Design Crush: Nancy Mims

When I was little my Mom would peek her head into my room after bedtime to make sure I was asleep. Often, I wasn’t. She would say, “Close your eyes and go to sleep.” So in effort to obey, I would amuse myself with my eyes closed. I would press the heels of my hands against my eyes for few seconds, then let go. It’s like a kaleidoscope behind your eyelids! I’m sure it’s excellent for your eyeballs, too. Optometrist recommended.

While I’ve outgrown that trick (though I’m tempted to pause right now and try it again), I still often drift off to sleep envisioning patterns. My favorite was an umbrella that popped into mind once. Wish I remembered what it looked like.

All that to say, I went to Nancy Mims’ house!!!

Mod Green Marvelous

Nancy is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Mod Green Pod… the hippest line of organic fabric and wallpaper out there. I’d seen Nancy’s work in some of my favorite magazines (Dwell, Domino, Cottage Living) and on some of my favorite websites (Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge, Craftzine). I had no idea she was from Austin until I bumped into her at a party!

I had the privilege of seeing her home and studio (I invited myself). The tour did not disappoint.

Nancy’s style is funky. Quirky. She is funky. Quirky. And while I literally felt like a kid at an amusement park taking in all the wonder of her home, it’s what I took away that I’m even more excited about. I don’t mean I took anything (though I could list right now what I would’ve liked to stuff in my pockets… and my bag… and my car). Nancy has this fantastically fresh perspective on things the rest of us look past.

Easy Cheese

Case in point:

“I find graffiti to be really beautiful. I especially love it when spray paint artists spray paint messages that aren’t very nice, they aren’t very polite, but they use really beautiful script for them.  I find that really charming. Because I think it’s funny they’re sort of  relaying this mean message, but they’re doing it in this really polite, formal way. I find that really funny.”

And I wouldn’t put it past her, so I had to ask.

“I’ve definitely done my share of graffiti,” she said. “I’ve never used spray paint. But I actually drew an entire 7-foot tall can of easy cheese — the spray on cheese — on a dorm room wall [in pencil].”

Regarding the Disregarded

Perhaps the thing that most inspired me about Nancy is that every day, she quite literally exercises her wonder and amazement at the overlooked among us. She goes for a stroll and photographs things that catch her eye. (Here’s her flickr stream … I can’t believe what she captures with an iPhone!) Can you imagine? Finding something that inspires you and doing it every single day? I bet that’s a powerful weapon against the grumps. And life’s curveballs. And maybe last night’s ice cream.

Many of the great knick-knacks and decor in Nancy’s home are from junk shops she just ducked into, and, of course, got for pennies. Which makes me love her even more.

“I think that’s a good metaphor for life, too — to go out in search of the unknown. And  be open to things you would’ve never guessed would happen.”

“Keep your eyes open,” I say.

“Exactly. And that happens a lot when I doodle, too. Whenever I set out to do a specific design, it doesn’t really happen for me. I have to sort of let go and see what else emerges.”

100% Conscientious Cotton

And though pretty designs are plenty for me, Mod Green Pod is about more than that.

“I’m proud of the designs. But I’m most proud of the fact that it’s organic cotton.”

Something textile giant Robert Kaufman likes too — the company just released a new organic craft collection by Nancy called, appropriately, “Free to Grow.”

Which, luckily for the rest of us, I do believe she is.

Music by Hot Club Sandwich. Buy at iTunes Music Store

Share this post

Share on Facebook Tweet this! Bookmark at Delicious Dig this! Stumble this! Share on Friendfeed Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit
Posted in Decorate, Video Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. How cute is this! I loved getting a glimpse of some of Nancy’s fabrics and am amazed by her creative mind. I love the butterfly room!
    And it’s a good thing I never caught you smushing your eyeballs.

  2. Alissa says:

    Love it! Wow, I have no words beyond that. Maybe I’ll have to come back later when I have words. Oh wait, I just found some: as though I need another excuse to buy pretty fabric!!!

  3. Kristina W says:

    That was the nicest story for Johnee and I to watch this morning before school. Johnee was particularly enamored by the interesting random items she collects, and had no problem pointing out to me why I as her Mom, should not throw all those things she has collected out. Now I know why Johnee gets lost in fabric stores. It’s the energy from the colors and Nancy sure has tapped into that and then some. Thanks for sharing her story. Amy I always feel like I have unlocked a treasure box with your webisodes! Plus it makes me feel like your NOT so far away. 🙂

  4. emily says:

    ooooh, i want her house! or maybe just to become her best friend and get free fabric and wallpaper. cute video!

  5. Natalie Zaunbrecher says:

    Wowee!!! I never knew about Nancy Mims…BUT I LIKE HER! I can’t believe you went to her house. Way to be bold Amy.

  6. Thanks for sharing this! Nancy is so refreshingly genuine, accessible and funny! Her pioneering work in organics is in inspiration to those of us (me included) who are self-producing our designs on organics. We share some weird similarities (drawing on dorm room property, photographing beautiful minutia, sketching scrolls and other shapes ad infinitum, collecting oddities…) so it makes me wonder what all the other organic designer/producers out there are like! 🙂 Keep up the great work, Nancy!!! The world needs you.