John and I had been approached by furniture brand Newport Cottages last fall about meeting and greeting at High Point Market, and we loved the idea as we are crazy about Newport’s spirited collections and color sensibility. Over a few phone calls, we all discussed the idea of a possible collaboration.
Fast forward, and when we had super-fun, feisty Newport Cottage owners Pockets and Cristy Alvarez for drinks one night at Market, it was heaven. Over tequila and snacks, we discussed a plan to create a Madcap Cottage line of both kids’ furniture and adult-minded pieces that could tap Newport’s made-in-America, customizable, high-color storyline.
We all walked away from the affair with stars in our eyes and ideas turning in our heads.
The Madcap Cottage-Newport Cottages teams returned to the table (a chintz-covered table heaped with flowers, natch) a few weeks later and came up with a definite plan to launch a Madcap-branded collection at Spring High Point Market.
John and I talked over ideas, sketched and sketched and painted, looked over color palettes, and concocted a storyline, collection name, and mission statement…
Then Pockets and Cristy reviewed our ideas, and the back and forth commenced.
And here’s what we all came up with:
The Swizzle Stick Collection is an invitation to bring sophisticated, witty color into your home against a backdrop of timeless Chinoiserie-inspired design. Think faux bamboo, fretwork, and fantastic flourishes that surprise and delight. These are pieces that are glorious for today and tomorrow and that are rooted in history but move the needle forward. Layer in a rich Madcap color palette that highlights perfect pinks, garden-plucked greens, brilliant blues, and more, and the mix is absolutely electric.
But let’s find out a bit more about what makes the wonderful Pockets and Cristy tick.
MADCAP COTTAGE: Tell us about the Newport Cottages brand. How did the brand come about?
POCKETS ALVAREZ: Newport Cottages came about as we were looking for our first son’s bedroom furniture. He was about 3 years old at the time, and we discovered that most of the furniture out there was either white or wood tones, everything was imported, and stylish options were just not available or very limited. We were just entering the furniture industry and were planning our first show at the San Francisco Furniture Mart. We decided to bring a colorful youth bedroom set to the show and see what the response would be. We had our doubts since most youth furniture was priced for much less, and we wondered how our higher priced, U.S.-made kids’ furniture collection would be received. It was a hit! We had found our niche in the marketplace.
CRISTY ALVAREZ: My Latina background and love for color was a big part of our home décor collection. When it was time for our son to get his “big-boy bed,” he naturally wanted something in color. We made our son a twin-sized version of a bed from our home collection. It looked great, and our son loved it. After some time, I was finally able to convince Pockets that we should include a kids’ collection in our first show. I sometimes remind him of this, and he thanks me for it.
MC: Why made in America?
CRISTY: There’s a magic in creating something and seeing the process come to life right in front of your eyes. The ability to provide our customers something made just for them is rewarding and a true labor of love.
POCKETS: Our desire to create a quality product and have the flexibility of customization is what first led us to the U.S.-made decision. The ability to control our quality and lead times were other factors in this decision. Now we see other added benefits such as local job creation, purchasing and supporting local vendors, and the impact we make in the lives of many our employees.
MC: Tell us about the design sensibility of the Newport Cottages brand.
CRISTY: Newport Cottages is relaxed, casual, and fun. It’s about color and personalizing your lifestyle. Whether it’s a traditional, transitional or a modern look, our collections are all designed around a sense of quality.
MC: Is Newport Cottages only children’s furniture?
POCKETS: Not anymore! Although the past years have been focused on children’s furniture, we are excited to be introducing furniture that can be used throughout the home. Accent tables, master bedroom pieces, bookcases, desks, etc. It’s funny, but it seems that as our kids are growing up so is the product offering of Newport Cottages.
MC: You both love color. Is your clientele really embracing jumping on the color bandwagon, too?
CRISTY: Yes! It’s amazing how much our customers like creating their furniture and being able to customize the color offering. I grew up surrounded by color, and I love when I’m able to share this passion with our customers. Life is too short to be forever beige.
MC: What sets your brand apart in the marketplace?
POCKETS: Each piece is handcrafted in California and bench made from select hardwoods. This allows us to offer custom options and finishes that would be beyond the reach of most imported furniture brands.
MC: Newport Cottages has a distinct sense of “fun”—paired with amazing quality. Speak to that spirit of fun.
CRISTY: It’s important to remember that this is our only chance to live life, this is not a dress rehearsal so make it fun and enjoy the journey. I believe in quality in all things. Quality in life, friends, and the things you surround yourself with.
MC: Who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
CRISTY: Frida Kahlo. I love that she lived life with passion, she was fearless, and she embraced color in such a special way. And my mom so that I could thank her for being my inspiration and role model as a mother and wife in an entrepreneurial family.
POCKETS: Frank Lloyd Wright for dinner. Since I was young I have admired Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and design philosophy. Quentin Tarantino for drinks to discuss his movies and soundtracks.
MC: Tell us about upcoming Spring High Point Market.
CRISTY: We are excited as we expand into home and make our debut in always-buzzing InterHall. We couldn’t ask for a better way to begin this journey than introducing the Swizzle Stick Collection designed by the fabulous gents of Madcap Cottage. This is the cherry on top for April market!
MC: Well, we are over the moon to be working with you all. Such a dream. And thank you for the very kind words. So what’s the three-year plan for Newport Cottages?
POCKETS: Newport Cottages plans on expanding into fine furniture showrooms and dealers nationally and abroad. We currently have some international distribution and would like to add a few more areas within the next 3 years. Keeping the Newport Cottages brand handcrafted in the USA with quality materials will continue to be a defining characteristic of everything we do. Remember that it’s all about quality over quantity!
P.S. How did Pockets get his unusual name?
Says Pockets, “I must have been 5 or 6 years old at the time, and I would stuff my pockets with everything! Hot Wheels cars, army men, flowers, rocks… You name it. My cousin started calling me ‘Pockets’ followed by friends at school and then teachers. Over the years the name Pockets found its way onto school records, my driver’s license, and every other legal document. I know it’s unusual but it’s a name that few people forget. Well, sometimes people call me ‘Patches’ or ‘Socks’ by mistake, but that’s fine. It usually makes people laugh.”