Katy Skelton launched her collection of gorgeous, modern furniture and home accessories earlier this fall. As a self-taught designer for an Austin-based furniture company, she spent quite a bit of time traveling to overseas factories and learned how products were made. She loved her work but wanted to build her own brand, so she went to SCAD, received her masters in furniture design, and moved to New York to start her business. Read on to learn more about her line!
WHY DO YOU MANUFACTURE IN AMERICA?
It’s important to put jobs back in to the economy. Also, it’s easier to manage product development locally, and there are better standards, social responsibility, and sustainability processes in place in the U.S. My furniture is made by Amish craftsmen in Pennsylvania – we have developed a great relationship, and the makers are so invested in my pieces, which is really exciting.
HOW DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO START YOUR OWN LINE?
I loved my work for the furniture store, but my personal aesthetic was very different from what we sold. I had a lot of freedom and started to pitch more modern designs and they did really well. I wanted to build my own line for myself, where I could control every aspect of the supply chain.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR LINE?
Danish design. Vintage furniture, translated to a modern functionality. Multipurpose pieces – I live in New York so that is very important. Wooden furniture can be so simple and classic, like a great pair of jeans. I want to build really high quality pieces that will last forever. The American-made movement is fantastic – the more people we can get on board and show how amazing American-made can be, the better.
WHERE DO YOU ESCAPE?
I get out of the city. I love to take long weekend hikes and visit the Storm King art center. New York can be so hectic – it’s hard to come up with new ideas, I need to get out into nature to do so. Even a quick visit to the park can help.
WHAT GETS YOU THROUGH THE DAY? THROUGH THE WEEK?
My husband, he’s so supportive and I couldn’t do it without him. I have great family and friends that are super supportive. Taking a little bit of time for myself – I didn’t do that for a long time and I realized that it was so easy to get burnt out. Working for yourself, it’s really easy to never leave the house. Every time I make a sale, it’s validation.
WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE ESSENTIALS?
Comfortable but cute shoes. A new pair of jeans, I love AG. Sofas that don’t necessarily look comfortable but are. Furniture that looks great and is also really functional.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?
The Future Perfect. Lindsey Adelman. BDDW.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
From a business perspective, Everlane. They work to be transparent in their manufacturing and with their costing and I strive to do the same. The goal is to make classic things that will last – but you don’t have to pay a lot for them. Also, Emerson Fry – she is an amazing businesswoman, she works hard and doesn’t need any attention for it.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MAKERS?
When you are trying to start a design business because you are a designer and you love to design, it turns out that you really only spend 10-15% of your time designing. Starting a business is so much more work than you thought, but so much more rewarding. You have to wear all of the hats – designer, maker, packaging, shipping.
WHAT IS NEXT?
I’d like to grow the company a little bit. I’ve expanded the product line with textiles, and I’ll be adding more furniture to the collection.
Eventually, I’d love to have my own factory and employ more people.
Thanks, Katy, for taking the time to chat! Can’t wait to see what comes next for your line! Follow Katy Skelton: