The MNY Spotlight

Meet Sally King McBride, Artist & Founder of the Letter Nest

Introduce yourself! 

Hi! I’m Sally King McBride, Artist and Founder of The Letter Nest, a brand of elevated and educational alphabet art based in New York City.

Sally King McBride founder of the Letter Nest

Sally wears the Valeria Mini Dress in Peony Garden

Your watercolor alphabets are so beautiful! What inspired you to begin creating these?

I’ve always loved the connection of letter and image. It’s what drew me to Art History as a college major, to The Met—where I worked for over ten years in various curatorial departments—and to a deep love of picture books, which I’ve been collecting since childhood. The Letter Nest ties together wordplay, watercolor, and subtle references to Art History.

Your illustrations are also perfect for personalized gifts and notecards! How do you incorporate your talents for gifting to special people in your life?

That’s how The Letter Nest began: When my friends and family started to have children, I’d make them each a watercolor name painting as a baby gift. Word-of-mouth referrals from these early gifts formed my early customer base, and digitizing my watercolors allowed me to scale the business to The Letter Nest’s current offering of Alphabet Prints, Name Prints, and Stationery.

Follow along on Instagram @sallykingmcbride of The Letter Nest

What’s your best tip for making a hand-made card:

Every gift should be a reflection of its recipient, so if you’re looking for subject matter, try starting with their personal story: favorite flower, color, birthstone. Other ingredients for a great hand-made card: complimentary colors, humor, sincerity, and decent-quality paper.

You really found your creative niche! Have you explored other mediums and aesthetics to discover your favorite process? What was this experience like?

My eventual goal is to write and illustrate a children’s book. I’ve been working on one idea since 2015, but having a family and running a business keeps distracting me. ;-)

As a mother to two sons, what’s your favorite creative activity to do with them? Do they enjoy watercolor, too?

They do love watercolor, especially Melissa & Doug Paint With Water sets, but I try to encourage anything as a departure point for creativity—whether they’re playing, building, or looking at picture books. Now that they’re a little older, I’m grateful to be able to leave them to their own creative devices, and to witness their imaginations at work.

Sally King McBride founder of the Letter Nest
How would you describe your watercolor style, and how has it evolved through the years?
My watercolor style is extremely detailed. Where many watercolorists opt for a looser hand, I’ve always been drawn to a more precise style. For me, it’s a way of inviting the viewer in—to give them that aha moment of, “that’s a painting?!”

In terms of evolving, I think about the advice of children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who encouraged the artist to have many styles. So while alphabet art has become my hallmark, I do try to incorporate other commissions into my repertoire.

What has been your favorite part of running your own business?

Meeting other business owners! Working at The Met, I had 2,000 colleagues, so it was a major adjustment to become a solopreneur. I’m slowly recreating that sense of community through meeting fellow founders, and through building my own team at The Letter Nest.

What draws you to the Mestiza brand?

On the surface, the vibrant color palettes and feminine silhouettes immediately drew me in, but then I connected to the brand even more upon learning the details of its founding: from the parallel paths of motherhood and entrepreneurship that Alessandra and Louisa have forged, to the legacy of Alessandra’s grandmother as the inspiration for the brand. I’m named for my late grandmother Sally, whose legacy is very much a part of my work.

Sally King McBride founder of the Letter Nest
How does wearing your Mestiza piece make you feel?
Glamorous, fun and elegant.

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