HAPPY HABITAT

Color.

Karrie Kaneda's company Happy Habitat is a reflection of Karrie's personality. You see a love for color in her work that has made her a favorite among bloggers and boutique shops. And from the moment you enter Karrie Kaneda's bright and lovely home, you see it. Somehow, it's not overwhelming and it's not tacky. It's beautiful. It ranges from playful to minimal, embracing both vibrant and cozy. The way she makes them play nice with one another invites another look and then another and another. It is no wonder blogs, independent shops and even West Elm is all abuzz about her. And she's great to boot. She is a mom of two who prefers being barefoot in jeans. She works from home in her upstairs studio and answers calls on a bright yellow house phone. She is refreshingly honest. She takes her coffee with a little bit of milk and sugar. And she was lovely enough to let me into her home and pepper her with questions. Keep on scrolling for the Q/A with Karrie. 

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1. Tell me about how Happy Habitat got started:

I got laid off from my corporate job, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was playing with patterns and eventually thought the best place to put them was on a blanket because it was a functional. sorry, that doesn’t sound so exciting, but I feel like that story is old. just being honest.

2. What is the best thing about being a professional creative? 

Truth is here that i’m not professional, it’s actually pretty ridiculous how unprofessional I am, but no one seems to know or care— I guess that’s the coolest part! you can get away with stuff like that!

3. The hardest thing?

Taxes and accounting. so gross. It’s now almost midnight 2 days before taxes are due and I’m dreading the 48 hours.

4. I know you said you went to school and loved art but didn't think it was a viable career. What would you tell people who feel the same way?

I’d say keep it in the back of your head— pursue other things that feel right, but keep that love alive while you are doing other things— if it was meant to be, you’ll find it— it’ll come back in some form.

5. Where did you get the name Happy Habitat?

For some reason, I think it kind of sounds stupid now. Maybe because i’m quite sarcastic, so it almost sounds like I’m joking when I say it sometimes. okay— to answer the question though- I wasn’t sure what all this brand would encompass, but I knew it would have something to do with making people feel good in their homes. and who doesn’t like alliteration??

6. Because you work from home, do you find it hard to have an identity separate from your work?

I absolutely do, but I’ve embraced it. it’s all kind of one, and that’s a good thing- it’s simplified. I have pretty good balance though— work comes last. (i mean customers and stores come FIRST), but I don’t let ‘work’ stuff bother me, my kids, my friends, and physically and mentally taking care of myself come before that. 

7. What has surprised you most about running your own business?

It’s actually kind of easy. i mean there’s that legal stuff you have to go through, like not letting your LLC expire (ooops— done that!), and having something called an “operating agreement” so that the bank will allow me to transfer money from my business account to my personal account online (still haven’t done that!)— those are the yucky things. but the rest you can pretty much find by googling “how do I _______?” seriously, you’d be surprised. and now you all know I’m a total fraud who learned to run a business by watching YouTube videos. ;)

8. Have you learned anything about yourself you didn't know before you started Happy Habitat?

I suppose I didn’t know how much joy I could get from it all. There’s so much satisfaction to have an idea in your head, create it, then sell it, then see it in a customer’s home. It’s a damn good feeling.

9. What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given to you?

Do one thing and do it well. I suppose that’s why i’m still just selling throws. I feel like I should do rugs, or fabric or something. But why? This is good— so I'll stay with it for now.

But since i’ve said that in like 4 interviews— I’m going to add one that always sticks with me: keep it simple. sounds easy, but I try to look at EVERYTHING I do, including this interview and always strip back, always take away- just keep what’s necessary. and now I’m totally not following that advice by adding a second piece of advice… oh well.

10. Success for me is…

Paying my bills and mortgage through this gig.