The Maker

A Native Look

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Designer Kate Ward works at her kitchen table creating a piece for her brand NATIVE in her Raleigh home

Standing in the entryway of her home, Kate Ward looked down at the six-foot runner on the floor with its array of colors—reds, greens, and whites—woven into an exquisite pattern and thought to herself, “This is gorgeous—I wish I could wear it.”She took the rug, cut it up, and made a necklace that has turned her piece of statement jewelry into the next great handcrafted business. From the rug on her floor, A Native Look was born.”I love to see how I can switch up and reuse things whether it’s to repurpose clothes or household items,” said Ward.Ward bought five sewing machines to find the perfect one. Her mother helped her make her first necklace by teaching her how to sew.”I made my first necklace and liked it. I wore it around and wherever I went there were comments from people and inquiries about owning one. Pretty soon I made necklaces out of the whole rug from my floor.”Ward has taken a unique concept of using new and old tapestries and repurposing them into wearable, textile art. A Native Look encompasses her signature necklaces along with cuffs and headbands.”When you wear the necklace, you look like a native from wherever you are. If in San Francisco, then you look like a native San Franciscan. If in New York, then you look like a native New Yorker. You fit in, but you stand out,” said Ward. “A Native Look is not the source of the tapestries, for they aren’t Native American tapestries, A Native Look is a state of mind, part of your current location. Your story transcends the rug. You can go anywhere and look the part.”Rugs are purchased from antique shops, estate furnishing stores, and even from Turkish rug vendors. Necklaces vary in weights and are made of wool or cotton. Some are vintage, some are crisp, some have fringe, some are lightweight, some are heavier. Each piece is different and one-of-a-kind. It’s a conversation piece for the wearer and the admirer.”It’s a scavenger hunt,” said Ward. “Each piece has its own personality. These are not created off a factory machine, so the pieces are not perfect.”Cuffs are suede based with leather ties for the perfect fit. Handmade and handcrafted, all orders are custom.”These pieces are designed to go with anything basic or neutral. Wear a solid color head to toe, put on a necklace and get a ‘pop’ for this is your statement piece,” said Ward.Ward, from Elizabeth City, now lives in Raleigh and uses her kitchen, garage, and basement to fulfill her company’s growing demand for custom necklaces and cuffs.”This venture has been a wonderful experience. The positive response has been nothing short of thrilling. It is exhilarating to know that other people like something that I created. People have been so kind and have embraced A Native Look. I am so thankful,” said Ward.Ward’s whimsical adventure of turning her rug into jewelry took art and design to a whole new level. Ladies can wear a necklace from A Native Look and make a statement bigger than the necklace itself.