In our new Meet the Maker Series, we will be getting to know the artisans behind all of the wonderful handmade goods we carry in our shop. We feel so lucky to share such a well-curated collection of goods with all of you, and none of this would be possible without the beautiful minds behind these pieces.
Since we seem to have a thing for local makers, we've decided to carry on the theme for our next installment in this series! Allow us to introduce you to Kylee Barnard, founder of Silk Diaries. Kylee is a true creative and total boss babe. Her compassion and drive behind Silk Diaries is truly inspiring, and we hope your heart is warmed as much as ours was as we read her story.
What kind of job did you have before starting Silk Diaries?
I grew up in a very service oriented household, so I've always had a passion to help those around me. I was a restaurant server throughout college because I loved learning about other peoples stories–I got a lot of my inspiration and work experience that helped me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. I studied Graphic Design at SCAD in Savannah and was lucky enough to be chosen to do a partnership with Google where I got to design a digital product to help people live more sustainable lifestyles. This opened up a whole new world for me, and a whole new way I could help make people's life easier and more enjoyable. After graduation I accepted a job with IBM as a Visual Designer, and I'm actually still here! I work on our internal culture magazine, Variable, in addition to my main role designing software for Cognitive Systems. It's very technical/corporate work, which is why I started Silk Diaries. When I first joined, I was struggling with the imposter syndrome, my self confidence, and I lost my passion and purpose. But what I realized was that it wasn't just me feeling this way. Silk Diaries helps me let go of a lot of structure in my life and allows me to truly express myself (while still inspiring others at the same time!)
Are you a coffee or tea person?
Oh man, both! I can't function in the morning (or afternoon) without coffee, but I do love a good cup of chamomile and throat coat before I go to bed.
What's a favorite restaurant of yours that always recommend to Austin visitors?
The Beer Plant! I'm not vegan, but dang I love that place. The buffalo cauliflower wings are to die for and there is happy hour all day on Mondays.
Where have you run into struggles running your business, and how have you overcome them?
I think my biggest struggle is that I do have a full time job, and I've reached the point in my business where I feel like I can't keep up with the demand (which is also amazing to feel!) Sometimes I have to let people down because I just can't produce enough to reach all of my potential customers. I'm still overcoming this situation, so we will see what happens! I always try to explain to people that I am a one woman studio, I do all of the design + marketing work as well as everything that goes into creating the products. But right now I'm trying to enjoy my life and the experiences around me more than I have been. It gets really hard to be present, appreciative and confident in the work you're producing when the to-do list seems endless. But the good thing is that absolutely love the work I do, so it doesn't feel like work! Which might also be the reason why I have balance issues.
How do you wind down after a busy day of creating your products?
I like to read and journal about my day! I have this book Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie and it really helps bring me back down to earth before I head to sleep, and provides a good burst of inspiration in the morning. I also read Communication Arts magazine, Kinfolk and other creative/inspiring books or articles online. Blinkist is a great way to read books in a short period because it summarizes the book down into short 'Blinks'.
What do you hope your customers will feel when they purchase your scarves?
I hope that they feel loved and worthy. I hope they see honest possibilities in the uniqueness of their individuality, and I hope that they feel inspired to share their story. I think the biggest thing our generation is facing is disconnectedness. Oppression thrives on superficiality. Your story can save someone's life. You just have to brave enough to be honest about your struggles because that is where you will find liberation. And when you give love to others, you get to share that liberation.
What in your life gave you a sense and passion for business?
Looking back, I think I have always loved business. I did so many things as a kid, like selling mistletoe door to door during Christmas time, lemonade and brownie stands, and I even had a little bead making business when I was 12 called I Make It! I used to go up to my dads business and sell them to the ladies that worked there. My dad showed me what it was like to work for what you want. I always loved the power and confidence I felt when I decided to take control and responsibility of my life. I think that you truly can do anything you want, you just have to get out of the pattern of thinking you can't. Everyone is winging it.
(Photos by: Sam Sing, Bella Pixler, and Kylee Barnard)