Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi all, my name is Katy, and while I currently call Atlanta, Georgia my home, I come by way of New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, and a childhood spent in Southern California. My degree is in theatre with a background in performance art. My love of textile and fiber art came later!
I’m a vegetarian (except for seafood), an old dusty English novel reader, a vintage thrifter, a garden lover (a plant killer), an out of practice dancer, an actress, a proud aunt, a free verse writer, an organic food eater, and a girl with an often chaotic life who savors the simple bits that make it all so wonderful. There really are very few things in life (including myself) in which I can’t find humor. Unfortunately, this leads me to quite often laugh inappropriately in public settings. And, much to my sister’s chagrin, my nephew and niece know that their mischievous ways will inevitably lead to a bout of my uncontrolled laughter. On the flip side, tears come quite easily to me as well. I’m often described as shy and introverted, until I get to know someone. I’m more of an observer and listener. I’m independent and fiercely stubborn at times.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Well, apart from my homebody ways, I do love little day trips with my sister, nephew and niece, which inevitably involves laughing, made-up games, and jabbering away until we become completely lost. In fact, I love spending time with my family in general. My other loves include watching movies (I ditched my TV a few years ago), reading, sitting in nature and writing, eating good food, consuming coffee and chocolate, going to zoos and museums, and wandering the local farmer’s market and the local back roads.
What first made you want to become an artist?
The whole course of my life changed when I learned, at age three, that those people in television and movies were playing make believe as a job! I vowed to be one of those people, and after a few short years of practicing and reenacting my character studies in the bedroom mirror, I found my way into the magical world of acting and have never looked back.
Except for a brief stint when I was stubbornly determined to simultaneously study law, theatre, and primatology (I planned to move to Africa to work with mountain gorillas), I canot remember a time that I imagined working as anything other than as an artist. I come from a creative, artistic, and eccentrically Southern family where my mom’s sewing machine was a regular guest at the dinner table. It’s lovely discovering bits of my family within myself. It was my sister, along with a wonderful circle of friends in Brooklyn, who helped lead me down the path of learning the somewhat lost art of hand stitching.
Please describe your creative process.
For me, my work often happens on a whim. I think about bits of nature that I can incorporate into my work, and when I strike upon an idea that really gets me excited, I usually begin to pull fabrics and start stitching. This means I often have several projects going at once. My pieces are mostly hand cut (often based on sketches I’ve drawn) and carefully hand stitched. Many of the materials for my work are vintage or recycled, so I collect interesting textiles whenever I can find them, concurrently feeding my addiction for fabrics.
Now that my sister and I have opened a vintage and handmade wedding shop called PrairieSeed we spend many fun hours thrifting for lovely finds for the shop, as well as designing and stitching between cups of coffee.
With a sister (littleloveblue), mom (ImSoVintage), and aunt (LadySneezeweed) who all have Etsy shops, I’ve amassed quite a few new and vintage handmade items. I think I would have to say that I most cherish a little textile bird, made by my sister — not only do I love the beautiful work, but it was also sewn from a cotton shirt which once belonged to a wonderful little girl who I nannied for several years. The shirt was eventually passed down to my niece, and was thus worn by two girls who hold very special places in my heart before becoming my little bird!
Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.
This is the single most difficult question for me, as I am so not a person who plays favorites. So I’ll just randomly list a few which I love.
Pride and Prejudice, or anything Jane Austen
Prodigal Summer, or anything by Barbara Kingsolver
The Grapes of Wrath, or anything by John Steinbeck
People of the Book, or anything by Geraldine Brooks
The entire Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
I’m sure this has been said many times over, but beautiful photography is a huge key to any online business. Make sure that your images are instantly identifiable to your shop. Whether through the props, lighting, or angles, I can always instantly recognize a favorite shop through an image. Display your pieces in a way that is truly unique to you. When I’m drawn to a piece, it’s not only the item itself but also the mood of the whole shop that I’m buying. A seller is selling me a whole atmosphere which I love and want to bring into my own home.
Just create what you truly love, find a way to make your pieces unique, continue to grow, and stick with it. If nothing else, the love for what you do will show in your work, and I think that is always appealing to others. Also, pretty packaging with surprising little touches is always nice too!
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love both poring over and curating treasuries, and I’m an avid reader of the Blog — love the Get the Look series!
I would love to see a drop down menu during checkout, where buyers can have the option of clicking on how they found your item —Twitter, Blog, Etsy search, returning customer, business card, etc. — to help see what promotional tools are working best for you. I’d also like a place to make wish lists and registries for gifts!
How do you promote your work?
While I do post shop updates on my Twitter and Facebook pages, I concentrate more fully on my blog. Through my blog I express who I am as both a person and an artist by sharing my inspirations, creative process, and personal writing.
In ten years, where would you like to be?
Oh, I can’t even begin to imagine where I’ll be in ten years, as my life is always changing in such unexpected ways! But truly living in each and every day, surrounded by the ones I love, creating in some form, and continually working towards a healthier body and more compassionate soul sounds like a good place to be. Living in a little house by the sea, with a couple of kids and a fabulously dorky guy, along with annual travels to various spots around the world, sounds pretty good too!