The Texas native is visiting South by Southwest to promote the reintroduction of the e-commerce shop on Saint Heron, a Web site and community she created that supports culture and innovation through a range of artists.
“It was actually a birth out of a frustration for me creatively and artistically and culturally as a young black creative,” Knowles said before leaving for Austin. “I felt like a lot of time, our voices were left out of the conversation of art, culture, music and fashion.”
The Saint Heron project began a few years ago with a compilation album created with 12 artists who Knowles felt were redefining R&B. After an “overwhelming” response, she expanded Saint Heron to include a multimedia Web site to “continue the conversation.”
The revamped e-commerce shop at store.saintheron.com will be live shortly and was created with BigCommerce. Knowles considers it a natural evolution for the site, which features exclusive pieces from emerging designers in fashion and other areas who align with her mission of diversification. The items on offer include ceramics, accessories and beauty products. Featured brands and designers include James Phlemuns, Bloom and Plume, Tactile Matter, Yvonne Koné, Morgan Parish, Cameo and Folie.
“Saint Heron is a community that we have been able to connect with globally,” she said. “We have readers in South Africa, readers in Japan — these are people coming together and are really excited about the next generation focusing on diversifying.”
Color is a major source of inspiration for Knowles and she specifically requested pieces that fit within certain colorways. “Color is an incredible tool to emote moods and self-expression,” she said.
“Solange is very creative and thinks about how to create connections with whoever is online,” said Andrea Wagner, BigCommerce’s head of design. “She’s really thinking about how to get that connection with people.”
That Knowles is combining the relaunch with a performance and party at SxSW is fitting, as the festival has evolved to encompass a breadth of industries and performances. The party is organized by BigCommerce, of which Knowles has become an ambassador, and will include pieces from Saint Heron’s online collection and live music from Sun Ra Arkestra.
“We thought that South by Southwest was an incredible place to launch based on what I’ve noticed as a performer — you are actually up close and personal with your supporters and music-lovers,” said Knowles. “And that’s important, because it’s all about the conversation.”