Interview with AphroChic’s Jeanine Hays

I first fell in love with AphroChic’s Silhouette Black & White pillow and then its overall company motto, “Modern, Soulful, Style.” The complete collection of products, which now includes wallpaper, carries a playful personality and fully embraces color. The vibrant color and pattern selection sparked my curiosity to interview Jeanine Hays, the founder of AphroChic, to get an inside look into her inspirations, wallpaper particulars, and unique application process …

APARTMENT THERAPY: What was your first inspiration for creating a wallpaper collection?

JEANINE: For me, the design begins with a sense of curiosity. When we developed our first pillow collection, it really grew out of my curiosity. I wanted to know how to make a pillow, did the research, found the right vendors, and before we knew it, we had pillows!

The same thing happened with the wallpaper. Again, I was curious. How could I turn some of the most popular designs from our Dreamland collection into wallpaper that would be perfect for a feature wall in someone’s home? As that understanding began to come together, I became curious about what other designs I could add. In the end, all of that curiosity led to the development of a bright and fun collection.

APARTMENT THERAPY: Where do you find inspirations for your patterns and colors?

JEANINE: I created all of the patterns in this wallpaper collection and they were really based on my belief that cultural depth makes design more personal and more expressive. I love to take images or patterns that are culturally significant and re-imagine them in ways that fit into modern décor, while retaining the sense of tradition that makes them resonate. The Beat pattern is a modern version of an African Kuba cloth print. Our Vibe Pattern is super funky. It reminds me of the 60’s and it has sort of a “Good Times” vibe to it. Haze is a reinterpretation of a traditional ikat pattern and reflection is my play on a magic-eye theme.

The colors also come from what I love. I am all about color. Living in California you can’t help but be inspired by all of the colors around you and with mild weather, we get to enjoy them all year. I want to bring that sense of color to every home no matter what the season. A bright, cheerful, and colorful home makes you feel good. In the end, “Modern.Soulful.Style.” is all about finding the style that tells your story and makes you feel good.

APARTMENT THERAPY: Tell me a little bit about the particulars of your wallpaper?

JEANINE: We are proud to offer eco-friendly wallpaper. It is something that’s very important to me and Bryan. At AphroChic we focus on environmental sustainability and work hard to create as many eco-friendly items as we can. We believe that we can create beautiful things that do not come at a cost to the environment.

Our wallpaper is digitally printed on eco-friendly substrates. We use environmentally friendly UV-cured inks. These inks have no solvent and therefore no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Each roll is made to order, so we don’t end up running reams of paper or wasting any leftovers. Instead we only process what is needed. Each roll is made here in the US, which reduces the emissions from shipping and we are happy to support businesses in the United States.

APARTMENT THERAPY: What does the traditional application process entail?

JEANINE: If you live in a house and you’re looking for something permanent, I highly recommend hiring a competent wallpaper installer to apply your wallpaper. You will want to work with someone who can trim the paper correctly and hang it on the wall for you. You can also inquire with your installer about eco-friendly wallpaper paste.

APARTMENT THERAPY: What are a few unique wallpaper hanging options?

JEANINE: If you live in an apartment, I recommend an installation method I have used in my own apartment. Purchase an exacto knife to trim your paper and line it up so the seams match up. Purchase finishing nails, which have very small nail heads. Using the nails, apply the wallpaper to wall. It’s a great, yet temporary way to create a feature wall in a place that you’re leasing.

For a more decorative touch, you can also use decorative brass nails. The effect is lovely.

APARTMENT THERAPY: Tell me about your favorite uses for wallpaper.

JEANINE: I love using wallpaper for feature walls. It’s a wonderful way to bring a punch of color and can truly transform a room. You can always find new ways to use wallpaper to create an effect. Purchasing a role to staple to a canvas can create a unique wall hanging. Posting wallpaper on top of cork can make for a creative cork board. A friend just told me she had an idea to purchase some wallpaper to cover her books. There are so many ways to use it. Finding the opportunities for creativity in your space and having fun with them is always the best part!

APARTMENT THERAPY: How easy is it to remove your wallpaper?

JEANINE: If it’s professionally installed, inquire with your installer on the best way to remove the paper. You want to avoid a messy process. If you decide to go a more temporary route, just remove the nail heads and spackle over the holes and paint. Voila!

APARTMENT THERAPY: What are your future plans for introducing new products?

JEANINE: Well, we just released our second product line and the response has been amazing. We are currently working on new ideas for 2011, new colorways and updates to our existing selections, and some new treats for the near future that people are sure to love. We can’t wait!

AphroChic’s other products include pillows, shower curtains, and tabletop placemats and runners. Jeanine also curates inspirational designs via her blog. Check out both her collection and blog at AphroChic.

MORE INFO: AphroChic