HGTV star Joanna Gaines’s brand of farmhouse chic helped popularize faux-vintage pennants, and the trend has been flapping off of Pinterest pages and onto real-world walls ever since. Indiana University students Peyton LaVielle and Spencer Brokaw decided to plant a flag of their own last year with the establishment of Luna Mercantile Co.
To date, the pair has shipped their stylish hand-painted flags to buyers across 33 states. Local customers have included Tinker Coffee Co. and the Keep Indy Indie project, among
others. But they didn’t exactly set out to design, stitch, and sell the flurry of flags.
“At first, we were just looking for something to hang on our wall,” LaVielle says. “So I made one with ‘Bloomington’ painted in script letters.”
LaVielle’s grandmother originally taught her to sew and bought her first sewing machine. Eventually, LaVielle brought that same machine to college. With LaVielle and Brokaw often whipping up design ideas together, the flags feature block-lettered locales, scripted slogans, and bold icons. “I do illustration and graphic design,” Brokaw says. “So I’ll create the digital files, and then Peyton brings them to life.”
The creations run $40 to $100 each—and sometimes more for custom pieces. One flag can take up to 72 hours to create. To begin, LaVielle cuts and presses the cotton duck cloth. Then she machine-stitches, washes, and stretches the flag. After projecting and outlining the digital design onto the cloth, LaVielle paints lettering, artwork, and logos with a mixture of fabric and acrylic paints—and a very steady hand. “People almost don’t believe these are hand-painted,” Brokaw says. “They think they’re screen-printed.”
To set the paint, LaVielle washes the flags again. After that, she paints on another layer, at which point it’s “bulletproof.” She finishes each flag by hammering metal grommets into the fabric.
Lately, business has been, well, big. “People keep asking for larger and larger flags,” LaVielle says. “When someone wants it as big as our living room rug, we’re like, ‘OK, challenge accepted!’”