Memphis-born Caroline Z Hurley started creating long before attending the Rhode Island School of Design. After an inspiring trip to Bali following her graduation, she formed her Brooklyn-based home-ware company, Caroline Z Hurley Studio. Inspired by her world travels, but cherishing the importance of creating a home, Caroline's goods are created using a small-scale cottage industry. That means she has hands-on relationships with all of her producers - be it the ceramists in North Carolina or the weavers in Mexico or Guatemala. Read on for insights into how she finds inspiration, what she predicts for her future, her current favorite possessions and artists, and a sneak peek at some of the amazing pieces from her newest collection inspired by her most recent journey to Rome, Italy:
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I wanted to be a vet! I was really into kittens and puppies so I guess that made sense to me at the time. I mean, I was definitely always involved with some sort of art project when I was little, and I am sure that informs where I am now too. I was almost always covered in paint growing up.
Can you share a bit about the path you took to get to where you are now?
I've always had entrepreneurial ambitions, but I didn't know how they would take form. I had a lot of odds jobs through my 20's that paid for me to have a studio so I could make things which is really where I wanted to be most of the time. I took a teaching job which allowed me to work more in my studio. I started bringing some of the projects from my classroom back home to my studio and vice versa. I used the basic shapes from my classroom for the first throw I ever made, and I started making these block-printed things for friends and family, and then my company was born!
Where do you find inspiration and how do you stay inspired?
I am inspired mostly by travel, which is why each season is based on a particular city (Essaouria, Antigua, Oaxaca etc.) All of my senses are heightened when I am immersed in a new culture. The colors seem more vibrant, and the patterns are bolder. But that's not to say I am not inspired here in NYC. I think this city is the most stimulating. There is always a new art show to see, a museum to visit, a new little neighborhood to see. Nothing stays stagnant in NYC which I love - always fresh blood and fresh ideas here.
What do you aspire to for your future and what goals do you have for your business?
I think at this point my main goal is just to keep creating, keep building my brand. I want to build out my shop and new studio in Greenpoint and to continue to grow and sell and to make collaborations with designers that I respect. I like the idea of bringing the community of designers we have together in a creative way.
If you could hold onto your three favorite creations that you made, what would they be?
1 - My very first throw I ever made which is really worn-in and beat up at this point (which is part of the whole package of my products - I encourage people to "use often" because I believe my products do get better with time, sort of like a good pair of jeans).
2 - This painting of a beach I made when I was still at RISD - it was the first time I painted something without doubting myself so much (see below).
3 - My apartment. I didn't technically make it but I did design it and made it into the exact kind of space I wanted it to be. Home is really important to me. its sort of why I created my brand to begin with, hence my tag line "make a home." I love cozy spaces and I love that I get to make products that help people have a home they want to really live in.