Call it a family affair. Los Angeles’s Kathryn M. Ireland has teamed up with son Otis Weis to expand her business. Weis has acquired the textile brand, taking on the role of president, with Ireland remaining on as creative director, and the company is launching two signature collections this month. (Not to worry—Ireland will continue to operate her interior design studio.) Weis discusses the business’s next evolution with EAL.
What does your partnership mean for the brand? What skills do you each bring to the business?
Our partnership, which covers both brands (Otis Textiles and Kathryn M. Ireland) allows us to create and roll out two different curated looks. My mom’s “traditional prints” are well known but she has in a way been pigeonholed to that category.
The Kathryn M. Ireland line has always offered other products, like “sheer stripe,” that sell really well but aren’t necessarily in the “traditional” category. I think a lot of people buy the sheers because they have seen them over the years or they discover them when they are shopping the line for a print. Designers don’t come to Kathryn M. Ireland to buy a neutral solid or a sheer, unless they know we have it; they come for the color. Otis Textiles allows a designer to shop a curated, clean look that is versatile, meaning it works well on its own but can be paired with any line.
I am more business oriented—I interned in wealth management during college and worked for Lepe Partners after college, a boutique investment bank in London. I am focused on both continuing to make us more efficient and trying to understand what designers want now and what they will want six months from now.
I remember a quote from Holly Hunt, which said [to the effect of]: “Interiors always seem to trail fashion by three to five years,” which I found really interesting.
My mom’s skills are best used when she focuses on the creative nature of the business. She is truly one of the best creators in the industry when she focuses solely on design.
Although I created my line’s look, I ran everything past her and looked to her and other designers for constructive criticism.
My mom is also great at creating relationships and getting access to the best resources in the industry, so part of what I have been doing is making sure we leverage all of that appropriately.
What are the biggest challenges of the textiles business? The biggest opportunities?
Textiles sold for interiors at the high price point are expected, as they should, to be of high, consistent quality. We print runs of fabric that come out blemished or off color, etcetera. Part of what I have tried to implement is a plan to keep our printing process more consistent while shortening our lead times.
The market is tired of waiting, I put a lot of energy into allowing us to print 70 percent of our designs within two to three weeks, while also starting to hold more stock of fabric. I need to let designers know that we can meet their deadline.
I see a lot of opportunity with younger designers. I want to cater to what I see younger designers creating, which to me, is a cleaner look with softer colors. My first order for Otis Textiles came from Consort Design, run by my friends Mat [Sanders] and Brandon [Quattrone], who to me, really embody the “younger designer.”
Where do you see the brand headed next year?
Otis Textiles launches this month, while Kathryn M. Ireland is also coming out with a new collection in March. The new collection will be a clean take on traditional prints, which we are excited for. I think both lines will also show people that my mom’s design firm (a separate entity) has the ability to design many different looks. Her new house in Santa Monica, which is kind of part Spanish part midcentury desert compound, will be showcased in Elle Decor next year and will illuminate a different side of her creativity many haven’t seen.