Meet the Houston art collective that’s bringing mod minimalism to the Heights

Meet the Houston art collective that’s bringing mod minimalism to the Heights

If your home’s in need of some minimalist functionality, there’s a good chance that Pretti.Cool’s crafted just the thing you need.

Pretti.Cool is a collective of seven Houston-based makers who collaborate on home goods, apothecary goods, textiles and more. The group is comprised of the following members: Kari Breitigam, who focuses on textiles and jewelry; Taylor Brown, who works in photography and videography; Mike Garman, who works with concrete and wood; Jeff Gilmer, a wedding and portrait photographer; Kathrine Zeren Gilmer, an accessories and apparel designer; Wyatt Little, who works with ceramics; and Erick Sandlin, a painter who works exclusively with spray paint.

Pretti.Cool launched in August 2017, several years after Kathrine and Mike connected in Houston through their shared alma mater, Rhode Island School of Design. They kept in touch over the years, and tossed around the loose idea of pooling together their creative friends for … something, the details of which they weren’t exactly sure about.

“Mike and I had been talking about how it’s typical in Houston, with how spread out everything is, (for) a lot of the artists and designers (to be) spread out and kind of siloed, and how it’d be nice to do something that could bring more creatives together,” Kathrine said.

Initially, the makers behind Pretti.Cool decided to focus the brand on home goods. The wide umbrella of home goods, which includes everything from hand-painted clocks to concrete coasters, allows Pretti.Cool’s makers to pool their talents while pushing them to create goods that are unique from the ones they’d make in their solo ventures, Kathrine said.

“One thing we wanted was … the freedom to try and experiment with new things that might be out of our personal wheelhouse,” Kathrine said.

Pretti.Cool’s makers are split between the Heights, The Woodlands and Tomball. The team holds weekly meetings to discuss new products – Kathrine said Pretti.Cool’s considering crafting larger-scale goods, such as lighting fixtures, furniture, and tile – and grabs the occasional drink at Jonny’s Gold Brick or Better Luck Tomorrow to let loose as a collective.

“When you talk about (being a maker), it has to be something you’re really excited about, something you’d do even if you weren’t making a living off of it,” Jeff said. “We’re a company, we want to get larger, and grow, and do this full-time, but at the same time, we’re all artists, and we enjoy the process and the craft of this.”

All of the makers within Pretti.Cool have day jobs, Kathrine said, and supporting makers like Pretti.Cool is exactly what Forth + Nomad’s mission is all about. But when it comes to purchasing goods at local shops like Forth + Nomad versus shopping at larger retail stores, Kathrine said most consumers don’t fully understand why small-batch, handmade goods typically cost a bit more than mass-produced products.

“There’s the cost of materials – the raw goods. That’s an actual cost that we have to make back,” Kathrine said. “There’s also the time it takes to make (our goods). If we were even to pay ourselves minimum wage for the time it takes to make these things, it’d cost a lot more.”

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