Interview with Kat Webster of CANOPYstudio Etsy Shop
I have loved modern furniture and animals for as long as I can remember, and after graduating with my Masters in Architecture from Tulane University in New Orleans, where I still reside, it suddenly clicked- why not design and build furniture for animals. My company, CANOPYstudio, is attempting to fill the void in the market for design conscious people who share their homes with pets. People put so much care into the interiors of their homes only to come up short when it comes to pet beds. I saw a chance to offer a well-designed, extremely high quality product for people who love design and love their pets. My bent plywood cat lounge is truly a piece of fine furniture for your cat.
Etsy Shop: CANOPYstudio
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
I have always considered myself a dog person. A few years ago at the age of 26, as the proud mom to 2 dogs, I found a tiny stranded kitten in the abandoned neighboring yard. He was only a few days old and I nursed him with a bottle. I named him Salvatore. I had no idea how awesome cats are! Playful, sweet and totally delightful, I love everything about them! When Sal was about a year old, Olive walked up to my boyfriend on the sidewalk and has been living with us ever since. She is the sweetest kitty in the whole world!
2. Please describe your creative process.
I have always loved mid-century modern furniture and especially the work of Charles and Ray Eames. Their iconic bent plywood lounge chair inspired the design of my cat lounge. I learned how to bend plywood and began making. My process is greatly influenced by what I learned in architecture school. Building something, be it an architectural model, or a full-scale piece of furniture is not just a representation of your ideas, but a tool in the design process. When I built the first lounge I designed legs for it that I thought were going to be great, but once I made them, they were all wrong and it was back to the drawing board. Function also greatly influences my design. As an animal bed, I saw it necessary that the upholstered cushion be removable and replaceable, but I did not want to sacrifice the look of a permanently upholstered cushion. So the solution became embedding rare earth magnets in the bent plywood shell and that attract magnets in the upholstered cushion. The magnets are strong enough to hold the cushion in place (even when the bed is held upside down) but allow the cushion to be removed for cleaning or to swap out for another cushion.
3. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
Etsy is an amazing source of creative energy. I first opened my Etsy store to sell textile prints that I design. Like the cat lounge, my fabrics are heavily influenced by mid century design. I just introduced the cat lounge, though I have been developing it for some time. Because of the high price point of the piece, I do not see Etsy as my main market for the cat lounge, though Etsy is a great way to get a product out to the public quickly. I think it would do better in small design boutiques so that the customer can see it in person and really get a feel for the quality of the piece.
4. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
Moving forward, I definitely hope to sell the lounge in local and national stores.
5. Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy? Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
I just introduced the bent plywood lounge but already there has been a lot of positive feedback. I still have a lot of work to do in terms of marketing to get the product out there. I am very happy to be participating in this interview and look forward to telling more people about CANOPYstudio.
6. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Well, it hasn’t been out long enough to say, but my family and friends sure do! Next I am planning on designing a dog bed. I can’t leave out my other favorite animal!
7. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)
In preparation for taking photos of the cat lounge I went searching the Internet for cat models in New Orleans, because I really didn’t expect my cats to cooperate in the photo shoot. I couldn’t find any cat models or Ragdoll models in the area, but luckily my cats were kind enough to sacrifice some of their precious napping time to pose for the photos!
8. Are you a one wo/man show?
CANOPYstudio is pretty much a one woman show, although I would not be where I am without the help and support of my family and my boyfriend, Sam.
9. Do you have a blog?
I do not have a blog but I do have a website- www.canopy-studio.com
10. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
I would definitely be open to using a customer’s own fabric for a custom upholstered cushion. And I want my customers to be happy, so I will accept returns.
11. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
My animals really are a huge inspiration to me. A cat’s ability to elevate lounging to a high art is unique and inspiring. While developing the lounge over the past months, Olive took every opportunity to curl up in the bed, even when it was in pieces. That was when I knew that cats would really be drawn to the bent plywood cat lounge.