We first heard about Savannah Hayes, a Pittsburgh-based textile designer, in a private group for Alt Summit attendees. Our very first meeting? In Salt Lake City, Utah.
Regardless of where it happened, it was admiration at first sight.
We were blown away by her designs, her eye for details, and the bold patterns that filled her online shop. We also knew that we couldn't keep her all to ourselves, and are thrilled to be sharing her badassery with you today.
When did you leap into the wonderful (and sometimes scary) world of entrepreneurship?
I quit my job in fashion as a buyer last July and started full time at my company. Three months later, in October 2015, we launched our online shop! We've be up and running for five months and I find it increasingly difficult to remember life before this.
What was the impetus for launching your own line/business?
I did an intensive year-long program in textile and surface design at FIT in New York and interned for the legendary Martha Stewart. That's when I knew I wanted to one day have my own company featuring my own pattern designs. I worked for five years, in both the home textiles and fashion apparel industries and learned everything I could about design, production, and the insane business of retail. About a year before I quit my job, I wrote a (very rough) business plan outlining my goals and the (many!) steps needed to achieve them. I worked on my own a lot of nights and weekends but there's nothing as fulfilling as following your dream.
Your designs are absolutely stunning. Where do you pull from for inspiration (people, places, other designers, etc)?
Thank you! I'm endlessly inspired by geometry which presents itself in so many places. I look for shapes in architecture, in nature, and often in the grittiness of city life. A current favorite is discovering unique shapes and color palettes in graffiti art.
As far as designer inspiration goes, I had the incredible good fortune of working for Kelly Wearstler right out of college. So much about my time there has inspired the way I design and run my company. Her aesthetic and her fearlessness are unparalleled and the way she prioritizes a strong work/life balance was a great model.
Having lived in other cities and abroad, what has it been like to be based in Pittsburgh? Are there any unique challenges and/or benefits to be here?
Pittsburgh! I moved here almost four years ago not knowing a thing about the city. I grew up in California and spent college and after on the East coast in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. I didn't know what to expect when the cards dealt me Pittsburgh, but within a matter of weeks, I was hooked. There is something so magical about this place. From the gorgeous parks to the amazing food scene, it's such a great city.
Starting my business here has been such a seamless process that I can't imagine having started it anywhere else. Pittsburgh is a great community; everyone knows someone who can help you. I found my accountant, lawyer, and realtor all through word of mouth referrals. I spend my afternoons working at the Techshop in Bakery Square. I love being able to live in a vibrant, affordable city that's a quick flight from New York.
What's next for you? Any new lines in the works or products that you've been itching to create?
I'm working on the spring collection, which will launch soon & include new patterns and color palettes to expand our fabric by the yard, pillow, and throw blanket collections. I'm really interested in exploring new textures and adding leather, knits, and metallics.
Where can we find your work?
Online at savannahhayes.com. (Use promo code FREESHIPPGH at checkout for free local shipping!)
Famous last words... What advice would you give to women looking to launch a brand and/or online platform?
Find people doing what you want to do and read everything they've written. Don't be afraid to reach out to them directly. Entrepreneurs were exactly where you are not so long ago and are a very friendly and generously informative group of people!