Welcome back to our Creating Space series! Our second installment take us to the West Coast to chat with Karie Higgins, a brand director, native New Zealander, and owner of the enviable River Cabaan. Karie has a grounded, real and a 100% relatable take on how to create a meaningful space.
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your “story” and what do you do for a living?
I’m a New Zealander who landed in Portland 6 years ago by way of New York (Been in the states about 10 years). I work remotely for my NYC based company Bing Bang Jewelry where I’m the Brand Director.
My husband and I made the move to Portland when he was offered a job at Nike. We loved every minute of living in NYC but Portland has been an amazing place for us to land and start our little family. This city’s super easy proximity to nature coupled with the small but bustling food and coffee scene reminds us a lot of our NZ roots.
We knew we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful Oregon surroundings and had our sights set on getting a little cabin we could lovingly fix up and retreat to for the weekends. We found the River Cabaan after about 2 years solidly hunting and it was literally love at first sight! Building it as both a business and second home for our family has been an incredibly rewarding labor of love.
At Territory, we use the term “creating space” to mean both the creation of a beautiful physical space but also a space that allows us to relax and be present. What are some of your favorite pieces to create that home sanctuary?
I think even the smallest rituals that bring you daily joy in the home can be elevated to something meaningful through good design, good materials and good craft. I love finding designs that get better over time, will outlast ikea and have an origin story or maker you connect to - this injects so much more soul and individuality into a space. Small things like drinking your coffee out of a beautiful mug that feels good in your hands (and doesn’t need to be tucked away in the back of your cupboard). Hanging gorgeous towels in your bathroom, and sinking into good quality linen at the end of a long day are all ways I like to create a simple little home sanctuary.
Our Mixta and Maku baskets at River Cabaan
Last year was a crazy yet transformative year. What are some of the lessons you gained from that time and how are you applying it to your life now?
I still feel exhausted just thinking about 2020! But of course the silver lining was being able to spend a ton more time with my little family, and realizing how much of our lives were dictated by commutes, travel, appointments, the list goes on. When you strip all that away you understand how lucky you are to have each other, good health, and that all those things which weren’t a priority probably shouldn’t have occupied as much space in your life and brain as they did.
What are some of your most important self-care routines/rituals you engage in?
I wish I could say I was one of those people that had non-negotiable beauty routines, or long baths or anything remotely luxurious in that realm. Sadly that's not really my bag! BUT a new-ish ritual I treasure since the early quaratntine days, as simple as it sounds...is my morning walk.
I used to roll out of bed, rush to do the kid thing then pivot straight into work somewhat flustered. Now I am pretty religious about taking a 30 minute walk with my coffee each morning before I start work. It wakes up all the senses and helps me focus and plan my day. I listen to inspirational/educational podcasts or audiobooks and feel super alert and motivated by the time I sit down at my computer. It was born of necessity when I had zero alone time or exercise during the early pandemic days but now I’m hooked on just how it sets me up for the day. It’s as close as I get to meditation!
Territory pottery pieces on the table and our large Maku storage basket.
How do you stay grounded when things get stressful?
I’d be lying if I said I’d found a rock solid answer for this, I can often let stress from work and life consume me more than i’d like, but It’s something I have been working on as I’ve gotten older.
Having a kid has forced me to be more present and let small things go because time has a different meaning and cadence now. So I’d say - taking a break, getting outside and mixing up my routine are the best methods I’ve found. I’d love to be better at meditation or yoga but I’m woefully inconsistent at those so I just keep it simple! If all else fails, take a break and recalibrate. (Escapes to nature are also a must! You gotta mix up your environment when things get stale).
What are three things you can’t live without?
Flat whites, marmite (for my toast - remember I’m from NZ!), and a stiff cocktail - negroni preferably.
Who is someone that inspires you? Why?
I tried to narrow it to one and my head just about exploded! Truthfully I’m lucky to be surrounded by crazy talented creatives in my life both in work and personally - but I’ll give you a quick list of artists/designers I’m crushing on this minute ;)
Sculptors: Simone Bodmer Turner + Portland native Vince Skelly.
Furniture Studio: Estudio Persona, Artists: Bella Mcgoldrick and another Portland Native Maja Dlugolecki (we have a piece in our home that I couldn’t love more).
At Territory, we are always balancing our relationship to material goods with consciousness. What are some buying practices you engage in to make sure your consumption habits are balanced and sustainable?
I love to buy vintage and second hand where possible, I also don’t believe in buying loads of cheap or suuuper trendy things that end up breaking and in populating landfills. We try to shop with longevity in mind and sometimes that comes at a slightly higher price point but in the long run, quality goods can last you a lifetime.
Thank you Karie! We loved hearing from you!