Welcome to our newest tradition, Maker Monday! Our Store Manager, Marissa, gets to know a little bit more about the makers of The DIME Store. We believe in bridging the gap between our customer and the maker -- and this new project is a great way to learn about the person behind the product!
Kat French is a breath of fresh air. This week, I sat down with her in her Flower Mound home over a cup of coffee & a Ravelin chocolate croissant and we talked all things creative! As a mom, wife, friend, creative, maker, and so much more, Kat opened up about her journey over the past few years of her paper goods business and shared about struggle, time management, and what inspires her.
So tell me a little about your road to becoming a maker?
I actually went to school and studied an entirely different field, Child Development & Psychology, and I worked for a couple of years in that. Before going into the the work field I did Missions for a year and fell in love with drawing. I had drawn when I was little, my mom is an artist, but I just fell in love with it on a different level. I started working in the field that I had gone to school for and it was the worst place ever for me. It was such a bad fit and so about a year into that I started a Design program at our local junior college and fell in love with graphic design. So after working full-time and doing school full-time for a while I was able to get a job in-house at a church in California doing graphic design and video production. After we moved out to Texas a couple of years later, I set up and did freelance design for about 5 or 6 years. After we had our son, I began working around his naps but he kind of started to phase out of those so my time just started getting shorter and turning around projects for clients was becoming too much. So then I was just ready to design for myself and to make stuff that I could make a product from and make multiples and only have to design once, since my time was so limited. I branched out into Etsy and switched out of freelance design and it took me about a year to figure out that i wanted to do cards, specifically. It was all really slow with lots of baby steps and I kind of ended up in it. I never thought I’d be a greeting card designer but in hindsight it makes total sense. It seems like it was meant to be but I just couldn’t see it.
Where did you find that outside influence and support during those formative years?
Definitely my family and my husband. Especially when I was working full-time and doing school, I was really encouraged by my mom. She really gave me the courage to do it. Once I got into card designing I have a couple of really good friends who were really supportive. They would give me lots of feedback, come over and fold hundreds of cards for me, and drop everything to come do shows with me!
As far as the business side of Kate French Design, you aren’t formally trained or educated in that side of things. How have you navigated that?
It’s a lot of trial and error. I love administrative stuff and am pretty organized. If you look at my business it’s 60% business administration and about 40% creative design so since I’m kind of wired that way, that’s a really good balance for me. On top of that, connecting with local makers, like through Etsy Dallas has been really good. I also did the TSBC course specifically for card makers and learned so much about wholesale and the industry and that’s been a really strong community as well.
Where do you draw inspiration?
From everything! I have a list on my phone and I write down concepts all the time. A lot of my cards are humor-based and a lot of comedy is just observational comedy. I kind of find myself pursuing a role of comedian and it sounds weird and slightly skewed in a way but just a lot of observational stuff.
I was recently in a conversation, talking about how as artists, you aren’t necessarily inspired by people doing the same thing you are, that can lend itself to comparison or even duplicating what they’ve already created, you’re most inspired by things that are outside of what you’re creating...do you find this to be true for you?
Yes! Very much so. In fact, I will come up with an idea and google it to make sure it’s not already out there. Because if it is, I’ll either have to approach it from a different direction or toss it completely. I want to be original but I also don’t want to tread on some else’s work.
Has that ever happened to you?
Yeah. More so when I was an in house designer but yeah it’s frustrating.
Man. What does that feel like? What does that stir up in you as an artist?
There’s a little bit of flattery, to be honest. But it irks you when you see someone else getting what you were hoping to get from it. Aside from whatever it is you’re trying to communicate, it is a business and I’m trying to make a living doing it and if someone else is going to take my work and cut into that, it’s frustrating.
That makes total sense. Especially because you have a family and a home, etc. So how do you balance being a creative, being a maker, a mom, a wife, and whatever other roles you play?
It feels different every day. It’s a tug of war. I’ve always wanted to be home with my kids and I’m getting to do that but then there’s days where I just want to work and I feel really pulled between them. There are days where I’m sitting with my daughter and I’d rather be upstairs designing something and that’s hard. It can sometimes almost feel like a prison some days. That’s crazy to say, but that’s when I have to step back and say “dude I’m getting to do everything I wanted to do” but it’s not always on my schedule so I’m really just figuring it out.
How would you encourage other makers who are in your same season of life?
One aspect is just take inventory of what you’ve got and the things you’re juggling. Step back and be thankful that you have all of those things to juggle. The other thing is if you’re good at making lists, make them! Knock them out and try and be as efficient as you can. Try not to have those distractions when you get those chances to work. And try and make sure your spouse is engaged with what you’re doing and they understand the value of it. Making sure they’re on the same page as you, communication being the real key.
So much great advice. I’m gonna end our time together with some fun questions: What are some of the top TV shows that have come out in the past few years that you are in to?
Right now I’m really into Heartland, it’s not new at all but i’m super into it. My husband and I have been watching Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and we got really into GLOW, Kim’s Convenience, & Schitt’s Creek.
And last, but not least, if you’re visiting Denton, what are some of your favorite places to go?
So I always go to The DIME Store, I love going to SCRAP and buying all the things. The kids also really love The Chairy Orchard.
You can find Kat’s line at The DIME Store and on her website by clicking here!