What a perfect Maker Spotlight for National Cat Day! Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club will be bringing her minimalist amazing cat wares to our San Francisco Fair on November 21+22. If only she would bring her adorable siamese with her!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
My cat, who is part siamese, is the inspiration behind my business and the name Siamese Social Club. Like many siamese cats, he sometimes acts more like a dog than a cat, and I’ve always joked about starting a “social” group for him to meet other cats, since he doesn’t quite fit in at the dog park.
Have you always been passionate about design?
In retrospect, yes, I have always been passionate about design without even realizing it. As a child, I would obsess over the floor plans of my dream home and pillage magazines for furniture and decoration ideas. At the time, I had no idea that this would lead to my current interest in interior design and product design.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
About five years ago, I got into the DIY blog movement and was eager to try as many new techniques as I could learn. I taught myself how to crochet, knit, embroider, sew and took classes in spinning and weaving. I started using these newly acquired techniques to solve one problem that had always bothered me: finding a cat bed that actually looked good in my house. Once I made that connection between fiber arts and cats, I knew I had finally found my niche.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
My designs not only incorporate a minimal aesthetic, which I find to be somewhat unique among cat products, they take into consideration the actual behavior of cats. My ultimate goal is to make highly functional pieces of art, something that will actually be enjoyed by the cat and owner alike.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
The original cat bed design that I spent over a year creating turned out to be a complete failure. Not a single cat would sleep in it, even though it looked perfectly cozy to me. I learned then that I really needed to test out my basic designs on the cats first before focusing on the details.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Before starting my business, one of my favorite pastimes was taking long walks and exploring new parts of San Francisco. Now, I can’t even remember when I’ve had the time to take a leisurely walk without a list of things to complete along the way. But since I’m spending my time working on something I really love and feel inspired to continue doing, I don’t miss those moments at all.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
Launching my website has, so far, been my proudest moment. It really felt like my business had finally gone from an idea to a reality.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I find San Francisco such an inspirational place to live. From the muted, pastel color palette of the buildings on overcast days, to the entrepreneurial spirit that envelopes the city, to it’s plethora of public art and galleries, I can’t imagine ever having started my business anywhere else.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I actually studied animal behavior and evolution through grad school, so my science background has surprisingly come in handy during the early stages of my business. There are many parallels between the scientific and artistic process, from background research to experimentation to writing funding proposals, I still feel very much like a scientist working in a more creative field.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
Starting my own business was something I always wanted to do, and something I had been thinking of and planning for a long time. So once I had the idea, the products and the name figured out, I knew it was finally time to start making things happen.
What are some inspirations for your work?
Meeting and interacting with cats, reading design blogs, visiting art galleries, and being surrounded by other makers creating beautiful things.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Don’t be afraid to learn new things and try techniques that are unfamiliar to you. You never know how they might influence your work or lead to a brilliant idea.
We could stare at these photos all day! Thank you Kristen for sharing your work, and he sure to check out these feline-friendly goods at our San Francisco Fair! You can find Siamese Social Club online here: