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

Hi Kathlyn, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I enjoy sending greeting cards and small handmade gifts to family and friends to lift their spirits and surprise them with “love” gifts. Besides, who doesn’t like receiving mail that is not a bill? I could never find ethnic cards that expressed and looked like what I was attracted to. My concept in designing greeting cards
was to find vintage images of African American girls from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s that most likely never had the opportunity to dress in fine linens and bows. I would digitally redress them in pretty dresses and put them in new fanciful environments. Giving homage to little black girls that never had the experience of knowing how beautiful they were nor having the ability to see themselves portrayed in a positive manner is very important to me. As a child, I yearned for images of fairies, princesses, and major characters in books that represented people I knew. The more I sent my greeting cards to loved ones, the more feedback I got about selling my cards. It finally dawned on me, if I was hungry for this type of artistry, surely there were others that are equally interested.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Although I have seen some very impressive art that have been made into cards, I think the nostalgia and fantasy of my cards sets them apart. If the card does have a sentiment written on them, they are always uplifting and positive. My life’s mission is to be the essence of a loving soul and I want my art to represent that. When you see my art, I want you to feel the love that went into making it, as well as the loving concept it represents. In addition to greeting cards, I also work in clay. My ceramic figures are an extension of the characters I portray in my cards. I can go further in the embellishments of my sculptures using symbols, found objects, and elements of nature to adorn them. Since I was a child, I always enjoyed making dolls. My path to becoming a professional doll artist has evolved in many forms, the progression has been slow, but steady. The little girls on my greeting cards are a different representation of the dolls I used to create. The same aspect is true with my ceramic figures, they are like dolls that are represented as healers, nurturers, and characters of many mystical, magical characteristics.

Creating art helps you to develop patience and understanding, it’s an act of bringing something into existence. That takes time and experience, both of those qualities is an ongoing process.

Whatever I create, it comes from a loving place that I hope touches someones heart and soul.

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?
I’m pretty much a home body, but I never turn down the opportunity to dine out. I have been a vegan for five years and have scouted out many good restaurants that would appeal to vegans and non vegans alike. I love variety in foods, Indian, Thai, Japanese, and so on. Our meals would be based on whatever country we would want to experience that evening. Living close to Washington, D.C. opens up a treasure trove of places to visit. One of my favorites is the African Museum of Art. In addition to that museum, the African American Museum would also be a must. I exhibit my ceramic sculptures at the largest art center in Northern Virginia, the Torpedo Factory. Our visit there would not only be to see my work, but also see some of the other artists that work there and have studios in which you can visit. If the Kennedy Center or any other performing arts center has a good play, or dance troupe performing, we would definitely add that to the list. Depending on the time of the year, nothing beats a picnic in the park by the Potomac River or driving out to the mountains for some apple picking.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
In addition to sending my cards out to family and friends, I would always post new card designs on Facebook and Instagram. I would always get good feedback from many viewers, but the main catalyst of me starting my business was from a gifted clothing designer that began corresponding with me and encouraged me to start my own greeting card business. Her name is Sara Bunn. She was very persuasive in boosting my confidence to move forward in developing a website and selling my cards.

Website: Katugi.com

Instagram: kats_and_co

Facebook: Kathlyn James Avila

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.