You could say Erin Ozer is wrapped up in her work. After almost a decade working in arts administration in New York City, the Chapel Hill native left her job to stay home with her first child, Dean, who is now 6. As a way to earn an income, she decided to give Etsy a go and began offering a curated selection of jewelry, dyed baby blankets and other accessories. “As I was coming up with these ideas and trying to flesh them out,” she recalls, “I realized that I was really interested in how I would package up my finished product. I got really into the packaging component: craft paper, twine. I loved all of those pieces.” She decided to hone in on that in her online store, instead.
Called, fittingly, Knot & Bow (knotandbow.com), the practical, minimalist options were an immediate hit. “That very first day I got a sale,” she says. “I felt like that was a good sign.” Before too long, she earned nods on cult design blogs. Now, five years later, she oversees a staff of 12 that both curates and manufactures gift tags, wrapping twine and party favors like confetti. “That happened because at some point I was looking for confetti, and I couldn’t find what I wanted. Everything I found was this crumpled up, crushed, made-overseas, cheap-looking confetti. I wanted bigger circles that were high quality. I wanted nice floating confetti. So we just made that.”
Her inspiration continues to come from her own life. “It’s a mix of what we think is fun, what we like and what we think people would use. Our target customer is people like us.” It’s an ingeniously simple, restrained approach that has resonated with brands like Anthropologie, Nordstrom and Shinola. But she has a deep-rooted appreciation for smaller brands, too – something instilled in her as a child growing up in “small-town” Chapel Hill. “We work with a lot of little local boutiques and mom-and-pop shops,” she says. They remind her of home, where she returns as often as possible. “My husband [photographer Chris Ozer] and I both went to Culbreth and Chapel Hill High,” Erin says, and they love spending Christmas with her folks in Hillsborough.
Her approach to the holidays – and any time, really – is sensible and focused on quality rather than perfection. “I like things to be simple and easy,” she says. “I’m not into learning how to tie the perfect bow. Just keep it basic. That works for me.”
Find Erin’s fun products, like her confetti balloons, online and in a new retail shop on Third Avenue in Brooklyn.