If you know me, then you know I have a bit of an obsession with rattan. I love the texture and feel it gives to a room. With my latest project, "Palm Beach Numéro Deux", I chose a few pieces from Kenian that fit perfectly into my vision for the space. I love pieces from Kenian because of the quality and unique designs. You have to be careful when picking out rattan furniture because quality is so important. Every piece I have from Kenian has held up beautifully and captured that "vintage rattan" vibe I was going for. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Clell Smith, President of Kenian, and found out a bit more about his company and inspiration! Keep scrolling to read more about this fabulous company and see a few of my top picks.
Q & A with Clell Smith:
Q: How did you get your start in this business?
A: We started business selling just our Folding Rattan Chair and a basic Folding Side Table to Home Depot’s Expo division and the company grew from there.
Q: Where do you find inspiration, and how do you make sure you are constantly innovating?
A: I have always been inspired by antique and vintage rattan, especially British-Asian bamboo furniture of 17th and 18th century and the vintage rattan of the first half of the 20th century. We pay attention to current trends, colors, and the needs of the design community which is a large part of our business.
Q: How do you find balance between your work and personal life?
A: When I started Kenian my children Ian and Kendall were young, I made a vow to myself I would not let this become all consuming, I would be there for the important times in school and family. I don’t consider what I do as work, it’s a part of my life, always present but technology today allows one to stay connected while being away, and I have a good staff I can trust to handle things when I am out of the office. At the end of the day, when your gone, nobody but family and a few friends will remember you for very long. The business, customers, vendors, they all move on very quickly. Family, faith and good friends, that’s all that really matters, all that will be there for you at the end if you do it right, and a good dog!
Q: What’s the best part of owning/running your own business? What’s the worst?!
A: I will answer both at once. It’s the most challenging, most fun, most risky, most rewarding, the hardest, and the most freeing thing one will ever do. You own all your mistakes, and all your correct decisions. I could not live any other way….
Q: What is some advice you have for women seeking to start a career in your industry or business in general?
A: Go for it, women are just as capable, sometimes more 😊
Q: What advice would you give your younger self?
A: Learn from as many people as you can growing up, seek out the best in the things you are interested in and learn what makes them successful. Most successful people are willing to share with someone genuinely interested in their field.
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
A: Finding a wonder wife and life partner, and our two children Ian and Kendall.
Q: Has living in Virginia Beach influenced your style, aesthetic or business in any way?
A: Absolutely, we are coasties, the beach, the ocean, surfing, sailing, boating, fitness, it’s a lifestyle. Rattan represents and is part of that lifestyle. I would rather live in a shack on the coast then a multimillion-dollar mansion inland away from the water. We have saltwater in our blood, gills behind our ears!!
Q: What are your top 5 things you can share with others from your specialty?
A: Deliver on your promises, produce a quality product, deliver great customer service, do not take business or any customer for granted, be you and don’t worry about the other guy….
Q: Who are your personal style icons?
A: My favorite designers are Amanda Lindroth, love everything she does and Meg Braff. Both have a beautiful coastal style and love of rattan. We also love Mary Catherine Folmar of Cotton & Quill an up and comer who is creating beautiful fabrics, wall papers and textile accessories which we are collaborating with in our High Point Showroom.
Q: What trait do you most admire in a person?
A: Honesty and straightforwardness!
Q: What does your style say about you?
A: I hope honesty and straightforwardness…
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: A good cocktail...
Q: Who/what has been your greatest professional influence? Personal influence? Why.
A: While I have never personally met him, Alan Palecek has always been an inspiration, I love his style and design within our industry. Personally, a gentleman named Tommy from my hometown who has been my mentor for the last 35 years and has taught me much about life and business.
Q: What can we look forward to next from you?
A: Rattan Lighting, continuing to introduce great new designs and we are excited to have joined Jarrett Bay Home as their rattan provider and will be introducing a collection of Coastal, Yachting lifestyle furniture at April 2020 High Point.
Some of my inspiration behind the design of "Palm Beach Numéro Deux"...