I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about business models, as I look for a way to make Beyond Her grow. I can come up with quite a few people who have turned their design aesthetics into successful companies: Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein, Jonathan Adler. I admire them all -- I mean, I truly admire them, for being able to get their businesses beyond the outdoor booth stage. And these folks did it without the internet. Wow.
Martha Stewart, in particular, while not what I would call a high designer, has a look and feel to all her merchandise that is truly unmistakeable. There's a signature look and feel (shall we call it collars-up WASP? -- not that there's anything wrong with that) to everything with her brand on it.
And no matter what it is, anything from poodle jackets to slipcovers, I assume that it will be of good quality. If we know nothing else about Martha Stewart, it's that she is . . . demanding.
This standard is something I admire. It's how I want Beyond Her products to be.
That's a Good Kitty
But guess who is a real icon to me in terms of branding? Hello Kitty, the Sanrio character that adorns gear for everything from toddlers to punk rockers.
I have long been a fan (as shown by my 50-year-old mini-drawer set, which I still have at my desk) although given my aversion to collections of ANYTHING, I don't own much Hello Kitty stuff. I just (heart) it, for 3 good reasons.
1. Clean, crisp, contemporary design. With Kitty and all of her friends, the colors are pure, the lines simple. They are what I would call friendly and straightforward, but they aren't silly or cartoonish, just sweet.
2. A diverse and ever-changing product line -- it seems like they've tried it all. I love a Sanrio store like crazy, with all its colored pencils and notebooks, plush toys and surfboards. I once got so excited at the flagship store in San Francisco I had to go outside and breathe.
3. The products are great products, not just image carriers. If you buy a pen it's a good pen. If you buy a tee, it's a good tee. Whoever does Hello Kitty licensing is keeping their eye on the ball.
Hello Kitty stands for consistent style and cleverness, and quality, and diversity -- plus she makes me smile. I think that's about the best any company could ever do.
Thanks, Kitty, for the inspiration.
Her Point of View
Designer Paule Hewlett takes on design, culture and modern life.
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"Life is too short for ugly dish towels. Really, ugly anything."