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5 minute read

It's all in the Details

We're talking all things trimmings and embellishments in an exclusive Q&A with the "Trim Queen" Jana Platina Phipps.

As an expert in such a niche industry, we have to ask—where did it all begin?

Early in my career, while working as an assistant to an accessory designer in NYC, I was sent to a trimmings factory in the garment district to source some materials. When I entered, it was a beehive of activity—machines were whirring, making maypole-like designs of cording; workers were speaking Italian and Spanish, with a dash of Yiddish; spools of yarn were piled high to the ceiling. It felt like something straight out of the Industrial Revolution. An Italian woman must have noticed my awestruck reaction and gave me a tour that made my knees go weak. It felt like falling in love. I had found not only my space, but also my voice, all at the same time.
Fringes, tassels, and pompoms are prepared for a custom client project.

Tell us how the “Trim Queen” came to be and what this persona means to you?

Hungry and entrepreneurial, I eventually started a home furnishings division of the trimmings factory and grew it to surpass their fashion business. One of my best clients called me the “Trim Queen,” which made me laugh, and it stuck. In 2013, I started a blog because I had a lot to share that I could not translate through the company’s brand, so I adopted the moniker and wrote my monthly blog, titled Trim Queen Chronicles. As Trim Queen, it’s my mission, and the mission of my studio, to share embellishment as a creative form of self-expression. Through my blog and social media channels, I show how the design community uses trimmings to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary, which I’ve coined as #TrimAlchemy. I’ve become my brand, always incorporating trimmings in my personal fashion dress, and it’s become my signature style. Recently, at a trade show in Europe, a few people I didn’t know greeted me with “Hello, Trim Queen.” I am both tickled and amazed at how even the most niche interest can become a vehicle to build community. It’s also an indication that my message is getting out into the world. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be a queen?!
A passementerie of hand-twisted cord embellishes the front of a Trim Queen pillow.

On the most basic level, what are the benefits of incorporating trimmings into a room’s design?

Trimmings are a powerful design tool with which to create a statement, theme, or feeling in your home. It makes a room “designer” or gives it a designer’s touch.

If someone were to say that trimmings aren’t well-suited to their home decor style, what would be your response?

Trimmings don’t have to be frou-frou! Graphic and textured tapes are some of my best-selling items and are, in essence, narrow textiles. These can be used for layering and can add a level of interest to your decor. If everything is a flat fabric, your home will look like a mediocre hotel room and fail to express your personality.
Jana sources yarns from all of the world to make into trimmings.

List three to five unexpected ways that trimmings and embellishments can be used within home decor:

Add a tape around a pillow like a cuff, add fringe to the base of a sofa, or add a tassel to a drawer pull or at the corners of a pillow. You can even add trim to the leading edge of drapery.
A Greek Key tape mixes with a hand-wrapped modern bead fringe in this Trim Queen pillow design.
Trim Queen tassels are Jana's go-to embellishment to add instant style.

As a design professional who works closely with both home furnishings and fashion, to what extent do you see the trends within these two industries interweave, year after year?

Design is a global language, and every designer, whether they want to admit it or not, is influenced by culture, both in fashion and at home. For example, after the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute’s “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit, metallics started to trend heavily, first in fashion. Because the home sector has longer development lead times, we saw metallics peak after they soared in fashion. Fashion designers are watching and studying the major furnishings fairs in Paris and Milan and garnering inspiration. It’s becoming more symbiotic as information and images are consumed with such immediacy.
Venice, Italy 

Tell us about Maker Tourism. How does travel influence your work?

I’m attuned to beauty and creativity in my travels, which usually leads me to the artists, artisans, and makers of a place. My upcoming Maker Tourism experience in Venice, Italy, is a passion project for which the seeds were planted thirty years ago when I attended university there. I speak Italian and have worked and traveled in Italy at length since college. In the last few years, I’ve set out to meet in person the artisans and makers I have met online. Every single one has shared with me their art or process with such enthusiasm that introducing others to these artisans was a natural projection of Trim Queen’s mission. I am a maker at heart and love a “behind the scenes” insider’s view of how things are made and the creative process. I share this with so many clients, friends, and followers, and someday, I’d love to live in Venice and produce a body of artwork incorporating all of my skills.

You’re an accomplished designer, teacher, blogger, expert speaker, and much more. What is next for the “Trim Queen”?

As much as I love designing and producing trimmings, I enjoy seeing how others use materials even more and how it makes them FEEL. I’d like to create more workshops and experiences that introduce trimmings to others and allow people to play, make, and experience the therapeutic power of creativity.