The sunset hues of India. Boldly painted homes of Guatemala. Lantana plants blossoming in her front yard. All of these are wellsprings of creativity for Shay Spaniola, who transforms the sights of her travels into colorful patterns adorning an ever-growing collection of pillows, shower curtains, and zip pouches sold under the umbrella of bunglo.
The whole business started, fittingly, while Spaniola was visiting an ashram in Rishikesh, India. “A taxi driver pointed out a 'bungalow' on a nearby river bank. I realized at that moment the word 'bungalow' has so many different meanings. In Brazil, a bungalow is a beach house; in Chicago it's a city dwelling; in India — a home by a river. The idea of bunglo is to bring inspiration from around the globe into one's home. I created my own version of 'bungalow' to reflect a more modern interpretation of the word." In just a few short years, Shay has become the globe-trotting darling of the design world. Read on to see how she pulls it off with style, making her Instagram feed so irresistible.
LIGHTNESS OF BEING
“Watercolor became the focus of bunglo because that’s what I launched with, but up until two months before I was doing mostly oil paintings. We’ve grown very quickly! Two years ago I was sewing every single product on my kitchen table.” Her products can now be found in nearly 300 boutiques and department stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Anthropologie and Neiman Marcus, and bunglo’s rapidly expanding into new territory. “On June 1, we are launching a line of leggings and wallpaper. Then we have a fine art collection debuting with Anthropologie in August.” The art will consist of three of her photographs, with a more expanded collection including artwork available at bunglo.co. By fall, bunglo will also debut a new line of rugs and ceramics, and both will qualify as fair trade.
“We have someone that works for bunglo in India that manages the different factories we work with. He makes sure that the men and women work. They live in homes and come into work. In most factories people work and live in the same place. In our factory they offer things like yoga and meal plans and they work normal hours and have weekends off. It’s really fair conditions. Before bunglo, I worked as a photographer documenting fair trade and conditions around the world. I originally started working for Students of the World then I started shooting videos for Clinton Global Initiative where I went to different countries around the world.”
PORTRAIT OF A LADY
“There have been a lot of challenges,” explains Shay. “Now it’s to the place where I’m doing mostly what I want to do — which is designing. I have virtual assistants that help. I used to have a big team of ten employees. I had to let everyone go and now I have virtual assistants. I have someone doing marketing in Berkeley. I just hired someone to do graphic design in Chicago, and I have people processing orders in Dallas. It allows me to be traveling more because I’m seeing more things for my designs.”
ON THE ROAD
“This summer, we are moving to Asheville, North Carolina. My fiancé and I really want to live somewhere we can live off the land and build a place that is sustainable. He used to work in the solar industry so he knows how to do these things. We’re probably going to rent for a year and find some land and then build. I originally moved to Austin because there are a lot of creative people here. The older I get, the more I want to live in the mountains and a lot of really cool people are moving there and we want to surround ourselves with it. That’s how I live my life, I go with the flow.”