Be brave, be bold, be beautiful!
Getting to know Shana Harrison of Porter Teleo and how she works closely with Interior Designers:
Porter Teleo was founded by artist, Kelly Porter, and interior designer, Bridgett Cochran, and offers a line of handprinted, hand-painted wallcoverings and fabrics using a variety of techniques including wood block, chine colle and painting.
Shana Harrison is brand ambassador for the Company, and in November she spoke at our Brunch event, showing us examples of the unique, bold and exciting wallpapers offered by Porter Teleo, and explaining the processes that go into creating them.
Getting to know the business…
How long has Porter Teleo been going for and what prompted the diversification into the EU market?
Porter Teleo has been in business for over 16 years. They have always sold their products internationally to the trade but have focused closer to home as the American market is significant. I talked them in to the idea of having me as their agent in the UK. One of the co-founders, Kelly Porter, and I have mutual friends. Within a year and a half, I had increased their business significantly. I believe I have only scratched the surface. London can surely support the same amount of sales as New York or LA?!
Tell us about how the collaboration between Porter Teleo and yourself came about?
When I moved to the UK in 2013, I had the idea of using my background in interior design and combining it with sales. I contacted the company around then but was not successful until late in 2018 when I connected with Kelly in a conversation I was having with our mutual friend under a photo of Kelly posted on Facebook.
What makes your working partnership so successful?
Porter Teleo are just a joy to work with – very responsive sending samples to clients, their customer service is top notch, no backorders or delays, and there has never been a complaint about product quality.
I love representing this unique, woman-owned business from Kansas City, where I used to live. It is such a good story and what fun products to share!
What has been your/Porter Teleo’s most tricky and yet successful design and / or installation?
I think for me, it was a double height entry hall. The paper does need to be trimmed as it comes with a selvage edge. The installers were nervous. I got several calls from the designer. Once they got going it was completely fine and it turned out beautifully.
I love some of the installations of the paper on the ceiling. That must be a challenge to hang!
The Porter Teleo wallpapers designs are all so utterly unique. Can you please describe the process for Porter Teleo, from concept to final development in order to clarify what makes for a successful design.
Developed by artist Kelly Porter and interior designer Bridgett Cochran, Porter Teleo’s inspirations are drawn from ancient Japanese screens, antique architectural ornamentation, and of course the hand of artist Kelly Porter. Only the finest materials are used in the process – from the richest artist-grade pigments to handmade Japanese paper.
The patterns are created by employing a variety of fine art processes, such as Japanese wash-painting, chine-collé, and wood blocking. Each product is hand- painted or hand-printed to order on Japanese paper that has been made by the same family for over 400 years. It is archival in quality, acid-free and does not contain fillers.
Can you tell me about your ideal client?
My ideal clients are those designers that get inspired when discovering our products and whole-heartedly embrace our artistic, modern style. Of course, a large room or rooms and a good budget can be rather exciting!
What are the three implications for UK-based Interior Designers when ordering a highly bespoke wallpaper all the way from Kansas City? i.e. what could go wrong and what should a designer be aware of from the start, to avoid any mistakes?
Our process helps you avoid mistakes. We send nice size samples. Once you are successful in designing one of our products for a client, we require you send a working sample intitially. We then do a CFA (colour for approval), matching what you sent in, to make sure you get exactly what you are expecting. Shipping charges are not too expensive because the products come on rolls. These are always quoted along with the product so there are no nasty surprises.
Do you cover Interior Design projects in Europe as well? Or just the UK?
I am the exclusive UK agent. I can have European clients if I meet with them and show them the portfolio. If the design firm has a UK office, I can work with them no matter where the project is going to be installed.
What is the biggest challenge for you as an American supplier, of an American product, here in the UK/EU industry?
We don’t have a showroom. It is just me and the portfolio! It can get very heavy. And… I don’t have all the full-size samples here. So when designers need them urgently, that can be stressful.
If I ever make it over to Kansas City, do Porter Teleo offer tours of their workshop?
Yes, I am sure this could be arranged. If you follow them on Instagram, they do stories and posts from inside the studio. They purchased a building in downtown Kansas City in 2019. I love it when I go home to Kansas City and get to be inside the studio to see the products being created by their team of artists.
What other essential information is important for UK Interior Designers to know when ordering Porter Teleo wallpaper?
Pricing and Order Info [correct at the time of publication]
Here are details about the minimum order for wallpaper and textiles from Porter Teleo is.
Minimum order is 3 panels or $1750.
Wallpaper panels are 36” wide (.914 metres). Heights start at 9 feet (2.74 metres) and go up to 22 feet (6.7 metres).
Minimum order is 3 yards (2.7 metres)
The fabric is 54” wide (1.37 metres)
Getting to know you…
I found your personal story about how you moved to the UK and started your career over here so interesting. What has been the biggest culture shock for you?
I find the people to be more reserved here. I make mistakes and social fumbles but get away with a lot because of my accent. There are a lot of words that mean one thing in the States and quite a different thing here.
What is your typical work day like? (Do you wake up early, work late, communicate, what jobs do you do yourself, who do you talk to etc)?
I am not an early bird and need my coffee in the morning. But my age and stage in life is changing things somewhat. Menopause – the struggle is real. I communicate a LOT through email. My main job is to introduce Porter Teleo to as many designers as possible. And then I try to be very responsive and helpful as a project goes through all the stages – from sampling, client presentations, estimating to delivery and installation.
When did you feel that you had made it in the UK and that you were successful? How did you celebrate?
I got pretty darn excited when Kelly Hoppen’s studio asked for samples. I admired her when I was getting my interior design degree. I could not WAIT to tell the Kansas City office!
Looking back, what could you have done sooner to have got to that point quicker?
My budget to travel to London was extremely limited. I should have had the confidence to pick up the phone more. And it has to be said, follow-up to emails is just crucial.
Tell us about your own home… or perhaps about your favourite room in your home. What type of property do you live in?
We extended our house in Harrogate a few years ago. I love the open plan kitchen, lounge and dining room. I am now buying my own flat in a historic building. I’m very excited to work on that. I would really like to have some Porter Teleo wallpaper in that space. It would look just amazing with the high ceilings.
How would you describe your own interior style?
I like modern things with clean lines. I have a lot of artwork up on my walls. Porter Teleo is most definitely fitting to my own design style.
What has been your biggest home extravagance?
I bought a modern Chinese apothecary cabinet from Century Furniture in North Carolina. It is ridiculously heavy. I shipped it here to the UK because I couldn’t bear to part with it. It won’t fit in my new flat but I am going to store it. I get emotionally attached to some things in my home.
Finish this sentence…..: My highlight of the last 12 months is…
Getting in to see several of the top design firms in London that I have wanted to show the portfolio to since I started. I am pinching myself as this is really starting to gain momentum. And I just LOVE doing it.
Lastly, if you had a blank cheque, what would you be splashing out on for your own home?
Porter Teleo paper and textiles for several rooms in my new home! Even if I wasn’t an agent for them.
Thank you so much to Shana for her time and the gorgeous samples of wallpaper she shared with us. So many amazing bold design options to choose from that I am like a kid in a sweet shop. My favourite was the Tangled. I’m itching to specify that for a project… maybe even on a ceiling!
You can also find and connect with Shana Harrison and Porter Teleo via the usual social media platforms:
Last but not least, in fact…. probably most importantly, if you would like to apply for a TRADE ACCOUNT with Porter Teleo, then click here.
We look forward to seeing more Porter Teleo mindblowing designs in the future, and wish Shana well in continuing to spread the word.
Metier Rendezvous is a peer support network for Interior Designers!
We provide day-to-day pro-active and friendly support for all our members.
Collaboratively, we believe in Community over Competition. We share business ideas, tips, brainstorm on projects together as well as forward on leads.
If you would like to join us at one of our Brunch webinars or even at one of our LIVE Brunch Events, and have the opportunity to listen to some engaging speakers, like Lina; enjoy a delightful brunch, and discover new and interesting suppliers for your design projects, then drop me a line to find out how.