Plucky Pioneer Interview No.2

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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…

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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.

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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]

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Most glamourous part of owning your own company?

Creating your own vision with no rules…

Least glamourous part of owning your own company?

Paying bills.

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]

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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!


21 comments on “Plucky Pioneer Interview No.2

  1. Kirby

    What a great interview! Very informative and inspirational. I also love to travel and everytime I do I return home with a new outlook on things and tons of inspiration to create things of my own.

  2. the NEO-traditionalist Post author

    Rachel — Of course a design savvy girl like yourself would be a fellow Rikshaw fan! So glad I could introduce Catherine to you, isn’t she darling?!

    Kirby — I love to travel too! I can only hope my next trip gives me an idea half as brilliant as Catherine’s founding Rikshaw! Such inspiration to be found abroad…

    XX Kate

  3. Brandi

    Kate, this series of yours is fantastic. I’m almost inspired to start my own business…except I have no idea what I would do. Luckily, I have time to figure that out. Maybe after I finish this degree and travel some more…

  4. Habitually Chic

    I wasn’t familiar with Rikshaw Design so thank you for bringing this other plucky pioneer to my attention! It’s so inspiring to hear about other people making their creative dreams a reality! And it’s also nice to know I’m not the only other person who could work 24 hours a day if not careful! Thanks!

  5. the NEO-traditionalist Post author

    Heather — Now you can use Rikshaw in all your client’s nurseries, yay! Plucky Pioneers supporting one another—I love it. Now go enjoy what’s left of your holiday weekend and don’t work too hard : ) Thanks again for all your support!
    XX Kate

  6. Amanda

    I LOVE Rikshaw and Catherine is adorable! Those Hunter wellies with that dress is killing me – I’m totally copying that! Great interview, Kate! xo

  7. a lovely being

    great interview. the quote below is so inspiring to me!

    Most glamourous part of owning your own company?

    Creating your own vision with no rules…

    congratulations on all of your success, Catherine!

  8. Helen

    Wow! Catherine seems total girl-crush worthy, I’m so impressed with her accomplishments! You did a great job with this interview! :)

  9. KateMcG

    What a fantastic interview- go Plucky Pioneers! Catherine is so adorable! What an amazing company!

  10. Chelsea Rebecca

    thanks so much for the sweet comment!! made my day.
    i adore you cute blog! my favorite is the “classic shaken and stirred”
    and i love the quote in the previous post. so inspiring!

  11. T.Rex & Me

    I just did a post on Rikshaw designs today which led me to your site- it’s funny how things work, isn’t it? I love hearing how people go about start-ups because I one day (soon hopefully?!) would love to own my own store. Thanks for sharing!

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