At Miss Natalie one finds utilitarian and decorative household goods, designed and hand-crafted with flair. Inventory includes hand-stenciled tea towels, wooden apple-shaped boxes, reusable lunch bags, as well as collectible wooden eggs and heirloom growth charts. As we begin to settle into the wintery month of Janary, we ask Natalie Davis to share with us her creative process and musings on Miss Natalie designs.
1. Please introduce us to the origin of the Miss Natalie shop and how it has developed over the years.
The Miss Natalie shop launched in spring 2007. I had recently left my publishing job to focus on interior design work, but found myself more interested in making objects than designing spaces. I spent several months sketching/making prototypes, and debuted at the Capsule Design show in San Francisco back in May 2007. The line started with embroidered children’s clothing, braille notebooks, handkerchiefs, and tea towels. Since then, we’ve evolved to carry growth charts, apple boxes, pirate kits, masks, and other odds and ends. Looking back over the line, it’s really developed based on whimsical ideas that have inspired me and that I want to bring to my customers. Regardless of what I’m designing, from postcards to wood-burned holiday ornaments, I focus on making useful objects that bring delight and wit to the everyday. Everything is made with a wink and a smile.
2. Although it may be hard to choose a favorite of your designs, which of the Miss Natalie products do you find yourself most partial to and why?
That’s a hard question, because each product really is the result of so much love and attention. If I had to choose, right now I am partial to our new Mail-A-Mask postcards. I have always loved masks, and first began with making hand-cut/hand-stamped animal masks. That idea evolved, and my attention shifted more to the act of giving or sending someone a mask—what a strange and lovely thing to find in your mailbox! You can’t help but smile when you see it. The masks fit both children and adults, and make great stocking stuffers or cheer-up-Charlie gifts for faraway friends. I am planning to do a series of different mask designs, each with a different creature.
3. Do you admire the designs or products of another designer? Why?
I’ve always loved the work of Heath Ceramics, for their graceful forms and commitment to handcrafted quality goods.
4. Where do you find inspiration for Miss Natalie designs?
My inspiration board is filled with tear outs from fashion magazines, vintage ephemera, fabric swatches, photos of friends and family, and thumbnail sketches. Films have a big influence on me, from the set designs to title sequences. I love vintage packaging design and store signage, as well.
5. Can you share with us what you have brewing for Miss Natalie in the future? (i.e. new inventory, designs, restock)
I’m very excited about several new tea towels that will be debuting soon. I grew up in a household with lots and lots of linens, so I firmly believe you can never have too many tea towels. I’m also working on screen-printed posters and new kits for playing pretend.
6. “Take off your coat, have a cup of tea, and make yourself at home” is a welcoming request you make to visitors of your Etsy shop and similar invitations are found elsewhere on your websites. Comfort and informality seem to be important aspects in your life. How do you relax on your days off?
On the rare occasions when I have a day off (downside to running your own business!), I love to go to the farmer’s market with my husband and spend the rest of the afternoon cooking. After a wonderful meal, we’d take the dogs for a long walk around the lake, and end by collapsing into bed with a good book.
7. And for fun, what is your favorite cup of tea?
I’m a stead-fast PG Tips girl, with some milk and sugar in the morning. In the evenings, I love ginger tea or peppermint with rose. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was a huge box full of different loose teas—I’m still making my way thru it two years later!