Kate and Glori
I met Kate Parfet and Glori Reantaso—co-founders of holland studio la for a chat Tuesday afternoon at their Silver Lake office. The duo was just returning from a morning at MOCA Grand and bubbling with creative energy and inspiration. Kate put a record on while Glori laughed about how she met Christy and Aras (in a pool in Mexico!). The conversation quickly turned to art, creativity, social media, music, and so much more, starting at the very beginning with how the two of them met, and ending with some of the art that’s inspiring them right now.
It feels like you two have known each other forever. How did you first meet?
Kate: So the polite answer is that we met at a working dinner but where we really connected was after a bottle of wine in the East Village.
That’s a great way to connect with someone!
Kate: Yeah! We were both in town for work. The Airbnb Glori was staying in had a gas leak so she asked to stay with me. We stayed up until three in the morning talking about everything from our childhoods to the agency we wanted to create. An ambitious non-romantic first date if you will.
Glori: I guess there was a silver lining to that gas leak, huh!
holland studio la is described on your website as an independent creative studio. How would you elaborate on what you do there?
Kate: Our approach is pretty individualized depending on client need. We help brands navigate how they want to tell their story. Today we’re introducing stylists to TOMS’ new creative director. Tomorrow we’re storyboarding a video concept for a menswear brand we’re dying to work with.
Glori: Right now we’re working with a lot of fashion clients but would love to expand to tech; we’re headed up to San Francisco next month to meet with Airbnb and some other cool start-ups.
You’re both based out of Los Angeles right now; do you see yourself in LA forever or…?
Glori: Yes, LA will always be home base, but our plan is to take holland global.
Kate: We’re looking at spending some substantial time in Paris this spring. We spent a little under a month there in the fall and almost didn’t come back.
Would you be working with clients in Paris?
Glori: Of course, but also maintaining our US clients as well.
Kate: That’s when we’re really thankful for the Internet, and technology.
That actually leads perfectly into my next question, which is all about the Internet and technology and social media and how you personally interact with all of that.
Kate: I think everything is instinct and feeling for me; I know Instagram is supposed to be immediate by design but I try to pause long enough to ask “Is this really what I want to share about me?”
I recently started sharing my poetry and social media became fun again. Like any good relationship, it’s fun in the beginning so maybe check back in with me on that. [laughs]
Kate: It’s nice to explore sharing these different sides of ourselves but at the same time we don’t have to give everything away. I talk to 10-year-olds who think we’re all crazy for exposing so much online. I wonder if my future children will even have social media.
Glori: I think mystery is seldom these days and we should preserve some parts of ourselves for meaningful real life connections. I have a light-hearted relationship with social media. Honestly I’m on Instagram for interior design porn and to share some recent photo work.
Kate you mentioned poetry; I know you’ve recently published a book of poetry with the publisher Autre called Mirror Domme. Was this book years in the making or a more recent development?
Kate: I’ve been writing short stories since first grade. I went to college for creative writing. I had some big life things happen in the last year or two where poetry transitioned from a hobby to more of a necessity.
Poetry has experienced a resurgence lately, especially with this trend of putting poetry on Instagram; what do you think about that?
Kate: It is nice to read online but there’s something about an in-person reading that is… you know, irreplaceable—I don’t know if you’ve had experience with that?
Absolutely. Reading is so often such a private thing, so shifting that to a public space can allow you to engage with it in a completely different way.
Kate: I agree. We’re hoping to organize some readings at a new bookstore opening in my neighborhood. You should come or come read!
It sounds like you both have so many different things that you do—photography, interior design, poetry, modeling—on any given day, both in your personal work and in your work at holland, how do you approach what you’re going to focus on creatively?
Glori: Well I’m reading this book on interviews with Marcel Duchamp and he only worked for two hours a day [laughs]. Still figuring out his methodology, but until then our agency comes first, then creative work happens naturally without any pressure. For example, I’m working on a portrait series of Asian women challenging the status quo. I’ve shot my inspiring poet and photographer friend so far. It may take six months to five years but quality is more important than a timeline.
Kate: And I think with our clients, one of the reasons we’re successful is that we don’t have to be micromanaged. We balance client work with personal creative projects without burning out.
What about your morning routines? How do you set yourself up for a day of creativity?
Glori: I get up, brew tea with lemon and apple cider vinegar, as does everyone in LA [laughs], journal three pages, read something tangible before locking my eyes on a screen, get the blood flowing with hot yoga or a short hike. That’s my ideal morning but work takes precedent so I’m flexible on pushing things later in the day.
Kate: I try to log out of Instagram before I go to bed, so I don’t dive head first into the matrix before I’m fully alert to the world. Sometimes we work from home so I like to walk to a coffee shop to be around people. If I stay inside all day, I’m not as productive.
That sort of reminds me of how to tell whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, like where do you draw your energy from, so would you say—you’re drawing your energy from that, from being out in the world?
Kate: Yes. It’s what I miss most about New York. I love the subway for that reason.
Glori: Oh I’m an extroverted introvert, so naturally I would rather be at home reading in my sun room or watching a film. I live on Sunset in Silver Lake and the city’s energy seeps through my walls. I need that too. It’s comforting that I have my haven but can easily step outside into the chaos.
It can be really hard to find that balance, especially when you do have the opportunity to work from home a lot.
Glori: Totally, but we’re always interacting with clients or meeting new prospects daily.
What kind of music are you two listening to lately? What’s the last thing you put on? [There’s music playing on Glori’s record player- Yusef Lateef. We all take a pause to listen to it.]
Glori: It’s an eclectic rotation. Outstanding by The Gap Band. We all need a little soul in our lives.
Kate: It’s always changing. I was going to try and impress you but instead I’ll tell you that today in the grocery store I heard Crash by Dave Mathews Band and almost cried.
Do you think that music plays an integral part in any of your creative processes?
Glori: Definitely. I just directed a Super 8 film with footage in LA to Paris and Holland. We used a Dorothy Ashby song that has a dreamy harp melody. She’s such a muse; a strong black female jazz harpist in a male dominated industry.
Kate: I recently tried driving without music and I realized—I mean I always have something on —that if you turn your radio off and just drive… the silence. It’s so beautiful and uncomfortable. I’m intrigued by how much of my life is lived accompanied by noise.
What are you reading right now?
Kate: I’m reading Omnibus, which is a collection of short stories by Roald Dahl; it’s his adult short stories.
Glori: He’s a great character himself in real life — 6’6” fighter pilot and later a spy before becoming known as an iconic writer.
I love his short stories. Well, since we’ve been talking so much about art and creativity and all of that, I have one last question for you. What do you think is the—it could be anything, it could be a painting, it could be a book, it could be a poem—the one piece of art that has personally affected you the most?
Kate: That’s such a good question.
Glori: Yeah, there are so many!
It’s my favorite question to ask people.
Kate: Can we ask you it?
Yeah! Actually my answer’s been the same for seven years now, it’s a book, the Letters of Vincent Van Gogh.
He’s a great painter, and I love his paintings, but his writing is just transformative.
Kate: How am I going to narrow? Man and Superman, the play by George Bernard Shaw or the Broadcast album Tender Buttons.
Both great answers.
Glori: This is tough! Casa Luis Barragán. His architecture and interior design embraced a suitability of purpose, efficiency of function, and of course beauty. I can’t wait to see his other work. Planning another trip to Mexico City soon.