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Southwest Flair

Vintage and Navajo motifs get a contemporary spin courtesy of retailer Ian Kennedy, who draws inspiration from an unlikely source.

September 2013

Ian Kennedy still takes style cues from his grandparents—which is understandable, in his case: They’re the namesakes of his Denver-based online boutique, Ruby + George. Kennedy, now 32, grew up helping the pair at their antique shop (Hudson Mercantile) north of Denver on the weekends. “They had this kind of romantic, Southwest vibe,” Kennedy says. “They were always wrapped in Pendleton coats. [My grandpa] loved to spend the grocery money on cowboy hats.”

Having inherited their affinity for all things Southwest and Native American, Kennedy left corporate life behind in 2012 to continue the retail tradition. Although he’s considering a brick-and-mortar location, for now he keeps to e-commerce, stocking Ruby + George (and popular home decor deals site One Kings Lane, for which he is a contributor) with Navajo rugs, woven baskets, handcrafted jewelry, and vintage furnishings that he purchases from estate sales. (His favorite is the Niwot auction in Longmont.) “My goal is to reintroduce these pieces and use them in a way they haven’t been used,” Kennedy says, “making them more accessible—so you don’t feel like you have to live in an Aspen lodge to enjoy Navajo textiles.” 

Kennedy, for instance, loves to use large, funky, vintage cameras as decor—think bookends—in his own home. His other go-to decorating trick? Layering Navajo rugs and different textiles on the floor to create interesting spaces and patterns. But he warns against going overboard with the Southwestern aesthetic: “Don’t think of it as a theme. You don’t want to match your furniture with your decorative items. I use a lot of mid-century pieces with clean lines and properties, which mix well with the colors of Native American pieces.” That way your house, too, feels like it was inspired by grandparents—not decorated by them. 

rubyplusgeorge.com, onekingslane.com