If you've ever admired our beautiful window displays around Christmas time then you'll have already seen Katie's dazzling, hand-crafted decorations. Visual merchandiser turned window stylist and workshop leader, we asked South London's finest crafter about her creative endeavours, what a not-so-typical day looks like and the artists that continue to inspire her.
How did you get started? Tell us a little about your background.
I’ve always loved designing and making, inspired by my mum who set up her own soft furnishing business when I was a teenager. I studied Textile Design at Nottingham Trent University then went on to work as a visual merchandiser for several high street interior and fashion brands. After having a family, I decided to leave the 9 to 5 and felt inspired to go back to my textile roots, fulfilling my dream of running my own craft business.
What does a typical ‘day in the life’ look like for you?
My days can vary hugely. I've continued working as a Visual Merchandiser on a freelance basis, so sometimes I'm heading off into London to dress mannequins and/or room sets. Other days I'm styling for shoots, designing and dressing windows, making macrame orders or hosting wreath workshops. More recently I’ve been working for an Interior Designer helping with sourcing, so no 'typical' day for me and I love it that way.
Do you have a favourite project that you’re most proud of?
My window designs for Meet Bernard are definitely my favourites because they combine my love of designing, styling and making. It's hard to choose my absolute number one but the first Spring window was lovely. It was a very soft, romantic scheme and I made giant macrame dreamcatchers, plant hangers and spiral tendrils which gave a whimsical, dreamy effect. This complimented the ultra feminine Womenswear collection Dani had bought in for Spring.
The recent Christmas 2022 window is another I loved putting together. It was inspired by Polish folk art. For this I made lots of pajacki chandeliers (pronounced pay-yonk-i so I’m told) which were made from paper in bright jewel colours, again to compliment the trends in store. We hung them in the windows and around the store to draw people in. They were really fun to make.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I love to use colour, repeat pattern and geometry in my designs which I guess comes from my background in constructed textiles. I mix up traditional crafts and techniques to create new designs. Nature inspires me too and I tend to use a lot of plants and flowers in my work. Everything is handmade, by me.
Sustainability is also important to me. Where possible, I use materials that are eco friendly and recyclable - no plastic. All of my macrame cords are made from 100% recycled cotton thread and no harmful dyes or chemicals are used in the production process. I believe that in turn this makes the end product more organic and more visually appealing.
You’re based in South London, would you say that your surroundings influence your work?
I've lived in London for almost 20 years and the wealth of different cultures has definitely influenced and inspired my work. By-Me began when I joined a mums craft group after moving to Forest Hill. There, I met some inspirational mothers who had set up amazing creative businesses from home. This helped give me the confidence to strike out on my own.
Are there any designers or artists that have influenced your work?
I adore the work of Windy Chien. She's a Chinese American Artist based in San Francisco. I love her work as she's taken the art of macrame away from the 'hippy, 70's boho' aesthetic, making incredible knotted sculptures and large scale installations which are beautiful and functional. I think she’s influenced my approach to macrame and other work, although I'd definitely like to make some large scale pieces for a commercial space. That would be amazing.
Are there any South London creatives that we should know about?
@helloflorauk for stunning interior designs
@als.london for quality, handmade leather bags
@yolandachiaramello for beautiful floral styling
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m trying out lots of new ideas for 2023 at the moment. All to appear on my IG account in the coming months: @by_me_katie