A Designer's Eye For Pedigree
"Every time I came home to Omaha, I just felt so much more relaxed and comfortable," says Kathleen Connor of her years working as an interior designer for the prestigious firms, Anthony Baratta, Peter Marino and Katie Ridder, in New York. "So, when a family friend told me I should just do my crazy dream job now -- rather than wait till I'm 45 and have kids, and other obligations -- it was the best advice I could have gotten."
That crazy dream job became Among Other Things, an interiors consignment shop, that also sells small gift items made by local artisans. Tucked away a few blocks from Omaha's busy 72nd and Dodge streets intersection, Among Other Things shares a building with Esther's, a long-beloved consignment shop/best-kept sartorial secret of the city's bobo crowd.
Kathleen worked at Esther's in high school and credits the job for teaching her about the world of consignment. She learned about the design universe by studying art history at Princeton. "There are a lot of jobs that people do after Princeton," she laughs. "But opening a used furniture store usually isn't one of them.
Kathleen describes her design aesthetic as eclectic, with ethnic overtones. Think preppy classics like Chinoiserie, then layer them with different patterns, colors and textures.
While she does hit the occasional estate sale (and browses the addictive homewares site, Everything But The House), Kathleen confines most of her buying to consignment, and Etsy Wholesale, which connects makers capable of producing large batches of product with retailers in new markets. She also loves to support local artisans.
"A lot of the local companies I work with are women-owned," says Kathleen, listing Ramona and Ruth cards, Feel Good Natural Products soaps, Julia Mason watercolors and Blue Dot caramels as a few favorites. "It's not by design, but it is nice."
Among Other Things also sells Kathleen's own work, including custom lampshades made from the rich fabrics piled high on lacquered-red shelves along the shop's eastern wall. "I do make pillows and cushion covers, but a lot of people do that. I wanted to make something that no one else is making," she says, indicating a pair of shades she is currently working on, each at least two feet tall. "I just always think it looks amazing to have two of these in a room."
While she's not offering full interior design services at this moment, Kathleen helps private clients with art hanging and furniture arranging. She also keeps a running list of what her customers want so she can send up a flare if she comes across it.
Being in Omaha, Kathleen says, gives her the advantage of being able to keep her costs low. "I might see a used chair on an Instagram feed from New York that is selling for $400, when I would sell it for $30 in my shop," she says, noting that often out-of-towners come in to the store and marvel at her low prices. "I try to remember my market and price accordingly. At the same time, people are never afraid to spend money on quality."