We continue our weaver spotlights with a conversation with Amber of Kalleigh Designs. Kalleigh is one of the most recent weavers we have partnered with to make our most sought after and rare handwoven Signature Carriers.
Our partner handweavers are often women-led family businesses operating with a small devoted team. We are delighted to share their stories and showcase their textile artistry and intricate work through the Signature collection.
Baby Tula: What inspired you to start Kalleigh Designs, and when did you begin weaving?
Amber (Kalleigh Designs): I started Kalleigh Designs almost 5 years ago now. I started out as a wrap design company only focused on a passion for design the patterns on woven wraps. I helped many friends with their customs and one day I decided to enter a Girasol design contest I had seen posted. I ended up winning the contest and named the wrap after my daughter, Kalleigh.
About a month later I decided that it would be fun to start a design business and thought that naming the business after my daughter just felt meant to be. I thought it would be a small business to keep me busy until I went back to work.
I worked with other businesses and their customers to create custom handwoven designs. I've designed hundreds of wraps and mockups now and this has given me so much practice and knowledge of color and blending. Then, one day I decided I wanted to start creating my own brand of handwoven baby wraps.
I started dyeing a few years back and fell in love with it. I was able to use a lot of the knowledge I learned from thread placement and design in my dyeing. I had a team of weavers working for me and about a year ago I decided it was time for me to start weaving too. I do still love the design process though and so we also do collaborations with Girasol as well as weaving our own wraps. We release Girasol wraps every few months. I love being able to offer both options to customers.
BT: What do fans of Kalleigh Designs love about your woven wraps?
A: I think they are definitely fans of color. I always do the most colorful pieces possible. I love rainbows, bright neons, or soft pastels. Almost every design I do has at least 10 colors used. I use a variety of design aspects in one warp as well. Such as smooth grads and pops of color.
Also, I put a lot of detail into a custom process. I love a new idea or a challenging design. So, I think they like being able to ask me for almost anything and I will try my hardest to make it happen.
BT: Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: I draw inspiration from pictures mostly. I'll see a photo I love and instantly start creating mockups. I also love nature. I love finding unique color combos of sunsets or the ocean and trying to duplicate it.
BT: From idea to finished handwoven, how long does the process often take?
A; It can depend on a few factors. I can usually get a design done in a week. Then, dyeing takes me one day usually. Sometimes two. Weaving takes a bit longer but I would say from start to finish usually between 1 and 2 months if everything goes smoothly. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I will redo a dye job or a weft until it is perfect for someone.
BT: What do you love most about being a weaver?
A: I love that I can stay at home with my family. My old job meant that I was away for most of the day. This way I'm here to pick my kids up from school and drop them off. Secondly, I finally have a creative outlet. I'm always kept on my toes. I'm not ever bored. I get to work with gorgeous colors. I also love the friends I've made. My fellow weavers and employees and customers have all become friends. It is by far the best job I've had.
BT: How do you balance your work and your family?
A: Well I have had to get used to this a lot. My son usually plays next to me while I weave and my 16-year-old daughter began working for me. She measures chains and sets up yarn for dyeing. I try to keep on a schedule the best I can. I design in the evening when everyone else is sleeping. I weave whenever I can throughout the day. I also started taking weekends off which has helped so much.
BT: Do you have something exciting coming that might interest the Tula community?
A: Yes! I have some amazing pieces being sent off to be made into Tulas very soon! I also have a pretty epic collab with Alight that is becoming a Tula: The Enchantress and the Mermaid. Christina and I each dyed half the warp. It is a very unique collab. We also have a few more Girasols in the works!
BT: Where can people go to learn about the exciting things that Kalleigh Designs is up to?
A: We have a chatter group which is always the best place to stay up to date. Kalleigh designs / handwovens chatter: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KDchatter/
We post most of our pre-orders and custom opportunities in the group.