This month's featured #bloomgirl is Kate Kresser! We are so inspired by Kate's passion, energy, artistic ability, maturity, and entrepreneurial mindset even at such a young age! Keep reading to learn more about Kate!
Tell us a little about yourself and Pen’d Calligraphy!
I’m a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore and live with my family of six. I love to sing and dance and I perform in musicals each semester at my school. I run my online Etsy business, Pen’d Calligraphy, from the little desk in the corner of my room. My goal is to offer inspirational home décor and gifts that inspire people to surround themselves with words that speak to them and to go out and follow their dreams.
How/when did you decide to learn calligraphy?
I’ve always loved arts and crafts. As a little girl, my idea of fun with a friend was crafting for hours on end. One day last year, I decided to try learning calligraphy. I had been following some lettering artists on Instagram and I had seen a post that stated ‘Anyone can learn calligraphy!’ I loved the beauty of it and I decided to try it. Why not, right? I used thin sharpies to do faux calligraphy at first, which is done by forming the letters and then shading where the lines are supposed to be thicker. It was so calming and I found myself practicing every chance I got! It took a long time for me to improve to a level where I was happy with my work. I am very critical of myself, which has definitely been a challenge during this journey. After lots and lots of practice, late nights, and YouTube videos, I got to the point that I was ready to share my work with others.
I started writing inspirational quotes and giving them as gifts to friends and relatives. When one happy recipient called me about my thoughtful gift, she suggested that I start an Etsy shop. I had seen my mom buy items from Etsy many times, but never thought I could be a seller. The idea excited me. I talked to my mom about it, and she thought it was a great idea! I began working right away. I looked at other calligraphers’ shops to get ideas and inspiration. I contacted artists I admired through Direct Messenger on Instagram and asked them for tips and strategies, and my mom and I went to the bank so the income I made could go to my own account. I built up inventory, talked to friends and family to get input on my items, and came up with a name. In January 2017, my shop was up and running at pendcalligraphy.etsy.com. The first day, someone favorited an item of mine while I was in Biology class and I (literally) jumped out of my seat.
Since then, my little business has grown so much. Most of my orders have been from people in my area and I’ve gotten discovered by word of mouth. I did calligraphy for a wedding in May, reached 750 followers on my Instagram (@pendcalligraphy)!
I have done menus and chalkboard signage for the local market. I’ve done signage for parties, made custom gifts and nametags, and discovered my own style of lettering. I donate 10% of my proceeds to Inner-City Arts, a Los Angeles organization that offers classes in the arts to underserved children and teens. I love what I do, and plan to continue to grow my business in the years to come.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
My mom has been a huge inspiration to me throughout this year. There have been so many times when I was ready to quit, business was slow, and I thought I didn’t have it in me to keep going. She has always been there to make me take a step back and look at how far I’ve come. She believes in me and sends so much positive energy my way whenever I need it. I’m so thankful to her for that. She has also been a really big supporter of sales and thinks of my shop whenever she needs a personal and thoughtful gift.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced, personally or professionally? How have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has definitely been being overly critical of myself. I used to compare my work to other calligraphers’ and always put myself down. Being super critical has helped me to only ship my very best work to my customers, but I’ve been trying to be okay with imperfections. In fact, I keep telling myself that the beauty of handmade work is in its imperfections. Another thing I tell myself is, “People are buying your work, aren’t they? You must be doing something right!” I’m still working on being happy with where I’m at and trusting the process, but it has definitely improved immensely since I started!
What are some key learning experiences that helped shape your company?
One experience that really shaped me was having a booth at my neighborhood’s yearly Harvest Festival. A friend of my mom who works for the Homeowners Association (the organization that puts on the festival) found out about my business and asked me if I wanted to have a booth. I was so excited! It was one of the best experiences I’ve had with my business so far. I got to talk to people in person about my work and why I do what I do. I went home that night with 15 orders and a full heart.
What are your favorite bloom products, and why?
My favorite bloom products are the Classic Daily Planners! I love getting organized and being on top of all my work, and the functional elements and size of the planners are perfect! I’m a big believer in writing things down on paper, rather than storing them electronically. It helps to visually see your ideas and goals right in front of you. bloom’s beautiful designs and bright colors are so fun and inspirational. They make me smile whenever I look at them.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Kate! Do you have a #girlboss story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be our next featured bloom girl!