We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Kite and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, what makes you happy? Why?
My cat. He is a fluffy, brilliant ball of LOVE. His name is Mr. Jasper Johns LoveJOY St. I hesitated on this question, as I sort of squirm when people say things like “x makes me happy” – as nothing outside of us can “make” us happy. But, Jasper, kinda does. Okay, now I’m considering…. outside of me influences that make me happy or rather, bring me joy, come from honesty, innocence and beauty. All found in small puffball creatures, by the way!
What should our readers know about your business?
I started Melissa Kite Designs, for the very first time, years ago, when I was living in NYC. I was juggling acting classes and the need to make some money, freshly having graduated with an Interior Design degree from Parsons. (My family was not so thrilled with the way their investment was developing!) I had worked for a solo-preneur female boss and figured I just do what she did and go. So I did. The Parsons name, luck of the draw, and sure my own talent got me a series of small projects, until I decided to move to LA. In LA, the Parsons street cred meant nothing and I chose to focus solely on the developing myself as an actor for the next 7 years. CUT TO: I never made a living as an actor and I desperately wanted to feel a sense of stability and respect; I didn’t know exactly what that looked like, but I knew I had to and wanted to return to interior design as a way there. I reached out to a social acquaintance at the time, Hillary Thomas and asked if she would be open to me interning for her, for free. It was a yes, and she soon offered me an assistant position and then project manager. After about 3 + years, she had to let me go, but not without the generosity of allowing me to take a client, to help me on my way. To this day, one of my best full scope projects, “Tile Me Paradise” as seen on my website. Hillary and I became friends during my somewhat short time there, and though we still are and I love her very much, hardly in touch. It’s amazing how some relationships really bump you to a new place and then float so gently, taking on new forms. So, I started Melissa Kite Designs, once again, because I had to. I did not have a burning desire to have my own company, nor my own brand, nor my own giant responsibility. But, I tell you man, do love it. I mean, now I love it. During the end of 2016, and beginning of 2017, I was terrified about it, I didn’t love it. (I asked my mom and long time dear dear friend about moving back to Denver; thinking worse case scenario, I live in my mom’s basement and I’l work at the Denver Design Center or Macy’s and at least be closer to my beloved childhood chum. Only the basement part really sucks. I could totally do that!) BUT, as described in previous Shout Out segment, I asked for help and got it. Not only from Stephanie and Ben, but also my office mate at the time, Geeta Badkar and frankly anyone I trusted, I asked. I also treated myself as if I was going through grad school – I asked questions, I did research and acknowledged my own mistakes, so I could learn from them. Then other projects came from other sources and over time, referrals keep rippling and experience breeds confidence. I love knowing that my own heart, head and values run my business. I love that I believe in the relationship between the Self and the home and that I want to be the bridge to make your home a WHOLE SHELTER for your WHOLE SELF. Okay — that makes me happy!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hmmmm…..I forget what it is to go out! Well, let’s see. I had been dying to go to Flutter, the interactive play museum. I also just saw Jasper roll over so his belly is up, so I would definitely invite them to my house, where we could order the best burgers in LA from Four Cafe and then play with Jasper in the garden. Next day, I would suggest a hike at Brand Library, stroll down Atwater after for lunch and crystal shopping at The Crystal Matrix. Dinner close by at Little Beast (I hope this is a romantic friend!) Next day I would take friend out to see my brother from another, Steve who lives in Ventura. Ventura is awesome! We would spend the night there and goof around hiking, biking, beach walking and basically laughing a lot with Steve (and hopefully Kimberly, too!) the whole time. I might cook. We also like to order in. Back in LA, I would do a mid-city jaunt to Jungian bookstore shop, and then Culver City for walking, shopping, visiting my niece and sister, topping it with dinner at Akasha. Then I would try to mix up LACMA with the cool downtown bookstore, Baert Art Gallery, dinner we would wander for or look something up and try new that night. Another day would be Pasadena bound for Descanso gardens, Maude Woods for shopping, and Tibet House for a meal – some kind of mix up, like that. And lots of walking!!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am really grateful to a referral group I belong to, called TEAM. I joined shortly after I started MKD and it has been the single smartest thing I’ve done. With that, I have been incredibly lucky that our particular chapter attracts a super genuine kind of business owner and it never feels “sales-y.” We all are genuinely interested in bettering our businesses and helping each other. Segue to a more specific shout out: Stephanie and Ben Ragle of Office42 Architecture, whom I know through TEAM. Ben and Stephanie really mentored me and trusted me with a lot of interiors work through their firm at a time when my firm was vulnerable and I really needed the boost. For it, I have grown leaps and bounds, as has our relationship and discovery in the multiple ways we work with each other; and certainly, the way I run my own projects, at MKD has vastly matured since my work with them began. When you have people around you who are willing to teach, nurture and frankly just be good examples, you grow. I have that across many disciplines, and very specifically from Stephanie and Ben. I also really want to shout out to Tanda Tashjian. I met her one year after I moved to LA from NY, January 1, 2001 and became her assistant. I stopped working for her about 4 years later, though have been a meditation student of hers the whole time. I have learned well how to work with myself, with my energy and touch that honesty, innocence and beauty I spoke to previously. It’s in our being, it’s in our heart. Shout OUT to knowing the way IN. 😉
personal image @henrykaiser portrait image: marinda kaiser, sixth & berry silverlake project images: eleanora barna, http://www.eleonora.photo/ ardmore, bathroom, image: strktr studios, http://www.struktrstudios.com redondo bathroom, http://www.struktrstudios.com