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Episode 520.1: Square Feathers

Ep 520.1 Square Feathers

People are often impressed by the name of Ron McIntyre’s business: Square Feathers. The company manufacturers furniture, art and home accessories but is best known for its bright, bold and bodacious pillows.

And, like many creative ideas, the business’ name came naturally to McIntyre.

“Pillows are square,” he says using his index fingers to draw an imaginary square, “and full of feathers.”

Headquartered at a South Austin design studio, Square Feathers is in its seventh year of creating decorative pillows. It currently offers 397 different pillows, ranging from 12-by-24-inch crocodile-style pieces that are $213 to the 26-inch-square Poppy Floral pillow that sells for $337. All pillows are designed, hand-cut, assembled and sewn in the United States and can be customized to fit a client’s needs.

Interior designer Heather Blue Harkovich, of Heather Scott Home and Design, says McIntyre’s unique style first attracted her to his pillows.

“There are a lot of companies out there making pillows from fabrics or designs you see all the time. Ron’s designs were different, creative and stood out,” she says. “Being able to call a nationally known company and tell them I have a specific project with a specific need [such as color scheme or sizing] and have them be quick and responsive is a great asset for a business.”

Square Feathers’ journey to becoming a company respected by the design community has been a long one. While living in the Bay Area and working in California’s tech industry, McIntyre and his wife, Rebecca, developed an interior decorating hobby through buying and selling homes—some fully furnished. In 2006 the couple moved to Austin, and McIntyre began “dabbling in some artwork,” but found it difficult and expensive to ship.

Turning his creativity to pillows, McIntyre walked into a Jo-Ann Fabric store and found an employee willing to sew his first design. Just like that, the first Square Feathers pillow was complete.

McIntyre drove his pillows around Austin, Houston and Dallas, selling them out of his car. At the time the pillows were just a way to keep busy, and he says he wasn’t in it for the money. Then, orders began pouring in, and after three years sewing in his garage, McIntyre moved the operation into a studio in 2011. (Rebecca runs Square Feathers’ business operations and finances.)

Austin, McIntyre says, is the perfect home for the company.

“We’ve moved a lot … and something just felt right when we landed here. Everything was easy,“ he says. “I couldn’t have started this anywhere else.”

With sales growing 400 percent year-over-year, according to McIntyre, he now has a sales representative in every state. Square Feathers’ catalog has expanded to include chairs, ottomans, benches, art and wallpaper, among other things.

“I’m trying to create the whole lifestyle,” McIntyre says.

His inspiration derives from time spent living in Europe and traveling through Asia. Every six months McIntyre empties his four showrooms and debuts fresh collections—each with themes pulled from his worldwide adventures. His newest collection, which debuted in May at a home furnishings market in Atlanta, introduced a hanging, faux-fur light fixture that retails for $337 and up.

“People went berserk about it, because it’s so fun,” McIntyre says.

Check out Ron’s Website here

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