An Interview with Karie from Shelter

Honey Kennedy : Shelter bags

I’m happy to be talking today to the lovely lady behind Shelter, Karie Reinertson. Karie and her partner and fiancé, Rob Maddox, live in Asheville, North Carolina where they make their gorgeous bags. They’ll also be opening a brick and mortar shop in West Asheville sometime this spring! I’d love to visit sometime–the photos in my instagram feed of Asheville always look so beautiful. Here’s a little interview with this stellar lady, some photos from the new Shelter F/W 2013 lookbook and some shots in their new Shelter Collective studio.

Free shipping on US domestic orders from SHELTER with code WINTER13 thru midnight Dec 20. Orders will ship the first week of January.


Can you tell us a little about your inspirations behind your new designs?
I’m just always looking to strike a balance between elegant, natural design and utilitarian function.

What’s your favorite piece that you’ve designed?
I designed a large leather doctor bag for a woodworking friend in Brooklyn. It was my first luggage-sized piece that incorporated complicated leather working techniques and WORKED!

What do you love about living in Asheville?
Asheville has an amazing sense of community! Plus, I love living in the mountains. We’re so close to stunning hikes, but still just a five minute walk to the market.


Honey Kennedy : Shelter bags interview

What’s your design process? Who does what?
My design process is all over the map. My partner Rob and I usually talk through a few simple ideas, then I make it out of fabric over and over again until I get the volume and shape right. I do most of the other behind-the-scenes pieces that make up SHELTER, such as making the bags, filling orders and so on. Rob is one of those people that’s good at pretty much anything he does (so frustrating, but so great!), so he ends up helping with pretty much everything. He is also an endless well of emotional support and inspiration, which counts for a lot.

When I have bigger orders, I work with a worker-owned sewing cooperative here in North Carolina to help with elements of the bags. The workers each own part of the company, so are guaranteed fair wages and safe, comfortable working conditions.


What does a good, productive day at work look like for you?
I dream of having my most productive day every day! But the dreamiest would be getting up at 6:30, mediating, drinking a leisurely maple latte, getting to work by 8 and working on orders til 6, with a couple hours for working out new designs somewhere in there. Plus a couple hours at night to work on something new. Plus, a few extra hours to actually sleep.

Is there anything you wish you had more time in the day to do?
I wish I had more time to sleep, take walks, and lay on blankets with my favorite people telling me their life stories while looking at clouds.

What do you love most about owning your shop?
I love that, as a small business, my choices can encourage good business practices for other companies. Every decision is worth the time.

Are there any places that you like to go to clear your head?
Meditating helps with clearing my head, but I’m sure Buenos Aires would work too.


What are some of your favorite local haunts?
My friend Natalie’s shop Villagers is an urban homesteading store here in Asheville that’s a major favorite. Waking Life has the best coffee. I think about Vietnamese food every day and Pho R Us is the best around (and wins for weirdest name).

Who are some of your favorite makers right now?
Many of my favorite makers are friends here in Asheville and across the country–they are so inspiring! Megan Offner is a tree-guru based in upstate NY, Jess Feury is weaver based in Berkeley, CA, Ashley English is a baker, beekeeper, homesteader, and life maker, Hannah Ferrara is a lovely jewelry maker, Anna Toth is a bespoke denim maker, and Libby O’Bryan is a thoughtful designer, artist, and business woman. There are way too many inspiring makers to list!

What 5 records would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
Ohhhhh I think I would require 20! But off the top of my head, five of those twenty would be: JJ Cale / Naturally, Neil Young / On The Beach, Pavement / Brighten the Corners, Fleetwood Mac / Bare Trees, Graham Nash / Songs for Beginners.

Honey Kennedy : Shelter interview

What’s your favorite meal to make at home?
It’s a tie between homemade samosas and homemade pizza.

What are your favorite cold weather beverages?
Rob makes a pretty amazing hot chocolate–there’s BUTTER in it (editor’s note: WHAT? I need that!). I also never tire of hot whiskey drinks.

What’s your idea of the perfect fall day?
Waking up late, walking someone else’s dog (I wish we had a dog, but our friend’s dogs will have to do for now), stopping to drink hot cider and then build a fort.

Anything new coming up that we should know about?
I’ll be apprenticing with the incredible leather worker, Lisa Sorrell, for a month next year in Oklahoma, so expect some serious leather working vibes and crazy plains inspiration coming up. So excited! Rob and I are also in the midst of a new studio/storefront build out, and we’ll be gently opening our retail doors as SHELTER COLLECTIVE here in Asheville sometime next spring. Plus, WE’RE GETTING MARRIED—sometime next fall! That’s pretty much the best thing I could possibly imagine. ♥




PHOTOS: Images courtesy of Shelter.

2 Responses to “An Interview with Karie from Shelter”
  1. Madesmith says:

    Cool! Two of our favorite forces meet. Love it!

  2. tayler says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing.