“Most of us make decisions from a place of fear and we aren’t even cognizant of it. The choices we make seem rational and give us a feeling of control however, we couldn’t be farther from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the many individuals who succumb to fear-based decisions, trying to avoid a negative outcome but the times I’m able to push through, I actually feel in more control and my perspective is brighter.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing K’era Morgan, a Los Angeles based mixed-media artist who launched a capsule collection of throw blankets under the brand, k-apostrophe at the end of 2017 in hopes of sharing her combined love of art and textile design.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My path is not a direct one but has come full circle, if that makes sense. I actually studied textile design at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago many moons ago. It allowed me to foster my initial curiosity of textile surface design that began as a child thanks to my mother whom I accompanied on shopping trips to fabric stores when she was starting a new sewing project. However, upon graduation I somehow lacked confidence in my skills and felt ill-prepared to hack it in the design world. So I decided I needed to find a job that would pay my bills/student loan debt and had a very clear professional growth path. But 15 years later having worked in public relations domestically and internationally for some well-known brands I was unfulfilled. I was moving up the ranks, excelling in the various positions I held yet I was dissatisfied. It was until a former boss of mine who was extremely perceptive sat me down and told me the one thing that no one else had noticed, not even me, or didn’t really care enough to say anything; she commended me on my work and knew I could continue in my job and do it well but she wanted me to pursue something that made me happy and something I was passionate about because life was too short to spend your working hours doing something you dreaded. Lets just say my mouth hit the floor and tried not to blink for fear that I would start crying and never stop. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I finally gave myself the space to reconnect with the side that liked to paint and draw and get her hands dirty creating and experimenting. From there, things flowed naturally to where I am now.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
The opportunity to share my creative process with others via intuitive collage workshops organically came about after launching my business. Part of my goal with my business was to find a way to share my studio work and love of textile design with people however, the idea of leading creative sessions wasn’t part of my mission originally. Nevertheless, it’s become part of what I do and it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve never taught or led a class before so that was a bit nerve-racking but it also forced me to think about my process, break it down and translate into something was very tangible and approachable for others to grasp.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I actually made business cards and postcards before I secured my Instagram handle. I was so excited about my new logo and focused on crossing things off of my “to-do” list that I got ahead of myself and had to reprint the materials. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a major mistake (thank goodness) but it taught me about patience and to take things step-by-step instead of trying to cheat ahead.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I don’t know if I do stand out amongst the more established brands in the artisan textile/home decor space since I’m so new. I’m still trying to carve out my piece of the pie but I do think I’m right track. I think staying true to my aesthetic but remaining open to exploration with my studio practice has helped my products gain awareness. This is something I felt but was confirmed during a meeting with a major French retailer. I gave them my pitch. They asked a few questions but the buyers had a serious poker face. They began speaking to each other in French, turned back to me and asked if they could keep a sample of my blankets and linesheets, which I obliged. As I left the meeting, a dear friend of mine whom I lean on tremendously from a business perspective turned to me and told that I was definitely going to receive an order from them because she was able to deduce from her high school French that they were thoroughly impressed and had yet to see anything so well-made, unique and at a reasonable price point. Needless to say, I received my biggest order to date from that store.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The list of things “to do” is neverending. Take it in stride and be reasonable about what you can accomplish and in what time frame. Ask for help when you need it. People like to be of service and you can’t do it all alone. Disconnect from work and reconnect with yourself. That’s a hard one for many but I find it easier to come up with solutions or new ideas when I give myself the time and space to step away from work. Remember starting, running and growing a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience is something our society has little of and we torture ourselves with trying to become an ‘’overnight success’’ which is the biggest, fattest lie we’ve been served up.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Just one? That’s impossible because there are so many people that have helped me along the way. However, there is one person I lean on constantly and has literally supported me and my vision since day one and that would be my husband. I’m lucky to be married to a fellow creative who also happens to be a marketing whiz and Excel expert. He’s taught me how to create a pivot table (I can’t remember how to do it anymore), has quized me on my financials and was the first person that told me to start out small with one product, learn how to do it well, and then and only then expand.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I hope that by living my truth and sharing my story including the challenges that come along with being an entrepreneur and a creative that I inspire others to follow their true path.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
There is a quote by Alan Moore in his book, Why Beauty is the Key to Everything that states, “ Investing in loving what you do always costs time, money, and sometimes the odd scar and bruise. It repays that love with personal satisfaction.’’ This quote is taped to my computer because I need to be reminded of this daily. But it reminds me of the first response I received from a buyer at store that not only wrote me back, but commented on how much she loved my work and that she would be placing an order. Up until that point, I had faced numerous rejections from store owners while others neglected to even respond. My confidence wavered, my bank account had taken a hit and confidence but my passion propelled me forward.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be prepared to face rejection and don’t take it personal. You hear a lot of “no’s” and “cant’s” along the way which can be discouraging. When I first launched I was terrified that my work wouldn’t receive a positive response or any response at all. People weren’t flocking to my website as soon as it went live and there were stores I reached out to that just weren’t interested. However, that had nothing to do with me as a person and well, everyone isn’t going to jive with what you are doing and that’s okay. On the flip side, I’ve had customers who not only purchased my work but have also written me to say how much they love their purchase. That’s how you know there is room in the world for you and your vision and it will resonate with others… maybe not everyone or even the masses but you’ll find those that say yes, please, thank you.
2. The bulk of your time spent will be on running the business and probably not the part that made you want to start your own business, at least in the beginning. I heard the operating your business would require you to work more than you’ve ever had but I don’t think I grasped the fact that not only would I be responsible for multiple tasks but those tasks like accounting and playing bill collector, ‘’wholesale account hustler’’ would be a non-stop requirement to keep my business afloat.
3. Define what success means to you. That should be the very first thing you do because once you are in it, it’s very easy to get caught up in other people’s successes or what society tells you success should look like and feel like. This helps me when I feel like I’m lagging behind or things are feeling stagnant in comparison to others in my same industry. However, I don’t really know what is going on for others, and what my goal is and what there is could be very different and therefore the paths we are taking are also different.
4. Surround yourself and build a community with other business owners from scrappy newbies to seasoned entrepreneurs. Some of the best advice and tips I’ve learned along the way have been through fellow business owners. They’ll also to inspire you to push further or do something you’ve been putting off. I recently landed a few pop-up opportunities with a national big-box retailer which simply required me to do some research and reach out to them. I had been putting it off until a fellow biz owner told me of her positive experience with the same retailer and that I needed to just do it, make the calls.
5. Money isn’t the answer to all of your challenges. Don’t get me wrong, money is a necessity but it won’t solve all of your problems and I’m finding that funding my business myself has made every little or big win I’ve earned thus far so much sweeter. It’s also forced me to slow down, let things grow organically and be bit more creative when challenges have popped-up. A friend recently offered to invest in my company and I said no. I felt it was too soon and needed time to grow business and solidify my brand on my own before I could responsibly take funds from someone else.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If there could be a movement around not letting fear dictate our lives that would be my choice. Most of us make decisions from a place of fear and we aren’t even cognizant of it. The choices we make seem rational and give us a feeling of control however, we couldn’t be farther from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the many individuals who succumb to fear-based decisions, trying to avoid a negative outcome but the times I’m able to push through, I actually feel in more control and my perspective is brighter.
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Originally published at medium.com