Featured Artist + Shop Owner: Katia of Solé

Welcome to another installment of the Featured Artist + Shop Owner series, where I hand pick artists that have inspired me through their art and businesses. Today I am honored to showcase Katia of Solé and blogger behind Kitty Snooks.

1. Tell us about the artist behind the shop! A little background about your favorite things, inspirations or quirks!
My name is Katia and I'm a goofball of an art student working towards my B.Des. in Illustration! Illustration may be what I'm aiming to do in my career, but my fascination with the creative world doesn't end there. I basically love... well.... everything that can be considered art - and I love participating in it too, even if just for fun! I'm talking music, literature, writing, fashion, film, photography, design, painting, sculpting, textile work, etc. etc. etc. etcetera. I also have an inexplicable affinity towards pugs and Star Wars (ok, it's not inexplicable - it's because they're freakin' awesome) I also really like to play Tetris battle, but I'm a sore loser and quit the application every time I lose. If I am not doing any of the aforementioned things, I can be found trying to convince myself to do some yogalates, working at a local patisserie serving up lattes and French buttery goodness or spending time with my room mate and friends and family.

2. How did Solé first start? What is the story behind the name?
As I mentioned in my last answer I have a keen interest in a lot of everything. So I guess Solé was an attempt at combining at least a few of these things and making them wearable. From this initial thought and after many prototypes and scrapped concepts, I finally landed on the designs I am now selling through Solé! I've also, as long as I can remember, been interested in selling my creations. When I was about 9 or 10 I made and sold friendship bracelets to my classmates to fundraise for MS. I made a good couple hundred of dollars and took many custom orders for colours and designs daily. I still remember my little 'orders' page at the back of my agenda! The name Solé comes from the french 'Soleil' meaning sun. Those of you who know me or read my blog know I have a sun tattoo, and that the sun is powerfully symbolic to me. (Do I sound like a crazy hippie artist yet? Yes? GOOD.) It has so much to do with happiness and the power of positivity, and I wanted a name for my business to be something that would remain important to me forever.

3. What is your inspiration for using wood as your media?
I love nature, and living in a big, concrete city, it's often overwhelming to have so little nature around me (though we do have a lot of parks here, but they're not exactly in my day-to-day commute or routine with school downtown.) I love working with wood as a medium in general (painting on, carving, building, etc.) and so finding a way to make it wearable was such an obvious decision to me. All my necklaces/rings/products are made of natural, untreated wood. I literally find a branch of the appropriate diameter, slice it into little medallions, and work from that. Don't worry, I'm not tearing branches off trees, I always use already-trimmed branches or ones off the ground. One of my sets of medallions is made from a branch I snatched when my mom's neighbour's silver maple tree died and they needed to take it down. Another was from my parents' backyard when they had to trim half of an Acadia tree that was growing into our house. It's fun to know exactly which tree and what story my materials are from.

4. You had wonderful jewelry pieces! Have you thought about making other kinds of products?
Perhaps... yes! I'm super interested in the world of up-cycled, eco-friendly fashion that helps reduce the amount of material waste we create every year. Did you know each individual wastes about 68 pounds of fabric/material every year? I don't know where this statistic is from (I assume North America as I heard it in a video regarding Value Village) but it's a scary one. I'd love to branch into that part of the fashion world and work on new products. I have a few ideas up my sleeve, and I definitely intend on working on them soon!

5. Having a handmade shop is a huge responsibility in itself, how do you balance that with work and school?
Yeesh. I don't even know. I guess I've made most of my Solé work enjoyable. I can take 'a break' from school work and make a few pieces. Or I can put together my necklaces while I'm watching a tv show in my spare time. I'm still getting the hang of it all, but I've been maintaining good grades in school, am working a new job, and keeping up with Solé somehow! So I must be doing something right. I keep myself as organized as possible with to-do lists, a binder with all my receipts and expenses, a spreadsheet with my spending vs. income, etc. etc.

6. What is your favorite part about owning your own company? Other tips for those who want to start?
The satisfaction that comes from seeing someone wear my product. It's honestly amazing. And I get all dorky about it still, like a friend walks in and is wearing it and I can't help but say "Oh hey, nice necklace ya got there." I wonder if I'll ever grow out of this habit, haha! I was also interviewed by a local university's news team for an article about student entrepreneurs - it was SO cool to read, and they referred to me by my last name, which was totally rad and professional feeling.
Tips for starters would be to not be discouraged by business starting out slow. The amount of blogger comments you get exclaiming their love for their product (for example) do not equal to sales, as much as we wish they did. And that's ok! It means you've generated interest, that's what matters. Same goes for craft shows. My first craft show was SOO not the right audience for my products, but I still got a lot of great feedback, met some fascinating people, and felt great about myself after! I like to look at it, for the moment, as an experience as opposed to a money maker. Though of course, it'd be nice to do both ;)

7. This is just the beginning for Solé! What can we expect in the future?
Wonderful wonderful things. I really hope to expand it bit by bit, and to really explore my options in terms of designs. I've kept it simple so far, but I definitely want to add to it and branch away from just jewellery (As I mentioned before!). I'm excited!
So guess what! As readers of Melissa's blog, you guys can get 10% off any Solé purchase you make in December, January, or February using the code MELISSA10. The best part? My prices are already current reduced for the holiday season, so if you're looking for a one of a kind present and are interested in handmade - I hope you'll take a peek at Solé!

Thank you for featuring me on your lovely lovely blog, Melissa!

Isn't she the absolute precious?
Thank you Katia for the interview and I can't wait to see what's in store for you and your art! Readers, be sure to snag some unique pieces for you or your friends. I am picking out mine as we speak! :) Check out more artists I have featured here.