Artist Maren Conrad and merchandising expert Elizabeth Wood had this “off-the-wall” idea to lift elements from Conrad’s paintings – koi fish, dandelions and feathers – and print them on table linens and pillows.
They’ve already sold more than $13,000 worth of merchandise in the last month. Last week, the Andaz Napa hotel purchased pillows for all of its suites, and the hotel’s catering coordinator told Conrad and Wood that she knew of two wedding parties that would love their napkins and table runners. The two women say they plan to both sell and rent their table linens to hotels, event planners and consumers.
“Are you familiar with RenttheRunway.com?” Wood said. “It’s a site for fashion where if you’re going to a wedding and you want a dress for just that night, you log onto the website and they send you a dress in two sizes and then you just send it back to them and they deal with dry cleaning. Our goal is to do that with our linens.”
Conrad said she had this idea for a while but didn’t have the expertise. Then, while basing her studio out of the now-shuttered Exhibit S, the experimental gallery at Downtown Plaza, she met Wood. Together, they found a manufacturer in India, pooled their savings and ordered inventory.
“For me, it was money I’d saved from selling paintings,” Conrad said. “I sent basically my entire savings account over to India with crossed fingers. I had panic attacks.”
Conrad and Wood are selling their wares under the Prosper Design Studio label on their website, prosperdesignstudio.com, at Parkside Pharmacy near the Sacramento Zoo and at the Andaz Napa hotel. They are selecting other artists whose work could be featured on their products and hope to get their products in a showroom in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Prosper Design prints the artist’s story and contact information on each item it sells.