At Spruce, we’re fortunate to work with a number of talented interior designers who create beautiful spaces. We want to celebrate our favorite Austin designers by re-launching our Designer Spotlight column, a series that highlights some of their work and creations.Today we turn the spotlight on Katie Kime, a prolific and well-traveled lady who came to Austin via North Carolina.
Katie’s been on our radar because she’s as active on social media as she is in real life. Katie has been making a name for herself on a local and national level as an emerging lifestyle brand that produces fashion, furniture and accessories; some of her recent designs were featured on Of a Kind! According to her website, her singular style is “preppy chic goes globe-trotting… optimistic, bright and often unexpected.” Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about her work and life as a designer.
What is your design philosophy?
I think asking “why not?” is always a better philosophy than asking “why?” when it comes to designing a room or a chair, or setting goals for my business.
You started your career in college with your first trunk show. Did you always know this was the career path that you wanted to take?
Not at all. I knew that I was the happiest when I was creating something but I didn’t ever imagine design was what I would actually do. I feel lucky and grateful that I get to do this!
You design classic prints with some refreshing and unexpected color pairings. How do you know when you’ve gotten it just right?
It’s usually just a feeling, but I think I am most validated in the direction that my designs are taking when two very different people like it. When I’m reaching people with very different tastes, I feel like I’m achieving the right mix.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Travel is probably number one. The only thing I love more than creating is exploring a new place. Other than that, I look at vintage publications (David Hicks books, Dorothy Draper pamphlets, vintage Vogues) and increasingly indigenous groups! The Masai tribe in Kenya, the Navajo indians, the beading of the Cherokees, the textiles of the Otomi, more and more I think some of the oldest traditions have it down.
You’re building a lifestyle brand, and you’ve done a good job marketing yourself. What do you think are the benefits of diversifying your business?
It’s the most enjoyable part for me and the most challenging. Most people say, “do one thing and do it well.” And there’s a lot to be said for that. But if someone is interested in multiple channels of design and selling, I think it can be done by consistently marketing those different lines, using a similar thread. There can be a lot of balls in the air, but it’s just that many more avenues for marketing, creativity and clientele.
Do you try to keep production local?
I do! I think there’s a cool shift going on in the U.S. where some things in this industry are coming back. Everything I can do in Austin, I will. Then it’s back to my home state for a lot of the production.
What are your favorite local shopping spots?
I love Mercury for small unexpected gifts for people. Their kantha quilts, jewelry, candles, etc. are always a go-to for gifts. Mockingbird Domestics is another amazing curation of goods, in my opinion. And I scour every vintage and thrift store that I can when looking for old, one-of-a-kind pieces for styling a shoot or designing a room.
What new things at Katie Kime can we expect from you in the upcoming year?
One of the things I’m most excited about is our furniture rental program. Think Katie Kime signature pieces in some versatile whites and neutrals for a party, wedding, and the like. And I’m hoping to re-launch my clothing line later this year. It will be mostly just staple pieces in some custom-designed prints. Think maxi skirts, caftans, and A-line dresses in some of my signature prints.
What is your advice for those wanting to break into this industry?
Slow and steady wins the race. Keep on keeping on. Use social media. The design world is a very hot, desirable place to be, but I think it can be a bit transient. So, it’s important to figure out if you want it for the long-haul, the 20-year plan instead of the 2-year plan. And if you do then just keep your head down, be kind to people, keep learning and improving and enjoy!
Thank you so much for answering our questions, Katie!