Designer Spotlight: Matine

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At first, designer Carolyn Misterek wasn’t particularly thrilled about moving to Washington, DC -- a city locals swear was built on a swamp. A wild exaggeration, by the way, in a place famous for them -- but at least one member of her family is glad they did:

Lou the dog.

Is it because romping on the beaches along the Chesapeake to "take our mutt Lou for a dip on sweltering summer days” has since become a favorite family pastime? ("No comment", says Lou.) 

A native of Wausau, Wisconsin, Carolyn moved to the district two and a half years ago after her husband accepted a job on Capitol Hill. While she admits “I personally wouldn't have chosen this as a home base…”, the area has slowly but surely won her over. “Now that we're here, I'm finding there is a steadily growing community of creatives and makers that is really exciting to be a part of.”

Carolyn’s love of craft bloomed early on. As a child, she loved to get up early during summer to watch HGTV's “old school” design shows and plan her craft schedule for the day. By parental decree, however, that plan was almost always superseded by a visit to work sites with her builder father. 

"I spent many days with him while he remodeled a building and put me to work staining wood trim for $1 a piece. It's funny, because at the time I despised it; all I wanted was to go to the pool with friends or something. In retrospect, those experiences have completely shaped who I am.”

After studying oil painting in art school and later completing her Master's Degree in Art History, Carolyn planned on immediately turning her artistic pursuits into a career… but wasn’t entirely certain which way to go just yet. So in the interim, she got a job as a digital user experience designer helping big-time companies understand and mold their online presence. Interesting work? Yes. Satisfying? In terms of strategy and problem solving, the mental side of things, definitely.

Still, something was sorely missing:

The thrill of visual creation.

To satisfy that urge, Carolyn had been developing Matine in her spare time, but finally came to a crossroads not uncommon to the artistic experience: stick with a solid, steady gig... or strike out on one's own and risk it all?

“I knew I couldn't follow two separate paths -- or at least not well -- for much longer. Ultimately, I felt in my gut that if I went after Matine with all of my energy, I could grow it into something really special."

Carolyn Misterek | Washington DC USA

"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity, but always with a twist to keep it interesting. At every single step in the process, I'm asking myself what could be simplified? What could be stripped down or taken away? Or, if something needs to be added, how can I do it in the least intrusive way?"

Along those lines, we had one last question. After the recent birth of her first child and all the life/baby/work juggling that entails for a busy mom/entrepreneur, does she ever miss the relative... simplicity... of her old 9 to 5 job? Carolyn smiles, shakes her head. Without a hint of bravado or false modesty, she says:

"In the end, I'm a doer. And I'm much happier making and doing for my own business.”

Carolyn Misterek | Washington DC USA
"There is nothing more satisfying than finding the perfect solution; the piece just clicks and comes to life better than imagined. There's kind of an electricity you can really feel when you finally get the design right." - Carolyn Misterek