Natalie Kaelin Home
Continuing to sew throughout middle school, I met my entrepreneurial spirit. I had mastered the crafty-looking purse with a surprisingly clean craft coming from a 12 year old and my first instinct was to sell them to my classmates. A folder with fabric swatches of polka dots and stripes was passed through the hallways as I exchanged a finished purse for $15. The business side of it was exciting and I was hooked!
In 2010 I enrolled as an “Undecided Major” freshmen at North Carolina State University and eventually transferred into the College of Design. I majored in Art + Design with a concentration in Fibers, which is where I took my first weaving class.
How do you maintain work life balance?
Having only been in this business for a year and a half, I’m not sure a true work life balance is in the cards yet. So far, I have funded everything in this company debt-free and I am boot-strapping tirelessly to maintain that freedom. I currently work 4 jobs in total to keep everything afloat, but this is surely not a complaint. If you want to be a girl boss, you’ve got to do the work!
I would say my key to the balance that I do have involves a small amount of necessary self-care: Pilates, soaking in sunshine whenever possible, and Pinot! And did I mention my amazing husband who keeps me sane?
How do you stay motivated?
Every time I feel burnt out, I just remember the list of miserable jobs I could be spending my life doing. Because that’s what the majority of life is; work. So the opportunity to get to do what I love and make a living from it, feels like an undeserved, dream (in the process of) coming true.
I also teach weaving workshops regularly around Louisville and Raleigh, NC, my hometown. I always leave each session with a smile having heard the notorious feedback of how therapeutic weaving is and what a relief it is to now have a new hobby. Spreading the joy of weaving and the knowledge of this lost, historical craft, is my duty as an artist and my contribution to make the world even a little bit happier.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, I have been so lucky to have found my network of creatives and entrepreneurs here in Louisville that always motivate me. We’re all just trying to do what we love, spread our art, maintain our key values, and we all happen to be in the same, thriving city.
What has owning your own business taught you?
Growing up, I watched my dad support our family through his own business that he grew and nurtured from the very beginning. Only now do I realize how lucky I am to have seen entrepreneurship succeed and therefore my family has never tried to sway me away from any of my dreams, no matter how unrealistic they may seem to the rest of the world.
Entrepreneurship is not for the weak. I have failed and I have fought and I have failed some more. The only way to make it is to really, intensely, passionately want it with everything you have. I have learned that perseverance is one of my greatest virtues and that my ambition to succeed doesn’t grow weary because giving up isn’t an option.
How did you get started?
I believe my first step into this creative life started before I was even born. While nature versus nurture remains a debated topic, I am confident that I am an equal product of both. My paternal grandmother was a feisty Italian woman, strong and beautiful and an amazing painter. I never had the chance to meet her but am certain that my natural attraction to art was a pre-destined inheritance. Growing up, I spent my summers at my maternal grandmother’s house where, I learned to sew. She gave me my first child-size pink sewing machine, taught me the basic sewing techniques, showed me how to read and follow patterns, and exposed me to the functional role of sewing and its importance in a household.
Where do you get inspiration from and what inspires you?
My final summer of college was spent studying abroad in Ghana, West Africa. It was my first time leaving the country and the trip was life-changing. Getting to experience such a beautiful culture among a landscape I had only seen in pictures continues to inspire me to this day. My favorite part of the trip was exploring through the craft villages, which included pottery, bead-making, weaving, and stamp-making. I believe the large-scale patterns seen through all of these crafts are partly responsible for my aesthetic and the large diamond patterns found in most of my work.
The other inspiration that strongly dictates my work is color theory. It has become an obsession to predict and then watch how different colors react with one another. “If I use this particular gray yarn next to this indigo, will it appear violet? If I pair it with the yellow will it appear green?” And then, how will this color combination affect the room? The basis behind my entire company is the home and my goal is to produce products that transform your room to energize, inspire, bring you peace, and most importantly, make you feel happy and relieved to walk through the door everyday.
Where do you see your band going in the next five years?
GROWTH. In February I am planning to do my first trade show, NY Now, which I believe will be a major game-changer and will increase my retailer list tremendously. I’d love to make the leap into working for my company full-time which will also involve hiring my first employee.
On a smaller scale, I am planning to introduce some leather-work into my next collection that I am very excited about and may attract a few more sectors of the market that I do not currently have.