Ivy Karlsgodt is the incredibly talented woman behind Ace of Shades, making and creating unique and one-of-a-kind lampshades that have seen her accumulate a following of close to 2 million across her social media platforms, and receive over 10 million likes. All in all, not too bad, for something that just over 2 years ago, was considered to be nothing more than a hobby.
With a background and degree in costume design and construction, she moved to New York in 2018, to embark on a new adventure and journey. She soon found herself developing clothing for Broadway, film, and television, and then everything changed in 2020. The events that shook the world took Ivy in a direction that she could never before imagined. It has been a journey akin to a rollercoaster ride going backwards with no brakes on; manic, chaotic, and uncontrollably fun.
When the world began to resemble the end of times, and the afterglow of a never-ending apocalypse became the norm finding herself sitting in her brownstone, Brooklyn apartment Ivy turned her idle, but talented hands to a world of creativity that would change everything. Like so many of us, who were imprisoned by our surroundings, she came to the conclusion that the decor and interior of her home were no longer to her taste. She set about altering this at once, finding herself being seduced by maximalism and vintage finds, that began to shape her style. In time she found herself consumed with the desire for a Victorian-style lamp that would become a centrepiece for her space. It soon became apparent, that there was nothing out there that satisfied her craving.
With that thought in mind, she set about creating her own piece. Something bespoke and beautiful, that wouldn’t as it turns out wouldn’t just appeal to her, but to thousands of others. Fast forward a couple of years and her pieces are acclaimed across social media, and her tutorials on how she masterfully concocts her creations have generated millions of views. She has customised hundreds of designs and demand for her work has never been higher. Ivy Karlsgodt is indeed The Ace of Shades.
An outstandingly creative old soul, Ivy has been sewing and crafting ever since she can remember. She has the ability to turn her talent to a multitude of different eras that inspire her and create something effortlessly brilliant, You can imagine her living her best life among the greatest innovators of the Victorian Age, Art Nouveau, and the Lost Generation of 1920′ s Paris. You could picture her, laughing, dancing, and dining with the likes of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker, and Salvador Dali, holding court, during a time when Paris was the epicentre of cultural, creativity, and artistic direction. She would not look out of place sitting with some of the most creatively-minded innovators in the world, explaining the intricate nature of her designs and in turn watching them wax lyrically over her work.
Her thoughtfully designed, unique, and handcrafted customized pieces, made with antique materials, have captured the public imagination and the demand for her work has been nothing short of sensational. It was a pleasure for the Atlantic Dispatch to sit down with Ivy and find out more about how her epic adventure all began.
I IMMEDIATELY LOVED IT
I’m originally from Boulder, Colorado but mostly grew up in San Antonio, Texas. I started sewing when I was in middle school and became interested in making my own clothes. My grandma is a talented seamstress and taught me all the basics. In high school, I started designing and making costumes for my theatre department. I decided to do it for a living, so I then got my BFA in Theatre Design and Technology with a focus on costumes from the University of Evansville in 2017 where I learned a ton about sewing, textiles, and design. I worked in the costume industry for several years after that, mostly at a costume shop called John Kristiansen that produces costumes for Broadway, film, and TV.
When I was temporarily laid off from my costume job in 2020, I started making lampshades as a hobby and selling them to cover the cost of materials so I could keep creating. I immediately loved it! TikTok helped immensely with showing my work to a larger audience and grew so much bigger than I ever expected. I eventually started working my costume job again and continued making lampshades during my off hours. As my following and demand grew, it got harder and harder to juggle both jobs. I left my costume job in mid-2022 to make lampshades full-time and haven’t looked back since! Well, actually I still do costume gigs here and there. I’ll always love making garments. But it’s 99% lampshades these days!
I PARTICULARLY LOVE THE 1920’S
I get a lot of inspiration from fashion and art history and antique textiles. Sometimes I’ll find one really beautiful fabric or appliqué or beaded fringe and then design a lampshade around it. Other times I just have a specific technique or color palette I really want to showcase. The eras that influence me most are the 1910s-1940s which was kind of the heyday for this style of lampshade. I particularly love the 1920s/30s beading and embroidery. My wireframes come either from Arowire, Mary Maxwell, or eBay/antique shops. I source most of my fabrics and trims locally from various shops in the garment district here in NYC (some favorites being NY Elegant, B&J, Preview Textiles, East Coast Trimming, Lauren Trimming, and M&J Trimming), and some online from Etsy and eBay shops. Sometimes I can get really beautiful antique textiles to repurpose from vintage shops like Stella Dallas in Brooklyn.
THE ABILITY TO WORK FOR MYSELF HAS BEEN SO FREEING
It’s been a wild journey so far! I never ever imagined myself running a business or having a large social media following. It just kind of happened! When I first decided to post my process videos on TikTok, I thought it would be a slow climb to get enough followers to start selling, but to my surprise, my very first post ended up on the For Your Page section on TikTok. People started following me and I sold a lampshade immediately! So I think right away I realised this might become bigger than I had expected. Then a year and a half later, I realised I could totally do this full-time given the demand. So I quit my job and moved from Etsy to my own website. It’s just been growing ever since! Running a business has definitely been a huge learning curve, particularly all the admin stuff which I had no education in or experience with before. I had barely ever had to send emails before I started this so, I’m really learning on the job. It’s been amazing though and the ability to work for myself from home has been so freeing. Maybe even a little too freeing because I struggle to stay on task without any authority or set working hours, but I’m getting the hang of it!
THAT FELT LIKE A “MAMA I MADE IT” MOMENT
As I mentioned, all the admin stuff has been really challenging for me to learn as well as managing myself as a one-woman factory. Until I moved into a new apartment with my partner last year, I was doing all my work out of my bedroom which was always a horrific mess, but now I have a dedicated studio room in my new apartment which has been immensely helpful. As far as achievements go, images of my work are currently being used as concert visuals for Stevie Nicks’ tour! That really felt like a ‘Mama I made it!’ moment, when I was contacted about licensing the images. I grew up loving Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac was even my first concert when I was 8. So surreal that it’s come full circle! I recommend anyone looking to start a craft business to post niche content showcasing their work on social media, sell on Etsy for exposure, and then switch to their own website once they have enough of a following, and this one’s boring but use something like Quickbooks Self-Employed to track your expenses/income and help calculate your tax rates. It’s a lifesaver!
“Images of my work are currently being used as concert visuals for Stevie Nicks’ tour! That really felt like a ‘Mama I made it!’ moment when I was contacted about licensing the images. I grew up loving Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac was even my first concert when I was 8. So surreal that it’s come full circle.”— Ivy Karlsgodt
I’M NEVER BORED IN BROOKLYN
I love living in Brooklyn! I live on the top floor of a divided-up brownstone with plenty of pre-war character. I’m never bored in this city with its vast array of art, music, food, and perspectives. When I’m not working, I love to see movies, go dancing, picnic in Prospect Park, shop for vintage, bake, or snuggle up with my cats at home.
At the moment, I’m considering new ways to expand my business which might include hiring a couple of people to help me make lampshades, creating an online course to teach this craft, and possibly creating a line of lamp bases to offer with my shades, and maybe one day having a brick and mortar shop. This year I’d love to try some new techniques like airbrushing, making my own beaded fringe, and designing custom lampshade frame shapes.