Hey there, pull up a seat, we’re so glad you’re here! We love meeting our customers at in-person events (please come say hello!), but in the meantime, here’s a little about our family-run business.
Willow Ship was started in 2011 by me, Blake Kahan, a new mom at the time, working as an Art Director in San Francisco. Looking for more life flexibility and the roller coaster of entrepreneurship, I left the commuting-downtown life and started a textile studio in my basement. Think: lots of hands-on printmaking exploration, rooted in my background in colors, shapes and textures.
Sketch books started to fill with ideas of handcrafted homewares that would celebrate slow meals and sustainability. Much on-the-job learning and experimentation proceeded, and a small collection of hand-printed, 100% linen homewares–mostly napkins and pillows–emerged. Early on, a really sweet write-up by Design*Sponge happened, and it seemed that people were into what they were seeing. A wholesale business started to unfold, which is a favorite side of the business here. After a couple more kids–and some much-needed breaks from the business to care for them–our family-operated business is now based in Portland, Oregon.
Inspired by Scandinavia, Japan, landscapes and mid-century abstraction, our designs feature repeating abstract patterns, immersed in color and rhythm. My ideation technique is rooted in quick, spontaneous, cut-paper experimentation, always striving for a wabi-sabi lack of perfection. The ideal outcome is a design that creates an impact while still revealing the quirks of the human hand.
Willow Ship products are printed either in our Portland-based studio or with a trusted US-based partner, who specializes in artisanal, hand-printed continuous yardage. The sewing of our goods is handled in Portland by a woman-owned, ethically-run sewing house.
In 2018, my husband, Toby Tupper, joined the Willow Ship team, bringing his expertise in Marketing, Logistics and Product Development. Which means that , yes, most business decisions are made in the kitchen, while chopping parsley. We live with our three kids in Southeast Portland, where we’re (very) slowly fixing up a 1912 Craftsman home.