April Nemeth Shares the Lessons That Shape Her Success
The world makes many assumptions about artists. Oftentimes, we may think that their creativity comes from the ether of imagination—they’re suddenly struck with inspiration and work intently until a piece is complete. Or, perhaps we believe that they engage their right brain more than their left, outsourcing their business needs. But when we make assumptions, we gloss over the compelling narratives and disparate stories artists share through their work. And as soon as I met April Nemeth, it was obvious that she had a story to tell.
As a designer and the founder of Little Korboose, a modern home goods brand, April takes on everything with intention. From ethical and sustainable sourcing to designs that promote connection, April is building community with her thoughtful approach.
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How Designer April Nemeth Stays Inspired
We recently caught up with April at her open house event hosted by The Well Lived Woman in Topanga, created by therapist Jaimi Brooks and designed by Sarah Sherman Samuel. At the gathering, April showcased her work in the space and gifted her ceramics. And just as April shared her skill at creating gorgeous tangible goods, the women in attendance witnessed April’s gift for connecting people through shared, creative experiences. Guests got to play with an abundance of florals, designing their own arrangements based off of their zodiac.
If you think that sounds like the dreamiest party ever, you’re right. It’s a testament to what is clearly April’s ethos: “Inspired living through art,” as she defines it. It’s a perspective that accounts for the true successes in life: pursuing what calls to you and forever following that spark. When I hear April speaking about it, I find trust in comfort in knowing that, no matter what comes, with that inspiration as our guidance, we’ll always find success in our work, our inspiration, and our lives.
Read on to learn how April’s family shaped her artistic outlook, how she connects with her inspiration, and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
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How did your creative path begin?
From as far back as I can remember, I have had art and creativity. Art has a way of seducing me into complete immersion unlike any other thing I experience in my life. Time does not exist and every care goes out the window. Art runs through my soul.
I was also taught to understand the value of experience and curiosity.
Can you share how your family influenced and inspired your work?
Growing up, I was surrounded by art. My grandfather was an artist and taught me life lessons through art practices. I was raised by two loving and very free spirits who reject the “normal” and who care deeply about others. They are still married after 48 years and more importantly still in love. Their influences run deep. They are entrepreneurs, go-getters and DIYers. My parent’s continually supported my growth and in the process taught us compassion and the value of community. I was also taught to understand the value of experience and curiosity. In fact, curiosity took us all over the globe to discover new places. We traveled often in search of the next new experience. I remember my mother saying “always go.”
We had conversations around feelings, dream meanings, existentialism, and the idea that travel, culture, and new experiences trumped anything material. Education, art, and self-expression were at the forefront, always. And certainly, the ever-present push to be conscious and aware of people, places, things, and ourselves.
At the time, I did not know the name for it, but what my parents were trying to teach me was to live an inspired life. Inspired Living means to live aligned with our core values, strengths, needs, and wants through our thoughts, words and actions. For me, it was never about the climb to a specific title or place. It is and will always be about living in alignment and blending passion and profession to ultimately live an inspired life. I was taught that if you do that, success will be residual.
Where is the most surprising place you find inspiration?
NATURE. I have always felt so comfortable with and close to nature. I feel the most reflected and acknowledged surrounded by the quiet and confident aliveness only found outdoors. Every time I am with it, it begs me to tell the story of the sameness it has with us as humans. I try to do that through my work.
I feel the most reflected and acknowledged surrounded by the quiet and confident aliveness only found outdoors.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I get started around 9:30 am. I value my sleep SO much, so if I feel like I need more and I don’t have a meeting first thing I will sleep more. The first thing I do when I wake up is hydrate with water. Then breakfast. I designed a high-fat, no-gluten, no-sugar meal plan that I have been on for the last decade-plus based on what my brain and body like and dislike.
Breakfast is typically organic Gluten Free Traditional Oatmeal with fresh organic bananas, blueberries, black berries, and strawberries. I start my work day over breakfast by replying to emails and checking in with the production team. Both divisions of my brand, Textiles and Ceramics, have separate production studios, each staffed with a production manager and an amazing team. The production studios are also where fulfillment (shipping) of wholesale and online retail orders from littlekorboose.com take place.
At around 1:30 pm, my body is usually begging me to move so I jump into an hour and a half of yoga and strengthening exercises. After yoga and breath work, I may squeeze in a bit of sunshine with a walk and then I will grab a quick lunch. This often consists of vegetables and quinoa drizzled with Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, Ojai Olive Oil, Himalayan sea salt and ground black pepper. I put Braggs on everything.
After lunch, if I have a new collection I am working on or new design work of any kind, I pick that up and work on it until I feel I am in a good place to stop for the day. This varies based on deadlines but I try to wrap by 5:30 pm. Then dinner! My brain tends to be the calmest at night so I will usually take more time to design after dinner as well. Weekends and slow days look a bit different with beach days, weekend trips up and down the coast, museum hopping, films at the Chinese Theatre, and exploring the city.
How do you connect with your creative flow when you’re feeling stuck or uninspired?
I check in with my mind, body, and spirit. That “stuck” feeling for me is all about a lack of coherence and harmony between the three. It’s almost like a blockage needing to be cleared and reset to create flow. I create coherence and clarity in the following ways:
Diet. For me personally, sugar, gluten, and grains are blockers and foods high in fat provide clarity. Foods rich in antioxidants like berries are also key as they have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. This way of eating gives me a clear mind and a balanced energy level throughout the day. It supplies my body with the right nutrients so I am not constantly craving more.
Movement and Rest. It is imperative for me to move my body with exercise daily. Years ago, to complement my degree in design and to balance it all out, I earned my certificate as a yoga teacher, specializing in Vinyasa yoga and guided meditation. I try to practice daily so my body is conditioned and prepared for challenging or even just uninspiring times. On the subject of sleep, nothing works properly if I don’t get enough sleep and I need a lot of it!
Connection. For me, this isn’t necessarily about who I am connecting with, just that I am staying connected to the whole. A necessity for flow. I believe we are all one big “thing.”
Play. I have been told I have a very playful sensibility so I also naturally incorporate PLAY into all I do! This could mean games, exploration, travel, etc. It enhances creativity.
How would you describe your aesthetic? Is it consistent across your personal style and work?
My aesthetic across my personal style and work vary slightly as I don’t ever wear pattern. I save that for my work. Outside of that, they are almost identical. Minimal, intentional but organic, color blocked, imperfect, drapey, with a rock and roll edge. Asymmetrical, but always balanced. I also like to incorporate a dash of vintage into my personal style and my work. It adds an element of story, life, and personality and can elevate any outfit, space or object.
For an outfit, I’ll pair a solid tie-waist boho dress with black boots and one of my grandmother’s vintage bags or a vintage leather jacket. If I am designing a space, I will pair clean modern lines and white walls with velvet goldenrod first-edition vintage seating. If I am designing a product, I will keep it minimal, stripping it down to the most authentic reflection of what is in my head, while subtly nodding to the past through shape, pattern or color.
What are your design rules to live by?
Form follows Function. For me, design is not strictly ornamental or strictly functional. It is a balance of form and function — the foundation for all of my work and my measure for “good” design. Of course, design principles such as alignment through grid systems, hierarchy, contrast of shape and size, minimalism, true materials, and negative space guide my work as well.
As a multidisciplinary designer, another rule I like to live by is that our output is a direct reflection of what is inside. Analogous to the saying, “A cluttered home is a cluttered mind.”
How does community and connection inform your art and design?
I believe that the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship to have followed by our connection to our bodies and our people. Creativity flows when these forces are present.
How has moving to a new city affected your creative process?
Now, I have full-time access to all that inspires me like nature year round and gorgeous architecture. There is no shortage of beauty on this coast. Prior to moving to the city full time, for the last 8 years, I was flying back and forth between the midwest and my spot in Ojai which I still go to as a retreat from the city. I consider Ojai “home” on the west coast. LA and Ojai could not be more opposite of one another and I LOVE that because they are both inspiring in different ways. I have never been able to choose between the city and nature and now I don’t have to. All about balance.
What advice would you share with someone who wants to make their dream career a reality, but might be too scared to go off on their own?
When we are living inspired and in alignment with our core values, we are happy. That happiness ripples like a rock skipping across a pond to every single person our energy comes in contact with. Living out our dreams does not only help the individual but us as the collective human species. On Earth, I believe becoming the truest expression of ourselves as humans is the goal and the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. No matter the path, living in alignment helps call forth that true expression and makes the world more harmonious. Life will always love and support us when we live from our hearts.
Life will always love and support us when we live from our hearts.
I will say that before making this decision it is important to know yourself and understand which types of stresses or challenges are manageable for you and which will not be sustainable to withstand over time. Unfortunately, leaving a job and working for yourself won’t solve all problems. Whether you are working for a company or working for yourself, there WILL be stress and challenges involved. Just maybe not the same types of stresses.
Take the idea of your time for example. When you work for a company, your schedule is not entirely yours but when you work for yourself, you are in control of your time. Security is another example. Working for a company can provide consistency and security while working for yourself can be inconsistent. One person might really value time while another might really value consistency. It is all about what stresses are more manageable for you.
What are some major lessons you’ve learned along the way?
What you water grows.
Many people ask the secret formula or the secret sauce to success and I answer them with a question: What is success to you? There’s really no one right way to journey through this life. I do know for me, since I was young, I had a micro focus on combining art with business to communicate and create change. I can also tell you that whatever you set your focus on WILL grow, you just have to commit and give it 100%. Abandoning things after a short time, moving from thing to thing… it won’t work. Tap in and listen to your inner knowing and have a micro focus. What you water grows.
Life is not linear.
Societal norms tell us that we go to school, get the degree, get the six-figure job, get married, have kids, buy a giant house on a cul-de-sac, buy more things, etc. Life is not a series of boxes to check off. It’s a discovery. You can do something for now and know it’s not forever. It’s okay to change paths.
Change does not = failure.
I am a huge commitment person. I believe in committing to efforts 100%. But just because you are creative doesn’t mean you can’t also be a singer or even a physicist. Labels are just that. The brain likes to compartmentalize things, put a label on them, and file them in a drawer so it understands. The truth is, humans are way more complex than that. We can do multiple things all at once, so don’t limit yourself.
Every experience is an opportunity.
Even if you don’t love what you are doing, get as much as you can out of it. Sometimes you have to put your time in. That said, if you feel stuck in a situation in which you are not learning or growing, use that as an indicator that it is time to move on.
No one owes you anything. BE HUMBLE.
This was such a good one. No one is entitled to anything here. Listen and watch more than you speak. When you walk into a room every single person there can teach you something either directly or indirectly.
Create your own “normal.“
Decide how you are willing and want to live. This is your time. How will you use it?
Learn to love the word “no.”
As a recovering perfectionist myself, this is always a tough one, but in our industry, you really have to embrace rejection. It is part of the experience. It may look super easy up here, but 5/10 times we go after something, we get told no. The trick here is to really trust that those no’s are for a reason and are actually leading you to your innermost desires.
Do not contract with fear.
Fear is such an illusion that holds you back. If you’re going after a big job or something intimidating and you let fear hold you back, the only one you are hurting is yourself.
Exploration, travel, getting out of your comfort zone… it all helps you learn more about yourself and your edges. It expands awareness and has a way of shifting perspectives. It is powerful.