For those who don’t yet know you, could you introduce yourself, tell us about your work, inspiration and style?
Kirby: Sure! I would say above all else, I’m an entrepreneur, and after that, a designer. I love creating new business ideas and bringing them to life visually. I started out my career designing children’s clothing for BabyGap in NYC and then moved to Paris to design for another company, Bonpoint.
While designing children’s clothing, I began dabbling in illustrative work- specifically petite, detailed and delicate illustrations for the children’s market. As I was creating birth announcements and baby shower invitations for friends, I decided to launch Petite Alma to focus on helping others celebrate the special moments of life in a simple and beautiful way.
Why is your studio named Petite Alma? Who works for Petite Alma?
When I was working for Bonpoint, every Thursday our fit models (ages 6 months, 4 and 10) came to the studio for fittings. I adored the little 4 year old model, Alma. She had a spunky personality and always scurried over to my desk to hear my funny French accent. I started Petite Alma soon after I returned to the States and named it after her. She embodied what I wanted to spread through my designs- innocence, fun, confidence, and unique expression.
As for the Petite Alma team, we are lucky to work with artists from around the world. Our freelancers come from California, New York, London, Paris, Australia, Korea, Thailand and other states in the US. We find that working with people in different cultures gives us a diverse style, so that our designs are always fresh and innovative.
How did your relationship with Rosemood begin? Do you remember your first creation for us? Do you have a favourite design?
If I remember correctly, I reached out to Rosemood on Linkedin, and was very happy when they wrote back within a couple of days telling me how much they liked Petite Alma! I met with Grégoire and Hélène on my next trip to Paris and came out to the offices in Nantes - and so it began!
My favourite Rosemood design is actually one we are working on now. I love designs with animals doing human things like a rabbit wearing a cardigan or a fox playing the flute. It’s a way of designing something sweet without being overly sappy. And, I think it’s funny!
Working with Rosemood is only one of your many, many activities. Can you tell us about everything you do, all your present and future projects?
Our bread and butter is graphic design for large companies specializing in paper products. They come to us with their needs and I work with my team of graphic artists to create collections for them. We work with partners in the States for our US distribution and Rosemood for France, Germany and the UK. I also pick a few brand identity projects each year because I love helping people who are passionate about an idea, but need help expressing it visually. I also consult for other design businesses as well as individuals.
My newest venture (and the one I’m most excited about) is Studio Birdsong (studiobirdsong.com). I’m passionate about helping young girls find their purpose and express themselves, and Birdsong is a way to help them do that through design. Birdsong design workshops teach girls to follow their unique, inner voice from the beginning of a creative project straight through to the end, no matter what the task they’re facing, or where it leads.
You first designed wonderful stationery for Rosemood France (followed by Rosemood Germany and UK). In your creative process, what are the differences between designing for a French public and designing for an American one?
When I design for the American market it is usually bigger, bolder, brighter. I enjoy designing for the French market, because it is more in line with my aesthetic- simple, neutral colours with a focus on the little details. Americans tend to like more, whereas the French tend to like less. I’m a big fan of minimalism and simple living, so the French style aligns very well with that!
You lived in Paris some time ago, you also lived in New York and recently moved to San Francisco. Does every one of these big cities inspire you in a different way?
Yes, and I love them all! While living in Paris I was inspired by the beauty and detail of everything the French do- the details of their pastries, vitrines, packaging and their personal style. They are impeccable when it comes to presentation.
As for New York, it’s the energy that inspires me most. Everyone is very passionate and hardworking and never gives up. I admire and love that determination. Another thing I love about New Yorkers is their uniqueness. No one conforms, but instead makes their mark to be different. I love New York street style because each person’s style tells you a little bit about who they are.
And, in California, my inspiration most definitely comes from nature. I live about 20 minutes outside of San Francisco on a mountain and am outdoors constantly- hiking, working, gardening. There’s no better inspiration than nature itself. (As I’m typing this I am overlooking the Aegean Sea in Folegandros, Greece. I’ve come up with the most beautiful Aegean color palette to use on my designs- I love it here!)
xx Thanks Kirby and safe travels! xx