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Meet More Brands in the Second Class of The Commons

From LA to Atlanta, small businesses and artists are figuring out how to operate in this new normal and many are turning to their founding principles and community for resilience and hope. 

We connected with a few more brands in the second class of The Commons to learn what makes them tick and get to know the heart behind their business. Learn about Hush & Hush, Franklin + Emily, Haerfest, Aya Paper Co., and Kendall Davis Clay, as they discuss the creation of their brands and what keeps them going.


Tell us how the idea for your brand was born?

Janna Ronert and Dr. Marc Ronert, Founders of Hush & Hush: 

“Hush & Hush was born out of necessity. We noticed that there wasn’t a professional beauty supplement line available that integrated science, clean, clinical ingredients, and luxury. So, like any good entrepreneur, we took matters into our own hands and created Hush & Hush to fill the white space. We wanted to develop something that didn’t exist—and we did just that.”


Plant Your Day On-the-Go by Hush & Hush - $35

David Mawhinney, Founder of Franklin + Emily: 

“The story of the brand starts early in the morning when my daughter, Frances (a two year old) would come into our bedroom each morning and sit on our printer and wait for us to wake up. The printer didn't fare very well and the feed and paper trays subsequently broke off. So I designed and built her a small chair.

Several weeks later we had people over for dinner and by that point there were a few chairs (prototypes) in our living room so people naturally sat in them and asked where they were from. It was at that point that my wife said why don't you start doing this full-time. 

We wanted it to be well designed and made, built with sustainable practices throughout, and fit the aesthetic of our home as a whole. Really the brand just grew out of a need in the market for well-designed sustainable children's furniture that can move throughout the home like your children do.”

Tim Joo, Co-founder of Haerfest

“As we gain more freedom and flexibility in the way we work, our lifestyle requires a bag that would change and adapt to act as our office between offices. With that idea, we set out to make the best and most versatile modern work bag.”


Apollo Backpack by Haerfest - $275

SaVonne Anderson, Founder of Aya Paper Co.:

“I believe that living sustainably can be simple. My goal is to get back to the essence of how things are naturally and take all of the complexity, additives, processing, and packaging out of it. I created Aya to make it easier for people to purchase paper goods and gifts that don’t leave a negative impact on the earth.”

How does your community play a role in your business?

Janna Ronert and Dr. Marc Ronert, Founders of Hush & Hush

“We always say that you need to have the support of your own backyard first. We have been lucky in that we have partnered with some great retailers and spas in our local community who have supported us since day one.”

Kendall Davis, artist behind Kendall Davis Clay

“Community plays a huge role in my business. I live within a neighborhood that was built over 100 years ago, hence there are sidewalks for people to stroll to the main street of business where I am located. Many of my customers live and work within this community, we get to know each other personally. 

I also have a community of shop owners in the neighborhood. We are constantly supporting, brainstorming, collaborating, and laughing with each other. This camaraderie of other store owners has especially been helpful in learning how to navigate business during COVID.”


Compote Large by Kendall Davis Clay - $150

David Mawhinney, Founder of Franklin + Emily

“The sense of community within our business plays a huge role: from the parents who give us feedback, to all of our suppliers for wood, cushions, leathers, and even the corrugated cardboard that we use for shipping. They say it takes a village to raise a child, I would agree and also say it takes a few villages to start a brand.”

Tim Joo, Co-founder of Haerfest: 

“Our neighborhood is made of cafes, community workspaces, parks, and other hubs where people work remotely. The people we’ve met at these third places have inspired us to believe that work is what you make it and that it doesn’t have to be limited to any one space, especially as WFH has now become the new norm.”

SaVonne Anderson, Founder of Aya Paper Co.:

“I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, so I think that anything I do is connected to this city. The art I saw growing up--both on street murals and in museums--has shaped my ideas of what is beautiful and what good design looks like. Additionally, Aya strives to educate and give back to the community in any way that we can. This past June we donated proceeds to the Sustainable BK Rent Relief Fund, Newark Jannah on Grafton, and Snap4Freedom!”

Grown Grown by Aya Paper Co. - $5

Can you tell us a story about how a neighbor/neighborhood has positively impacted you? 

Janna Ronert and Dr. Marc Ronert, Founders of Hush & Hush

“Just the other day, we were onboarding a local spa that’s located within a neighborhood community. As always, we pay attention to every last detail, and this particular neighborhood really took notice. They complimented the team on how informative they were, how special we made them feel and how attentive we were. It’s that type of community feedback that makes us know we are doing the right thing and have properly positioned our business.”

Kendall Davis, artist behind Kendall Davis Clay

“The neighborhood positively impacts me by having a sense of community. I am a part of something larger than me. Being part of the neighborhood provides me with people that care for me and vice versa, which at the core of human nature, satisfies the soul.”

David Mawhinney, Founder of Franklin + Emily

“I was formerly a chef and had worked with someone who left cooking, as I did, and started a custom knife company. He was working in a shared space and was able to bring me into our first small studio space at Supersmith in Brooklyn. As our production and product line started to grow, we needed space for inventory. I reached out to another friend in the neighborhood that owned a high end bike frame company, Affinity. He let me store some of the inventory in his studio and was helpful in getting a larger space of my own in the same building in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

Within the building itself there's also a lot of sharing and bouncing ideas off of people — especially between people that aren't in the same industry or field.”


Learning Tower by Franklin + Emily - $185

SaVonne Anderson, Founder of Aya Paper Co.:

“Bigger than the product, my mission is to provide education and resources to people in Newark and other urban areas to get them thinking about the environment and sustainability. Black people in urban areas suffer the most from climate change and environmental damage, even though they contribute to it the least. I want to build awareness about that fact and provide space for folks to come up with their own ideas and solutions for how to improve our livelihoods in the midst of an environmental crisis.”

Shop even more products from these founders and others like them in the second class of The Commons.