Maker Memo: Tammy Smith Design

From tea towels to prints to pillows, Tammy Smith creates beautiful works of art for every home

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VKC: What sparked your business?

Tammy: I got started on this current line that I have in July 2014. A friend suggested that I do a print of Kansas City landmarks and I started from there making wire sculptures of some well known KC buildings. The style I have just sort of developed naturally after that.

VKC: What inspires you?

Tammy: Vintage tea towels, tablecloths, and cook books, as well as children’s books from the 1950s and 1960s.

VKC: What do you love about KC?

Tammy: Its size. It’s not quite a big city and not quite a small city, but somewhere perfectly in between. I like that I’m usually not sitting in heavy traffic when I go downtown and that it’s a reasonably priced place to live. That’s all the practical things but what I really love is that it has a growing maker community and a good music scene as well.

VKC: What challenges have you faced?

Tammy: When I was laid off from my job six years ago, there was the challenge of starting my own business from the ground up. I tried a lot of different things like fine art fairs with my mixed media and wire sculpture, New York trade shows to license my surface patterns and wholesale my products to brick and mortar shops, and freelance graphic design, before landing on what I do now, producing my own line of products. I much prefer being in charge of what my line looks like and how it’s produced. But that took a long time and lots of trial and error to figure out.

VKC:: What is your favorite item that you sell?

Tammy: My favorite item is always what I’m working on at the moment, because I love creating new designs. So that would be my new dog illustrations that will become towels and prints and possibly pillows. I’m calling the collection Top Dogs.

VKC: What is your favorite part of being a small business owner?

Tammy: The autonomy and being in charge of my own schedule. I love being able to get up early and start right to work but then take a break to go work out later in the day.

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