The Tabletop Brand That Turns Scraps Into Your Favorite Napkins
Atelier Saucier is about to take on your entire tablescape.
For Atelier Saucier founders Nikki Reed, 34, and Staci Inspektor, 34, their meet-cute more than a decade ago was basically the business version of love at first sight. From the first moment they met at a mutual friend's party in Los Angeles, Reed says something just felt different. Inspektor adds, “We just knew from the start that we wanted to build a brand together. We're both super hardworking, creative, and just see eye-to-eye on almost everything, so it was a great partnership from the beginning.”
The duo come from two different, yet complementary backgrounds. Inspektor brings with her a formal fashion education from UC Davis—a couple of hours away from where she grew up in Irvine—and a specific interest in bespoke, small-batch design. “Ever since I was a little kid, I just loved making things and sewing,” she says. For her part, Reed, who grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, married her hospitality management degree from Cornell University and a seven-year stint at the Hillstone Restaurant Group. By the time she and Inspektor met, she had moved on to a restaurant consulting firm where she was tasked with helping up-and-coming hospitality brands develop their perspective and mission.
The two friends began dreaming up ways to fuse their skill sets into one considered brand, and in 2018, Atelier Saucier was born. Well—the name, at least. The pair only had that much cemented when Nikki was approached by a friend who was opening a zero-waste restaurant in New York City and wanted help solidifying the look and feel of the tabletop decor. “She wanted something that was cool, unique, and sustainable. Finding them already in the market for her was nearly impossible, so we decided to make them.”
The duo visited numerous surplus fabric vendors in LA, hitting up warehouse after warehouse in search of the perfect textiles; the locally-minded sourcing would go on to be a driving force behind the brand's philanthropic efforts with Feast LA, The People Concern, and more. Reed and Inspektor eventually landed on mix-and-match reclaimed denim, embroidering each with a bite-sized version of the restaurant’s logo in the corner. The collaboration was such a success that they began developing custom linens with found fabrics for other restaurants in their network like Momofuku and Gigi's.
Though restaurants were where Atelier Saucier initially made its mark, the consumer industry is where the brand found its footing. After a successful showing at a wholesale market in early 2020, nearly all of its orders were canceled as restaurants around the country were forced to shutter due to the pandemic. Reed and Inspektor pivoted, throwing all their attention into the consumer-facing arm of their business at a time when many people were reigniting their love for at-home cooking and dining. “[People] want to set the table and make it look pretty for themselves, so there was a massive uptick in our sales and in our business, kind of as a silver lining to [the pandemic],” says Reed. “A napkin seems like a small accessory, but it has the ability to influence so much about your dining experience.”
To this day, Atelier Saucier has collaborated with food and kitchen brands like Brightland, Hedley & Bennett, and more. Our Food52 Shop is also host to an exclusive collection that features the brand’s signature rainbow stitching and a retro-inspired color palette that's perfect for mixing and matching. “We like our branding and aesthetic to feel very clean, colorful, modern, and chic,” explains Inspektor. “Sometimes sustainable brands can feel a little crunchy, but we firmly believe you don’t have to sacrifice style to do good, which is why we push for a modern and elevated look with each of our designs.”
To keep their brand sustainable and their resources manageable, fabrics continue to be locally sourced in LA by the founders and a tight group of curators. “Sourcing fabrics the way we do can be very challenging and add an extra layer of logistics, but we just feel like it’s the right thing to do,” says Reed. “Using cloth napkins instead of paper is an eco-conscious act in and of itself, so sourcing fabric that is also sustainably-minded just made sense.” The same goes for quality control, which literally includes a “mouth test” to ensure napkins are comfortable to use throughout an actual dinner. Alas, a tough job. (And yes, Reed and Inspektor are fully aware that the test needs a more elegant, sophisticated name.)
Up next for Atelier Saucier? Tabletop accessories. The brand recently launched napkin rings and a napkin holder, both of which are (unsurprisingly) as beautiful as they are practical and yes, made locally. “We want to become the one-stop tabletop shop,” says Inspektor.
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