abbey kay & tribe & true: an interview with owner kelly keane

pic 1A few months back I did a winter photoshoot for my birthday with my friend Taylor. We chose a unique handwoven blanket as one of our main props. The imagery we created came out beautiful and the owner of the blanket shop took notice. She reached out to inquire about featuring our images on her site and we hit it off and became internet friends. We dreamed up the idea of a collaboration and wanted to introduce her, her shop, and her visions for Tribe & True here on Abbey Kay. We caught up with her while she was working in Joshua Tree and exchanged some questions and answers. So without further hesitation, I bring to you Kelly Keane, of Tribe & True.


Tell us a little bit about yourself & why you decided to start Tribe & True.

Hey there! I’m Kelly Keane, the Creative Director and Owner of Tribe & True. Over the years I’ve worn many hats in the corporate world. I was always looking for the perfect job that fit my skillset but was left facing a tough and overdue reality — I didn’t belong in a cubicle. I searched and searched but couldn’t find my dream job, so I created it. My goal with Tribe & True has been to build a fun and inspiring marketplace that offers vibrant textiles, one-of-a-kind keepsakes, artwork, and other interesting finds from around the world. I’ve always had an unyielding drive to pursue my passions, so having a creative outlet to grow, like Tribe & True, has been my ticket.




I hear you’re quite the adventurer, what are your top three favorite adventures you’ve ever been on?


I recently explored Joshua Tree and fell in love! Located in the Mojave Desert, the place is full of character and has to be one of the quietest and most serene places I have experienced (during the cooler off-season months of course when you have the place to yourself). An added bonus is that it’s only a couple hours from home so when I need to find inspiration and escape the noise of Orange County, it’s a great place to work from and recharge. Next up I would say the Maldives. It’s everything that you’ve seen on the postcards but better. For me, pure bliss is the feeling of diving into the crystal clear water and exploring the reef and sea life below. I fall into an underwater trance and that has to be the most calming and satisfying feeling in the world. Finally, I felt an incredible connection with Ubud, Bali. For the artistic, nature loving-type, life can’t get better. Gorgeous and lush jungle valleys, with an inviting culture and a city-center focused on art, I could have stayed for months. Ireland and Greece are also up there on the list!



What does the name Tribe & True mean?

By definition, a tribe is a group of people who share the same customs, interests, and beliefs. Our beliefs and culture at Tribe & True circle around having a strong love and appreciation for adventure, the outdoors, wildlife, conservation, self-expression, and most of all living life fully and gratefully each day. We also carry textiles from The Hmong Tribe of Northern Thailand and jewelry from several tribes of the American Southwest, so the name just made sense.


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(from top left to right, @alleewild, @xosuiecakes @thankyouverylittle, @catching_tradewinds, @sylviefarr, @clairecipri, @lebackpacker, @skyelarcade, @alleewild)


How do Tribe & True blankets help you to live out your everyday adventure?

There’s something beautiful and special about each one of the blankets we offer. Most of them are one-of-a-kind and the colorful, geometric patterns seem to contrast with nature in the most unique way– creating a sense of beauty that only photos can describe. Whatever it is, they are so fun to photograph and adventure with. It’s pretty amazing how much energy and creativity a Tribe & True blanket can inspire. We now have customers in over 19 countries, so it’s safe to say that Tribe & True is helping to create adventure all around the world.


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What’s the best part about your day being your own boss? What’s the hardest?


I get to create all day! As an artist, that is most rewarding. Whether I am launching new partnerships with adventure advocates, photographing product, painting, or selecting colors for custom blankets, I am always making something new. I have freedom to decide how far I will go and how successful I will become. Also, can take a nap at 2pm or give my dogs some love on my breaks, and that in itself makes it all worth it. The downside is there’s no roadmap to success that tells you where to turn next. Each day is a new challenge and you figure it out as you go. I think that having faith and believing in yourself and your passion is key. Always remaining positive when things aren’t going as planned and reminding yourself why you started.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is different! Exciting and fun things are happening all the time when you have a small, growing business. We focus our attention on keeping our customers happy and engaged, searching for beautiful/interesting items from around the world to introduce into our shop, nurturing our partnerships, photographing product, and keeping the good vibes flowing! I also get to work with people from all over the world which is just awesome, creating a different dynamic each day.


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Are there any causes Tribe & True is passionate about?


Just recently we had the privilege to join an incredible cause and participate in a Native American Food Run. We traveled to remote areas of Arizona and Utah in a 40-car caravan for three days to deliver thousands of pounds of food and household goods to traditional Navajo Elders. The Navajo people are some of the most giving and kindhearted people we have met, even though they lack basic living supplies. We felt it was such an honor knowing this is the last living generation of traditional Navajo elders. They live in very remote areas without running water or electricity, speak only their native language, and still follow the culture and traditions of their ancestors. It was truly a magical experience and one that we will never forget. If you want to get involved, or simply give, there are many ways to help! The organization is run by an unbelievable woman named Linda Myers and can be found here


We are also animal lovers at our core and have spent a lot of time volunteering in local shelters –walking and socializing dogs so they become adoptable. Some people have a hard time seeing so many homeless animals in a shelter, but the truth is that the experience is more rewarding than anything. The dogs are so happy and relieved that someone is letting them out to run and play, even if just for a short time. You can see it in their eyes and in return, feel it in your heart!


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Describe your ideal Saturday for us!


Ideally I am painting! I’m always eyeing those blank canvases stored away in the corner of my office. If I’m not painting, hopefully I’m outside on an adventure of some sort—in the water or escaping somewhere with lots of open space to explore! I’m also lucky enough to have an incredibly talented boat captain as a boyfriend and he spoils me with many days on the water, chasing dolphins and whales into the sunset.


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Quick Round:


Favorite musician? 

Bob Marley // Talking Heads // Enya (while painting)

Describe your style in four words? Nature, Contrast, Color, Pattern

How do you take your coffee? Extra hot with a few drops of creamer – but I mostly wake up to Ginger Tea.

Pizza or Donuts? 100% Pizza! Covered with pineapple, olives, and jalapeno goodness — preferably paired with a delicious cold beverage or glass of vino.


What would you say to someone who has the passion to want to start a company or movement, but doesn’t know where to begin?

Start with passion and drive. No one can make you happy but yourself so figuring out what brings you the most joy in life is key! Once you find your passion and develop a company concept, educate yourself and set goals, obsess on your dream, have gratitude, and be unstoppable! Launch your social media pages, research the market and start a solid business plan. Discover your strengths and build a foundation around what makes you and your ideas unique.

Here’s a great starting blog and business plan template for creatives

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How has starting Tribe & True changed you & your life for the better & what’s your most favorite thing about this adventure so far?

I struggled for years, misplaced on a career path that was unfulfilling to me. I got to a point where I quit my job and left overseas for a few months to clear my mind. I learned a lot about myself while traveling and also shed a lot of fear when it came to taking risks to do what I loved. I knew that I was responsible for my own happiness and had to take charge of my life, allowing my vision and dedication to lead the way. Now I have a job that is aligned with my passions and I couldn’t be happier. You know that Confucius quote “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”? Well it’s true!


What are your future plans for Tribe & True?


We are introducing so many fun products in the coming months! Blankets will likely always be a focus for us, and we now offer jewelry, handbags, rugs, and many more bohemian-esque treasures from 7 different countries. This fall we are excited to bring in some of the most color-loving baskets from Ghana. All handmade and fair trade! I’ll also be introducing some of my artwork. Keep your eyes on our Instagram page (@tribeandtrue) and website ( We’ll always have something new and interesting for your unique space at home and your adventures outdoors!

– Kelly Keane, @catching_tradewinds

Thank you so much Kelly for taking the time to answer a few questions! Be sure to follow the adventure on IG, @tribeandtrue!

— abbey kay

*brought to you by a girl who has a major envious crush on this blonde business babe 






One response to “abbey kay & tribe & true: an interview with owner kelly keane”

  1. Karen Ray Avatar

    I wish I could figure out how to post a picture. Kelly has done two paintings for me of an animal. One of our dog that she did from photos because we live in Florida. They are both fabulous.

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