Watercolor wonders: A mother-daughter duo creates whimsical designs

Carrie & Seash collaborated with childrenswear company Dondolo to create whimsical watercolor illustrations for swimsuits. Saltbox.

Weddings are a signal of a major life change, and a joyous one at that. But Seashols Barnes Poppler’s big day came with much more than a change to her last name. The preparations that led up to her San Diego wedding day were the impetus for a whole new career for Poppler and her mother, Carrie Barnes.

Throughout the planning process, Poppler had worked with her mother on personalized elements for everything from stationery to napkins. After her walk down the aisle in 2016, neither Poppler nor Barnes wanted to stop the collaborative creative process. The result was the start of their own watercolor company, Carrie & Seash.

“My mom has painted my whole life, and my entire family is creative,” says Poppler, who has an advertising degree from Southern Methodist University and formerly worked in banking, while her mother has a background in landscape and architecture. “We started working together for fun for my wedding. When I moved to Baton Rouge for my husband’s job, I didn’t know anyone and I needed something to do. It seemed like a good time to start the business.”

Seashols Barnes Poppler’s wedding was the spark of a new business venture for her and her mother, Carrie Barnes, as they worked on handpainted invitations, napkins and more.

Collaborating on diverse projects ranging from wedding crests to children’s clothing to icons for D Weddings magazine’s new website, the pair have seen massive growth in their business. However, the artistic process isn’t as easy as walking into a shared office to work together each day. Rather, the two must bridge the gap between Barnes’ San Diego residence and Poppler’s home in Baton Rouge.

“We spend all day on the phone together,” notes Poppler. “Even though we are long distance, we work together on every project. We share ideas and I bring everything together in Photoshop.”

Combining an old-fashioned medium with modern technology, the work of the mother-daughter duo represents a new take on traditional. From custom maps to handpainted cards, the projects that Barnes and Poppler create allow couples, families and businesses to let their personalities shine through in an elegant way.

“When we work with someone, we like to collect information about the client and what they want to portray,” says Poppler. “My mom and I come up with a list of things we think they would like and we then work together with the client. For brides, this allows us to create something for them that represents their personality as a couple and is something they will continue to look back on after their wedding day.”

While wedding details are something the duo holds dear, they have recently moved into the apparel sphere, working with Dallas-based children’s brand Dondolo on a new line of swimsuits.

“Wedding crests are a personal way to share who you are as a couple,” says Poppler. “It adds a personal touch that a monogram just doesn’t have.”

“Our relationship started because I found them on Instagram and fell in love with all their watercolor designs,” says Dondolo CEO and founder Catalina Gonzalez. “For the swim collection, I knew I wanted something fun and classic, and I love what Seashols came up with.”

Popper says she drew inspiration for the unique project from the outfits her own mother used to choose for her as a child. “I came up with two whimsical designs for the swimsuits: mermaids for girls and dolphins for boys,” Poppler says. “The dolphins are also used on a matching swimsuit for the dads. We opted for a complementary blue for the mom version of the girls’ suit.”

Coming off this summer collaboration, which is out now, Poppler says she is looking forward to working on more textiles, including some for adults. “I love the idea of launching ties and scarves with Louisiana motifs,” says Poppler, whose husband is from New Orleans. “But I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.”

For now, those days are filled with botanical-filled flourishes, house portraits and plenty more personalized wedding details.

“I have fun every day,” says Poppler. “My mom and I are very close, and it’s nice to do this together.”

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