Localist: Keephouse Studio
Keephouse Studio, a home goods lines, is founded on the belief that everyday moments can be made special with objects that are beautiful, functional and well made. "From a young age I was shown the importance of a well made object," explains founder, Alissa Kloet. "I have come to realize the impact that the things we bring into our home has on the atmosphere we create for ourselves and the people that we welcome in."
From linens and pillow throws in original patterns, to handcrafted wooden trays perfect for any occasion, Alissa finds meaning in objects and moments well made. Though I couldn't visit her oceanside studio in Seaforth, Nova Scotia, I did have the pleasure of chatting with Alissa about her work with Keephouse Studio Read on!
Tool for occasions. Can you share what led to these principles and how are you contributing to this brand philosophy?
There are homes that immediately feel warm when I walk into them. The space is welcoming and, human. It doesn’t take long for me to notice that the handmade ceramics, woven table runners, artworks made by a friend, are telling the story of the person that lives there. In my own home I follow that rule by William Morris that has had such a huge resurgance lately: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Functionality is really important to me, quality is really important to me. On top of that I want the things I make to be aesthetically pleasing so that people enjoy using them and enjoy the small moments they have with them.
You studied textile design at Sheridan College. What brought you to Nova Scotia to study fine arts? What has the experience been like building a business there?
I came to Nova Scotia to continue studying textiles at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. I took the opportunity to also take classes in other mediums as well. I started Keephouse within a year after graduating. I’ve felt extremely supported while building my business here. There is a great community of designers and makers who are open and willing to share what they know. We also have a lot of resources to help us make steps towards success. The downside has always been that suppliers are so far away, as well as larger markets.
Can you share a bit about your creative process?
I’ve been trying to be better at carving away time to be creative and have no expectations of the outcome. It can be hard when the to-do list never seems to get shorter! For me, the process starts with smaller ideas, drawings, collages in my sketchbook. These are like little notes to myself of things I want to explore further. When I’m getting ready to put together new patterns I come back to these as a jumping off point. Two processes I really love are working with paper that I’ve textures and working with cut paper. I have an affinity for the illustrations in vintage children’s books so I am often working towards that look.
As a home goods designer you create a variety of products for your collection, from beautiful serving trays to pillow coverings. How do you choose which products to add as you are expanding your line? And how often are you adding new designs?
If people are looking for something and it feels like a good fit I try and bring it in. Once fabric has been screen printed it can become so many things from there which makes it really versatile. The wood products are a bit harder because each product takes a lot more time to put into production. Over all I lean towards trying to design new products that solve a problem and serve a function. I bring out new designs at least once a year around mid/end of summer.
You were selected as a finalist for the Canadian Etsy Awards. What do you hope you contribute to the Etsy community and the broader Canadian design community as a whole?
That was such a lovely surprise! I’m fairly new to the Etsy community. My shop has been open for quite a while but I didn’t really know what I was doing! My business has primarily been wholesale into shops across Canada. I’ve benefitted greatly from the mentorship of other Etsy sellers and the Etsy team here, Maritime Makers. I would love to give back by sharing my skill set with others. I also volunteer with a local organization, Halifax Crafters Society, which helps create opportunities for makers to sell their work and wants to see Halifax keep growing as a creative hub.
What advice do you have for aspiring designers or artisans who are starting up a studio or business?
I think it’s really important to create a support network. Meet other people, find mentors, being willing to be vulnerable and be willing to learn. Starting a business is like performing a character analysis on yourself. You become so aware of your strengths and also your weaknesses and you have to be ready to face them. You are going to want the support and advice of people who are already in the middle of it.
Favourite thing about Nova Scotia?
The ocean! I get to look at the Atlantic Ocean all day, every day. I still can't believe it.
Do you have a most treasured item at home that you’ve made, bought or been gifted?
The one I’m thinking of now is a small wooden box my husband made for me when we were dating. He took a lot of time to put in these really nice details. It houses a collection of things he gave to me like origami animals he folded and little notes.
Where would we find you on a day off, when you are not in the studio?
Definitely outside. The weather is warm, so gardening is a high priority as is ocean swims. I also just got my motorcycle license so I need to practice up!
I've rounded up a few of my picks from the Keephouse collection. You can shop the rest here!