We sat down with Kathryn, the brain behind Confetti Riot, to chat good graphic design, staying true to your color palette and the design magic hidden in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her tea towels will jolt any kitchen out of decor depression, and her Confetti Face Print Pillow is a must for any eclectic living space.
When did you know Confetti Riot would be a success?
I don't think I've ever been sure of it's success. I've certainly had moments where a feature in a beloved publication or blog has happened and 2011-Me would be totally flipping her sh*t thinking that, "I've made it", but really, it's the feedback I get from real life customers that makes me feel the most proud and excited for what I've accomplished. Don't get me wrong, the day I saw traffic headed to my shop from Design*Sponge, my jaw was hanging open for several minutes and I had to keep refreshing the page to make sure it was actually true, but that's just not the same as receiving messages from actual humans telling you they think your work is awesome and the pillow they purchased makes their place that much more awesome. Now that's a success.
Why do you make what you make? What attracts you to home decor in particular?
There are three things I've always nerded out over: good graphic design, great interiors, and really unique/funky product photography. I've combined my obsessions into a business where I have my hand in all three. I think there are a lot of positive aspects to living in a space you enjoy being in every day. Part of getting there is purchasing items for your home that make you happy and help express who you are as a person. This William Morris hits the nail on the head with his quote: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful".
What is your design process like?
Typically it starts with a sketchbook that comes into play after I've already been thinking about something in my head for a while. I'll draw out several ideas, just randomly, over a couple weeks and then do nothing with them. I never like to commit to anything until I've really thought it through so I won't take action on something until I feel sure it will be a design I'll like and I think would also sell well. Actually, that's not always the case! Sometimes an idea will hit me out of the blue and I'll drop everything to make it right at that moment because I just feel strongly that it will be awesome. That's how the "confetti face" print happened. But other than that, it's normally really thought out. All the way down to the fabrics and ink colors.
How did you come up with the idea for the woven mug rug coasters? It’s really unique!
Nearly every summer, I spend a week in Taos, New Mexico and if you have ever been to Taos (or Santa Fe), you've probably been in the tourist shops near the Plaza. My favorite shops are the ones where you can find stacks upon stacks of woven Navajo rugs and typically, nearby, you will find mini versions of those rugs in coaster form. That's where the idea came from. I always loved those little guys and I wanted to modernize them with simplified designs of blocks of color.
As a maker where every piece is your brainchild, how do you feel when people love your stuff?
I typically don't do well with compliments and I just turn bright red so in a way it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable, but later, in the comfort of my own home, I feel awesome.
How did you get started? Is there anything you wish you’d known starting out?
I was in the midst of leaving my job in visual merchandising at Forever 21 and knew I wanted to do my own thing. I had money saved up so I was fortunate I was able to fund it all myself. Originally, I was going to do more paper good type products- and then that never really happened. Pillow covers were the first product I developed, followed by iPhone cases (random, I know). I taught myself how to sew and print on the fabrics, and then the rest is history. Looking back, there isn't really anything I wish I did or didn't do except for have more confidence in myself and take more risks. There was a time I started to steer away from a brighter color palette and just focused on mostly neutral or earthy tones (I was living in Nashville at that time so I think the neutral Nashville style had a strong influence), but I wish I had always stuck with my gut and kept the colorful palette. I ended up back there eventually because color is what makes me happy, and I just accepted that truth instead of worrying about how well things would sell.
Tell us abut Oklahoma. What’s special about your city?
One thing I can say about Oklahoma is that it is it's own unique place. We don't really belong to the South, the Southwest, or the Midwest. We're just... Oklahoma. While I struggle sometimes with being here, I can say that Oklahoma City is really a cool place. It's made me proud to say I live here. The city strongly supports the growth of local businesses and it's quickly developing into the next cool hot spot for young professionals with new businesses and attractions popping up left and right nearly every year. There's always something in the works, and it's fun to be living in a city that's in that phase of it's life.
If anyone could wear or own a piece, who would you geek out for?
Emily Henderson comes to mind first. I've always had a little crush on her since her days on Design Star. She brought something so fresh to HGTV during that time and it inspired me a lot in my own style.
What inspires you aesthetically?
Really clean lines and simple designs. Minimalist spaces are my favorite. I hope to eventually live more of a minimalist life, but it's a work in progress. I like stuff too much :-)