Fiber and Gloss is a collection of original works, prints, and printed goods based in Cleveland, OH. We interviewed owner Katie Ford to learn more about her local business.
Tell us about your business.
My name is Katie Ford, and I'm the artist and owner behind all things Fiber and Gloss. I start this little business of mine after just wanting to earn a little extra income on the side. I'm the type of person that just isn't happy creating only one thing or even within one style sometimes, so I knew I wanted a name that would be all encompassing of any direction I might choose. So, I made a list of words related to my two favorite ways to work - painting and fibers and crochet. Thus, Fiber and Gloss was born! Since then, I've evolved my brand into what it is today - a collection of original works, prints, and locally printed products such as magnets, greeting cards, buttons, mugs, tote bags, and more! My goal is to bring some color, quirkiness, and hometown pride to my customers' worlds while creating affordable and accessible art that people from all walks of life can appreciate.
What drew you to your craft?
I don't know that I could really give you any specific thing(s) that drew me to what I do. Honestly, I've just always been making and creating for as long as I can remember. I don't handle just sitting still for long periods of time, so I would always fill down time of any kind, even just watching a movie, with creating! It's just such an integral part of my soul that I simply have to be making or working on something almost all the time!
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
Ooh gosh. You mean I really have to choose just one thing? That's so mean! Well, I guess if I was forced to choose something, I would have to say my favorite thing I've ever made is the backdrop I made for our wedding, which is the biggest labor of love I've worked on thus far in my life. It was made of nearly 4,000 pom poms I made by hand myself, and it took way too many hours I couldn't possibly count! But let me tell you, it was worth every damn second!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
From the time I was very little, I always said I wanted to be an art teacher. And that's what I am! I'm a full time high school art teacher during the day, and then I spend every minute I can spare building this business of mine! My whole world revolves all around art, and I wouldn't have it any other way!
What is your creative process?
I'm pretty equally right and left brained, so while I obviously love to be creative, the left brained part of me requires a bit of order and logic to everything I do. I like to work on multiple projects at once so I can switch between pieces depending on my mood, where I'm working, or how much time I have. But, I almost always have a priority list and a timeline for when everything should be done. I create weekly to do lists and then daily to do lists with every last little thing I have to do down all the quick emails I have to send or reply to.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Ten years ago, I was a junior in high school, and I could not even fathom that someday someone would want to spend any amount of money on something I made. I thought I would just be an art teacher for the rest of forever and that was perfectly fine. I would tell myself to stay open and not close myself off to new possibilities. I think I had the opposite problem of everyone else that wasn't too sure about their next steps - I knew exactly what I would do and never stopped to think about what else I could do. I LOVE that I get to walk this walk for my students and hopefully show them that you can go for it, whatever that "it" might be, anytime!
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
In today's world, we, at least the people in my generation, care more about supporting each other and knowing our money is going to someone who needs it and will put it to good use in chasing their dreams rather than lining the pockets of more millionaires. I want to know (when possible, of course) that my dollars are being spent wisely and are somehow putting money back in to the local, small businesses and makers. Additionally, I also like knowing that what I'm buying is unique and different from the more generic things one might find in all of the larger stores.
Why do you love doing what you do?
Art and being able to create are both central and of the utmost importance to who I am as a person. I am my happiest when I make time to draw or paint as frequently as possible. Without it, I'm not sure I even know who I would be or what I would be doing!
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
My biggest piece of advice is to just START! I had no idea what I was doing when I started. And yes, of course, I made mistakes along the way as I tried to figure out what the heck I was doing. But I think I learned so much more along the way be just doing it and learning what worked for ME. It's so easy to get sucked in to reading every person's advice about starting a handmade or creative business, and don't get me wrong, that definitely serves a purpose and is an awesome resource. But if you spend too much time doing that, you might talk yourself out of it by over analyzing every little thing and you may never start. Also, at the end of the day, every person's advice is just going to be worked for THEM, not YOU! Sure it's a great starting point, but the only way you figure out what works for you is to just jump in and do it. So if it's what you want, just go for it!
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
At the end of college, I was so ready to get out of Ohio. I wanted to escape to the Big Apple after living in the city the summer before for an internship and get back to that big city life. I won't lie - I'd still LOVE to do that someday in many ways. But I ended up falling in love with my now husband who just oozed this incredible love for Cleveland and Ohio. I had to experience The Land and this amazing state through his eyes and his perspective before I really, truly, "got it". Now, I have such an appreciation for how wonderful this state truly is and how it shaped me in ways you just don't understand as a kid. Cleveland and Ohio are home in every sense of the word!