I’m beyond excited to introduce to you our second Plucky Pioneer — Catherine Fitzsimmons of Rikshaw Design! Catherine gives a whole new meaning to the term “girl crush.” She’s charming, kind, hysterically funny, and as you can see above, has a fantastic sense of style. The Virginia native is also an avid traveler with an impressive list of adventures under her belt including a summer on a dude ranch, being an au pair in Paris, and completing a bike tour across Cape Cod. Working as a visual merchandiser for Ralph Lauren and later a textile buyer at Pottery Barn, eventually led Catherine to India. She was instantly mesmerized by the colorful Indian tradition of block-printing, spurring the 2008 launch of her own Rikshaw Design. For those of you not yet familiar with her charming company, Rikshaw is a lifestyle collection for the bohemian family with the most lovely block-printed Indian cotton voile you ever did see! Catherine launched with baby bedding and accessories and this spring will be adding to the collection adult bedding (yippee!) and a darling collection of children’s apparel. Without further ado, I give you Catherine’s Plucky interview…
Five words used to describe yourself.
Creative, funny, enthusiastic, passionate, and southern. [Above, a darling little girl cuddling a Rikshaw Design camel]
What inspires you creatively?
Travel (gotta get out and see this grand ole world!), photography, the mix of modern and old in homes, lots of layers in patterns and textures, people on the street, good merchandising in windows and stores.
Who were/are your design mentors?
I love Simon Doonan, Kelly Wearstler, Ruthie Sommers, India Hicks, Jenna Lyons, and all you bloggers out there inspire me endlessly.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
Boho..sounds cliche, but I am enamored with the little details of rooms, my outifits, the Rikshaw line and mixing it all up so that it has an eclectic vibe to it.
What propelled you to found your own company?
Really…I was done with a corporate environment and felt a need to express myself creatively. I dabbled in interior design and freelance styling then I came back to textiles, what I love and have loved my whole life. Rikshaw Design’s take on textiles was me noticing the need for something different for babies. [Below, Catherine and her adorable pup Jumby]
Most glamourous part of owning your own company?
Creating your own vision with no rules…
Least glamourous part of owning your own company?
Best business advice you’ve been given?
“Just keep moving, sell one thing, don’t look at all the obstacles.” This was the best at the beginning when I was nervous about launching… [Below, shelves of block prints snapped during Catherine’s travels in India]
Creative businesswoman you admire?
Tory Burch. I love how personal she has built her business with her blog, style tips, inspiration boards, ohh and her CD! I want to come out with a Rikshaw CD! Or a candle!
What keeps your organized and on task?
My team, my iPhone, and to-do lists. [Below, colorful Rikshaw Design textiles being printed hand]
Moment you knew you’d “made it”?
When the line was bought by my first boutique. I was thinking at first this was going to be a little hobby out of my house …whew things have changed!
Describe your typical work day…
Let jumby out, brew my tea, read my blogs, read my emails, try and exercise in the am (or I never will), then plug plug away… I take breaks to clear my head, usually a walk with jumby cause I could work for 24 hours if I didn’t stop.
Your dream project?
Open a store—it’s been a dream of mine since I was fifteen. I love the whole thought of walking into my store turning the closed sign to open, having a water bowl for dogs to come in, playing good tunes, selling to great people who get what it is I am trying to do… I love the whole personal interaction.
What goals do you have for your business in the future?
We are going to dabble in a bunch of other products, open a store!, become a lifestyle brand for the boho babes/families of the world.
Advice to other budding creative entrepreneurs?
Very similar to my best advice given above, which is, just sell one. It sounds sort of small, but the obstacles can keep you stuck and you will never move if you stare at them all day. One more big thing—stay true to what you are. You have to be passionate about it.
Be sure to stop in tomorrow to see Catherine’s Cheat Sheet — her top picks for art, film, travel and more! Also, if you like The Neo-Trad you’ll LOVE the Rikshaw Design Blog — visit it HERE!
THANK YOU CATHERINE!!!