We had the good fortune of connecting with Kira Coats and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kira, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I make some art quilts, but most of what I do concerns t-shirt quilts. The first ones I made were from my dad’s clothes for my grandmother, my other two sisters, and myself. I only had a little experience with quilting at the time, so I had to learn as I went. My dad’s death was unexpected, and I found a surprising amount of closure as I created memory quilts for my family. I started making them as a business for similar reasons – closure. For some, it’s the closure of a chapter of their life – high school or college graduation, for others it’s memories of events. But the ones I feel the most responsibility for are the memory quilts of loved ones lost. I recognize it’s a part of their healing, and I try very hard to do justice to their loved one’s memories and their relationship with that person. I try to get a feel for that person as I make the quilt and honor their legacy. Clothes are such a big part of who we are and how we remember people and events, so it’s nice to be able to use some of the biggest parts of our memories and give them new life as a quilt instead of letting them just sit in a bag in a closet forever. From there I branched out and started making art quilts, particularly ones with rainbows and silhouettes. I loved how the fabric was like a paint pallet, and, of course, there was the bonus of it being useful. I love creating functional art.
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.
I moved around a fair amount when I was younger, so I learned a while back that if it wasn’t extremely sentimental or extremely useful – it had to go. What I love the most about t-shirt quilts is that they are both. We get attached to shirts and certain clothing items. We “earned” them in many cases, so we don’t want to get rid of them. However, oftentimes we can love certain shirts and hoodies to death if we aren’t careful. So we put them aside, and they stay in sentimental limbo. When I get to revive those memories for people, I feel so proud because I know they’ll get a useful item for their home while also enjoying some of the best memories over and over again. In some ways, it’s the best and most sentimental recycling you can do. As for the art quilts, I love the idea of functional art. Art that is useful. The idea that it can be hung on a wall or wrapped around you while still being considered “art” gives me immense satisfaction – functional and sentimental.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely take them to Oakland Cemetery. It’s such an amazing slice of local history. I would also insist on stopping by Cafe Intermezzo. The food and atmosphere are unlike any other place in Atlanta. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my grandmother for giving me that initial push that got me started. I’d also like to give a shoutout to my husband for always being supportive of my side business and encouraging me.
Other: Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/QuestQuilts