Kate Ward loves rugs. She enjoys discovering their history – who made them, where they are from and the symbols they display. Once in a while she’ll find a hair on a recent purchase and imagine that it is from a camel and that the rug was once taken across the desert.
What makes Ward a little unusual as a rug collector is that one day she pulled one from her floor and made it into something she could wear. At first, she didn’t know what she wanted it to be, but “as soon as I cut a strip it looked like a necklace and scarf combined ... so I went with it,” she says.
Soon she was pulling more rugs from her floor and buying rugs from friends’ dining rooms. Her mother was dismayed because many of the rugs were gifts from her parents and grandparents’ travels overseas, but Ward was adamant that she was giving the rugs a new life. Now her mother goes along for Ward’s rug shopping trips and even helps with some of the hand stitching.
In 2015 Ward started her own line, A Native Look, at her Raleigh home. She uses mostly vintage kilim rugs (a kind of flat-weave, patterned rug) and tapestries. She has an online store and a social media following, and several boutiques in North Carolina and South Carolina carry her pieces.
Ward, who has a Masters of Arts in teaching, laughs about her background in design – which is limited to a senior project in high school. She started making the necklaces in her free time after grad school.
“I went to college for liberal studies and then education, so it’s all just a personal interest thing rather than what I thought might ever be a career path,” says Ward. “I was planning on being a kindergarten teacher ... I still may be a kindergarten teacher at some point, but I didn’t get a job immediately and I was puttering around the house.”
With a natural eye for textiles, Ward is learning the rest as she goes and seems to enjoy the process. She finds herself at her kitchen table stitching every day now. “I’m a little in over my head at times, but I’m rolling with the punches,” says Ward.
“I want the necklaces to both stand out and look like a natural fit for any wearer.”
A Native Look
A Native Look items range in price from $40-$80 and are carried at the following Raleigh boutiques: Charlotte’s in Cameron Village and North Hills; Fab’rik in Cameron Village; and Dogwood Collective in Moore Square.
Meet Kate Ward in person and visit A Native Look’s booth at the Junior League of Raleigh’s annual A Shopping SPREE! event Oct. 28-Nov. 1 at the Raleigh Convention Center.