The Advocate "How 'Heavenly Bodies' inspired a home decor craze in Baton Rouge that has gone nationwide"


Written by Lauren Cheramie 

Read the full article. 

In a sea of closed department stores and shuttered businesses after the pandemic, it seems like Fig & Dove in Baton Rouge has hacked the code. Owner Colleen Waguespack operates both Fig & Dove, a curated home décor line, and Colleen Waguespack Interiors, under the umbrella she calls "hybrid retail," which allows Waguespack to merge the convenience of e-commerce with the charm of a brick-and-mortar in the showroom at 5207 Essen Lane. "What we didn't anticipate was for customers to stop by every day, but we call it shopping with a purpose," Waguespack said. Purpose was a moving force behind the interior designer's goal for the space, where she and her team seem to do it all: ship out orders, receive large shipments, create content, greet customers and conduct business meetings. Purpose also translates to the items that Fig & Dove offers, such as the acrylic cardinals that symbolize lost loved ones or the acrylic doves that represent peace. Waguespack's goal with Fig & Dove is to create investment pieces that customers can use throughout the year. Though, one product, or shall we say a combination of products, stands out. "What are the two things people come in here for? The wreath and the wreath sash," Waguespack says matter-of-factly.

From Christmas, to Easter and beyond 
In 1997, Waguespack graduated from the LSU School of Interior Design. For the first 10 years of her career, she worked as a project interior designer for commercial architecture firms in Washington, D.C. She moved back to Louisiana in 2007 and joined the New Orleans interior design firm Holden and Dupuy, working in residential interior design. When she would finish a client's home, they would often ask her and her colleagues to decorate their homes for the holidays. I'd always say, 'No, I don't do that.' It seemed too decorative for me," Waguespack said. Then, one of the houses was selected to be in the December 2016 issue of inRegister Magazine, so they asked her to style it for Christmas. She began noticing that the décor options were thematic, low-quality and in off-the-wall color palettes that didn't match people's houses. Her solution? To do it herself. In 2015, she launched Fig & Dove with her first holiday product, an ivory, monogramable, cuffed Christmas stocking that is still the most popular stocking she sells today. In 2016, the interior designer opened Colleen Waguespack Interiors. After her stocking success, she released 72-inch wide tree skirts because she noticed that the regular, 52-inch ones were too small. Then, she introduced acrylic doves that weren't breakable like other Christmas ornaments. She thought that Christmas would be her forte, but customers began asking for decorations for Easter, Thanksgiving and other holidays. "The front door has helped us with all of those," Waguespack said. "I'm a designer who doesn't like bows, so the wreath sash was an idea I came up with."

The wreath sash phenomenon
In a serendipitous encounter, Waguespack visited the Heavenly Bodies exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2018, which examined fashion's ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism. She passed by a mannequin that was adorned with a papal vestment. "I was literally standing in front of it, thinking, 'What do I call it? A wreath wrap or wreath sash?,'" Waguespack recalls. "I was taking pictures of all the ways they had everything embellished because it just related so well to our brand. This exhibit, for me, was totally inspirational." When she returned to the office, Waguespack took to the stocking fabric, cut it into the proper size and tied it in a knot at the bottom of a boxwood wreath. For Christmas, Fig & Dove sold wreath sashes that customers could add a monogram to in red, green or gold. "They did really well, and then, in my mind, it was over," Waguespack said. It wasn't. In fact, the game had only just begun. Waguespack's wreath sash has become a bit of a phenomenon. Since that first Christmas sash, Fig & Dove has sold wreath sashes nationwide with custom monograms, nutcrackers, bunnies, birthday cakes, lemons, mint juleps, skeletons, fireworks, purple tigers and an assortment of other options. The product has been featured in Traditional Home, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles and inRegister magazines. Today, Waguespack keeps a photo of that mannequin on a bulletin board behind her desk.

The wheels are always turning
While that first stroke of genius was inspired by a museum exhibit, Waguespack says she often gathers inspiration for her businesses from traveling. For example, she recently visited Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia when inspiration struck. "If you're a creative person, it's everywhere you go," she said. "Your little wheels are always turning." Fig & Dove sells products in every state, and they ship out orders every day. Waguespack designs the items and manufactures them in China, Peru, India and in Baton Rouge. She has also began 3-D printing gold and white angels that are made of a silk PLA filament that replicate moray fabric. The products are hollow, plastic and multipurpose, as the star above the angel can be fastened on or off. "When I design things for Fig & Dove, to this day, it's the exact same vetting process," Waguespack said. "It should look just as great in a modern home as a traditional home. There has to be something clever and unique about it. It should be timeless and made in the quality that an interior designer would want."

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