Spotlight: Kristie Stewart of LillieKat Rugs

Rug curator Kristie Stewart talks family and friends, her exciting new storefront at Pepper Place, and the power of taking risks.

Photos by Jett Walker

From Instagram to Storefront
Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have taken the risk of opening a shop. I started on Instagram because I saw other people selling art and antiques. I thought it would be an easy way to have a “store” without having the overhead of a physical space. It worked beautifully for two years, but my Instagram exploded this past year. I ship rugs all over the United States yet I was lacking the space to show rugs to local clients. It just seemed like the next step. I truly believe that to be successful as a business 2020, you need to have all three mediums—a website, a strong social media presence, and a brick-and-mortar store.

From Lawyer to Design
My real love for interiors started when I was in law school in Jackson, Mississippi, and clerking with a local law firm. On weekends, I would often house-sit for one of the partners and his wife. I remember being amazed at their home. The interiors, the art, and the rugs—it was all perfect. I spent lots of time studying how they had mixed antiques and modern pieces. I enjoyed doing that a million times more than working at the law firm!

The Path to Rugs
My initial goal was to buy a few rugs for our new house, but it was a struggle to find quality, one-of-a-kind rugs that I could afford. Eventually, I connected with an amazing rug source through a friend, and I found a couple of great rugs that fit my budget. A few weeks later, it hit me that others were likely in the same predicament when shopping for rugs. My business started with me handpicking five rugs for resale, and it just snowballed from there. I love digging through hundreds of rugs to find the perfect ones for my clients. 

- Sponsors -

Around Town
Birmingham is lucky to have so many great designers and shops! I can’t even begin to list all the local designers that I stalk on Instagram. For interiors, accessories, and art, I love Patina, Circa Interiors & Antiques, Maison by Pam Evans, Details by Liz Hand Woods, Defining Home, and Alkmy, just to name a few. And my storefront at Pepper Place is neighbors with Design Supply, Richard Tubbs, FarmStand, Yellow Hammer Creative, and Billy Reid! For all of my personal necessities, I shop Tulipano, Stella Blu, Milla, Etc., and Beaute Therapie. The majority of these local businesses are owned and run by some of my favorite females!

Best Advice
I was a lawyer for 15 years and felt like because I had earned a law degree, I had to use it in some capacity. To completely take a left turn at the age of 44 was terrifying. Thank goodness I have a husband, two daughters, parents, and friends who encouraged me to keep moving forward. I like that we live in a time where anyone can have a second chapter in life. It’s about growing, changing, and improving. I’ve enjoyed showing my girls that you can shift gears and reinvent yourself at any age.

LillieKat Rugs 2821 2nd Avenue, South, Suite A1, Birmingham, AL 35233
205.535.3090 • • IG: @lilliekatrugs • FB: LillieKat Rugs
Call for appointment

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!