How Katie Kime Built an Austin Lifestyle Empire
Get to know Katie Kime who's style and home décor brand celebrates a decade of dazzling textures, prints and toiles
Celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, Austin-based Katie Kime offers everything from matching pajamas and wallpaper, other pieces of wall art, and a print dubbed “city toiles” that offers Kime’s take on cities across the U.S., including an Austin print splashed with buildings from our most loved skyline, the Pennybacker bridge, and what appears to be Willie Nelson playing a guitar. Other Texas-based prints are designed with inspiration from Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth.
Congratulations on your 10th anniversary! How do you feel about how far the brand has come, plus plans for the future?
I can’t believe it! I mean I can, and I can’t. Seems like yesterday and 100 years. I’m very proud but I’m also deeply competitive with myself and my vision, so while I’m so happy with how far we’ve come, I’m mostly focused on where we’re going. That includes product expansion, wholesale accounts and eventually retail stores.
Katie Kime is a fruition and manifestation of a dream I had at 22 years old, to create the next great American lifestyle brand. It was at 22 that I set out to create beauty and the Katie Kime brand. My dream is to make the day-to-day less mundane and more meaningful through prints and products. My first trunk show in college was momentous. Debbi Krzyzewski Savarino hosted a show for me at her home, during the end of my senior year, including an array of things I had made in my then apartment. After graduation, I moved to Atlanta before making Austin my home. As the business grew in Austin, it was difficult to scale the production, storing and shipping of furniture, and we evolved into the lifestyle brand we are today.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere it seems. But certainly, travel is where the majority of it comes from. Seeing how different people and places do things never ceases to amaze me. Africa has been a very special place to me and my family. I have returned several times and each time come home inspired. On one of my trips there, I spent time with a nonprofit organization to help local women in Rwanda have opportunities working with textiles.
What are some of your favorite prints/items in the collection?
I truly love our toile collection. It took so long to create and how it’s evolved and grown has been really fun for me. I first saw a traditional French toile when I was in my teens. I had no idea what captured me about it. But captured me, it did. And it was just always a thing for me. I then saw a modernized version of it after college, and it was just a whole new chapter. Eventually, I thought maybe I could add my own spin, and I’m so happy I did.
It definitely begins with some sort of fixation, or you might even say obsession. The pastel palette of the American South. Greece and its blue and marble bursts. Toile. Color blocking. For whatever reason something grabs me, and it doesn’t let go for a while. In the time spent in its grasp, I try to churn out all that I can from its inspiration.
We’d love to hear more about the city toiles. How did you decide which cities to focus on?
The original idea was to begin with Austin, as our hometown of course, but also to highlight similar American cities. Cities that share a deep pride (some might call it obsession with themselves) and have a certain soul to them. So we started with Austin, Nashville, New Orleans and the like.
What is the best seller, and why do you think it’s so successful?
Historically our banana leaves and oysters were best-sellers, but in the last few years it’s again been our toile collection, and within those pajamas and wallpaper specifically. We all have a story; prints like these can enhance and add to it as well as be a daily reminder of something wonderful from your past and present. There’s just a feeling to toile. Even as the creator, I want to be there. I want to wear it.
Tell us more about the peel and stick wallpaper. Is that pretty easy to use and remove?
It really is very easy to put up and take down as it relates to the sticky part. Lining up the patterns is still a challenge no matter what kind of paper.
In your opinion, what makes Katie Kime stand out most from other fashion brands?
I think our aesthetic is increasingly recognizable around print and color and increasingly contrast piping and stripes. Hopefully it continues to stand out as we evolve with new and exciting product launches.
What is your personal style?
Certainly maximalist. Of course, color and print are always a go-to, and generally quite feminine. I love a dress for any occasion.
My style is definitely informed by my North Carolina roots. It’s full of color, as well as natural elements. I’d say it’s a bit preppy, memories of my days at Duke, where boys wore bow ties. I grew up on the look of Lilly Pulitzer.
For more info and to shop the Katie Kime collections, visit www.katiekime.com.