We had the good fortune of connecting with Katrese “Kitty” Wellman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katrese “Kitty”, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The factor contributing most to my success is my passion to serve. I come from a background in hospitality and customer service and I believe it shows in my interactions with my clients. Of course I want to make money, but I genuinely love what I do. Special occasions were always a big deal in my home growing up and I remember celebrating any and every accomplishment. Great report card? Celebrate. Marching band won our competition? Celebrate. Birthdays, graduations, and holidays were especially grand (by 80s and 90s standards. Lol). I want each of my clients to experience the same joy that I did with their own events. Celebrations are not only about the aesthetics but about the feeling. I like to speak with my clients and get to know them a bit. People book Kitty’s Kreatives because I am professional, responsive, and attentive to details but also because I am compassionate, kind, and treat each event like it is my only one. I want to see your vision come to life just as much, if not more, than you. I am most proud that nearly all of my reviews state that my passion for what I do is very evident. All of my clients become a forever part of the Kitty’s Kreatives family.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I have been a creative from the time I was a little girl and you could always find me doing some type of arts and craft project. I love color and mixing and matching textures to make something new and beautiful. In the third grade, I won my elementary school’s art competition with a watercolor painting of a seascape. My mother used to take me to Goodwill, give me about $10 to spend, and I would find different clothing and fabrics that I could use to sew clothing for my Barbies and other dolls. It has just always been in me, so now being in this business space is not a surprise to those who have known me.
This isn’t my first go round at entrepreneurship. In college, I used to tutor my classmates in math and I also used to make some side cash editing papers. I went to school for accounting and did taxes for a while. In the early 2010s, I had an Etsy store making custom coasters and other decoupage items. Around the same time, I also began my personal health and fitness journey and eventually got my group fitness certification, began teaching classes, and was co-owner of a fitness studio. I did fairly well in some of those ventures, but none brought me joy like creating. Caribbean carnival is my “thing” and the very first kreations, as I call them, were actually carnival collars and feather accessories. I slowly crept into the event space by decorating any celebrations that my siblings and I had, but it really began to flourish when my son was born. I was that mom that started dreaming of her child’s first birthday party before they were even born. Sadly, my father passed away two weeks before my son’s birthday in August 2019. With trying to manage the grief of losing my other parent (mommy died in 2015), celebrating ANYTHING was the last thing on my mind. But of course I had started the preparations months before and one night in a dream, my mother came to me and told me to have my baby’s party. That he deserved what I had growing up and much more. So my September baby’s party was rescheduled to Halloween and celebrate him we did. Everyone loved my decor and began inquiring about it for their own events. My sister was my first official client when she asked me to do some balloons for her Friendsgiving. I had no idea what I was doing, so I hopped on YouTube, bought some balloons and a hand pump at Walmart, and gave it a go. Her roommate turned around and hired me to decorate for her Christmas party, and I knew then that I could really do this. People trusted me to turn their visions into reality. My bestie hired me to do some balloon columns for her mother’s retirement party in March 2020 and I was off! Or so I thought. Covid-19 shut down the world the very next week.
Starting my own business has definitely not come without challenges. For starters, I am a single mom of a toddler. My little man has his own schedule of activities and sometimes trying to find that balance is tough. I have a pretty great support system, but even with that I am looking to hire a nanny or full time babysitter soon. I also struggle with keeping my social media updated. I am an older millennial and the ever changing algorithms on some of these platforms is frustrating. Lolol. But I’m working on it. Here in Atlanta, you can throw a quarter and hit hundreds of event planners, decorators, and designers. I don’t believe that any of them are my competition but I do have to work harder to distinguish myself from the rest and focus on my personal target market. Others in the industry are not always friendly and that was a hard pill to swallow for a natural helper like myself. Pricing was difficult for me in the beginning. I wasn’t sure if people would pay for what I was offering (they will) and I would let the client kind of haggle me down. As much as I love what I do, this is a business and the goal is profit. I have had to educate a lot of people on the costs of having an event and explain to them why the $20 Amazon kit is not going to give them the Khloe Kardashian effect that they desire. At the end of 2020, I downsized my son and I from a large single family home to an apartment and was afraid that I would not be able to execute my jobs in the smaller space. But I have been blessed to afford an off-site storage facility and my god sister allows me to store items in her garage as well. The next step is to secure my own van or small box truck. I have spent waaaayyyy too much on Uhaul rentals and my local store is becoming less and less reliable. And then of course there was/is Covid. I had literally just started when events came to a screeching halt. As things slowly opened back up, they had pivoted to a space that I was just not ready to service. Outdoor, drive bys, and virtual events became the norm for a while. Decor that could either be dropped off or set up very quickly was in high demand and I didn’t have that skillset down pat at the beginning of the pandemic. But, I used that down time to work on my skills and put in place some of the back end business functions.
Year one was a total learning experience and I am blessed and grateful for the growth. I matched my salary at my full time job and will double that this year. I got to collaborate with Black News Channel on their Juneteenth celebration and I even worked on a commercial for a jewelry company. I traveled and did balloon decor in Aruba and Greece for two different birthday celebrations. Amazon even reached out for some balloon work at their Kennesaw warehouse, but I was out of town at the time. I know they will be calling back soon. Last September brought my first five figure contract and my balloon work was showcased for over 15,000 people at the Georgia World Congress Center and State Farm Arena during the MONAT World Convention. That opportunity allowed me to take a much needed break and instead of a birthday party, my son and I did some traveling for a month. I have repeat clients, a 5 star Google rating, and gained a network of friendors that are my industry family. I recently assisted one of those friendors with her booth at Dessert Wars, and what an experience that was! 2022 is seeing some changes in my business structure and services offered and I can’t wait to share them with the world when the time comes. I know that if I continue to focus on passion over profits, I will be successful. The smiling faces of my clients when they see what I have created for them keeps me close to my parents. The late nights and early mornings are all worth it. If you are thinking about starting your own venture, don’t be afraid and just go for it!! I fought through personal trauma, a crowded industry space, and a pandemic but I haven’t given up. What’s for you is for you and can all be yours with a little elbow grease.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am of a certain age now where the majority of my friends have children, so I am going to plan a family friendly trip. Lol. We would start downtown and hit up the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. There are so many interactive exhibits, including a mini Waffle House (an Atlanta staple) and a supermarket, that we could spend hours playing. I would be sure to have my friends to purchase the ATL Citypass, which includes admission to the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Zoo Atlanta, plus the choice of two others: Fernbank Museum of Natural History, College Football Hall of Fame, National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The aquarium is one of my son’s favourite places and the civil rights museum is a wonderful learning experience for all. On a nice summer day, we can take the kids to play in the water fountain and sprayground at Centennial Olympic Park. Before leaving downtown, everyone has to take a spin on Skyview Atlanta, the giant ferris wheel across from the park. In midtown, we would definitely visit Piedmont Park and then go next door to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Depending on the season, there might be blooming flowers, scarecrows, or holiday lights. It’s all a joy to see. After a nice stroll on the Beltline with our bikes and trikes, we’d head over to Ponce City Market for some good eats. On the rooftop is Skyline Park, which is like a mini Coney Island boardwalk with vintage amusement games, mini golf, drinks and food. There is something for the whole family!
For my outdoorsy friends, we must explore Kennesaw Mountain in Cobb County, Vickery Creek Falls in Roswell, and Stone Mountain Park on the east side. For the bigger kids, Six Flags and Whitewater are a must. Trampoline parks are growing in popularity, with SkyZone and Big Air being some of our faves. Even if you aren’t a big sports fan, you have to try and squeeze in a Hawks game at StateFarm Arena, a Falcons game at Mercedes Benz Stadium, or a Braves game at Truist Park. The energy at ATL sporting events is insane (even if our teams aren’t the best. Lol).
At any given time, there is some show, exhibit, or festival happening in Atlanta. Up north, there is always something going on in the Historic Marietta Square like May-retta Dayz, the Smyrna Jonquil Festival, fireworks on Lake Acworth, or Pigs and Peaches bbq festival in Kennesaw. The Candytopia exhibit and Universoul Circus are in town a few times a year, along with Disney on Ice and Monster Jam (hands down my kid’s fave). On the major holiday weekends like Memorial and Labor Day, you can easily enjoy Atlanta Caribbean Carnival, the Jazz Festival, the Peachtree Road Race, DragonCon, and ComicCom. Alot of big music festivals like Shaky Knees and Music Midtown are held here as well. No matter what vibe and energy my friends (and their kids) are on, there is plenty to see and do in our wonderful city!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Aww man, so many! I definitely have to start with my late parents, Dennis and Glenda Wellman. Daddy was a serial entrepreneur and instilled the drive for success in us from young. He was also a world class partier and the source behind our many celebrations. I get my giving spirit from mom. Always finding a way to do a little bit extra beyond what was needed or asked. Next are my siblings Lanae, Loryn, Denny, and Kristina. They refer me to EVERYONE they know and let me play guinea pig on them when I am learning new skills. My sibs drive me nuts at times but I can’t imagine going on this journey without them and my crazy extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I also have some amazing friends that are always rooting for me, going as far as flying in for 20 hours to attend my business launch party. Special shout outs to my girls Shamair, who pushed me out of my comfort zone a long time ago, Sadie, who actually came up with the business name before it was even a business, and Crystal, another amazing mompreneur who often times keeps me sane on this crazy journey. Huge thanks to my godmother, Lynn, and my godsister, Shasha, who regularly assist on bigger events. And of course my son, Augustus. He is my biggest inspiration and the reason why I will not fail.
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