Monday, June 25, 2012

Spotlight On: KateDesign with Maria Darby & Kate Spencer

A friend of mine reached out to me to make sure I wasn't missing the next big thing and I'm so glad she did! (Thanks Hillary!) I have a scarf collection to rival anyone's and am always on the look out for new and exciting scarf companies. When I was directed to Kate Design I swooned - gorgeous, unique pieces of artwork interpreted on the softest of cashmeres. Check out my chat with Kate Spencer and Maria Darby of Kate Design.

{beautiful, beautiful prints!}

How did the two of you get together to create Kate Design?

 Maria: I met Kate on a visit to St Kitts with my in-laws (they had
known her for a few years). She hosted us for New Year's lunch,
beginning midday and we just wouldn't leave we were having so much
fun! And we came back two days later to do it again! Her husband,
Phillip, makes the best sour orange rum punch. It's hard not to fall
in love with Kate and her work, so when she asked if I was interested
in helping her move into other mediums it was an easy 'Yes'! At the
time I was working for a consulting company in New York, but hoped to
eventually start my own business one day. It was the perfect

{Maria, left, and Kate}
Kate, where do you get your inspiration?

Kate: I am very lucky. I always have lots of ideas. Once you are able
to draw, then you realise you can adapt most things into a design. I
like things hand drawn or painted so they are not computer accurate.
For example, in the Seahorses scarf, the seahorses are all different,
not just one seahorse repeated, but one fat seahorse and a tall
seahorse, etc. Two of the West Indies Collection designs are to do
with the sea. I look at the sea everyday and I am fearful it. I always
think of the world below... The other day I swam ashore late afternoon
and a diver said he had just seen a magnificent huge sting ray. I
shivered in fear and all night I saw that sting ray in my head. It
will be a design soon! 

 Who is the woman you are designing for?

 Kate: In many ways, it's me. I have lived in the West Indies for a
long time but often travel, either on boats or back to Europe. I like
to travel light. I have always thought that when you go on holiday to
a hot climate you only really need one warm item. Nights in the
tropics can be quite cool, if you start the night off with a strappy
dress you will definitely need a warm shawl by the end of the night,
especially if you are on a yacht. I like the drama of larger scarves
and of course they are lovely and warm on planes too.

The scarves are larger than I expected. What was the thought behind
it's generous size?
Maria: We wanted Kate's art to have a large 'canvas' which is of
course the fabric in this case. The scale is impactful. The size (50in
x 60in) makes them much more than a scarf really. We've had customers
tell us they use them as a blanket, drap them on the wall as art and
wear the Double layers as dresses. We are glad they are so versatile!
{gorgeous when unfolded}

{and when knotted!}

 What's a day like for you, Maria, when it comes to running a small business?

Maria: Not as glamours as Kate's! I wish I were the creative genious
living in the islands and on a boat! But in all seriousness, it's so
much fun. I love the variety, independence, flexibility and reward
that comes with just being two of us behind it. Usually I start the
morning with my coffee responding to emails. There is lots of back and
forth with our partners, Kate and I, inquiries from
boutiques/customers, etc. Then, I fill online orders to be shipped out
that day. I love a nice lunch break so enjoy meeting a friend or my
husband for lunch…then back to work! It's a pretty great set-up.

{the seahorse, wrapped}
Kate, you are British -did you attend the Queen's Jubilee?
Kate: Yes in fact! It was an unbelievable atmosphere, quite ridiculous
really. Never knew the British were so soppy! It was bloody freezing
but it made the royal barge look quite ethereal and timeless.
{Ed's note: amazing! So jealous!}
What's next for the brand?

Kate: I have so many things I want to do -- from more scarves, to
robes, to pottery and placemats, to prints. The next collection will
still reflect my signature painting style but we'll mix things up a
bit in size and texture - stay tuned!
To purchase these beautiful, unique scarves, please visit


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