Category Archives: A Peek Into Her World


A Peek Into Her World: Karen Combs.

Many of you have asked about the Nama Rococo wallpaper that we have on our family room wall.

So, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce you all to the creator of Nama Rococo, Karen Combs.  

Karen is another woman who was inspired to follow her dreams, and what began as a hobby has turned into a full-fledged business.  She was kind enough to chat with me about how.  Please join me as we take a Peek Into Her World:

What is your background?  
As far as the wallpaper background goes:  I went to art school first at Indiana University, and then at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.  For years, along with doing regular jobs, like working in the libraries at Harvard, or at a Bakery in Cambridge,  I did my own paintings and prints and had a sort of traditional artist’s path with galleries and suchlike. Around that time, I also sold a few different DIY artist-craft-type design projects in little galleries around town.  (Like a whole series of hand-dyed, hand-sewn bikinis!)  

Later, when I moved to Northern California, I got into doing big colorful multifaceted art installations on walls, composed of groupings of my own prints and drawings.  After awhile that seemed to just naturally segue into the idea of wallpaper.  Pasting my prints on paper to the wall may, in a way, have been my first *wallpaper*.

What inspired you to start designing wallpaper?
I have always loved frescoes and other forms of painting or drawing done directly on walls.  So many artists through the ages have made paintings directly on the walls of their own homes, or in other religious or commercial spaces, and I’d always taken an interest in that idea.  I think looking at a lot of these types of works over the years, from 14th C. Italian Frescoes, to Bloomsbury group house at Charleston, to Jackson Pollack to contemporary artists like Shepard Fairey (not to mention Asian and African examples) — and then making my own works on paper,  just grew into a vision of somehow learning to make my own wallpaper.  At first I think I just wanted to just make it for myself, a kind of wallpaper my own spaces, then gradually the whole thing blossomed into a model for a full-fledged business.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Often in museums or books, at the work of other artists through the ages, and in all parts of the world.  As well as other arts, music, literature, fashion. I’m also out in nature a lot, and that always feels important.  Inspiration feels free ranging and always available.

Who are your favorite artists?
Well, that Alexander McQueen show I just saw at the Met Museum was pretty mind-blowingly inspirational!  I’ve always loved Chris Ofili, especially his Afro-muses series from a few years ago.  I have a big print I’m mad for, by Judy Pfaff.  I love the look of the work, and the freewheeling spirit of the artists who were in Aaron Rose’s  Alleged Gallery, I love just about everything Bjork does!

Describe a typical day.
There’s no such thing.  ( I’m not too good at following a routine!)  The only constant is that I usually get up very early and have leisurely from my Bialetti Coffee maker, and some type of toast with jam! My sister jokes that my toast & coffee ritual in the morning is the glue that holds my life together!

What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made on the job?
Mistakes, I’ve made a few.  But then again- Must you remind me!? 😉

Best professional moment.
Well, there have been  loads of magnificent moments, and some very special clients, but I guess  my favorite recent moment, is being asked by director from the Royal Opera House in London if I would make a variation of one of my designs for them for the set of a Cocteau/Poulenc opera piece.

Okay, here goes …. home decor, architecture, garden design & plants, alt rock and alt folk music (making mix cd’s!), cooking (organic), exploring, swimming, yoga, art-travel, sewing and all kinds of  DIY craft type projects I used to do, and plan to find the time to do again, like making hand-bound books.

Favorite vacation spots?
My favorite vacation spot in the past few years (outside of countless art museums…) was a visit to the LIQUIDROM in Berlin. Maybe because I went in the dead of winter, after trudging cold streets full of snow for a few weeks, it felt like pure water-steam-spa heaven!  Not to mention the pool with the colored light show and underwater electronica music…

Favorite Nama Rococo pattern?
Ongoing – my favorite wallpaper to MAKE is French Dot – because it is of the moment, ongoing and each one is unique. To keep in stock I have to paint a new selection every month or so, for a few days and I always love doing it.  But really at different moments any given one might be my *favorite child* .

What’s next for Nama Rococo?
Launching a few new patterns into the world in September, which I’m quite excited about  — and after that I’m really delving some studio work through the winter. Expanding the creative end of things & see where that takes me.

Thanks Karen.  I can’t wait to see what is next for Nama Rococo.  Obviously, I am a big fan.  
Keep your eyes on this lady, people, she’s definitely one to watch!


A Peek Into Her World: Jamie Meares.

If you saw last month’s premiere issue of SavorNC Magazine (a new guide to the good life for North Carolinians) you were able to read my interview with Jamie Meares of Furbish.  For those of you who don’t live in North Carolina, you can check out my interview with Jamie below.  Thanks again to Jamie for giving us a Peak Into Her World.

I first heard about Jamie Meares and her store Furbish in one of my many adventures in the blogosphere.  Jamie is also the author of I Suwannee, the blog that was the gateway to her booming business.  Jamie started blogging in 2007.  Through various e-design projects for her clients, she saw a need for a more unique offering of furniture and home accessories.  So, on November 21, 2009, Furbish opened its doors.  Jamie followed her instincts and took this leap of faith and has not looked back since.

K: What was your career before you opened Furbish?

J: Ugggh.  it was in marketing.  I sat at a desk all day passing hours of my life – that’s how the blog was born.  

K: I could imagine that you wear  lot of different hats between the store, online, custom design, etc.  Tell me about it.

J: Oh man the hats I wear.  and none of them are fancy hats.  Right now I have lots of balls in the air – the brick and mortar store, an online store that’s shipping about 50 orders a day, my big design projects, my one hour consultations, people bringing things to the store for us to paint, for us to upholster or to sew and the blog.  Also my husband and dogson, Rowdy!  We’re also battling a mouse at the store (who sneaks in a night and eats soap!) 

K: Describe your personal style.

J: My personal style is bright – and bold.  I’m a lot southern, a little bit modern.

K: What is your favorite piece in the store?

J: I love the soap rocks we just got in — I know that’s not an amazing huge vintage piece that I just reupholstered, but these little rocks are just so glamorous and chic.  I saw them at a trade show in New York months ago, and have wanted to order them since, and just got around to doing it.  I visit them every morning — they smell so good and pack so much of a decor punch in a tiny item

K:  Favorite room in your house? Why?

J: I really like our bedroom — it’s on the third floor and we have a very slanted slot — there’s lots and trees and a greenway behind our house, so it’s sort of like being in a tree house.  We’ve got a nice big room with a few old Turkish carpets on the floor.  I can lay in bed and watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Rowdy sleeps on the sofa at the end of the bed.  I also have a big bookcase filled with books in case I finish one and need another quickly at night.

K:  Tell me your thoughts on how to make a house into a home.

J: I think you make a house a home by slowly bringing pieces you absolutely love into it. Cheaping out to get something b/c it’s inexpensive or because you have to have it right now makes it look exactly what it is: cheap.  Things can be a good deal, but they need to have a story.  I’m all for maximizing a budget, and making smart design decisions, but it’s important to know when to compromise and when not to.  I also think bringing animals into a house makes it a home…  A dirty home, but a home at that… and plants, books and art!  I can’t say how important it is to have these things in your home!! 

K:Best Part of your job?  Worst?

J: Best: being my own boss.

    Worst: right now, the mouse.

K: What are some of the fabrics, textures that you are loving right now?

J: I’m loving tribal prints, and Navajo inspired items right now.  I love a good peach and gray color combo, and I’d love for you to paint your ceiling not white.  I’m also very into spots; not necessarily an animal print, or a polka dot, but the hybrid of the two.

K: Color combos for the new year?

J: Well honeysuckle pink was just projected as the color of the year 2011.  I can support that.  I also love a bright orange, and an almost drab olive green.

K: Describe your perfect day.

J: Maybe a Saturday at the beach.  Get up, go eat a big breakfast, do some shopping at my favorite consignment boutique Hallaju, then check out the home boutiques in Lumina Station – I am so inspired every time I go into Paysage – it’s just such a lovely store, and I don’t go too often to get tired of it.  Then headed out to the beach.  Read a Diana Galbadon book, let Rowdy dog around in the water, and drink 2.4 beers. I love coming in from the beach for lunch and eating a real white bread sandwich with Doritos and French onion dip.

Staying outside until the sun starts to go down, and then eating again – maybe fried shrimp!

Furbish offers a fresh, edgy and eclectic twist to the average home furnishings.  Located in Raleigh, Jamie not only has a store filled with lavish eye candy, she also offers design services at $75 an hour.

Here are the Furbish items that made it onto Kikis List:

3. Soap Rocks– $12 each

6. Zebra Stenciled Hide– $500           

8. Custom Dog Beds– $100- $130

10. Marbled Lamp– $295

12. Ottoman Tray– $95

1020 Glenwood Avenue

Raleigh, NC 27603


Photos courtesy of Jamie Meares and High Gloss Magazine.


A Peek Into Her World: Shannon Wollack.

After months of online chatter, I finally had the chance to catch up with my virtual friend, Shannon Wollack when I was out in L.A. She is an absolute breath of fresh air. I invite you to come along with me as we take A Peek Into Her World.

After almost 10 years in the fashion industry, Shannon decided to launch her own company called Life. Style. Through her company she provides styling to an elite clientele. Elite indeed- some her customers include Chelsea Handler, Natasha Bedingfield and Holly Robinson Peete. Clients loved Shannon’s work so much that her personal styling has now grown into interior, gift and event styling as well. Her latest accomplishment: Shannon has become part of the highly anticipated High Gloss team. I am so inspired by Shannon’s sense of style and use of colors and I hope you all are too.

1.) Decscribe a typical day in the life of Shannon Wollack.

That’s a tough one. Everyday is different—-every minute is different! I usually spend my days running around. Long gone are the days of sitting at a desk, which can be both exciting and exhausting at the same time depending on the day or time of year. Days might consist of a styling job, a fitting, pulling from a store, meeting with clients, working on a interior design job, sourcing for fabrics, furniture, or even planning an event! Sometimes I wish I had a bit more down time, but most of the time I appreciate staying busy and having a job where I can do what I love.

2.) How would you describe your style?
I would say my style is classic with a twist. I am very big on investing in timeless pieces that won’t go out of style, but also mixing in some funky or trendy elements. I am also really into accessories. Shoes, hand bags and lots of jewelry are high on my list of necessities.
3.) What made you decide to leave your successful career in the fashion industry and start your own company?
I loved working for Ralph Lauren, but after being in the corporate world for about 10 years I was really ready for a change. I had been traveling a lot for work and realized if I didn’t shift my energy to something new and different, that needed change most likely wouldn’t happen. My original plan for the company was geared more towards styling. But many of my clients requested other services such as decor, events and gifting, so it naturally grew into all of the above!

4.) There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of styling. Can you tell us about it?
Yes! First of all, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, haha. I love it, but it really consists of fast paced decisions and a lot of running around. Most styling jobs call at the last minute and they need something right away. We make a lot of calls to borrow clothes, run out to get clothes, then do fittings and of course make endless returns. Also, if there is a budget we have to make sure we are working within the budget,. Rule of thumb–you can never have too many options. I have learned the hard way!

5.) What’s been your most rewarding job yet?
All of my clients and the people I have met have given me a rewarding feeling. It has been amazing to with so many talented people and also witness people’s careers grow. I will admit that the occasional discounts on are a big perk too!

6.) What’s the best part of your job? What’s the most frustrating part of your job?
Best part is being creative. We are always looking for what is new and exciting. So it’s fun to be on the hunt and find new designers, or discover anything that might interest a client.
The most frustrating thing is how every job seems to be last minute and we need to work fast and don’t have much room for mistakes. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and sometime the client doesn’t understand that. Between limited time and a client loosing borrowed items, I would say that’s the most frustrating.

7.) Favorite color. Why?
I hate to say it—but black. I LOVE pops of color, but black is always my base. I go through certain color trends, but again, black is my old faithful. And all colors look good with black!

8.) What are you loving for Fall/Winter?
Boots, boots, boots. Riding boots, booties, knee high boots, rain boots—almost anything goes! I am also loving jackets—-it’s not too cold in LA, so I am currently wearing light weight trench and military inspired coats. I am also on a chartreuse kick, even for winter–I have seen it on dresses and handbags. Chartreuse is a serious pop of color and fun for winter!

9.) I am a huge Chelsea Handler fan, and Brad is my favorite comedian of Chelsea Lately. I am sure that your house is constantly full of laughter. How did you two meet?
We met about 9 years ago when I was looking for an apartment and moved in with his friend I found on craigslist. We were friends at first, but you know the drill. It has been fun to see his career grow. When I met him 9 years ago, he would beg me and my friends to come see him do stand-up at the bowling alley, because for each person he brought he would get an extra minute. I would say things have changed a little!

10.) Who are your style icons?
The Who What Wear girls, Kate Hudson for her having fun with fashion, Kelly Wearstler for taking risks, Gwyneth Paltrow for being timeless and designer Tia Zoldan for being all around cool!


A Peek Into Their World: Mixed Chicks

Last month, I went to see my masterful hairdresser Mikala for a haircut, and she confirmed what I already knew by telling me that my hair was “nasty.” Generally, I would consider my hair to be pretty easy- straight, shiny and quite manageable. However, after two lice incidents this summer, I was in dire need of some hair repair. Rather than a deep conditioning treatment, Mikala told me that she was going to use a new product on my hair that was created for biracial hair. It was developed by two multi-racial women who had a difficult time finding products for their difficult hair. At this point- I would try anything.

When she put the conditioner on my hair Mikala said that my hair just sucked it right up. After a blow out, I was so excited that my hair was “back.” It had shine, it had bounce… It was soft and it was beautiful. Without a thought, I bought both the shampoo and the conditioner. Since that day I have used it twice a week on both my hair as well as E’s. I must say, have gotten quite a few compliments on my locks since I started using Mixed Chicks.

I was so very excited about these products, that I wanted to share them with all of you.. After all, aren’t we all a “mixed chick” in some way, shape or form? So, first, let me introduce you all to Wendi Levy (left) and Kim Etheredge (right), creators of Mixed Chicks.

Wendi and Kim met at a barbecue. Quickly they bonded over about the common problem that they shared… they were both frustrated with their unruly hair. Through this chance encounter, a partnership was formed. They started developing their product, and friends and family couldn’t get enough. From the modest beginnings of working out of a garage and handing out samples at churches, in just two years Mixed Chicks was officially on the map. The dedication and hard work garnered positive word of mouth including endorsements from several celebrities. Sales skyrocketed after Halle Berry mentioned Mixed Chicks as one of her Top 5 must-have items in the March 2009 issue of In Style.

These lovely ladies were so gracious to chat with me so that we could all take A Peek Into Their World. Best Yet: All Kiki’s List fans will receive a 10% discount on all Mixed Chicks products through Friday. Online Code: KIKI

What’s your favorite product?
Mixed Chicks Deep & Leave-in conditioners, of course!

What’s your favorite thing about your job?
W– Not having a boss to check in with & sometimes helping women via email help their interracial children with identity issues.
K– Making people feel good.

Explain a day in the life.
W-Coffee. Wash, dress and feed myself & my 2 year old. Drive. Process a few hundred individual web orders while answering phones(salon & beauty supply orders & general questions) & correcting packing errors. Taking a few meetings( i.e. Marketing, Fed EX, labs, packaging etc.) Returning at least 100 emails. Paying all the company’s bills. Overseeing the warehouse & 7 employees.(all with my 2 year old on my hip or dangling from my leg). Drive. Eat. Wash my hair with new batches of product that need approval for the next day or notes for changes in those products. Play. Hug my husband. Sleep.
K-Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. Wake at 6am take my daughter to school,get into the office by 8:30am. Wendi & I have a lot of the same duties. What she doesn’t do I do, what I don’t do she does. Day ends at around 8pm.

How would you describe your style?
W– Comfortable always, sort of bohemian.
K– Simple but chic.

How do you find a work/life balance while building your business?
W-I’m still searching for balance and often struggling to find it.
K– It’s just here for me. I love my family & I love my Job, So I always put my best foot forward.

Any advice for women looking to become entrepreneurs?
W-Go for it. It’s well worth the struggle. Be consistent, persistent and prepared. IF you’re in a relationship be sure it’s with someone very secure.
K-I can’t do it is never the answer.

Biggest mistake?
W-I’m not sure yet. Hind site is always 20/20. Ask me when I retire.
K– I’ll second that.

What’s next for Mixed Chicks?
W-The horizon for Mixed Chicks is limitless. If I say what’s next I fear someone will grab the idea and beat me to it. So you’ll just have to stay tuned.
K– Everything!

A huge thank you to Wendi and Kim for creating such fantastic products, and letting us take A Peek Into Their World.