In this week’s Aspiring Women Who Inspire, we meet Heather Cade, the curator and owner of District Loom, a Washington, D.C.-based vintage and antique rug source. Working together with her husband, Heather sources rugs from all over the world, selling them in local boutiques and via their online store. Just last year, she launched an exclusive line of rugs in partnership with Anthropologie. Oh and did we mention she’s also a full-time Nurse Practitioner? Read on to be seriously inspired.
I’m Heather Cade, a full time Nurse Practitioner, D.C. suburb dweller, and lover of good design and architecture! I’m the middle child of three girls and was born and raised on Cape Cod, MA. I’ve since lived up and down the East Coast from the New England coast, to the deep south, to the country. Now I live in the city suburbs where I reside with the yin-to-my-yang husband of 7 years and two doodle pups! The nomadic east coast exposure to different geographic lifestyles, design styles and architecture has allowed me to appreciate and curate a wide variety of rug styles!
It is my mission to serve as the match maker when assisting my clients with the perfect sustainable vintage rug for their individual style. My company, District Loom, offers a thoughtfully curated online catalogue of vintage and antique rugs sourced from all over the world with the modern day home in mind!
We also have an exclusive Boho Femme style collection on Anthropologie.com. Plus, we have an upcoming exclusive neutral Turkish collection with an HGTV interior designer – stay tuned to see who! 😉
I am a Nurse first, businesswoman second, but have so enjoyed the process of scaling a passion fueled company that has truly made me feel more fulfillment in life than ever before!
How did you get into your industry? Was this always where you saw yourself?
Since a very young age, I have had an obsessive eye for detail—specifically in home interiors. I noticed that well-designed spaces transformed my mood and experience within a room. At my relentless request, my supportive mother allowed me to entirely redecorate my childhood bedroom every single year! Picture it: bed veils, sponge paint, stenciling, and even a red oriental rug in my ninth grade bedroom re-do (maybe that is when the rug roots started!)
After high school, attending interior design school was my plan. However, my loving parents encouraged me to pursue my other strength, science, for what seemed to be a more practical career choice. I now work full time as an otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) Nurse Practitioner.
However, my interest in design never left me. My passion re-surfaced years later when it was time to decorate our first home. We found ourselves with two new puppies to house-train, and we quickly realized we were unable to effectively clean any of the machine-made rugs in our home (resulting in us throwing out four rugs in just two years!) We were so disappointed in the lack of durability and poor quality of the vintage replicas available. Additionally, we were saddened to know the plastic backing and fibers in these rugs ended up in a landfill, contributing to the global waste crisis our world is facing.
Our discoveries were the catalyst to apply our research skills (honed through years of nursing and grad school!) and to dive down the rabbit hole of vintage rug hunting. Once we started our search, we found out the rug shopping experience was antiquated, scarce, and expensive. After a few not-so-pleasant trips to local rug shops with high pressure sales and cost-prohibitive pricing, we realized the in-store consumer experience and inventory was sub-par to say the least. This motivated us to provide a more approachable, affordable, and edited inventory of on-trend pieces to design-minded homeowners and interior designers!
From your experience, what are the three key factors or strategies for starting and establishing a brand?
Be honest and engaging with your customers.
Define your WHY.
Find the blank space in your market and paint it with YOUR color. In other words, deliver a service or product in a way no one has done before.
What’s an accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career so far?
The dL x Anthropologie partnership was a pivotal point in establishing credibility in the industry and opening up even more opportunities while extending District Loom’s reach! I am so grateful!
What’s a failure that turned into a blessing?
When I started the business, I ‘failed’ to invest time and money in branding and strategy. Although this was a rookie mistake, it allowed the business to create its own identity as it grew. It allowed our customers to cheer us on and be part of the process as District Loom evolves!We don’t tell a baby who they are going to be when they’re born, do we?
Pre Quarantine: 5am alarm, homemade Coffee to go, gym, Facetime my Mother-in-law, then off to my day job as an Ear Nose and Throat Nurse Practitioner by 8 am!
Quarantine: coffee on the deck listening to the birds chirp, walk the dogs, Facetime a family member, homemade breakfast.
Who’s an aspiring woman who inspires you?
Athena Calderone, from her design style to her beautiful soul. She is all around an inspiring light.
What’s one piece of career advice you’d give a young person looking to follow in your footsteps?
Done is better than perfect. Just start and figure it out as you go!
When you’re not curating the most amazing vintage rug online store and partnering with Anthropologie, what can we find you doing?
Working my day job, and in my free time, hiking in Shenandoah, traveling (usually to mountain towns) and snowboarding with my husband, Brett!
Three words that describe you? Honest (sometimes to a fault), Determined, Passionate
Three products you can’t live without? Tarte face tape concealer, lemon Spindrift, Grace’s scotch bonnet hot sauce
Dream collaboration? If you had asked me a year ago, I would have answered Anthropologie! I’m always looking for other like minded people and companies to work with. The sky is the limit.
Trendy or classic? Time and place for both. First, read the architecture of the home and history of the geographic region and go from there!
#1 place on your travel bucket list? Switzerland in the summer to see the majestic views, wildflowers, and story book towns!
Go to drink order? Casamigos and Cointreu on the rocks with lime
Favorite restaurant? Rose’s Luxury in Capitol Hill – it’s so different than anything else!