By Kristine Hope Kowalski
This year marks a big milestone for Kathy Ireland and her interior design company, Kathy Ireland Home Worldwide: it has officially been 25 years since the model and actress-turned business mogul first debuted in home furnishings back in 1993.
While the brand is now a far-reaching empire, it all started as a natural extension of Kathy Ireland’s own fashion talents. Now, the company has grown to include an expansive repertoire of customer-beloved furniture and home accessories. Through in-house designs and key licensing deals, the brand has created a range of pieces that are aspirational, luxurious, and on-trend, yet affordable for a wide range of American customers and durable to withstand everyday life.
House Tipster has had the great opportunity to speak with the design innovator on several occasions, including at major industry events like Las Vegas Market, High Point Market, and more. To celebrate Kathy Ireland Home’s 25th Anniversary, we are sharing some of the entrepreneur’s own reflections on her exciting journey.
House Tipster: What is the inspiration behind your work?
Kathy Ireland: The inspiration truly is our customer. It’s listening to her, and how she’s living. It’s really listening to the customer and that casual elegance that she wants, affordable luxury.
House Tipster: Can you tell us about your career in design? You’re 25 years in the business now, and you started out designing socks with Kmart?
Kathy Ireland: I did! It’s interesting: we started 25 years ago with a single pair of socks. I wanted to start from the ground up. So when I began in home, again [was] that theme of starting from the ground up. A great foundation. In design, a wonderful place to begin when you’re putting a room together is from the ground up, with a great area rug. You can find a pattern you love and draw colors from it. A rug is a great anchor for your décor in the home.
When we began with socks 25 years ago, we were making socks out of recycled soda pop bottles and hemp. We’ve continued that with some of the fabrications in our [home products like] rugs. It’s great for the environment, and luxurious.
House Tipster: You were ahead of the curve on recycled products, that’s great. What catches your eye with colors?
Kathy Ireland: Travel most definitely has a huge impact. I love being outdoors. Of all the designers, God is the ultimate. So the colors that we find in nature, they’re so pleasing to the eye. The sky, the sand on the sea shores, the mountains with pops of wildflowers. Those colors in nature are what we truly try to capture, and bringing the outdoors in.
We always tell our customers, don’t be afraid of color! We try to find ways to make it easy.
House Tipster: You do fashion, you do jewelry, you do home furnishings. Who are some of the partners you work with?
Kathy Ireland: There’s Nourison for the rugs we’re really proud of. There’s Michael Amini | Kathy Ireland Home Designs for our case goods for AICO, and Pacific Coast Lighting has been our lighting partner for going on 20 years almost. Also our partners at Bush for RTA. They’re wonderful partners. What I love is the synergy.
At our company, Kathy Ireland Home Worldwide, we have our in-house design team. John Carrasco is our genius Global Creative Director. And each of our partners in home have their extraordinary teams. Everyone works together, so you get that cohesive design. There’s a lot of communication about what’s working, and what the customers want and are responding to. It’s all about people.
To learn more about Kathy Ireland Home, and the label’s new product launches, head to KathyIreland.com.
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