November 13, 2017
Calhoun & Co.
We have a lot of love for Calhoun & Co., a small business that designs whimsical and lighthearted home goods with the intention of spreading a more coziness and kindness in your home. Meet Kerry, the “good at naps” creator below!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
I grew up in a tight-knit neighborhood and feel really lucky that first I had such a wonderful environment to grow up in, and second that I still have a strong bond with the people and the place. It was the kind of neighborhood that was filled with kids my age growing up and where we would run around each other’s yards, play kick-ball in the cul-de-sac, spend hours and hours in each other’s homes playing dress-up and to this day have neighborhood parties. The name of the street I grew up on is Calhoun Avenue, and is still one of my favorite places.
What sparked your interest in this particular craft?
I’ve always been a maker or designer in some sense. My mom taught me how to sew at a young age, and I always loved having a craft at my birthday parties growing up. I went to college for apparel design (which I loved) but realized it wasn’t the exact path I wanted to be on. I knew I wanted to start something of my own, and the idea of creating pieces that people kept in their homes, where they spend time with those nearest & dearest to them, felt like a natural fit. Plus — I just love re-arranging and decorating a space to make it feel like my own.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
I do my best to have fun with the design process, and to have my personality come through. I don’t take myself too seriously, love a good belly laugh, and aim to create a space for myself that feels eclectic, inspiring, and peaceful. There is always some aspect of playfulness in each design — whether it’s the texture or graphics.
List some of the most important lessons you’ve learned while running your business:
I know I’ve learned a whole lot, but also that I’ve still got a lot to learn. One of my biggest challenges has been making time to work on new designs and products. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the daily tasks like replying to emails and keeping things organized — I’ve really got to set aside time to take a break from the office work and just make.
What has been your proudest moment since you’ve started?
Seeing people who are genuinely excited to have a Calhoun & Co. product in their home is honestly the coolest thing to me. It makes me incredibly happy when someone will read or look at one of my designs and either laugh or smile. Calhoun & Co. has also been featured on a number of blogs that I’ve followed along for years which is incredible to see. I’ve jumped out of my chair and into a dance a couple of times in the past year…
How does the city or cultural environment you live in influence your work?
This past year I’ve been really inspired by community, people coming together, and supporting one another. I see this not only where I live, but in the events and markets I participate in, in online communities, and with other small businesses who I’ve met over the past year. One thing I do love about living in Brooklyn is that I feel like I’m surrounded by creative people who are passionate about the work they do and hustle to make it work. That buzz of energy is something special.
What valuable experience did you have before starting your business?
I’ve worked for a few smaller businesses and definitely got used to the “many hats” role. Even though I’ve had (and continue to have) help from family, friends, & my beyond supportive boyfriend — I’m in this business solo, and I’ve got to wear all the hats. Also — prior to starting Calhoun & Co. I had a small side business making and selling bridal/hair accessories. Doing that introduced me to the world of maker AND business owner. It was a little bit of a practice run in learning how to do things like build a website, emails blasts, how the heck to manage taxes for a small business…on and on.
Do you have any favorite pieces? What makes them special to you?
Right now my favorite piece is the “FRIENDLY FACES” knit blanket. I designed this throw with the idea that the simplest thing we can all do to bring our communities together is to just be kind to one another. A portion of the sale from this blanket is donated to the ACLU, which is something I’m so proud to be able to do. Also — sometimes I’ll make a wall hanging that will just make me calm, or happy — and those are the pieces I like the most.
What are some inspirations for your work?
Everything and anything can be a spark. Traveling is always an inspiration although I definitely don’t do it enough, but I’m also inspired by the complete opposite of staying home and what I feel like I want in my own space. I’m also constantly inspired by colors, insects, flowers, New York City, and my dog, Slug — his ability to nap & get cozy anywhere and anytime is incredible.
What’s on the horizon for your business?
One of the best things is that I’m not totally sure. I’ll be continuing to develop new designs for sure, and plan to expand what I already have. One of the coolest things about running your own business is that you can test out different things and do some experimentation. I might try some new kinds of products next year, but am open to what they may be.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
My suggestion is always to just go for it. Of course you need to have some kind of a plan, but you’ll learn so much more as you go. You can plan and plan away, but no matter how much you try to figure out the path you’re about to go on, it’s going to change along the way. Be flexible about how you reach your goals, and be willing to change what your goals are.