Homegirl London pays homage to Katie Alice. Katie is a self-taught designer bringing her own unique vintage chic to kitchen accessories and tableware. Strongly influenced by her English country garden and love of vintage craft, Katie’s floral patterns are beautifully depicted in a fifties inspired pastel palette. You’ll find everything from porcelain tea sets, fine china mugs, baking utensils and cotton tea towels. I caught up with Katie Alice to find out more about her shabby chic accessories.
Cottage Flower Design
Meet Katie Alice
Katie tells me about life before becoming a designer – “I’m always slightly embarrassed to say that I never made it to university. I never even did the art foundation course that I had planned to do after college. I spent a few years running the restaurant at a village pub and generally being pre-occupied with village life in Northamptonshire. Much of my time was taken up making a pretty garden and filling my home with vintage bits and bobs. I wasn’t focussed on forging a career in design but was approached by Creative Tops, a leading kitchenware company in the UK, which is when everything changed. They asked if I would like to curate a range of tableware with a vintage look based on the lifestyle of someone living and working in the countryside. It happened at just the time I fancied a change so I decided to take on the challenge.”
It wasn’t long before the collection was underway, Katie explains – “I worked alongside the designers in their studio for the first range and picked up a lot of skills as I went along. I’ve always had a creative side and this really gave me an opportunity to use it. I’ve been very lucky to find a back way to a career in design! When we launched the first range, the sales and the response from customers was greater than we could have ever hoped for and we really saw the potential for Katie Alice as a brand. We decided it would be beneficial for both parties if I set up Katie Alice as a company.” The first range launched in October 2010 but it wasn’t until 2011 that I officially started my own business.”
Bird Song Design
Katie has the best of both worlds. With her own brand she works mainly alone and is responsible for everything from designing to the social media. She enjoys liaising with small independent shop owners, especially when she hears positive feedback about her work. Then she’s part of a wider team with Creative Tops where she collaborates with the design studio, marketing and sales departments. Katie has recently relocated to a town, she tells me – “It makes a nice change to live within walking distance of things other than cows and sheep! Stamford is one of the prettiest towns in England so there’s still plenty around to keep my mind working!”
Katie Alice Collection
Katie describes her design style – “The spirit of the brand lies in vintage florals and pretty colour palettes.” Katie started off making a range of vintage inspired kitchenware such as tea-time products like teapots and cups, oven-to-table cookware and kitchen textiles. The first range was a shabby chic vintage style pattern with a very subtle pastel colour palette across china and cotton. There have been various other designs since featuring brighter florals bolder shapes and more materials like wood, metal and glass. Katie reveals –“I’m also now beginning to make cushions, vases and candle holders to complement the collections, which is super exciting!”
Cupcake Couture Design
Here’s a look at four of her favourite collections – Ditsy Floral, Cottage Flower, English Garden and Highland Fling. Ditsy Floral: “The signature ditsy polka dot has become a staple part of my designs. The Ditsy Florals collection features dusky and candy pinks which was inspired by a snippet of old wallpaper. It’s quintessentially English with pretty apple blossom pink flowers with a fifties colour palette. This is the ultimate afternoon tea set with mix and match cups and saucers in fine bone china and gold detail.”
Ditsy Floral Design
English Garden: “It’s a bright vintage bouquet. The insect additions (butterflies and bees) are inspired from my old garden with the lovely periwinkle blue being a favourite flower colour of mine.” This pattern adorns plates, jugs, teapots, trays, biscuit barrels plus more.
English Garden Design
Cottage Flower: “This was my first collection which has a shabby chic feel with its subtle colour palette.” You’ll find this pattern on storage jars, cake tins, fine china mugs and more. This collection also features embossed ceramic stoneware mixing bowls, jelly moulds and pie dishes with raised flowers.
Cottage Flower Stoneware Design
Highland Fling: “This was created after a winter trip up to Edinburgh. The warm textured tartan print sits prettily with (yet another!) vintage floral design and polka dots. This range has been so well received that I’ve been working on some really lovely new additions that will be available from October. My first foray into home décor; the new collection will include cushions, candleholder and other decorative accessories.” Highland Fling designs feature on ramekins, plates, mugs, flasks, aprons plus more.
Highland Fling Design
Katie is a big fan of vintage printed materials, she explains – “Nowadays so much design work is done from scratch on the computer and no matter how great your software is you can never get that real vintage feel. I love how much effort was put into things before the age of computers. I’ve found the most beautiful scraps of hand-painted wallpaper, Victorian Christmas cards and even hand-painted handkerchiefs that have really beautiful designs on them. I can’t bear to think of them sitting in a box somewhere gathering dust! I love giving them a new lease of life and wondering who it was that painted them and how they’d feel if they knew!”
Bird Song Design
Inspiration comes mostly from Katie’s sifting through antiques shops or vintage fairs up and down the country. She reveals – “I’m the one that can’t leave a box un-searched just in case the one thing I’m hoping to find is right at the bottom of it and I can’t bear to miss it! Vintage fairs have got a lot more sophisticated now as well and most of the stall holders actually set there bits out like it’s a shop window which is so lovely and very inspiring to walk round.”
Highland Fling Design
Anthropologie is a company Katie admires, she explains – “I always really respect what they do with their home and kitchenware. They work with great artists and come up with really beautiful but still functional products all the time. They also do such an incredible job of tying together collections across lots of interesting textures and substrates. The stores always look amazing, I’d be really pleased with myself if I’d pulled together all of that!”
Buy Katie Alice Products
To find out more about Katie and to buy her products go to the website at Katie Alice. To give you an idea about prices – Mugs cost from £3.99, Plates from £5.99, Teapots from £18.99, Tea Towels from £10.99 and Aprons are from £19.99.
Author: Homegirl London. Photography and thanks: Katie Alice and Rachel Godman-Morris.