Wednesday , 19 December 2018
Kelle inspires you to believe that childhood dreams were meant to come true. Enjoy the interview:

Interview: Ann Kelle Designs | Creating for Target, Barnes and Noble, and QVC


Interview: Ann Kelle Designs

Please welcome Kelle of Ann Kelle Designs. In the year 2002, she quit her day job in public policy and, on a leap of faith, started a creative business. Today, Kelle creates for big names, such as Target, Barnes and Noble, and QVC.

Dive into her colorful and well-designed blog for friendly inspiration. I loved her recent post, Decorating a Shared Kid’s Room, and when I settled down with the article, I was tickled to see it linked to great handmade shops on the Etsy marketplace {I love this about Etsy, you think you’ve found all the greatest shops, yet there are thousands left to discover}. Kelle says, “I love, love Etsy. I shop there ALL the time.”

Kelle inspires you to believe that childhood dreams were meant to come true. Enjoy the interview:

In 2002, you launched Ann Kelle Designs, and within a week you were being presented to Target. I know handmade artists around the world are wondering the same thing I am, how did that happen?

I launched Ann Kelle at the National Stationery Show, an annual trade show for the stationery industry. On the last day of the show, it was pretty slow. I was a bit bummed that I hadn’t reached my unrealistic goals. So, I walked over to a manufacturer’s booth that I had spoken with prior to the show. I gave them my catalog and told them if they needed anyone to design their packaging or that kind of work, I was available. I didn’t think much about it, and was pretty sure they probably threw away my catalog. At the close of the show, I returned to my hotel even more bummed. It was a low moment. Just as I sat down to have a good cry, the phone rang. The manufacturer I met had looked through my catalog. They had a meeting with Target the following week and wanted to include my designs in their presentation. From there, I entered into the world of licensing.

Today your designs are featured at Barnes and Noble, Office Depot, Target, and Wal Mart, among many other stores and online locations. Did you start with a business plan, or did you just allow the possibilities to unfold?

I just let it unfold. Licensing my artwork allows me to just concentrate on what I love, designing.

Your designs grace fabrics, holiday cards, and stationery. What’s your favorite finished product?

I don’t have a favorite product. But, I can share my favorite thing about being a designer. I love seeing people use my products. I’ve been at a restaurant and looked at the table beside me to see the baby has a burp cloth made from my fabric. Or I’ve seen people out walking around with one of my journals. I always get this goofy grin when this happens. It’s cool to see how something I created is part of other people’s lives.

Please describe your “zone.” What’s the atmosphere like in your studio? And what’s the mood when you’re creating?

My work space was the first room I decorated when I moved into my loft. I knew I’d spend the most time in there. It’s very bright and happy. All white furniture, with pops of color everywhere. I have a lot of accessories in my space that serve as inspiration as well. And when I need some fun, I have bubbles and water squirters sitting close by.

Design days are the best. My mood is usually over-the-top giddy. I’ve typically already done research on whatever project I’m working on. So, all I have to do is get “lost” in designing.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

My mornings start with responding to emails and putting up a blog post (if I have one for the day). Then I work on various design projects for clients. I also have a blog that keeps me pretty busy … planning sewing tutorials and projects, fabric sightings, etc., which requires photo shoots, editing photos, and writing content.

In your artistic career, what has been your proudest moment?

Being able to design full-time.

What is the one biggest tip you would offer to handmade artists just starting out and looking for their first sale?

Be patient, don’t give up and be sweet.

Thank you, Kelle! Your success is absolutely inspirational! As always, you can find more from me at Marketing Creativity. Until next time and all the best ~


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  1. What a wonderful story! I just love that she didn’t have to have it all mapped out– she just set out to do what she loved and people love what she does. (shhhh… that’s my plan too– don’t tell anyone!)

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