We have a serious girl crush on Joanna Williams. As the founder of creative consultancy Kneeland Co., this boho beauty (check our those lust-worthy locks!) has the dream job — traveling 'round the globe in search of rare textile prints and design inspiration for heavy-hitting fashion clients like Anthropologie, Suno and Ralph Lauren. (And, luckily for us, she's decided to share the wealth — her new e-tail, Kneeland Mercado, is like a bona-fide global handicraft market, minus the jet lag.)
Of course, our tour of Williams' work studio revealed a color-saturated paradiso. Housed in a former Atwater Village shampoo factory, this slice of heaven embodies both craft and creativity: We couldn’t keep our hands off of those antique, embroidered swatches, oversized Mexican rugs, and color-blocked macramé chairs. Sensory overload? Yes, in the best possible way!
Photographed by Lani Trock
Tell us more about Kneeland Co.
“Kneeland Co. is the umbrella for two businesses — one being a vintage textile studio that works privately with designers, and the other being an online marketplace that is open to the public.”
So how did Kneeland Mercado develop?
“I was doing trend consulting for different brands and various print studios would come to show their collections, and I always found it very inspiring. I thought I could take my love for vintage and embellishments and create a company focused on those two things and work with different clients in fashion, home and beauty. Initially I also showed vintage jewelry, but it became too difficult to source the many different categories so I decided to focus on the textiles.”
How might a client utilize a print or embellishment that they have purchased from you?
“They could use it in many different ways — inspiration for color, print, embroidery, or pattern. It's always exciting when you actually get to see the final product that was inspired by a textile or embellishment design!”
Where are some of your favorite markets throughout the world for sourcing?
“I usually source from various vendors that I have built relationships with, but as far as markets — I would have to say the Clignancourt Flea Market in Paris and the markets in Turkey. I really enjoy sourcing from the little villages in whichever country I am visiting; that's where I find the real gems.”
Colorful and chic! Vintage Diane Freis dress, Beatrice Valenzuela shoes, antique wedding ring, vintage Brutalist ring, Dream Collective bracelet, Kristen Elspeth bracelet, handmade Turkish bracelet, antique gold locket.
What can’t you resist purchasing for yourself during your travels?
“Bags, sandals, and hats! Pretty much any colorful accessory.”
How would you describe your own style in 5 words?
“Colorful, bohemian, uncompromised, accessorized, and evolving!”
What makes an item special enough for you to snatch up for your clients?
“I usually just go with my gut and buy what I think is beautiful or interesting. I try not to shop too much by trend; I like to source things that evoke a certain feeling. Of course, some things are no brainers — I'm always looking for a good paisley, so when I see one I just buy it because I like to have it in my collection and it will eventually sell. Those things that are universal are easy purchases to make.”
What is one phrase you try to live by?
“Be open to possibilities.”
We’re one of your avid thirty thousand Pinterest followers. Tell us what is inspiring you on Pinterest right now?
“My husband and I are currently house-hunting, so I've been really inspired by all the amazing interiors on Pinterest — specifically kitchens.”
Speaking of social media, we also love following your L.A. adventures on Instagram. What are your top local places to rewind, refresh or get inspired?
“Natura Korean spa, Casbah Cafe, Silver Lake Meadow, and Zuma beach.”
You have an amazing collection of books in your studio. Tell us about some of your favorites.
“Oh man, that's a hard one. I think Kenzo by Rizzoli is one of the most inspiring things I own. The world of Kenzo Takada and Antonio Marras is a total fantasy that I want to live in. I love color, and Kenzo does color like nobody's business. I also cherish The Best of Flair, which I always refer to when I feel like I'm stumped creatively. It's the best of Flair magazine, which was Fleur Cowles's short-lived publication that was beyond incredible and filled with fashion, art, travel and more. I also own Juergen Teller's first book of photographs, which is one of the most beautifully provocative photography books I can think of.”
Which magazine and websites do you read on a regular basis for inspiration?
“I enjoy reading World of Interiors, Vogue, W, The Gentlewoman, Apartamento, Self Service, Russh and Bon Appetit. I read a lot of blogs as well, but as far as websites I like Style.com, The Paris Review, NYT, Into the Gloss, and Fast Company.”
Tell us about some of your current sartorial inspirations.
“I'm really inspired by my raffia Robert Clergerie sandals. They are making me think about every outfit differently — that to me, is magic. I'm also really into anything made with gauze. I keep fantasizing about wearing black high-waisted jeans with a white silk camisole and a good heel.”
Bernhard Willhelm dress, "Joanna" necklace by Object + Totem, and Mexican market bracelets made for Joanna and her husband Darryl.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
“I try to get here by 8:30, but sometimes it's more like 9. I respond to my emails, look at my to-do list and prioritize my tasks. Aside from that, each day is different. I might be designing a collection of embellishments, or planning a product assortment for the web store, or out on an appointment with a client. When I'm traveling for appointments or sourcing, I'm usually working non-stop from morning 'til night. I am grateful that my job allows me to travel so much, but believe me — it's not always as glamorous as it seems!”
Her lucky outfit! Just Say Native vintage Indian jumpsuit, Rachel Comey shoes, Mexican market bracelet.
You started your career in trend forecasting before launching Kneeland Co. What are some of you favorite current trends?
“Pink lips and rose prints — together or separate.”
What is on your current studio playlist?
“The B-52's, Devendra Banhart, The Lijadu Sisters and Nick Cave.”