A conversation about the world's best job...
MONOGRAM: List your name, profession, and place of residence:
JOANNA WILLIAMS, Creative Consultant, Los Angeles.
MONOGRAM: In creating your studio, Kneeland & Co, you’ve made sharing your inspiration and travel discoveries your full-time job, and we are so jealous! How did you first come to realize that sourcing inspiring pieces was something you could turn into a career?
JOANNA: I had the idea to start Kneeland while I was at a job that wasn’t creatively fulfilling. My background is in trend forecasting, and while I was working part-time for a company doing exactly that, a business idea popped into my head. I knew I was good at finding cool things and I loved beautiful textiles, so I figured I’d give it a go. It took a minute to figure out and to become a sustainable business, but I knew it could work right away.
MONOGRAM: What’s your process like? Do you source with specific clients in mind, or are you using your point of view as the filter knowing others will think it’s cool, too?
JOANNA: I sometimes source for specific clients, but I also source things that I think are interesting or different and then hope someone else will find them inspiring. I’ve had my business for 8 years now and have become an expert at finding unexpected treasures and offering them to clients, helping them to see the beauty in something they might not normally consider to be beautiful.
MONOGRAM: How do you know what feels relevant or on-trend? Is it a gut feeling, or an analysis of what you see that's currently popular? Or both?
JOANNA: I sort of go with my gut, which is actually more exciting than shopping for what’s on trend! That being said, I do have to pay attention to trends and source accordingly for certain clients. I really love showing up with things that are out of the norm of trends and getting people excited and inspired.
MONOGRAM: You named the business after your grandfather, who seems like he might be the inspiration behind “the most interesting man in the world”. Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes about spending time with him?
JOANNA: He was definitely interesting, and a real character! He passed away when I was a teenager and my memories of him are always replayed in my head. I spent some time at his vacation home in Acapulco when I was very young with my cousins, and we were at the age where we loved to show off. We would do dance performances to Madonna and he was our very supportive audience! He was a no BS kind of guy, and sort of played by his own rules.
MONOGRAM: The textiles, print samples, and other rarities in your studio are phenomenal – and sourced from all over the world. When visiting a new place, how do you know where to hunt for the best stuff?
JOANNA: I’ve managed to develop some incredible resources around the world for finding special textiles and rarities like artwork and objects. When I travel I like to be open and engaged and connect with people, because you never know where it will lead you. I do research beforehand, but I always find the best resources through word of mouth and exploring on my own.
MONOGRAM: What’s one place you’re dying to visit but haven’t made it to yet?
MONOGRAM: As someone who owns so many incredible things, what’s one item that stands out, and why?
JOANNA: I have a personal collection of really exquisite Indian tantra paintings from the ‘60s that I'm in love with. I found them in Jaipur and they symbolize a higher consciousness, divinity, and the idea that we all have what we need within us to help manifest.
MONOGRAM: Do you have a favorite vintage t-shirt? How and when did you acquire it?
JOANNA: That’s a hard question to answer! I have a few, one being a vintage INXS t-shirt that is the artwork of the KICK album cover. That’s one of my favorite albums of all time. I also love my Vision Street Wear SK8 OR DIE tee because it reminds me so much of my brother when he was about to turn pro in junior high. I idolized him and he had a huge influence on my life.
MONOGRAM: What’s your favorite way to style a t-shirt?
JOANNA: A t-shirt with amazing heels. I love mixing high and low pieces and wearing them unexpectedly.
MONOGRAM: Do you use graphic t-shirts to articulate your point of view? How so?
JOANNA: I love wearing graphic t-shirts that shout! I think it’s cool to walk around and show what you love or what you’re interested in at the moment. Maybe it’s the Leo in me – I love a good personal advertisement!
MONOGRAM: Lightening round: describe yourself in terms of the following:
COLOR: Pink with a side of lilac
ERA: New Wave
OBJECT: A Picasso ceramic
VEHICLE: 1981 Mercedes 300D
RITUAL: Drinking tea
TAGLINE: Always stay true to yourself.