Deepali Kalia began her career in India over twenty years ago. “I was working with various fashion and home brands, creating product lines and textile designs, when I decided to move forward with an arranged marriage,” she recalls. “My husband and I then moved to the US.” She quickly longed for the fast-paced work environment she’d left back in India, especially working with textiles and creating products. “I reached out to my textile contacts in India in the hopes of designing textiles again- that was the start of Filling Spaces.” Today, the company is a top resource for pillows, home accessories, and fabrics. Deepali tells us more:
Tell us about the history of your company. How did you get started?
To get everything off the ground, I visited with my friends in India, designed some textiles, and approached the interior design community in Portland, Oregon to introduce them to my fabric designs.
After working with acquaintances in India for a few years, I realized that there were so many limitations to what I could do without being there myself. I approached my younger sister Nanu, who lives in India, and brought her onboard as my business partner. Now we’re able to design and manufacture products as we desire. Plus, this way we have more control over the quality of our products and can hire our artisans using fair labor practices in India. We wanted to create our designs and have exclusive products made ethically.
We’d love to know a bit about the creative process behind the textiles. How do you select what patterns or colors to include, or do you leave it up to the artisans you work with?
My creative process is definitely “best of both worlds.” India is full of textures, it’s an absolute feast for senses and spirit. After living in the US for 16 years, it has influenced me in so many ways especially with my love for travel and exploring other regions and cultures; all that plays an important part when I am doodling my ideas. It all starts with a simple sketch, then working on pattern repeat and then planning the right fabric for the design, and finally collaborating printing techniques with the artisans when printing the textile. I try to stay on trend with color choices yet stay true to our story.
You’re known for your pillows, but also have a great selection of quilts and other home accessories. Do you have any pieces you love?
That is a tough choice! I love our new hand made block art prints we just introduced, they are exclusive Filling Spaces designs, and each piece is unique and printed on handmade recycled paper.
This is a family business. Have there been any challenges working together?
Yes! There are challenges when working with your family members like “the work-life balance,” you definitely take your family members for granted, your expectations from family are always more, you set your standards high… I will call her in the middle of the night if needed; it’s work 24/7, especially when we were starting up our business. Working with a family member, especially my sister, was the best decision I made. We have been through all the ups and downs together, and we see the best and worst of each other. We understand each other: I am the design and marketing part of the company, she is the manufacturing side, so like I said before, bringing the best of both worlds.
See some of our favorite Filling Spaces pieces in the slideshow.