Sarah Willett, Guest of Honor at the LDB Interior Textiles/295 Fifth Avenue N.Y. market V.I.P. Party on March 19, 2018, explores the unique vision behind her company, Patina Vie
One could say that Sarah Willett makes a living from how she lives. Her company, Patina Vie (patinavie.com) with its mantra “History + Style Collide,” is a lifestyle brand that grew from her interests and experiences growing up in a small Wisconsin town. The five-year-old brand celebrates all things vintage and historical in licensed product lines— home textiles, furniture, lighting, dinnerware, glassware and more—with partners that include Mohawk Home/Karastan and S.L. Home Fashions, and through direct sales of curated authentic, one-of-a-kind Patina Vie Vintage goods.
Here is an exploration of how this unique vision came to be and continues to succeed in the words of its founder, Sarah Willett.
• What did you do before establishing Patina Vie?
“Honestly, anything and everything I could get my hands on that was intensely creative. To my delight, this marvelous list of experiences—from art direction, copywriting, product development, photography, styling and interiors—has given me and my team the freedom to create a brand of stylish goods in our own way with our own voice.”
• What prompted you to start Patina Vie?
“I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin around flea markets and vintage shops. My passion for well-made beautiful objects wasn’t an accident. My mom has an amazing eye and pulls interiors and landscapes together effortlessly. My dad’s favorite way to spend a Sunday was hopping in the car and driving for hours. Trees, architecture, birds and small town charm was our destination.
“I had the privilege of growing up in an emerald hamlet in Wisconsin’s countryside… Population 1,100. (Really.) I knew I wanted to create a business surrounded by all the things that inspire my days and make my heart sing. Patina Vie honors my small town roots and celebrates the global travels that have helped to form our style.
“People ask about the name: PATINA (Italian) is that gorgeous, subtle layer that comes with time; VIE is French for Life. Simply put, a lifestyle that gets better with time.”
• How large is your company?
“We are a small troop of like-minded creatives. There are five of us in total. The women who work with me aren’t employees. They’re family. They’re geniuses.
“We realized early on that we each adore working in our own personal nest—no need to commute to a common location each day. So much more time to create and design! This flexibility is what allowed all of us to come together so flawlessly.”
• What makes Patina Vie special?
“I’m hoping it’s our AUTHENTICITY.
“Patina Vie is a true extension of our casual + fashionable lifestyle in the Wisconsin countryside. Our headquarters is my home office…a loft above the garage in our 1840s cottage. This is where we design and dream, collect and covet all that is pretty and yet to come. My flock of fancy free-range chickens keeps me smiling as I view them from up in my office perch…and the sound of snoring English bulldogs from under my desk makes me appreciate the ease of tapping a mute button on my iPhone. This balance of art, life and business is what drives us forward.”
• How has what you’ve designed over the years kept pace with changing times?
“We’re not obsessed with following specific trends or Pantone colors of the year. Our approach to design and building a relevant lifestyle brand is simply designing for OURSELVES. We adore pretty, emotion-evoking goods.
“As consumers, we know pretty much what to expect when we walk into a retail store. It’s the WHAT’S NEXT and WHAT’S DIFFERENT that makes our pulse quicken. Chances are if we love it, a lot of our customers will love it, too.
“We have a passionate following of customers that range in age from 15 to 75 years, with retailers ranging from Anthropologie to HomeGoods, to Neiman Marcus and Macy’s.”
• What would you like to accomplish in the future?
“Our hope is to continue growing our range of stylish goods to every facet of home, fashion and gift. This year we are launching Patina Vie fashion with a line of artisan hand-cobbled women’s boots with Lane. Also, Patina Vie Kids and Patina Vie Baby with Zrike Brands – bamboo and melamine tabletop and feeding sets. And, with S.L. Home Fashions, muslin swaddles, blankets and sleep sacks.”
• What do you look for in a licensing partner?
“Partners for me are a true hand-hold. Quality, swiftness to market, experts in their categories…all so important in growing a brand. We typically push the boundaries in terms of process in an effort to build goods that have a fresh and emotional reason for being. It takes more effort and coordination from all; the result is surely always worth the attention to detail.” LDB
Sarah Willett, founder of Patina Vie.
The Montpellier bedding collection from Patina Vie is created in collaboration with licensing partner S.L. Home Fashions.
Patina Vie rugs are offered in a variety of price points and designs through the Karastan and Mohawk Home brands. From Karastan’s Vintage Tapis Collection, shown is the Crown Jewel rug in aqua by Patina Vie made with 100 percent PET polyester.
The Karastan Touchstone Martinique Hazelnut by Patina Vie area rug is made with SmartStrand Silk.
Decorative pillows by Patina Vie created in collaboration with S.L. Home Fashions are rendered in materials such as cotton, cotton canvas and linen.
Vintage inspired tapestry patterns adorn Patina Vie tableware.
Patina Vie cocktail glassware is kissed with 18k gold filigree.