the Atelier which doubles as our showroom with my amazing friend and coworker Eliza. It’s a textile lovers dream with pillows and textiles galore.

We work with several other fabulous retailers, including: Foxglove Antiques in Atlanta, Fritz Porter in Charleston, Joyce Horn in Houston, Nick Brock in Dallas, Summerhouse in Jackson, MS and Fireside Antiques in Baton Rouge. From time to time we’ll host a pop-up pillow show at one of these shops or elsewhere around the country. I’ve so enjoyed getting to know the shop owners and helping to spread the pillow love.

The remnants of a well-worn antique Verdure tapestry fragment as discovered in a Parisian Flea Market by Sarah Vizard of B. Viz Design.

The drive from New Orleans to our family home on Lake Bruin in St. Joseph, LA is about three and a half hours and at this point I feel like I can almost do it blindfolded - not that I’d ever try! On these trips I’ll pick up Mom’s latest designs from the studio and deliver them, along with all of the pillow components to our seamstresses. Before leaving, I’ll grab whatever work’s been completed so it can be photographed to put online and finally, I’ll bring the pillows back with me to the Atelier.

There are a lot of moving parts in this pillow pushing business but that’s definitely one of the most important aspects of our work - keeping everybody else working! That’s what motivates me and Mom the most. The seamstresses in our tiny little town are absolutely crushing it. The quality and craftsmanship is so fine and only gets better and better. Everytime I pick up a pillow, I’m blown away!

Three B. Viz Design pillows adorn this blue living room in Nashville, TN. The antique tapestry pillows are made using Sarah Vizard's tapestry fragment.

Sarah Vizard of B. Viz Design in a packed car headed for another B. Viz road trip!

With me leading the sales efforts, Mom is able to slow down a bit and enjoy spending more time at home or in her studio. After a childhood spent rolling my eyes at Mom braking for countless flea markets, I never would have thought the day would come where I would be so passionate about pillows and antique textiles.

Over the last few years I’ve learned so much from Mom and have grown to become quite attached to our pillows. Sometimes, like with those gorgeous tapestry pillows, I do get a little attached and am sad to see them go. But knowing they’re going to such good homes makes me smile! The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that when you own a business that it means working 24/7/365. When your business is your life, you never really turn it off.

With that said, I gotta keep on pushing! :) ‘Til next time…

Rebecca Vizard