Zazzle: Tell us about you! Who and what is PatternPod?
Kristen: PatternPod is me, Kristen, and my business partner Geraldine Blanchot. We are both textile designers by trade, and we both have fine art degrees. We met at our last job and decided to leave the corporate world to start out on our own. We love patterns, which are what we worked with in textiles, and have now turned that into an online business. We started PatternPod about a year ago, and launched our website in October of last year.
Zazzle: What was the inspiration behind PatternPod?
Kristen: We thought it would be great to start this business because we believe that customization is the way of the future. Most people know that you can take your personal photos and have them printed or put on some products, but it didn’t seem that a lot of people knew that you could do this with anything – like a great pattern!
We decided to bridge that gap, and now customers can either buy a pattern from our site to create their own products, or they can purchase a product already designed with their favorite pattern from our Zazzle store.
Zazzle: How did you get started on Zazzle?
Kristen: One year, I decided to make mugs for all of my employees and was looking for a really personal way to do it. That’s how I stumbled upon Zazzle. I’ve been shopping with Zazzle for years now, and I have to say that the quality is the best I’ve found for custom printing.
We started off knowing that Zazzle was going to be the next step for our customer after purchasing a pattern, and we even provide how-to’s on our site for taking patterns directly to Zazzle. We decided to open the store to help customers who were looking for a little more assistance in creating products with their patterns. It was so easy and convenient to link up our website with Zazzle; it has really been a breeze. You can decorate your whole home with Zazzle. Even putting patterns on products is addictive – and then you want to buy it!
Zazzle: What kind of art and design background do you and Geraldine have?
Kristen: We both went to art school and earned fine art degrees: I went to Kansas City Art Institute and Geraldine went to the Rhode Island School of Design. Between us we have 30 years of experience in the industry. We’re both very driven and love the creative process. When we were working in the corporate world, we loved the creative part but we really wanted to branch out. PatternPod allows us to tap into every part of the creative process: we get to decide what product a pattern would look best on, we style our own photo shoots of product samples from Zazzle for the website, everything.
We’re both designers by trade and we wanted to see what we could do. We saw that DIY is very popular, and we love home decorating. We used to design textiles for furniture in offices, healthcare, etc., so we’re very up on what’s current and are excited to bring that to new people and products.
Zazzle: Where do you find design inspiration for your patterns?
Kristen: Geraldine loves traveling – she is a travel nut! So, a lot of her inspiration is from her travels; she has been all over the globe. I get a lot of my inspiration from watching and tracking trends – not necessarily from other designers, but everything from fashion designs or graphic design to see in general what is popular. We’re really strong with what’s trending in patterns, what’s trending in colors, and I think that really shows through our site and store. If people don’t feel comfortable knowing what the right color they’re looking for is, they can come to our store and know that what they’re buying is current.
We want the average person to be able to completely customize their home – and their lives! – without having to do any of the design work. They can pick what they want and have it personalized. We just think that’s the coolest thing!
Zazzle: What are your favorite Zazzle products to design? Are there any products that seem to be most popular?
Kristen: It’s hard to pick just one, I like all of them! I would say I think my favorites are the pillows and the plates. The pillows are really good quality, and they have a handy hidden zipper so that you can take off the cover to wash it. They’re a nice size, and pillows are a great way to add pattern to any room. If you’re a little scared of pattern it’s a great way to add some without feeling like you’re overwhelming the room – and you can even change it out, which is even more fantastic! They’re great for holidays, you could have a Christmas pillow or a Halloween pillow.
I will say that we do have repeat customers for the wristlets. They seem to really like the makeup bags, they’re good for travel. Overall, I think the quality of Zazzle products is great – I think I’ve ordered one of nearly everything! I also like the bath sets, they look great. I’d even love to see curtains and duvet covers offered, and more fabrics that you could use in your home.
Zazzle: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting out with their own creative business?
Kristen: You need perseverance. And don’t underestimate the impact of social media! Especially when you’re first starting out – we’re total social media geeks. You just have to keep at it, believe in what you do, and talk with as many people as you can to get advice. Constantly reassess what’s working and throw out what isn’t working. (And invest in some hair coloring, because you’re going to get a few gray hairs!)