Introducing : Our Local Designer Spotlight Series
Written by Julie Weinstein
We’re so excited to introduce a new series on Wear + Where + Well this afternoon! We’re so lucky here in Houston because we truly have an abundance of incredibly talented makers and designers. There are tons of creatives in this city, and we’re thrilled we have been able to meet them, partner with them, and call many of them dear friends.
We love to support local designers and shops whenever we can, and we wanted to share some of these wonderful local Houstonians with all of you. So, over the course of the next month, we’re going to be bringing you interviews with some of our favorite local designers, starting with Kathryn Swain, founder and designer behind Colores Collective.
I actually met Kathryn a few years ago when we were both working with Brooke Feather (now Saint Cloud River Oaks), and since then we’ve seen each other out and around town and kept tabs on each other. And Carrie met Kathryn more recently at Atrium Ready to Wear while Kathryn had a trunk show going on for her new line. Carrie immediately fell in love with her colorful accessories and bags (seen here, here, and here). We’re so happy for Kathryn and can’t wait for all that’s to come with her brand! So, keep on reading for what inspired her to launch Colores Collective, what a day in her life looks like, her favorite Houston spots, a sneak peek into what’s to come for the brand, and more…
First, congrats on all the success of Colores Collective! As you know, we’re huge fans. What was your inspiration behind launching this brand?
Thank you! My inspiration came from years of travel with my husband where we got to encounter so many cultures and styles that I fell in love with. I would always shop as local as possible and would often end up with buying extra suitcases to bring home filled with everything from tea cups to dresses. Much of it sat in a dresser for several years and I would often rummage though it knowing I wanted to “bring it to life,” but didn’t know how.
In July of 2015, right after I got married, I launched a website called WedToWhite for brides to be, and although it was a success, I became disenchanted and let it fall to the way side. My husband would often ask about what I was going to do with the website and the audience I had built, so five months ago when he left town for several weeks, I took the plunge. I started designing the jewelry I had always dreamed of making, customizing totes (with lots of trial and error), and it was a hit! So here I am now trying to figure it out as I go!
Travel is a huge part of your brand, as all the pieces are inspired by places you’ve been. What is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled and why?
That’s like asking to choose your favorite child! Everywhere I’ve been, no matter how close or far, is so unique and brings a different type of inspiration, so I’ll list just a few.
Milan for its old world meets new world fashion and architecture. Dubai for its mix of people from every part of the globe and melting pot culture. San Miguel De Allende for its charm and local artisans. Palm Beach for its ultra-chic style that’s often replicated, but never duplicated. Lugano Switzerland for its off the map type feel, incredible views from every angle of the city and refined hybrid French/ Italian style.
What are your current favorite pieces in the collection?
Again, with the hard questions! Since my brand is so new, all the items I carry are equally as new. The custom totes are my favorite because I love seeing what people come up with and I feed off their ideas. The caftans are brand new and I just can’t get enough of them, literally and figuratively- they have sold so quickly it’s hard to keep them in stock. They are incredibly flattering, no matter your body type, and they, too, come in so many color combinations it’s hard to choose just one.
We love that every pair of earrings has a story. Which is your favorite story?
The Miguel earrings story is my favorite because it’s how my whole brand began. I had just received some hand printed wooden birds the morning before I was going out to lunch with a friend. They were so cute I wanted to make something with them right away. So, I went into a box of old jewelry making stuff I had gotten with my mom in Santa Monica nine years ago and made a pair of earrings with the birds that always reminded me of the birds you see around San Miguel De Allende in the spring and summer time. I wore the earrings to lunch in River Oaks District and I swear every store I walked into after lunch (even Hermes!) asked about my earrings. Knowing that I had the interest of so many people so quickly gave me the confidence to launch my brand!
What does a day in your life, as the founder and designer behind Colores Collective, look like?
Each day varies, but for the last few months, most days have been spent filling orders, making products for trunk shows or packing bags for an upcoming trip.
I get up in the morning and run with my sweet dog, Tanz, then get started on orders. Each bag takes several hours so I try to break up the day by grabbing lunch or going to the gym at the Houstonian- movement is key when sitting for hours on end!
I’m always at the post office mailing orders, buying new paint, picking up boxes, dropping off inventory at my storage unit /warehouse, or delivering a special order. When the day is winding down, I will either make dinner or we will grab dinner out with friends. At some point in the crazy day I always take time to update my Instagram account because I feel that it allows people to see the “behind the scenes” and offers a little glimpse into the “Colores World.”
Who is the Colores Collective customer?
I like to think my customer is anyone who likes to have a little fun. I’ve sold to 14 year olds and 88 year olds, so age is no limit. My products are a bit whimsical, easy to wear, and a great price point so most everyone can buy something and not feel like they are breaking the bank. I love that my clients are so creative and keep me inspired to create new designs, monograms and more.
Aside from your website, where else can one shop your products?
Currently my items are only available online, but I have some wholesale accounts about to open up at Atrium Ready To Wear in Houston, Perch in Vail, Gena Chandler in Raleigh, North Carolina, and an online retailer based out of New York!
How would you describe your personal style?
I try to always, always remain timeless at the core, but supplement with modern accessories that embody the current trends. It makes your investments in finer clothes, bags and jewelry last much longer.
What is your favorite store in Houston?
Too many to count (how lucky are we to have so many great stores), but some of my top favorites are: Atrium Ready To Wear, Tootsies, Saint Cloud River Oaks (formerly Brooke Feather), Baanou, and Intermix.
What is your favorite restaurant in Houston?
What is your favorite thing to do in Houston?
I love the city’s parks and outdoor spaces. From the Heights trail, to the Bayou and the multitude of parks, I love being outdoors. Houston has so many “cities within a city” and I always feel there’s new things to explore. Rice Village’s ever changing scene, Memorial City’s growth, Galleria add ons, and the list goes on. It’s so exciting to not only live in, but also have a business in an ever-changing city like Houston.
Any future plans for Colores Collective that you can tell us about?
Yes! I haven’t made an official announcement, but I will be launching a home line, COLORES Home, in the early fall (see below for a sneak preview). It will include handwoven Moroccan rugs, Italian paper products, tabletop décor, and more! I feel that so often peoples’ homes don’t reflect their personal fashion style so I have created a line that will bridge that gap.
Thank you so much, Kathryn!