Hi, I’m Caitlin McClain and I own and operate Little Low – a cheerful line of illustrated paper and home goods from Austin, Texas.
I was working as a web designer when I illustrated my first collection of prints. I made them strictly out of a need for decor in my new apartment, but my friends and family boosted my confidence enough that I opened my little corner of Etsy. I focused on making designs that made me happy and was slightly shocked when it turned out that other people found joy in them, too. Almost two years later, I’m still humbled and excited with every purchase my customers make.
Craft and craftsmanship are words that carry a lot of weight with me. I went to college for interior design, and the professors there taught me the importance of working smart and taking pride in my work, as well as paying attention to small details and not cutting corners. For me, this is the core of good craft, and it’s what I try to incorporate into my business.
I typically get my best ideas at night after I’ve had a happy, relaxed day with friends or family. Once I start a project, it’s not often that I know exactly how I’d like it to look, but I almost always know the message it should convey and the overall spirit it should have. My designs tend to go through several stages, and the finished result rarely looks much like its first few drafts. I won’t sell something I don’t love, so I sometimes re-work a design over and over until the “a-ha” moment, and nix the ones that never get there.
I feel most inspired by everyday utilitarian objects that are beautiful and iconic on their own. That’s probably why many of my designs include illustrations referencing cooking utensils, camping gear, shoes, cars and vintage ephemera. I love the interaction we have with our belongings and how personal and meaningful an image of that item can be, especially when you look at it in a different light.
Being the owner of a creative business can be a hugely rewarding, but very humbling experience. If something goes wrong, that’s on me — the same can be said when it goes right. I’m not a parent (hopefully someday!), but I imagine that many of the responsibilities I take for my business are similar to the ones I would take for a child. I want to make the best decisions for my business, make sure it’s going in the right direction, that it has what it needs to grow and that it’s safe, smart, and kind. It’s probably corny, but I think that owning this business has showed me what “ownership” really means.
All photographs by Little Low.