“Hard work, determination and self belief.” Kate Hollowood, founder of her namesake small business Kate Hollowood, is reflecting on how she started her own brand. Sat in her studio in the quiet town of Leamington Spa, Kate speaks passionately about her career to date. She studied Textile Design at the Birmingham University of Art and Design when her youngest child started school, a risk the single mother knew she had to take. “Having always been creative and a maker I had to take the opportunity to study,” Kate explains, “It was a big decision and a bold move but I feel it has paid off already.”
Kate has just put the finishing touches to a floor lamp which was commissioned by a local family who were looking for a bespoke colour to compliment the blues and purples used in an oil painting they have in their living room. Kate has commissioned lighting products for customers all over the world, with her typical client usually looking for unique, handmade and exclusive pieces.
She developed the material and embryonic idea used in her lighting designs during her last year at university. Kate collaborated with trend agency Global Colour Research and made a 70cm diameter lampshade which was displayed at the university stand in the NEC Interiors Show 2014. It received great feedback and people loved it, so it was a natural progression to continue to develop her range of lighting into a collection when she left university.
As with many small businesses, starting out was daunting and Kate had to sell some jewellery to pay for a photographer to shoot her first collection. Titled “Matrix”, the collection conveys a LoFi, modern, sophisticated aesthetic, marrying compelling style with refreshing simplicity. When lit up the lighting casts an arrangement of absorbing and captivating illuminations on the surrounding environment, creating a relaxing, engaging and almost hypnotic atmosphere. “I worked hard to create a range of shapes and colours that I felt reflected the aesthetic,” Kate explains when asked about her thought process. “Mistakes were made, many messy! But I Iearnt from them and through experimentation – learning how to work with my materials for the best results.” The 2016 Matrix collection reflects her thoughtful consideration for colour, form and understated contemporary design.
Most recently Kate was accepted as a Partner on curated online marketplace notonthehighstreet.com. Having previously described most of her sales as coming from word of mouth, joining the realm of online shopping was a concept she had previously only dabbled in. But describing the process, Kate explained how overwhelmed she was by the level of support and encouragement from the in-house team, allowing her to call up for guidance whenever she needed it. Once piece of advice was to condense her range by offering the same products but to showcase them in a more accessible way. Marketing was also really important for her as she explains she could never reach the amount of potential clients on her own like she has done with NOTHS. Kate also changed the descriptions of her lighting and renamed them for search engine optimisation.
So what does the future hold for Kate and her small business? Aside from carrying out commissions (“I once created a 1 metre wide shade for a local restaurateur to go in his ‘man cave’”) she hopes to increase her customer base and work with interior designers to gain more commercial clients. She is also in the process of developing her colour palette for next season and her sketchbooks are full of drawings for possible future designs, which involve copper sheeting, gold leaf and weave. On the subject of larger than life interiors, Kate is interested to see how big she can go with her floor lamps, and would eventually like to investigate other new applications for her materials such as wall coverings, window treatments and sculptures.
For more information about Kate and Kate Hollowood designs please visit http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/katehollowood