Kathy Garcia and I had the distinct pleasure of being next door neighbors for many years. We moved into our homes, just weeks apart, when we were both in the early stages of growing our families. She has since moved to a new neighborhood, but we still remain great friends.
Kathy G. Designs provides custom, hand-made gifts for pretty much anybody. Originally her product line was geared mostly towards women favoring more feminine gifts like wreaths and stationary items made from the art of paper quilling. (Paper quilling is an art form where strips of paper are curled or rolled and glued together to form decorative designs.) Kathy has since added sports themed wreaths and string art with a cool rustic vibe that would also appeal to men. Kathy explains, “[Kathy G. Designs] started as the paper quilling greeting cards and gift bags, then it [evolved] to wreaths, gifts and Christmas panels. I think of new things every year.” As with a lot of companies, what gets you started in business is not always what keeps you in business, so there has been a natural slow-down to Kathy’s quilling products. Says Kathy, “[The quilling] takes more time and it [produces] such a little [piece], but I still love doing it when I have time.” But her wreaths have most definitely taken top billing, and during the holidays, the Christmas panels that she creates start to take over, so the quilling, sadly, is in the background now.
Up until 2009 Kathy had been working in a director’s position for a big corporation. She found her work to be very stressful and not what she would consider rewarding. She goes on, “I liked the job, I was blessed to have it, [but I was] just not doing what I truly loved.” She was lucky to be in a situation where her husband had his own business and she was able to walk away from her career and be home with their three children. She shares, “That was another thing; not being there [with the kids], paying all of a paycheck to a daycare, basically, and seeing [the kids] for an hour a day before they all went off to bed. It was depressing. So I was able to leave the corporate world, be home, and then about 2-3 years later, as they were getting older, [being] off at school during the day, I [decided] I need to do something. You know? You know how it is. I needed to do something.” (Yes. I know exactly how it is.) Kathy explains that part of this need to “do something” was that creativity has always run on her mother’s side of the family. Growing up, she was always fidgeting with her fingers whenever she would watch TV. A trait she has not outgrown. That was her push to start doing paper quilling. She reminisces, “I just happened to see [paper quilling] one day at A. C. Moore or something and I was like, I’m going to get all this stuff and just start creating.”
Kathy started the quilling part of her business back in 2012. Ironically, I was her first customer! My daughter was going to be the flower girl in a family wedding and I was scouring the internet for something unique for her hair. I found these super cute paper flower hair pins. I knew that Kathy had begun quilling, so I asked her if she thought she could make them (and I’d pay her, of course!). She turned out the cutest, most perfect little pins. Says Kathy, “What started as something just for fun, turned into a business because of you. Because you had said you really should sell these and do this as a business. So I was like, hmmm, that’s see what happens. I started the Facebook page and it just went from there, like real quick. I have you to thank for that.” (Oh my gosh! I truly had no idea!!)
The bulk of the business made a decided turn toward her wreaths about a year later. Ironically (again), I had a hand in that as well! Kathy says, “I don’t know if you remember, but I made you my first wreath.” (Let’s face it, this girl, and when I say “this girl” I mean me, knows a good thing when she sees it.) But let’s back up. The true reason Kathy got into wreath making was because she would go on Etsy and would find wreaths that she loved and would think, “There’s no reason they should be this expensive (she whispered). So I made one on my own and then you liked it. You were my first customer. You [said] you should make this part of your business.” (How ‘bout that!?! That very wreath lives on my front door in the summer and on my dining room mirror throughout the winter.)
One of my hang-ups with doing any kind of craft or product is that I’m fearful of getting bored making the same item repeatedly and committing my life to one thing that, oh my gosh, I don’t want to make any more. I asked Kathy if that was ever a concern for her. Happily she reports, “I haven’t had that yet, knock on wood, especially with the wreaths. They are all so different. You’re not making the exact same thing over and over again.”
Inspiration comes from everywhere for Kathy. She explains, “I could walk around a Hobby Lobby or I could be walking in Home Goods and I’d see something and I’ll think, I can make something similar to that, you know, and then I do my spin on it. [Or] if somebody calls me and says I really want a mermaid wreath [for example], I’ll look on Pinterest to get ideas, but not copy. I want my own kind of flare to it.” Sometimes she’ll just be watching TV and an idea will come to her and she’ll need to write it down before she forgets.
Kathy G. Designs didn’t start off as a dream. It started as just a little thing that she thought would be fun and she admits that she’s lucky enough that Kathy G. Designs is not her livelihood. Because her pricing is so reasonable, she doesn’t make a big profit from of her sales. What she does make in profit gets donated to Autism Awareness or The American Red Cross. (Amazing!) But what surprised her was how big the business got, and quick! She attributes that rapid growth with the ability to brand and market through Facebook. (Ah, the joys of social media.)
She shares, “But for me, I think it’s more self serving as far as the calmness of it.” Kathy didn’t start Kathy G. Designs because she was bored, but more as a way to relax and de-stress. “Like people do yoga. This was my yoga. You know what I mean? It was calming. Yeah, a creative outlet, [but] it was a soothing thing for me,” says Kathy. She adds, “There are stressful times when it’s back and forth a dozen times [with a customer], but more than anything, I just like making pretty things and I don’t want to charge $250 for a wreath when it only costs me $25.”
Kathy’s long-term goal is just to be able to continue to be an option for people to get cool gifts for their friends and family. She shares, “I always had a dream of having, not like a full on shop, because you can’t really do that with this type of business, but to get together with [other vendors/crafters/makers] and open up a boutique.” She explains that she has store owners and restaurant owners in her family and she just doesn’t want to be away from her family and home as much as that type of work would require. Kathy goes on, “I don’t see [Kathy G. Designs] being a multimillion dollar type of thing. This is more of a “for fun”. I just want to make pretty things for people and make them happy.” So long-term dream aside, Kathy is content with where her business is today.
The greatest gift that Kathy feels she has obtained from running her business is receiving validation for her creativity. Growing up she always thought she was creative. And although she had trouble accepting the positive feedback, she was always told by others that she was creative. She adds, “I guess just being known now as the one to go to for wreaths is quite an honor. And I love driving in neighborhoods [and seeing my wreaths on the doors and knowing], “That’s mine!” It just makes me happy.”
Kathy is very proud that her kids are ringside watching what she is doing. She loves that they see that you can start from something super tiny, and if you use your resources and your personality, you can become successful. She also likes that they know that she is not doing this for the money and that they see how she prioritize her family and community. She says, “I think setting the example for the kids is probably personally my pride.”
Kathy is available to make pretty things for you. She says, “Anything goes. Really. Any idea that you have… just give me one word of what you want and I’ll run with it.”
From now until December 8, take advantage of Kathy G. Designs’ Virtual Holiday Market by visiting her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KathyGDesigns/
See below for a full list of recipients of Kathy G. Designs profit contributions. Please consider using the weblinks below to donate to Kathy’s charities of choice during this giving season.