Life / The Refined Collective

Molly Hartman // Rye Workshop // NYC Profile

07.13.17

Molly Hartman // Founder, Rye Workshop // Photos c/o Kat Harris, The Refined Woman  //  Written by:  Kitty Williams for The Refined Woman

Four stories above the Industry City streets of Brooklyn sits a small studio. One wall, from floor to ceiling, has shelves packed with boxes, vases, and jars of every imaginable size and style, and everything decorative. The summer evening light streams through the large windows to give life to the many flowers and plants that call this room home.

Lounging on a couch, a glass of Rosé in hand, Molly Hartman speaks fondly of the magic of New York City. “I never get over that moment of being in a cab with all of our flower boxes and going down 7th Avenue and zooming past tall buildings and small buildings and West Village and cobblestones,” she says. “You go through seven worlds in one 45-minute drive.”

Hartman is the founder and creative director of Brooklyn-based event design company Rye Workshop. Along with her team, she works on brand events, weddings, and other collaborations, bringing ideas to life in beautiful ways.

Living in a cramped New York City apartment has its downsides, and being an event designer who carts boxes of décor and flowers around a bustling city just adds to that. But it’s worth it to Hartman. “There’s a reason we make our lives so hard,” says Hartman. “It’s because we love this New York City life so much.”

For many, there is an epiphany in which they realize they have found what they love to do.  For Hartman it hasn’t been a single moment, but rather a constant feeling and reminder that she is doing what she loves.

Now seven years into this adventure, Hartman says they have achieved what she refers to as flow: “this great balance of where you’re feeling super challenged but also actively and productively learning and meeting your new needs.”

However, where success lives, challenges grow. This past year she focused on personal growth. Working in a creative field, she finds it is impossible to escape certain self-reflections.

Feeling insecure and placing blame on herself, Hartman realized she needed to make a change. “I needed to be brave and honest in ways that I didn’t necessarily want to be yet,” she says with a laugh, now that she has come through the other side.

Luckily she has a wonderful support system to help her through challenging times. “You need someone who, when you reveal those demons, will hold your hand and be like ‘you’re still a good human being,’” says Hartman, gesturing toward Wedding Design Director Julie Guinta across the room.

She expresses great appreciation for Guinta and everyone on her team. “It is never a one person thing,” says Hartman.

The most important thing for Hartman during this time was “letting go of the reins a bit more.”

As a creative director, Hartman finds her work can be constant if she allows it to be. “I can only achieve rest when I ask for help,” she says. Handing a project off to someone else is not always the preferred option, but she is beginning to recognize when it needs to be done.

She also credits her husband for being a great support system. He works in a completely different field as an engineer, but they manage to give each other “space to grow.” They’ve been together since she was just sixteen years old, and their marriage has been built on kindness and celebration.   

After college, she began working in television and production in D.C. She was always drawn to projects that gave her the opportunity to work with her hands.

Even as a child, she showed signs of becoming someone who would one day work in a creative field. “I was a kid who ran away all the time,” she recalls. “I would run away from home and make homes somewhere else.” From the age of three, she could be found designing spaces for herself, using anything from a picnic bench to a rhododendron bush as her house structure. “My poor mother,” she laughs. “My poor, poor mother.”

Looking forward, Hartman sees the Rye Workshop continuing to operate as a small team as they begin to make their way into the interior design scene. She also hopes to set aside the time and space to have art shows and showcases celebrating their passion projects.

Though she’d enjoy having a chicken coop upstate, Hartman remains in the gentle grip of New York City. So here she stays in her fourth floor studio: a place of beauty that can sometimes get messy in the service of making beautiful things happen.

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