Kat Wilson and Emily Lawson are the definition of an artistic power couple. They lead busy, creative lives grounded in a remarkable Pink House.By Amy Gordy Photography by Matthew Martin
Emily Lawson and Kat Wilson are two business-savvy, highly creative forces in Northwest Arkansas. They met in 2011, began dating in 2013 and married in Marfa, Texas this year. They’ve encouraged and inspired each other to build and grow successful entrepreneurial and artistic careers.
Lawson is proprietress of Pink House Alchemy, a label of artisan cocktail mixers, and Foxhole Public House, a Bentonville lounge and testing ground for her products, which will soon reopen in a larger location. Wilson has begun a successful a successful career in marketing, and she is a seasoned commercial and fine art photographer exhibited and published regionally and internationally, in the Los Angeles Times, Oxford American, Virginia Quarterly Review, Washington Post and Communication Arts. While they each lead independent endeavors, they look to each other for inspiration and motivation, and occasionally these two artistic forces share a studio space.
Lawson’s journey to the Pink House began in her early 20s, when she fell in love with cooking and trained to be a chef in Colorado and New Orleans. She attended culinary school and received a degree in dietetics, after which she began consulting in restaurants and bars. “I was working with a local coffee shop on efficiency, writing a menu for Arsaga’s at the Depot and working at a farmers market booth when I saw a need. Something I kept noticing is that everyone is so invested in coffee culture. The missing link was that people wanted something different in coffee, but they wanted to know where it was from. I was working the farmers market one day and saw this huge bundle of lavender and I just thought ‘I’m going to make a syrup.’ Arsaga’s was on board to trial it and it just kind of took off,” Lawson said.
Pink House Alchemy was incorporated in 2013, and has grown quickly to have distribution in 42 states. They produce syrups, shrubs and bitters with a line of 23 products. “The most important part of the company is quality sourcing—how we get our products. Our customer base really trusts us,” Lawson said.
Pink House is her baby, but she’s called on Wilson to help along the way. “When you’re in a relationship with someone, you have a tendency to support them. When Pink House started Kat would say ‘Let me go shoot that for you,’ and then it just evolved. She’s brilliant and knows a lot about how marketing should work. She has been so selfless in giving her time to Pink House and really helping the company grow. She’s been able to step back a little now and redirect her energy so she doesn’t have to be as constantly involved in the marketing as she was before,” Lawson said.
Thrive, a residential and retail development company based in the Bentonville Arts District, noticed Wilson’s marketing success at Pink House Alchemy and invited her to join their team. In addition to her marketing career, Wilson still devotes time to photography—her first love.
She attended undergraduate school at the University of Central Arkansas where she initially studied painting. After she took her first photography class, all the pieces fell into place. “I was just naturally good at it, and it just made sense to major in photography—I’ve been obsessed ever since, even 20 years later,” Wilson said.
Wilson is most known for her ongoing series, “Habitats.” The idea came to her shortly after graduation when an art professor warned her that a lot of people didn’t consider photography to be art.
“That conversation really bothered me. I don’t ever want anyone to say [that photography] isn’t art, and so I did this series after college. I thought about it a long time before I did it. It was a way to elevate the photography,” she said.
Wilson used what she learned about composition in her art history classes to help compose the photographs, which, coupled with the depth of the lighting and subject matter, sometimes mimic classic portrait paintings.
The “Habitats” series gives a voyeuristic look inside the lives of people who pull out their most-prized belongings and arrange them within the photo’s frame. “You get all this information about the people through their stuff, or you get an idea of how these people want you to see them. Anything a person deems worthy to keep in their house I consider a relic,” Wilson said.
“I’ll never stop doing this series. There’s a historical element to it now. I want to redo the first 10 subjects and see how their lives have changed.”
Wilson’s latest work, a series titled “Layers” will be on display at The Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville Nov. 9- Jan. 9.