We had the good fortune of connecting with Kel Cadet-Lyons and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kel, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
For busy artists looking to turn their work into a business, one of my key pieces of advice is to learn to ask for and accept help. There is no way I would have been able to row through the currant of 2020 as a small business owner without assistance. We tend to proudly be a jane of all trades. However, in order to preserve yourself and all that you are looking to attain, one must learn to delegate and task those that are exceptional in the area where you are not your strongest. If you are not able to officially employ a team, lean on your village as much as they will allow. This will enable you to focus on the parts of the business that you do enjoy and curb burnout.
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.
– R-KI-TEKT is a well curated ensemble of modern + artful accessories and goods inspired by travel and color. We pride ourselves in providing quality, hand-crafted goods that are as unique as the individual that carries it. We believe that a life filled with color, pattern, and texture is a life well lived. We hope that R-KI-TEKT inspires you to connect with elements of West Indian and African Diasporic culture and allows you to carry good vibes everywhere. – With 2020 being a whirlwind of a year, I am proudest of our ability to simply continue. Like many other small businesses, we were also faced with moments of uncertainty and set backs that were out of our control. However, we were able to enter the year with a spirit of hope and anticipation for several projects that will be launching. – After being inundated with political news and social unrest, one of the key lessons learned is how to honor your mind and body as a creative. Often times the image of the “thriving creative” is that of hustling and constantly chasing goals. You never really see the business owner or creative resting or recharging. I’m keen on showing my customers and followers not only beautiful products, but how they are created and then me recuperating from a busy period. I believe it is important to remind people of the humans behind the handles and businesses. – I’ve been a creative for as long as I can remember. I’ve assumed a myriad of roles professionally, but building this brand has always remained my focus. The portfolio has evolved over time. Learning what works and what doesn’t—A lot of what doesn’t. My journey to this point has been quite lengthy and far from easy. It was a daily choice to pursue. I would say that after receiving overwhelming support and recognition from the community is when we began seeing momentum and sizeable growth. When times were slow, there was definitely a looming insecurity about continuing on this path, but I am grateful for the encouragement my partner, children, and ecosystem provided.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Although socializing looks a little different these days, Atlanta is full of great sights and food. We eat fairly healthy in my home so regularly visit Tassili’s Raw Reality Cafe in West End. When I want to indulge in comfort food, I head straight to Slutty Vegan for their Sloppy Toppy. On warmer days, I love walking the beltline with my family and hanging out at the skate park. There are tons of grassy spots perfect for picnics. When I am not thrifting for gems at one of the many shops, you could find me heading to a gallery for an opening. Whether it’s Wish in L5P, MODA or The High Museum of Art I love taking in a new exhibit. One exhibit that I am excited to see is the Ruth E. Carter Afrofuturism in Costume Design exhibit at my alma mater SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion & Film. I personally love how Atlanta has prioritized changing its cityscape by infusing more intentional public art. This making for perfect photo opportunities and ways to engage with the city safely. I’m looking forward to when we can all experience this ATL in its full glory again. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
After having to quickly pivot, I would not have been able adjust and tackle the influx without the support of my husband, Durrell Lyons. Not only did he spiritually motivate me, he didn’t hesitate to help with painting, shipping, cooking, or anything I needed. My best friend of almost 20 years, Lauren Jackson Harris, co-founder of Black Women in Visual Arts, continually called to not only encourage me and advise me on logistical needs. Lastly I would like to thank the TEKT Tribe, my community of my, followers and customers. This past year they showed up with the support that small business owners dream of. Their words of encouragement in the form of Instagram story shares or emoji hugs meant so much. Especially when you’re awake painting at 4 in the morning. Words of gratitude don’t seem to be enough.