In Conversation With: Joanna Williams of Kneeland Co.

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LA based tastemaker Joanna Williams frequently graces the hot lists of my favourite West Coast design blogs so I am beyond ecstatic to be interviewing her on mine today!

Joanna, an ex-trend forecaster probably has one of the most inspiring jobs I have come across – she operates Kneeland Co. a vintage textile studio from her base in Silver Lake where she travels the world sourcing exquisite textiles and selling them to designers in the in fashion, interiors and beauty industry to be used as product development inspiration.

She also has a really great Pinterest that channels her unique style. Love.

Hi Joanna, tell us about yourself.

I live in Silver Lake, the east side of Los Angeles. My neighbourhood is a wonderful community of creatives that is very supportive and nurturing. I have lived in LA for 9 years, but I’m originally from Houston, Texas.

Why did you move to LA?

I graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Public Relations, thinking that I wanted to work in fashion PR. I always knew that I would leave Texas because it’s not really a place that offers many fashion opportunities, so I eventually came to LA and started working in advertising for an apparel trade publication. I realised that wasn’t the route I wanted to take, so I started exploring the world of trend forecasting and got a job with Stylesight where I worked for 3 years as the West Coast Trend Correspondent. I left Stylesight and started to work as a freelance trend consultant for different brands and also started to write for various fashion and lifestyle publications. After doing that for about 2 or 3 years, I launched Kneeland Co.

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Tell us about Kneeland Co. What kind of services do you provide?

Kneeland Co. operates as Vintage Textile Studio for clients in fashion, interiors and beauty. I source textiles and sell them to designers to be used as product development inspiration. I also design a line of embellishments that are sold for inspiration as well.

The second part of my business which launched in October 2012 is an online marketplace, Kneeland Mercado, that focuses on handmade goods and accessories from around the world. In addition, I do creative consulting for different brands in fashion and home.

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How did you start Kneeland Co. and why? Where does the name come from?

I started Kneeland Co. while I was doing trend consulting for an accessories company. Print studios would come and show us their new prints for the season and I was always very inspired by it and thought I could do something similar, in my own style.

The name is Irish and it is my mother’s maiden name. My grandfather, Russell Kneeland, was an adventurer, explorer and businessman who built an 86-foot schooner and sailed all over the world. He really instilled a sense of adventure and sense of self in my family, and that had a big impact on me.

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What are you currently working on?

I recently finished a line of vintage scarves with my embellishment and embroidery designs for Anthropologie that will be available online and in stores. I am also collaborating with a couple of home brands – one in Morocco and one in LA – on a small collection of goods for Kneeland Mercado. Coming soon!

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Where do you source your pieces? What kind of things do you look for?

I source my pieces from all over the world. I look for things that really speak to me. I don’t really shop by trend; I look for pieces that are interesting in some aspect and that stand out.

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As you mentioned you used to work as a trend-forecaster – forecasters typically tend not to follow trends themselves but your style of modern vintage craft pieces are very popular at the moment. What kind of details do you think people are excited about and what do you try and pick up on when you are sourcing?

I think we’re so bombarded with images because of the internet and the various forms of social media, so it’s easy to get bored. I think it’s important to keep things fresh and exciting, while staying true to your aesthetic and interests.

I think people like to see things that are unexpected but familiar. Sourcing for the textile studio and sourcing for the store and two completely different things, although I do like to look for unusual things for both. But I do have to keep my clients in mind a little more when I’m looking for textiles. There’s a lot of room for creativity, of course, but sourcing for the store is a little more personal.

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What kind of places do you travel to and where in the world are your favourite markets?

I travel all over – Paris, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Austin, Houston, San Francisco, Portland, etc. I’m dying to go to India, which will be in October. I adore the Clignancourt Flea Market in Paris and many of the tiny villages in cities throughout the world.

Turkey is one of my favorite places to shop.

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Author: Rohini Wahi

Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.

She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at mail@rohiniwahi.com

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