Growing up in the South I was taught from an early age how to set a beautiful table. I learned from the women around me that my glass belonged on a coaster, not the table. There is great sense of pride and American tradition which is deeply rooted in my line. I knew at an early age that I wanted to create and design. I studied at the Rhodes College in Memphis and the University of Memphis completing a BFA focusing on textile and weaving. I had planned on becoming an art teacher but fate and friends took me on a path that moved me across the country where I become immersed in fashion.
The Call of the Big Apple
In New York City during the 80’s I was immersed in the vivid club scene culture, the fast pace of the city, and the array of opportunities. The metropolitan costume museum opened up opportunities to study great fashion minds like Elsa Schiaparelli and Chanel; I made the brave jump to start a fashion accessories line. With an ever-changing collection of hats, hair accessories, handbags, and scarves sold in stores worldwide, it was a privilege to collaborate with such names as Cynthia Rowley and Nicole Miller, and to be able to add the perfect chapeau to their runway shows!
Paul, my husband and business partner, and I owned a 10,000-square foot studio and workshop in the heart of New York City’s garment district. I was ecstatic for a chance to work with the most talented pattern makers and seamstresses that made my sketches come to life in inventive shapes and colors. It is great to reflect on how much we accomplished – I strove for each piece to be an eclectic mix of color, texture, and layering, a practice I still adhere to today.
A Sharp Turn
Exciting as it was, the fashion world presented a major trial for me. Seasonal trends dominated the industry requiring the design and production of five collections per year. I felt like I was losing my ability to creatively express myself. The inspiration I so needed came from Martha Stewart. At that time, she was uncovering traditional crafts and rediscovering techniques for hand made products.
Serendipitously, Henry Bendel, a valued customer familiar with my sewn hat designs in their boutique, approached me to create placemats. I experimented, created, and developed an easy-care braid that had the look of straw. This material is now known as my signature braided placemat. Originating on my hat machines, this item took off like a comet and Deborah Rhodes Table Top was born!
Arriving At Home
I set out on a journey to fill the void in home entertaining. Just like my fashion accessories, the products had to be fun and creative. I traveled the world and explored the crafts of The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, India and Haiti to find artisans and unique pieces. I’m always on the lookout for new materials, trends, and products. In fact, my linens were discovered while searching for something altogether different – while on a trip to Lithuania to adopt our two daughters.
My career has been the journey of a lifetime. And it finally has everything that one needs to make a great table setting – placemats, linens, and napkin rings. Now that I have finally arrived at home, I would like to take my customers on a journey of discovering new ways to add a touch of excitement and creativity to their table. Every season I have been carried by my dream to bring new, innovative, unique, and inspirational ideas to table decor hoping that it would help to contribute to unforgettable events or cozy family times at home. Be it at the mountain lodge, ocean front bungalow, the lawn of your backyard, or an exquisite dining room.
I strive to design practical luxuries that stand the test of time and tell a story. I am thrilled to know that my ideas inspire event planners, photographers, and a myriad of hosts in their own homes. With hundreds of colors, patterns, and textures to choose from, each customer can be as authentic or unique as they please.
The greatest applause comes when I see someone bringing my creations into their home.