We had the pleasure of hosting Kate DePara, the textile and clothing designer behind EVENS last week for an indigo and shibori dyeing workshop in Richmond. Kate joined us all the way from Houston, TX where she runs her small business and online shop carrying her collection of handmade clothing and accessories. We partnered with our good friend Michael-Birch Pierce of VCU's Fashion Department to host this incredible workshop on the stunning Mayo Island. Everyone left the workshop with their very own indigo dyed scarf along with a workbook to recreate the dyeing magic at home!
We also took a few minutes to catch up with Kate on her journey to becoming a textile artist and small business owner. Read on to learn more!
Tell us a little bit about your path to becoming a designer and maker.
My path to becoming a clothing designer was a result of my becoming a textile designer. My eyes have always seen the world in terms of color, texture, repetition and pattern, and that led me to textile design. Becoming a textile designer was probably also a result of my exploring what it would look like to work as a fine artist- I learned after some time that I really wanted to make useful, everyday things that make people feel good.
Why did you decide to open your own business?
I decided to open my own business after working for a few big designers and a few smaller ones. I learned a ton, but neither really fit for me long term. I'm very much an introvert, especially when it comes to work, and collaborating on a daily basis is a little bit draining and stressful for me! Once I admitted that to myself a lot of things made sense quickly.
Are all of your textiles created in-house?
Our textiles are all designed in house in Photoshop and Illustrator and printed in North Carolina and San Francisco. We just started working with a few weavers in New England and India! I'm excited to see where that takes us. I love the process of making material and watching it develop from the plant or animal fiber to yarn, then woven and printed.
What is your favorite project that you've worked on recently?
My favorite project that I've worked on recently is making our Fall prints from my recent trip to Mexico City! It was a wonderful, colorful place with diverse architecture, fresh foliage and lovely people. There's nothing like experiencing a new city or culture for the first time. It's always hugely inspirational to me, maybe more than anything else.
Tell us a little bit about Houston. What should be on our not-to-miss list if we visit?
Houston is the jam. I love it here so much. The people are friendly and the art scene is vibrant and welcoming. Must-see's for art are The Menil, Cy Twombly Gallery / Rothko Chapel, CAMH, Hello Project Gallery and Cardoza if they've got shows up, and the James Turrell Skyspace. Walking the Bayou Bend Gardens or The Arboretum is always a treat. We have a great magazine shop called Tomo that has some great rare and international publications (and they have yummy locally roasted Lomi coffee, too). Visit my friends over at Manready Mercantile, Myth and Symbol, and Saint Cloud for shopping. Tiny Boxwood, Kata Robata, Hugo's, and Uchi are always impressive staples for a great dinner. Make sure to grab a cocktail at Julep and the Honeymoon afterward!
What's in store for EVENS this year? Any new products or ideas you're working on?
We are very excited to work on designing some great wovens and develop relationships with new weavers. I'm traveling to Bangladesh and surrounding areas in the Fall and can't wait to experience that part of the world for both personal and professional reasons (as if they are separate?!). Another goal for this year is to fill out the site with a robust and thorough rotating inventory and take showroom appointments for locals / visitors who want to come in and try things on.
Any advice for other small businesses out there?
Do your research and take initiative with those projects and ideas! Reach out to others, and always try to share your knowledge with others.
Thanks Kate, Michael-Birch, and everyone who joined us for the Indigo Dyeing Workshop! Deets on our next event coming soon.