Meet Carolyn


the long story

I'm Carolyn Misterek. I'm the founder and designer of MATINE, a handbag line I created with just an idea and a home sewing machine in my spare bedroom back in 2012. It was actually the third Etsy shop I started, and this year we transitioned fully out of handmade production into working with a handbag manufacturer in New York.

As for those other shops, I designed and handcrafted a stationery line and a collection of home goods before exploring accessories. Between all of my ventures, my products have been featured in publications ranging from Apartment Therapy to Oh Joy! to the Washington Post, sold by 40+ retailers in six countries and my story was profiled in the 2017 book, How to Make It.

I'm also the co-founder of Brief Assembly, a pop-up concept shop in Washington, D.C. Before we opened, I also developed a MATINE-exclusive shop in 2017 at the luxury shopping center Tysons Galleria. 

I've attended craft fairs, pop-ups and markets in states across the U.S. and Canada. I've attended fashion trade shows in the U.S. and Europe. I've designed booths that can fold down into a van or a suitcase. Give me a roll of paper, wooden dowels and some strips of leather and I can Macgyver a whole store display.

And before all the making and business running, I spent seven years working in marketing and design consulting. I wore hats including UX designer, design thinking coach, content strategist, copywriter, and brand strategist.

And before all that, I was an art student. I went to college and grad school for fine art and art history, and was always sure (despite the skepticism of literally everyone else in my world) that I would find a way to make a career out of making things.

And here's where it all comes together: when we opened up applications for makers to participate in the Brief Assembly pop-up, the jurying process was fascinating. Of course I knew I couldn't reply individually to every applicant we didn't accept with an explanation. But all I wanted was to draft each of them a long letter full of thoughts, observations and recommendations for their work. Little tweaks that would make major impacts. I saw a need right there, for the makers/artists/designers just starting out, to find guidance in an accessible way, from someone who has been there—not from start-up founders or executives—from a maker/artist/designer herself.

BASICALLY, my entire adult life HAS ALL been spent honing the skills that a new creative business needs to succeed. AND I'D LOVE TO USE THOSE SKILLS TO HELP YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS.


the short

10+ years spent starting e-commerce businesses, making handmade products, outsourcing those products to a manufacturer, growing a wholesale business, designing websites, creating content strategies, copywriting, developing content, naming brands and products, pricing products, brand identity development, attending trade shows, markets and craft shows, building booths and displays, creating unique packaging, hosting events, teaching workshops, creating pop-up shops, art directing photo shoots, photographing products, designing print collateral—
Oftentimes (usually) with a DIY approach.

truly, I've been bootstrapping it all along, making pretty great things happen with ingenuity, enthusiasm and a little craftiness.

now, it's your turn.