Katie Deedy owns and operates Grow House Grow, located in Brooklyn, NY. Inspired by narrative, Grow House Grow creates hand-printed wallpaper with a story to tell. Her latest line, Naturalist Collection, is based on three little known female scientists from the 1800s. All of her patterns can be found at growhousegrow.com.
7:00 AM – Brooklyn, NY: This is Ruby. Ruby is 15 weeks old today, and already rules the roost — she pretty much decides when I wake up, when I shower, when I eat, when she eats…
That said, running my own wallpaper business from home is a blessing and a curse. I spend as much time breast feeding these days as I do designing, but it’s a lot of fun and we’re starting to get into our groove. Don’t worry — I won’t be including all of the feeding and dirty diaper pit stops. If I did, we’d never get through this post.
7:30 AM: This is Meche. I have this little sucker to contend with, too. He’s 16 years old though, so I try to be understanding even though I’m exhausted. This is him staring me down as I try to feed Ruby and get her back to sleep. Mama needs a few more hours of rest!
9:00 AM: Ruby’s still asleep after several morning feedings — score! I slink out of bed and stumble into the kitchen to make some coffee. Before I had the baby, I would walk to my neighborhood cafe for a latte, but these days getting out of the house with her is a major task.
9:15 AM: This is my saving grace — a nice dark roast with cardamom and nutmeg. I usually only have about 15 minutes before Ruby awakes to whip up my coffee, so it’s always a sprint to get the hot water on, fill the French press, brush my teeth, etc. This morning, Ruby wakes up crying just as I take a moment to sit down and answer my morning emails. I try putting her in the bouncer, and she starts sobbing. I try holding her, and she stops. I sit and stare at my hot cup of coffee and my full inbox, helpless to jump into either of the two. I finally get Ruby back into the bouncer and she stares me down. She’s pissed.
10:30 AM: I do the coffee/email/baby dance for about an hour until all the important messages are answered. It’s amazing — I truly had no idea how difficult it was to get the teeniest thing done with a baby. I’m pretty behind in my work these days, and I can only hope my business contacts can take pity on me. To all the moms out there, my hat is off to you!
And so, to work: the above photo is where I do most of my wallpaper stuff that doesn’t involve designing. Everything from sample cutting to book binding and shipping happens over here. I received a few sample requests this morning, so I start setting things up to get the packs out by the afternoon.
11:00 AM: Here’s an example of the sample packs I send out. This pattern is called “Aleister,” and it’s heading out to Tulsa. I’ve also got some others going as far as the Netherlands, and one as close as good ol’ Brooklyn.
11:30 AM: Next up is cutting a sheet of wallpaper. I sell all my wallpaper both by the roll and by the sheet. The sheets I hand cut (27″ wide by 36″ tall), and they look great framed. This is “Ms. Treat” in the Pineland colorway, and it’s going to a woman in Boulder, CO. This particular pattern is inspired by Mary Treat, a female scientist from the mid-1800s who lived in New Jersey. Her passion was carnivorous plants, and she became an expert in the field through self-study. She was an incredibly interesting person, and even influenced Charles Darwin’s work (the full stories behind all of my patterns can be viewed on my website). It’s hard to see from the photo, but this design has Venus Flytraps, Pitcher Plants and teeny hidden ants. The woman I’m sending this to is fascinating in her own right, and wrote a book about Mary Treat called Good Observers of Nature. I’m sending this as a gift.
12:00 PM: Off to the post office! It’s about a ten minute walk from my apartment, so Ruby and I take her stroller out for the journey. This is the view from over her blanket-covered bassinet.
12:30 PM: The PO was PACKED today! After a long wait, Ruby and I mail our packages and say hi to Alma. She owns this Post Office Outpost, which is run by her husband, son and daughter. They’re an amazing bunch. When I was heavily pregnant, Alma would even drive my large wallpaper packages to my apartment on her way home in the evenings. Talk about service! She loves Ruby, and keeps a blown up photo of her behind the counter.
2:30 PM: After the post office, Ruby and I walk home to eat some lunch and get back to work. Many diapers are changed, and Ruby eats for the quadrillionth time. Little work is actually done. When I realize how little I’m accomplishing as I juggle the wee lady, I decide that today might be a good day to visit our friend Jill Malek and her son Luca. Jill also makes hand printed wallpaper, and has been an amazing help to me from the very beginning.
Our visit today is to return some of her wallpaper, though it’s really just an excuse to hang out. She and I were both in a small article about Brooklyn wallpaper designers for NY Magazine, and when I had my wallpaper returned after their photo shoot, I ended up with a couple of Jill’s rolls. I swing by, drop them off, and hang out for a bit to talk shop and mommyhood.
Brooklyn seems to be a breeding ground for wallpaper designers, and we all sort of stick together. Our styles are so different that we don’t infringe on one another’s territory. Plus, it’s awesome to have creative, entrepreneurial friends to relate to. Jill’s wallpaper is inspired by frequencies found in nature, and can be seen at jillmalek.com.
4:00 PM: Ruby and I finally take our leave, and hit traffic on the BQE. I take a quick snap of southern Manhattan from the road, and continue to inch my way up to north Brooklyn and home.
6:00 PM: Dinner! This is my husband Will holding Ruby as we wait for our pizza at Roberta’s, an amaaazing restaurant by our place. Everything is locally sourced, and aside from their several herb gardens, they are spearheading the spread of green roofs in the area. If you live in NYC, I highly recommend a visit.
My friend Eddie is behind the bar tonight, so we relax and have a drink and talk about our day. Will also has his own business called Subports.com, which works with independent artists, designers and retailers. Our work often overlaps, and it’s just a fluke that I concentrated solely on wallpaper today — we spend a lot of time helping one another out. With two businesses and a baby, it’s amazing that we were able to get out at all tonight.
8:00 PM: It’s Ruby’s bedtime, but today is a special occasion and we head into the city to Saks Fifth Avenue. For two weeks they’ve had my wallpaper up in five of their windows. I was so excited to work with them, and seeing the papers in person was amazing. I honestly can’t believe it. The other five windows are devoted to MoMA/PS1, so I feel especially proud. When I wake up in the morning covered in baby spit, at least I can say my designs are on Fifth Avenue!