kara town is leading adelaide’s next wave of creative collaborators
We spoke to the brain (and Instagram) behind NEST | TOGETHER and AHD Paper Co about doing it all and keeping it together.
Kara Town is the businessperson your parents wish you were. Her online baby NEST | TOGETHER is a 'collaborative nesting space' for creatives to work together on projects revolving around architecture, art and style. They're subjects Kara is familiar with, she balances working on NEST with AHD Paper Co — her ultra elegant, and eco-friendly stationery company. While the words "stationery company" don't traditionally inspire delight, Kara's offerings are something fresh. Working with artists, she sees their products as a way to buy and enjoy art away from the insular world of galleries. After all, maybe you can't afford a print, but you can probably treat yourself to a card.
This democratic and practical approach to creativity defines much of her brand, while her refined aesthetic and eye for style has seen her draw her own cult following — her Instagram is enough to make a design kid shiver. We spoke to this Adelaide based powerhouse about merging ambition, business and ethics without loosing your mind in the process.
Let's start with AHD Paper Co, it's a bit of an anomaly as a youth focused stationery brand, with a considerable Instagram following, existing in a digital world.
A card is such a personal item, people enjoy that they can look at an artwork and associate with it on a personal level. I used to be so far removed from that culture, but my husband would be the type of person who would give me flowers and cards every time he saw me when we started dating!
I suppose now the practicalities of letter writing have fallen away, the only thing left is the romance. That's really communicated in your focus on art, tell me about collaborating with creatives.
I studied art history and theory, so always wanted to work in a gallery and be a curator, this was a nice way for me to apply that knowledge. Over the course of each collection we get better at not only choosing the artists but also helping them make works we know are going to sell. Having said that, sometimes we choose works we know might not sell so well purely because we love them.
Speaking about collaborations, lets talk about NEST.
We call NEST a "collaborative nesting space." Sanam, my partner for Nest in Seattle, and I started it because we wanted to work with a whole lot of creatives and make a space they can share. We liked the idea of working with people on a repeat basis so can form relationships and stay true to small businesses and sharing an aesthetic within a space.
These days it seems like no one wants to hold onto anything. Everything is so quick and fast and ephemeral, even when it comes to relationships, we aren't really like that as human beings. We weren't really interested in that, we wanted to show that part of being human is channeling your own aesthetic, cultivating your own ethos in life, and finding out who you are whilst forming communities and being supportive in those communities.
You've spoken a lot about collaboration, and both these projects are co-run with your husband. But sharing projects and ideas can be frustrating too, do you have any advice on navigating those tensions?
Since moving to Adelaide (from Sydney) I not only live with my husband but we work from home together, so we are together all day everyday together. It's like any relationship, whether it be a partnership in business or life, with time you become better at reading people and approaching collaborations. We have to be mindful of how we speak to each other and divide up the work so we have definite roles within the business.
We also realised that on the weekend we need to give ourselves at least one day off to get out of the house. When your work at home is responsible for your livelihood you feel a pressure to be constantly working and sometimes your relationship can get lost in that. But it gets easier over time.
Text Kasumi Borczyk