Meet the Member: Kristen Steen of Kristen Leigh Studio

Guided by the belief that small businesses are the cornerstones of our communities, The Scout Guide Houston connects readers with the entrepreneurs, makers, movers, and shakers that make Houston a vibrant place to live, work, and visit. Our most recent Guide, Volume 6, serves as an introduction to a handful of Houston’s many small business owners. This series, Meet the Members, is both a continuation of that introduction and an opportunity to deepen your connection with these entrepreneurs. Follow along as we chat with Volume 6 and share their stories, inspiration, and motivation. Up next? Kristen Steen, Houston-based artist and surface pattern designer behind Kristen Leigh Studio

The self-taught watercolorist is known for a classic yet playful style infused with fresh color palettes. Her designs translate from custom illustrations to textiles to apparel seamlessly, offering a dose of joy to the beholder, no matter the medium. 

The Scout Guide Houston: Your business is Houston-based. How long have you called Houston home?
Kristen Steen: My whole life! I’m a born and raised Houstonian.

TSG Houston: What inspired you to take the entrepreneurial leap?
KS: Before textile design, I spent five years as a calligrapher and wedding stationer. Watercolor was a source of renewed inspiration. After ample encouragement from friends and family, I took the next entrepreneurial leap. The answer is always no unless you try. I’ve never looked back!

TSG Houston: Our readers know that you’re a fabulously talented artist. What might our readers not know about you or your business?
KS: Prior to Kristen Leigh Studio, I was an elementary teacher for 6 years! I left teaching to raise my children and then pivoted to textile and pattern design.

TSG Houston: What is the best part of your work as a textile designer?
KS: Seeing my pieces in the places people make their memories, home. It’s an honor.

TSG Houston: Entrepreneurship, though deeply rewarding, is difficult. What motivates you?
KS: My work is driven by the hope that she can bring a little light into every day.

TSG Houston: Where do you find inspiration for your beautiful designs?
KS: My little ones! I love getting outside to play with them and experience joyful curiosity.

TSG Houston: Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
KS: Be yourself! Everyone else is already taken.

TSG Houston: What about advice for balancing work with life?
KS: Be intentional with your time. I devote the time my kids are at school to work, but once they come home I shut off work (as much as I can) and give them my full attention.

TSG Houston: When you’re not doodling or designing, how do you spend your time?
KS: I love early mornings with a big cup of coffee, taking long runs, and spending time with my family.

TSG Houston: What part of town can we find you spending most of your time in? Do you have any favorite neighborhoods?
KS: You can find me in West University and Rice Village! I love the small-town feel and walkability!

TSG Houston: What’s the best – or at least your favorite – restaurant around town?
KS: It’s hard to narrow down! Uchi, Le Colonial, El Tiempo, Prego, and Tiny’s No.5 are all favorites of mine!

TSG Houston: Aside from our ample food options, what’s the best part about living in Houston?
KS: The people. Everyone is so friendly and generous.

We look forward to sharing more of Kristen Steen’s story with you over the next year, so keep an eye on @tsghouston to follow along. Don’t forget to follow along with @kristenleighstudio for gorgeous designs, ample inspiration, and an exciting collaboration or two. Shop her textiles online here.