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There’s something to be said for everyday pieces that are both beautiful and utilitarian, and Coco and Johnny Mannix, founders of Catzorange, seem to have their finger on the pulse of the notion. Founded in 2017 as a nonseasonal aesthetic project dedicated to the idea of quiet luxury, with collections inspired by traditional craftsmanship and thoughtful production. Each piece created in their Berlin studio receives an awareness of the material and a desire to follow the shapes and forms that emerge. As their business began to take shape, the duo looked to Squarespace’s all-in-one website building platform to help put a professional finish on what they had created.
The name, Catzorange, is unique and one you’re not likely to soon forget. When Coco and Johnny initially started to build their Squarespace website it was a name they used as a placeholder, derived from the place where the two first met one another. However, the slightly sentimental brand name stuck around and hasn’t changed since.
Their show-stopping bags and baskets are constructed from natural cotton rope, a project they began on the side. Soon they found themselves using their own products for everything from market trips to beach-going.
“We were working in publishing/advertising in Berlin and New York City. After getting married we decided to take a break from our 9 to 5 careers and moved from NYC to the beach to work at a small organic farm. During that time, we learned that the biggest luxury for us is the freedom to choose how and at what pace we live our lives.” They went on to share how that project eventually turned into more. “We were always making furniture, clothing, and ceramics to curate our own space. Making bags and baskets out of rope was just one of many projects we started. We used our own bags for everything, carrying vegetables and flowers at the market and the beach. Friends and people around town asked about them and we made a few commissioned pieces. As the season changed to winter we spent more time experimenting, taking pictures, and designing the website.”
Catzorange’s first product went on to become the bucket bag, which Coco and Johnny still use daily in their own lives. Eventually it went on to become one of their most popular pieces in the shop.
“The rope naturally wants to form a gentle shape and we loved the elegant outline that it made,” they said about the design process and what the cotton rope taught them about itself. “From this first piece we learned to work more closely with our materials and to trust in them when designing.” So much so that it’s become an integral part of their business’s ethos.
The brand hand-makes all of their pieces to order in their Berlin studio, where Coco is originally from. Johnny also spent time there studying, so there’s a mutually strong attachment to the city, where in 2010 they opened an atelier. They now split their time between the two cities, and it seems as though they give as much as they get from Berlin.
“The energy and openness that comes from the creative community makes Berlin a great place to have a studio, and a city where you can have a rewarding work-life balance. From Berlin we also have access to hundreds of niche European suppliers that are experts in traditional techniques and are passionate about their trade,” they said.
Like most businesses who release seasonal collections, Catzorange’s creative wheels are constantly turning and churning. “We are very excited about our upcoming pieces which have strong amphora-like shapes and bold colors. There are a few classic shapes that we keep in the shop at all times, these are popular non-seasonal styles that we are always happy to produce. The bucket bag is one of them, and it is our bestseller.”
“Our current collection is directly inspired by our diverse group of friends, each of whom is passionate about their own creative field. We’ve created bags that are directly linked back to the colors and shapes that are reflected in them, their homes, and their personalities. On the other hand, each bag of our Spring/Summer 2020 Collection is named after an uninhabited island and is a reflection on empty spaces and contrasting colors,” they said.
Catzorange’s future looks bright, and we’re wondering what they see in the crystal ball for themselves and what’s to come. And we have to admit, it’s a great approach for businesses of all sizes.
“We see ourselves developing more custom and one-of-a-kind pieces, and focusing on our direct to consumer relationship. Rather than growing bigger or doing more, we want to focus on doing better. This is one of the core principles of the brand as it relates to our craft and our impact on the environment.”
Catzorange leans on Squarespace to help their website look fresh and keep their shop updated with their latest designs. They first heard word of the all-in-one platform while listening to podcasts at the Long Island farm they worked on when first starting their business.
The next step was easy, “We decided to try it out. We used the basic version over that summer and played around with the templates and design. Our business started to take shape and look real once it had a website, and that was really encouraging. By the time we opened our webshop for Catzorange, we were able to harness the momentum we had built up on Instagram by using what we had already set up in Squarespace. The gentle minimalism of the templates made it easy for us to maintain our brand’s language for Catzorange online. With Squarespace, we have been able to react quickly and flexibly to both our needs and the needs of our customers through every phase of building a young business.”
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Photography by Studio Abeles.