With a motto like “nature simplified,” it’s easy to see how Kourtney Branagan’s Agnes in August line of modern string art pieces draw the essence of the Albertan wild indoors. The soft wood grains of the boards, lovingly sanded and finished, are contrasted with the perfect angles of stringed peaks, making artworks that are wonderful additions to the walls of every outdoor enthusiast’s home.
Born in Red Deer, but living in Calgary since she was four, Kourtney has always enjoyed everything the outdoors had to offer. Adventures with her mom took her and her brother snowshoeing through the snowy wilderness in winter and camping throughout her summers.
“That was ingrained in us since we were kids, to live an outdoor, active lifestyle,” says Kourtney.
When she met her husband Stu, this love of the outdoors drew them together and solidified their bond. They would explore and hike together on days off, and now share their outdoorsy nature with two adorable little girls: Mallory, five-and-a-half, and Jillian, two-and-a-half.
“People travel from all over the world to come to Banff and Lake Louise, and I feel we have to take the time to appreciate how blessed we are to have that amazingness less than an hour away,” says Kourtney, “We’re so lucky to have that, I couldn’t imagine not taking advantage of it.”
Kourtney began her working life as a running coach and eventually founded her interior decoration company The Chipper Nest after completing her certificate in 2012. Her keen eye for decor helps her clients transform their spaces into chic and functional homes, but being the creative and driven person she is, Kourtney decided to channel her imagination into her own art pieces, too.
Inspired by the creativity of the handmade movement in Calgary, Kourtney started Agnes in August in late summer 2015. Named for a favourite memory from her honeymoon – hiking Lake Agnes in August – Kourtney’s business keeps growing and inspiring her to keep making. The support from other members of the local handmade community has been tremendous, with fellow businesses and markets encouraging Kourtney along.
“It was Stef from Needle and Pine who pushed me to [get started on Etsy], and then I applied for Market Collective and got debut artist, which I was really shocked by,” recalls Kourtney, “I was like, ‘are you sure?’ That was really huge and overwhelming – in a really good sense!”
What probably inspires Kourtney the most are the stories of her buyers. Often, her customers are buying the art pieces as gifts or choosing boards that represent their families, picking colours that match their homes.
Kourtney’s love of the mountains is a universal sentiment for Albertans, especially those who find themselves living far from our fair province. Recently, three boards made their way to the United States for a shopper working abroad.
“She needed a reminder of home,” Kourtney says, “The mountains mean as much to [my customers] as they do to me.”
If you love the outdoors and great design, you can shop and peruse Kourtney’s pieces via her website, Etsy shop and follow along behind the scenes on Instagram. Of course, if you’re looking to transform your space, you can also stop by Kourtney’s The Chipper Nest for all your interior decor needs.
Be sure to scroll through the slideshow below for more photos of Kourtney’s creative process and beautiful handiwork!