No Snoots Allowed
Ever since I was little, I spent a lot of time worrying about people’s perception of me. Pair that with ambition and you have a recipe for a people pleasing personality and an over-achieving habit that says “watch me! I’m perfect!” Unfortunately, no amount of achievement or molding myself to a specific image ever accomplishes a thing. It didn’t matter that I went to the best design school or racked up a serious roster of brands that I’ve designed for. Nothing I could do or achieve was ever going to be good enough to get the stamp of approval I so desperately wanted. Thankfully, I’ve spent a lot of time working through this and am in a better spot with this mentality, but it is popping up every now and then.
I share this because I’m noticing that as I build my own business, this idea of perception is starting to sneak on through to how I make decisions for my own brand. While perception is undoubtedly critical to think about (ahem, the word BRAND is a direct result of this!) there’s always a risk of this going too far and getting out of hand.
I think it’s really important for me as a human and as a sensitive designer behind this brand to think about the vision I have versus the vision I think people want me to have.
My vision for my product line and for all of my work in general is to fill your world with color and comfort so that you can create your own oasis at home where you feel seen, safe, and stable. It’s a home full of things that bring you joy so that when you have a bad day, you have a place to curl up and reset your energy. It’s a home where all of your trinkets are welcome because you will always have space for little things that make you smile.
So that’s the vision, but let’s talk about my other non-negotiables as a designer. If I’m making objects for you, I want them to be livable. To me, something that is livable is high quality and can withstand the test of time. It means that you can wash your blankets without worrying that they’re going to fall apart in the machine, that you can clean your rugs when life happens, and that whatever you get from me you can count on lasting a long time.
Here’s the tricky part:
It’s easy to make products cheaply, but it’s much more difficult to produce high quality products that stand the test of time. When you pair that fact of life with how other similar product lines are talked about, the word that comes to our minds is “luxury.” As someone who has always felt a little on the outside, the word luxury makes me think of other words like exclusive, snooty, and the sad phrase “you’re not good enough.” It makes me think of stores that judge you when you walk through the door, sales people who size you up and decide whether or not you’re worth their time, and a social group that judges you based on what car you drive and the purse you wear.
As the brand’s designer, I feel pressure to conform to this and pivot my brand to be LUXURY and FANCY. The price point could match it, easily.
But the more I think about it, the more I resent that.
I am not a luxury person. I am not a luxury designer.
I grew up working on my uncle’s farm, I was raised by a single mother, and all those fancy degrees I have are courtesy of some incredible scholarships. I do not feel at ease in fancy spaces, nor do I feel welcome.
Why does luxury need to be so heavily tied to high quality? Why can’t we have high quality AND be playful AND be for the everyday person?
So this is where I stand. I’m not for snoots. I’m not for fancy schmancy establishments. I’m designing for the everyday human, for the person who places their colorful area rugs in the middle of their living room where the dog, kid, and cousins can come hang out and play a board game together.
I’m designing for the maximalist houses with a little too much clutter or a little too much hung on the wall simply because everything on that wall makes them feel good. I’m designing for the person who has had a long day and just wants to hang out under their knit blanket in their underwear eating popcorn for dinner and watching a feel-good movie. I’m designing for the person who has no clue how to hang a gallery wall, but figures it out anyway because all of their prints make them happy every time they walk by.
I’m designing for you- a human who has a messy life with a lot of moving parts. You deserve high quality as much as the next person. If you’re a snoot, keep it moving!