We had the good fortune of connecting with Katherine Hillis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Katherine, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Throughout my life I always had a fantasy of having my own business. I really didn’t put much thought or effort into it. Then about two years ago something shifted. Maybe a perfect storm of events. Working for a small leather handbag company while being a vegetarian wasn’t sitting right with my soul and lifestyle choices. I was also commuting four plus hours a day. I was missing my kids, step-kids, fiancé (now husband), my dogs, and just having time to work on anything for myself. After talking with my fiancé, I decided to go for it. Between him, our families, and our friends, the support has been pretty amazing.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My artwork is jewelry, beaded with natural stones and crystals. The natural stones and crystals I use are popular and some are lesser known. The uniqueness, individuality, and metaphysical properties of each stone are beautiful. I want to share those with other people. I also make vegan leather alternative handbags. My handbags are produced in small batches and made to order right now because it’s just me working on them. I wanted to offer the option of sustainable and eco friendly handbags and wallets without using animal skins and toxic chemicals.

In my mid thirties I was wanting to do something more with my life. I liked being a stay at home mom and wife, but I wanted something more, something for me. Finishing college was important to me but I just hadn’t gotten there. Then one day I had an epiphany. I wanted to go to college for fashion design to ultimately become a costume designer in the film industry. So, I went back to school. It took three years to finish. In those three years I took some left turns and made hard decisions. I got divorced, graduated college at the age of 40, moved to another town, got remarried, started a small business. It was NOT easy. I was plagued with doubt, guilt (not being there for my children’s events), and more.

Some lessons I’ve learned: people see the hard work even when you don’t think they do, speak up and advocate for yourself (this is still hard for me), and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Hearing the no’s are hard but not going and even trying for something is harder.

This whole path has been and still is a wild ride. I started out going for my degree to say I finished college to have a fun career. But it has evolved into something else. I want to leave a legacy for my children. I want them to know they can build, grow, evolve, with who they are and what they want out of life which includes their work, their career, their spiritual journey and so much more. It doesn’t have to just be something that makes them money. Being creative, being happy and fulfilling their dreams is what it is truly all about.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When I get to go to the city for fun I usually go to one of the art museums. The High Museum is pretty great. There is a tiny little art museum that shows up and coming artists call 378 Gallery. The owner and gallery director is cool, Tom Zarilli. Of course the Aquarium is always fun.

My husband is vegan and I am a vegetarian so when we go out to eat it has to accommodate both of our dietary needs. We loved Cafe Sunflower in Buckhead. We are also looking forward to trying Slutty Vegan when we go to an evening event in Atlanta.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There isn’t just one person to give mention to. All my successes have been because of my support system. My husband, Gary Pearce, my younger brother, Samuel Brewer, and my family have been there to encourage me, challenge me, mentor me, and help me whenever I need it. I also give thanks to God. Because without God I wouldn’t have had any of the amazing people or opportunities in my life and work that I have had.

Website: www.etsy.com/shop/KSDBoutique

Instagram: ksd.boutique

Facebook: Katherine Suzanne Designs

Image Credits
all images by Katherine Hillis & Gary Pearce

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