Chloé McCleary. Photo by Alexis Daigle.

10 questions with art-inspired lifestyle brand Tomato Jane

It’s the little things, like an extra cute water bottle or a colorful towel, that make everyday activities that much better. That’s why Zachary-based mother of two and art teacher Chloé McCleary decided to turn her unique, stylized paintings into practical, high-quality products such as tumblers, beach towels and throw pillows. Her Tomato Jane brand launched just a bit over two months ago on Etsy, combining her love of art and interiors.

We recently spoke to McCleary to learn all about Tomato Jane and the products that feature her original artwork:

1. What is your professional background? How did you get your start?

I am a high school art teacher with a bachelor’s degree from LSU in education with a concentration in art. I have been an artist most of my adult life, from painting to pottery. I have really focused in the last few years on developing my own style. Tomato Jane evolved once my husband was laid off due to COVID and I started looking for a new means to help support us. I have owned two other small businesses, and I really enjoy the freedom of owning your own business.

2. Where do you seek inspiration for your products and designs?

My inspiration currently comes from my original abstract oil paintings. I started with a few of my paintings and printed them on high-end, functional products like throw pillows, oversized beach towels and 20-ounce skinny tumblers. Every product is designed to be high quality and a showstopper piece of functional art. I really wanted a company that combines art and interior design.

The throw pillows are sort of the company’s “main event,” and they have so many special touches, from a custom pink-and-gold upholstery zipper to an embroidery signature on the bottom right of each pillow, so they look like paintings. The pillow fronts are broken-down sections from a larger painting and come in multiple sizes and print options. That allows the client to have a cohesive set of pillows without the  “matchy-matchy” feel. We love the idea that you can buy a print as well to go on the wall to really tie an interior space together.

Photo by Chloé McCleary

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I try to wake up early before the rest of my family and read a devotional and try to get a workout in. Then I start my day by returning emails, making phone calls, networking and learning more about my industry. I spend a decent amount of time at photo shoots, or else editing photos to gather and post content for social media. I also paint often and look for inspiration to help me create new art and products.

4. What makes Tomato Jane stand out?

I think what makes Tomato Jane stand out is our attention to all the details and the high quality of each product. Also, all of our products are one-of-a-kind pieces of functional art created with original artwork.

5. What are some of your best-selling products right now?

Currently, our oversized beach towels and tumblers are all the rage! We currently have three lines to choose from, and the towels will only be available through August. They make the perfect, unique gift and accessory for the gym or pool!

6. Where can people find your products?

All of our products are available on my Etsy store. I also have towels and tumblers at Birds of a Feather in St. Francisville through August. Prints of each painting are also available online.

7. What is one thing you would like people to know about Tomato Jane that they might not be aware of?

We really want people to know that we will not mass produce items and that our items are made in small batches. All of our first-edition items come with a certificate of authenticity. We take great pride in sourcing and printing all products in the USA! We ship daily with fast shipping times.

8. How has the response from customers been thus far?

Oh gosh, it has been so much fun to hear the feedback and read the reviews. People are not only raving about the quality of the towel and its beauty, but also the great absorbency. This towel gives you both! The customers are loving the combination options and the compliments they are getting with their Tomato Jane products.

Photo by Chloé McCleary

9. What can we expect to see in the future for Tomato Jane?

We look to release more paintings, and therefore more lines and collections. We’d like to expand the lines into more home décor items and have the art printed on so much more. From placemats to wallpaper, the sky is the limit with this company, and we can’t wait to see where this goes.

10. And finally, what’s the story behind the name of your company?

The company name is the name of our dog, Tomato Jane. Naturally, we would’ve loved to name the company Chloé or some play on that name, but so many were unavailable. My daughter suggested that we name our company Tomato Jane and I honestly didn’t hate it at first—I was just against naming it after our dog! Still, it was catchy and sweet. Also, my mom is a Jane, I am Chloé Jane and my daughter is Fiona Jane, so having some family tie to would make for a good story.

I went to bed and prayed about the idea and name, and then it hit me in the middle of the night that most seamstresses have a tomato pin cushion. I hand-drew the tomato, added a sewing needle and voilà.

For more information, check out Tomato Jane on Facebook and Instagram