Teri’s Note: I met Mary Kerr, Katherine’s mom, a few years ago through the Quilt Professionals Network. I am privileged to be featured in one of Mary’s books, Cutting Edge Art Quilts. While Mary was working on the book her daughter, Katherine, went into pre-term labor and delivered the BeeBops. Mary shared this on fb and we all started praying for this family. The BeeBops have grown and thrived and are quite healthy despite their early entry into the world. When Mary shared Katherine’s new venture I had to do an interview and feature this talented woman, wife & mom.
Katherine: I started sewing around five or six. My Mom is a quilter and at that age I wanted to do everything she did. My first project is still hung in my parents house – a simple photo in thread on a solid piece of fabric. I received my first machine as a gift from my parents for my tenth birthday and loved it. I actually used that same machine until a few years ago when it died and was more expensive to replace the part. I have always loved sewing but it wasn’t my “go-to” art form until about a year ago.
TC: What sewing machine are you using these days? What are the key features for you?
Katherine: I am currently sewing on a brother SQ-9000. It is nothing fancy but it gets the job done for me! I don’t need any of the special features or options so I went with a basic machine. At the time I purchased it I wasn’t doing as much sewing – most just patches on my husband’s uniforms and hemming pants. One day I am sure I will look for something a little nicer.
TC: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Katherine: I have always been surrounded by the arts and encouraged to be creative. As I said, my Mom (Mary Kerr) is a quilter, but also both my Great Grandmas and my Dad went to art school. When I went to college, I chose fine arts as my major with a concentration in Interior Design. I loved every second of being in the studio but I also did my fair share of knitting, painting, photography (which I also have a business for), scrapbooking, and pottery. I enjoy having a creative outlet, in fact, I need it.
TC: Am I right in thinking that you’ve had a quilt in one of your moms exhibits? Can you tell us a little about creating that quilt (and share a photo or two)?
Katherine: I did participate in the “Dare to Dance: An Artist’s Definition of Joy” challenge. My quilt is titled “I have family” and was created as a tribute to the challenges I went through from June 2011 to April 2012. On June 15 I gave birth to twins thirteen weeks prematurely, on June 26 our town and home flooded, and on April 12 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Through all of this my family has stuck together, focused on the positive, and dealt with each situation as it arose. The material in the quilt came from those three events: maternity shirts, preemie clothes, receiving blankets used in the NICU, MS walk shirts, flood support shirts, and even the jeans I wore as we rebuilt our home. In the quilting I included all the important numbers from those events. It was a great way to heal and have as a reminder of all we went through as a strong family. I can’t wait for the book to come out in June and see what all the other inspirational artist have created!
TC: With two very busy little ones how do you find time to sew?
Katherine: Once my children were born, I have 2 1/2 year old twins, I realized my creative time would be limited but I still needed that outlet. I loved the unique gifts my kids received and I decided to start making gifts for my friends children. I started just with onesies and burp cloths as baby gifts. A wonderful friend with a toddler at the time encouraged me to expand and make other things for the kids – so I made busy books, car wallets, coloring book folders, and a few other things. I loved every project and often times I would be asked where they were purchased from. That was about two years ago that I started doing these “gifts” and have wanted to make this into a business since.
TC: How are you choosing the fabrics for the items you’re making? Are you using particular fabric lines or fabrics that are just cute?
Katherine: I don’t currently have a fabric line that I am using but I do have several I seem to always return to. I choose fabrics based on what “jumps out” at me. Personally, I love bold colors and graphic patterns.
TC: I kept waiting to the “right time” to start this new adventure. However, my mom always told me there is no such thing and I fully believe that. I started The Little Elephant one night, way before I was ready, because another artist was doing an auction for a friend of hers who needed financial help for her unborn baby and I wanted to donate to the cause. So, with no pre-made merchandise, no etsy page, no business plan, no logo, and, at the time, no name I started my facebook page for The Little Elephant. It was already a goal of mine for 2014 that just happened about a month early. I am thrilled that I have finally started The Little Elephant. As of now I am only operating through facebook but I am looking forward to opening my etsy page and building my merchandise. I am now and will always continue taking custom orders.
TC: I like the name The Little Elephant! Is there an email address where folks can reach you?
Katherine: Thank you – elephants are one of my kids favorite animals. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.