Kate McMahon

Kate McMahon (b. 1962) was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA. From childhood, she was interested in design and the creation of garments and knitwear — living in New York but returning to Southern California in the late 1980s to develop her own line and open a retail store, Kate, which she operated in Montecito for ten years. Since then she has opened a second store focusing on knits and founded her own small line of womenswear. She is the mother of two grown children and lives in the mountains outside Santa Barbara.

website / Instagram

01    NOSTALGIA: What was felt more deeply because it took you back to your past?

My 23-year-old daughter started a business this month. I see her enthusiasm and unstoppable nature, and I'm reminded of my own beginnings when I launched my hand knit sweater company in 1987. Looking back I see all the twists and turns, ups and downs, expansions and contractions, and the perseverance it takes to create and sustain a life as an entrepeneur. It's a wild ride, but the freedom is worth it.

02    DETAIL: James Salter wrote: “Life is weather, life is meals.” Describe a meaningful moment involving each in the last month.

Everyday I'm reminded that "life is weather, life is meals," literally when I take my morning coffee and sit on the stone bench under the olive tree looking out past the ocean to the uninhabited Channel Islands in the distance. It is chilly and I'm bundled up. And by noon when I take my lunch to this very spot the sun is warm and glaring, and I get my dose of vitamin D for the day. In the evening wrapped in a blanket on this bench, I witness the sunset and it's rainbow effect on the winter sky. It is more dramatic at this time of year in Santa Barbara. These rituals are a nice way to feel the flow of the day while being mindful of a meal.

03    ADJUST: What are you amid that is almost (but not quite) right? A draft, a relationship, an injury…what needs refinement and attention?

At 56 I'm examining and adjusting most areas of my life. But the two areas most wanting attention now are: my desire to be in a committed relationship, and a deep urge to expand creatively. Both it seems are connected to stepping out of fear and into uncertainty and a new way of being. The patience part feels the most sticky. Knowing that all is happening in divine time, and that the process cannot be hurried. I thought I had it all figured out, through years of experience and life, but it feels new again. Maybe because i'm being more thoughtful, and i understand what it takes. I'm feeling hopeful and open, so that is encouraging.

04    INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?

Lately, I've been indulging in daydreaming, silence, and napping. This so called "indulging" has become part of my daily practice and is now foundational for my sense of well being.

05    SELF-INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?

I indulge in anything that creates radiance inside and out. A massage, a propolis tincture, a superfood harvested sustainably from an exotic land, organic food from the local farmers market, a sublingual B12 vitamin, a yoga workshop. And I have a weakness for treasure hunting and collecting vintage textiles.

06    MINOR SECRETS: Describe something you did in private.(Perhaps not a "secret," but maybe something that never occurred to you to share…)

This would be my fixation with my hair. I find myself trimming and manicuring my hair. Because it is super short it can easily go wacky and stick out in odd spots. I have become identified with the style of it, and think that if i could just get it "right" then I would feel better about myself. When I find myself focusing on my hair this way I know I'm out of balance and need to adjust my thoughts.

07    PARE BACK: Did you simplify something?

I live and work in an open studio where everything is exposed. On a daily basis I de-clutter and remove the unnecessary. Otherwise my space feels messy and unloved. This goes for my personal style too. I like uniforms...jeans, shirts, and my cozy handknit sweaters. I'm not into bras or anything that binds. I'm definitely a less is more person.

08    CULTURE LIST: What was read, watched, seen, listened to? And consider the ratio between the mediums.

Books: "Circe" by Madeline Miller, "A Gentleman In Moscow" by Amor Tolles, "Taking the Leap" by Pema Chodron
Movies: Roma, Green Book, A Star is Born
Podcasts: On Being with Krista Tippet, The Rich Roll Podcast, The Good Life Podcast, Under my Skin with Russell Brand
Shows: Homecoming, The Night Manager, Salt,Fat,Acid,Heat, Wanderlust

Always thirsty for inspiration, knowledge, wisdom, spiritual growth, and understanding new perspectives.


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Kate in 1987, the year she started her knitwear business in Montecito

Kate in 1987, the year she started her knitwear business in Montecito

Winter swell, via Kate’s Instagram

Winter swell, via Kate’s Instagram

Currently reading

Currently reading