Women of Substance

Woman of Substance: Inslee Fariss.

By: Jen Shoop
Oh man oh man am I excited to share this month’s woman of substance: Inslee Fariss, the thoughtful entrepreneur and incredibly talented fine artist you likely already know for her whimsical, feminine illustrative work, which has been featured in the likes of campaigns for Neiman Marcus, Lela Rose, and Moda Operandi.  I first met Inslee, a Virginia native, years ago (like, nearly a decade ago?) when we both lived in the D.C. area and I occasionally covered the fashion beat for a Washington-area publication.  She had been building her brand, Inslee By Design, since she was an undergrad at Washington & Lee University, launching with a simple website designed to showcase and sell notecards featuring her sketches.  I can’t recall how I heard about her, but I asked if she’d meet me for coffee at the highly inconvenient Starbucks on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park (you know, the one right by the CVS with the rooftop parking lot that’s impossibly terrifying to negotiate your way into?  Why is its entrance halfway up a one-way street going the wrong way?  But I digress.) so that I could write a piece on her.  A few details of this encounter stand out to me even now, close to ten years later: her quick, contagious smile; her undeniably insane talent; and her laudable brand of entrepreneurship: she was driven but elegant, civil, kind–in short, not at all what I had thought, at the time, an entrepreneur would be like (i.e., pompous, loud, demanding).  Come to think of it, she was the first female entrepreneur I had ever met face-to-face and–it occurs to me now–her determined but gracious demeanor has long since shaped my vision for what a businesswoman can–should–look like.  A few weeks after our coffee in the inconvenient Starbucks, she sent me a sketch inspired by a post I’d written on Magpie.  I still have it framed, a reminder, always, of her decorousness, of the artful way in which she lived her life and led her business, of the elegant courteousness to which I continue to aspire.
All this, and she also had a fantastic sense of humor — quick, self-deprecating, delightfully puckish.  (You can see it in action in her hilarious instastories, which chronicle her life as a new mom, and in this honest, funny blogpost written on the eve of the birth of her son.)
Basically, she was all that and a bag of chips.
I immediately wished the best for her in the way that I instantly, organically believed that The Rock was a great guy and deserved the incredible success he has built for himself.  (C’mon, who else could play the character of Maui in Moana with such humor and soul?  But, again, I digress.)
As it turns out, my well wishes were hardly needed: she has built a thriving business and a great name for herself.  She is still busily painting away more than a decade later, designing correspondence paper and other products, and also creating custom illustrations for private clients and major companies.  She currently lives in New York’s West Village with her husband, baby boy (born only a few weeks after mini!), and miniature dachshund (Ophelia).
I mean, come ON with that smile and that precious baby!!!
If you’re as entranced by Inslee and her talent as I am, check out her amazing e-boutique.  I am obsessed with some of her latest baby-focused pieces, including these adorable baby milestone cards ($48) — what a perfect gift for a baby shower! — and this sweet “hot wheels” stationery
Get to know Inslee even better in her responses to my re-imagined Proust Questionnaire:
Your favorite qualities in a woman. 
Independence and confidence, but never at the expense of gracefulness and kindness–especially kindness to one another. How we treat fellow women instructs so many other elements of social consciousness.
Your favorite heroine. 
Lucille Ball as “Lucy,” because humor is magic.
Your main fault. 
I suppose I could start with the fact that I was about to list 50 different faults.  I am my own toughest critic!
Your greatest strength. 
I am observant. I notice beauty and detail in everything.
Your idea of happiness. 
Lying in bed with my husband, baby, and puppy on a Saturday afternoon when something becomes infectiously funny and none of us can stop laughing–not even the puppy!  That, or an unending supply of clean fluffy white towels.
Your idea of misery. 
Being caught, soaking wet, in a rainstorm, and then handed a dirty towel that has been in the trunk of someone’s car for several days.  Just think about it and try not to shudder.
Currently at the top of your shopping lust list. 
Towels…KIDDING.  It’s funny how your lust list changes with the arrival of a child.  A year ago, my list topper would have been a pair of shoes or a handbag for me.  But now, I’ve been admiring these beautiful baby wraps and can’t decide which I love most.
Desert island beauty product. 
I’d have to say the old faithful: YSL touché éclat #2.  I realize this isn’t very practical for long-term island living, but I know myself, and I would last about a day on a deserted island, so I might as well look well-rested on that one day, right?
Last thing you bought. 
My first post-natal outfit purchase for myself: the Tanya Taylor Caro Dress.  I love the mix of tailored blue and white and the otomi-esque embroidery.  [Ed. note: more menswear-inspired-with-a-twist finds here.]
I feel most empowered wearing… 
This is pretty basic, but I just love yoga clothes.  I grew up shuttling between ballet classes in tights and leotards, and I think the addiction to spandex has never left.  And, as an artist, I like to wear things I can easily move and feel comfortable in–and then throw in the wash.  Give me an all-black Lululemon ensemble and a big clip to keep my hair up on top of my head and I’m a happy camper.
Favorite Magpie post.
The ones that helped us reconnect after so many years: the whole MiniMagpie series was so comforting and instructive as I was planning for my own mini’s arrival.  Discovering the world of baby gear is daunting and it was such a relief to see you had researched and purchased some of the items I’d been considering. You helped me build a sense of mama-community that I desperately needed!

More Inslee-Inspired Finds

Shop my picks for Inslee by clicking the images below, or see details at bottom.

Yoga Top, $48 // YSL Touche Eclat Concealer, $42 // Matouk Initial Towels, $25+ // Monogrammed Canvas Valet Tray, $58 // Alo Yoga Pants, $82 // Silk Ruffle Blouse, $225 // Aquazzura Pom Slides, $650 // Draper James Cateye Sunglasses, $125 // Mama Pouch, $75 // BabyZen Yoyo Stroller, $645 // Le Labo for The Laundress Detergent, $45 // The Beaufort Bonnet Company Bubble, $52 // Baby Saddle Shoes, $40 // Monogrammed Sterling Rattle, $160


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

5 thoughts on “Woman of Substance: Inslee Fariss.

  1. Love this post – huge fan of Inslee’s and just love all her watercolors! I’m dying to take a class with her but unfortunately don’t live in NY.

    1. I know — what an amazing opportunity. Very jealous of the Manhattan Set for their access to her classes! Inslee, maybe you should take your act on the road?!?!?!?

  2. I love this post! I’ve been following Inslee’s work for years & years — she has such talent! — and it’s refreshing to know that she is such a woman of substance behind all of the beautiful things she illustrates. I had an inkling about this upon reading her several-chapters-long “Impossible Story” on her blog a few years back — she infused such humor and grace into a topic that is rarely associated with either word. Love Inslee!

    Also, that Tanya Taylor dress is *perfection*.

    1. Aw, so happy to hear this! Inslee is such a class act. And I agree — mega jealous of her Tanya Taylor purchase! Such a great “I’m back, ladies!” pic after 9 month so of pregnancy.

Previous Article

Next Article