Women Who Collaborate: Michelle Pereira + Kelly Keiser Pt. 2

Women Who Collaborate: Michelle Pereira + Kelly Keiser Pt. 2

For Part Two of our Women Who Collaborate series, we hear my side of our collaboration with Michelle Pereira on creating the KellyGreen Pouch No.1.
Women Who Collaborate: Michelle Pereira + Kelly Keiser Reading Women Who Collaborate: Michelle Pereira + Kelly Keiser Pt. 2 7 minutes

For Part Two of our Women Who Collaborate series, we hear my side of collaborating with Michelle Pereira on creating the KellyGreen Pouch No.1.

What was your inspiration for this collaboration?

Back in 2020 I was shopping Hewn at the San Francisco Design Center as I was about to launch our first product for the KellyGreen brand. I was shopping for a Sister Parish fabric for an interior design client, and I saw Michelle’s hand-blocked Stargazer fabric on display--it was love at first sight.

My little fabric sample of Stargazer sat on my desk for a year. I looked at it every day and dreamed of how I could use it. The pattern size was better suited for billowing drapery or long, sprawling sofas, not the small pouch I was designing. I found out that Michelle lived locally. I was so in awe of her talent and couldn’t shake Stargazer off my mind so I called. Serendipitously, she answered. Our answer to the scale? CUSTOM, of course!

What made you say yes to this collaboration?

I took a drive to see Michelle in her studio on Sonoma Mountain. When we met, we connected right away and I knew I had to work with her. She walked me through her studio, showed me projects she was working on, and we laughed a lot.  I was buzzing from excitement as we sat in her Airstream and talked about what could be! We talked about kids, design, textile icons we both admire, and, of course, cannabis. Michelle is a cannabis advocate both for wellness and recreation and it was truly one of the first times on this journey that I felt like I was speaking to someone who truly GOT IT. She deeply understood the destigmatizing effects of designing beautiful cannabis products for women to use and their potential for opening women’s minds to cannabis.

Talk us through your design process for the pouch. Did this differ from your "regular" approach to projects?

I have designed endless pieces of custom furniture for my clients in San Francisco over the last 20 years, but manufacturing in a factory (and in volume) is a horse of a different color. I had no clue how hard it would be or how much I had to learn. It took a year to design the bag, a year to find the right ateliers for the bag’s production, and many months to get the design into the production line at the factory in New York. The pandemic certainly slowed things down, but mostly, I ran into issues with quality. I rejected countless samples because I knew they weren't good enough for the women I created this pouch for. Building this pouch has been a labor of love for me and I was very intentional with each step along the way because good design is so much more than the sum of its parts.

What drew you to hand-printed textiles and what do you love about them?

I love when things are created with care. As a designer, I seek out the best fabrics, the best furniture, the best wall coverings. I love the process of physically making things. Michelle knew that and included me in the initial hand-blocking of the textile. At first, we were testing it for effectiveness on the bag. She tossed me an apron and slowly, patiently taught me how to hand-block linen. It was magical and it was the perfect fit for the pouch.

What is your relationship with cannabis like?

I fell I love with cannabis in high school and college. It wasn’t popular with my friends when I moved to San Francisco in early 2000, and we drifted apart for about a decade. But we’ve since rekindled our relationship (more on that later:)).

I've done all of the drugs. But unlike other drugs that can be "takers", cannabis is a giver. Meaning, it gives me insight; it gives me creativity; it gives me pain management, better sex, and of course, laughter during stressful times. It's given me so much. 

I can’t talk about my relationship with cannabis without also mentioning the farmers and acknowledging the cannabis trailblazers who are still imprisoned because of their work with the plant. These people are the reason I have the luxury of designing cannabis accessories but we must not forget that legalization isn’t available for everyone in the United States.

How do you balance your creative practice with business obligations?

Carefully. Someone once told me that being a designer is a luxury I only get if I am a good business owner. If I am a poor business owner, I do not get to be a designer. It stuck with me. 

How do you approach work-life blend as a small business owner?

I work a ton but I like what I do. I try to take weekends but the last few years have been difficult with all of the projects my husband and I have in the works. As a general rule, there is no working on Sexy Sunday. But other than that, I am pretty pinned most days. 

What is your favorite aspect/part about your job?

There are so many! Working with old machines. Working with other creatives. Making pretty things that I know will truly make people, spaces, and experiences better. That's what I truly love: making objects that make our everyday experiences more magical. I have the privilege of collaborating with my insanely talented (and patient) packaging teams, designing custom fabric concepts with textile designers like Michelle, and getting feedback from my team of advisors for KellyGreen, a network of brilliantly talented brand builders and spreadsheet masterminds. Oh, and they are all women— except for Jesse, my husband.

What is one thing that you want the world to know about your business / practice?

We are building a brand that will change the way women think about, talk about, and consume cannabis. There are so many women out there who are new or new-again to cannabis and they deserve to a girlfriend to bring them into the fold with cannabis. We want to be the trusted resource for all things clever and beautiful when it comes to the female cannabis experience. We are speaking to the power moms, the female founders, high powered women who have an inkling that cannabis can make their lives better (spoiler alert: it can!).

To bring a brand like this into the market took designers, and they are women who understand the importance of this moment in time. I am a designer through and through. I spent years designing magazine-worthy interiors and 99% of the time, I worked with women on those projects. I am taking that experience and parlaying it into product design. The cannabis space desperately needs beautiful products that speak to the same women who value good interior design. My clients have custom-made sofas wrapped in handmade fabrics, why is their cannabis still stored in a Choo box? That ends now.