Through Julie Peach, Malone creates a variety of hand block-printed and screen-printed textiles such as dinner napkins, table runners and tea towels, which have been showcased in various capsule collections for Anthropologie as well as designer collaborations on Etsy. Her playful, colorful block designs are all hand-drawn, hand-carved and hand-pressed by Malone herself at her home studio in Denver. With a focus on sustainability, she uses only natural fibers in her products and partners with Superior Ink, one of Denver’s only "Certified Green" screen printers, for her screen-printed goods,
Malone has been working on Julie Peach full-time since 2018. However, her trajectory to get there looked more like a boomerang than a straight line.
It started when she was eleven years old, growing up homeschooled in Atlanta, Georgia. In her free time, she made fairy wings and mushroom-shaped incense holders out of clay and started selling them on eBay. This continued through high school, where she taught herself how to silkscreen in her closet and began to sell her original clothing on eBay, as well.
With these inherent creative passions, Malone went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia for photography, but soon changed her major to fibers and textile studies. But she became disenchanted by the lofty, idealistic tendencies of the art world, feeling that her creativity aimed more toward commercial work than conceptual fine art.
Feeling that she could always come back to her art as a hobby, she transferred to Temple University to study environmental science, and soon changed her major again to marketing. She dedicated herself to school, excelling in her classes and landing internships across the city. But she never stopped making art in her free time, and during her years in Philadelphia discovered a love for block printing.
In 2015, Malone’s path took her to Chicago, where she found herself at the extreme end of the corporate retail world, working for Kmart and traveling to China six months out of the year. She says that this experience gave her the insight informing how she runs her business today.
She got married around that time, and she and her husband moved to Denver in 2018. She landed an e-commerce job at another corporate company called Craftsy, and life started moving: The couple got pregnant and began house-hunting and making plans for her husband’s parents to move in with them to help with the baby. Her career was going well, and all of the boxes of what she felt she was "supposed" to be doing were being checked.
And then everything changed. During her second trimester, Malone found out that her baby was not going to make it, and the pregnancy had to be terminated for medical reasons. Not long after this news, another tragedy occurred: Her husband’s sister committed suicide. The family went into grieving, and her in-laws decided not to move to Colorado. Soon after that, Malone got laid off from her job at Craftsy, and three weeks later, her husband got laid off from his job, as well.
“The universe kind of imploded my life,” she recalls. Finding herself at ground zero, Malone had no idea what the future would hold. Luckily, Craftsy gave her a six-month severance package after her layoff, which gave her the time to recover and dive back into her creativity. When she realized that the holidays were coming up, she decided to go all in.
In 2019, Malone discovered that her husband had been having an affair, and that he had been having affairs throughout most of their relationship. Despite her best efforts to save the marriage, they ended up getting divorced at the end of the year. “I had done everything I was supposed to do,” she recalls, “but [when it ended], it was such a huge relief.” Everything that had happened previously began to make sense: If they had the baby, bought the house, had his parents move in with them, she reflects, “it would have been so difficult to extract myself from all of that. This way, I was able to just leave.”
Malone moved into her own apartment in early 2020, just three weeks before the pandemic shut everything down. It was a time of deep isolation and introspection for many — but it gave Malone a chance to process her divorce, reconnect to herself, and finally bring together all of her skills as an artist and as a sales professional to invest in and grow Julie Peach into a strong, sustainable source of inspiration and support for her new life.
“The day that I was like, ‘Oh, I can take my old business mindset and apply it to my own business,’ it was such a game-changer,” she says. She was finally able to circle back to her origins — an eleven-year-old girl making clay sculptures in her bedroom and selling them online. “It was like I just kept building this fully realized human from this thing that I was always gonna do anyway. It never occurred to me to take this passion I had as a kid and turn it into a career.”
And Julie Peach continues to grow along with her. The spring/summer collection was released at the end of April, and a new lineup of fall/holiday textile goods is in the works. She is currently exploring the possibility of collaborating with her friend and colleague in India to create a line of stockings and bedding, and is also interested in getting into block-printed ceramics.
“I appreciate [this business] so much,” she concludes, “I want to honor it by taking care of it. And part of that is trying new things and investing into new things. There’s such a huge spectrum of ways to be creative, and I’m always seeing where I can grow.”
Shop Julie Peach here.