April 28, 2015

shop feature #4 - knotty origami

ok.  i really hate taking photos of myself.  period.  but, i am so in love with this new shop i found through our friend, marcia at magnificuffs, that not only did i instantly buy something, but i even posted a selfie (oh, lord, help me!) on my Instagram page.  i felt like i absolutely had to because:

  • i gifted myself a gorgeous new necklace for my birthday
  • it was my birthday
  • my Chanel Glossimer (#166) looked fantastic on my lips against my creamy dreamy skin (wink, wink)

so, you see, these are three very respectable reasons.  and, i don't feel too embarrassed.  but, it will be a long time before it happens again.  so, if you missed out on my second selfie ever, you can check it out here: https://instagram.com/p/2CE4ucE0t2/?taken-by=the_gift_curator

and now we are moving right along - 

oh goodness.  you are so lucky marcia shared a post on her facebook page about the shop, knotty origami.  as soon as i saw the photo, my knees became weak and all the butterflies were released from their cocoons in my tummy.  for the next few hours, all i could think about was, how on earth do i decide which one to buy?!

after my necklace arrived, i fell even more in love and knew i must contact tricia, the founder and deisgner of these awesome puppies, for a feature.  she was thrilled to hear of my approval and is excited to share her story with you today.  her talent, passion and enthusiasm emanates through every aspect of her work.  i have a feeling you will be asking yourself the same question i asked - which one?!


Tricia, I instantly fell in love with your designs.  They are so elegant, yet classic and minimalist.   Such versatility in your pieces, they must become instant staples for the many ladies that own these. But, I am dying to know, where do you get your inspiration?

I grew up in Seoul, Korea, surrounded by beautiful, Eastern ornamental knots as a child.  Now, as an adult, [I make not only my jewelry], but also origami decor and designs (mostly for Christmas or weddings), all of which I learned in Seoul.  When I joined the military, I started to create survival and tactical knots that were used to rig equipment, or secure paracord, for easier travel.  When I had children of Irish heritage, I learned how to fashion traditional Celtic knots in order to pass along the artistic traditions of their cultural history.  

My business is a combination of these influences, but it all started so that I could teach my children what I knew; so they could keep their Korean and Irish heritage.  The knots and origami are beautiful, but it is the symbolism and cultural stories that are important to us.  

In addition to the symbolism and history behind the many knots and folds, I feel the MOST BEAUTIFUL part of origami, or of a knot, is the design begins with a single piece.  The potential for gorgeous forms is limitless. The results may appear complex and sophisticated, but, at their core, they are made by simple techniques.  

They all start with just one piece of cord.  Just one piece of paper.  That is glorious to me, the infinite potential.    

The picture above is the gold Trillium Knot.  It is really gorgeous.  I cannot even fold a paper airplane, so the idea of creating something like this is truly astonishing to me.  The dedication, the craftsmanship, all of it requires a lot of time and knowledge.  I love that your multi-cultural experiences have helped develop your skill.  But, how did it go from being something to pass on and teach your children into a full-time business?

There has been a huge amount of learning, but it has been a wonderful experience.  Before starting Knotty Origami, I spent almost 10 years as a U.S. Army Officer.  My husband was also an Army Officer and we were trying to start a family, but it was becoming difficult to find work in the same places, so I chose to move into a civilian position.  I worked as an Intelligence Analyst for a few years before I made the tough choice to focus on our young family.  

I spent about 6 months as an exclusive SAHM and then started the blog, Critters And Crayons, as a creative outlet to cover family activities, crafts, and parenting topics.  It became a part-time job and I was able to bring in a little money through sponsored posts, advertising, and event coverage.  I opted to start Knotty Origami when I realized that I had an MBA that I wasn't putting to use, and there appeared to be a local demand for the craft work I was already doing.

You say there was a demand.  How did you know your craft was in demand enough to move towards a successful business?

I had been blogging at Critters And Crayons for a couple of years where I did a lot of origami.  My work was featured in some neat places and I won some awards.  I started to receive local orders for quilled pieces of art, or origami bouquets.  

The same thing happened with my knots.  I would get requests for things I was wearing at the drive-through as employees handed me my food through the window.  I realized there may be a demand for the work.  I started a small store on Etsy, and eventually decided that I wanted to branch off into an independent store where I could build the website in my own vision.  The blogging background really came in handy for that.  I may not have been as quick to branch off on my own without that experience.  

I love that people would order from you in the drive-thru!  That is such a great story in and of itself! Yes, I think when that happens, it's time to set up shop!!!  And, by the way, congratulations on your awards, and taking the step to branch out on your own.  It can be very daunting trying to navigate through all the Etsy shops, and I appreciate your willingness to build yourself as a brand independent of their safety net.  It takes a lot of courage to do that, but I think your background in the military makes you one tough chick that can probably handle it!

Speaking of handling it, which piece of origami jewelry do people want to get their hands on the most? 

Surprisingly, our best selling item has been the Duane Syndrome Awareness Bracelet:  http://knotty-origami.com/products/duanes-syndrome-awareness-bracelet-by-knotty-origami  The bracelet was designed in response to a mother who had a child diagnosed with Duane Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the alignment of the eye.  

She provided me with the color and symbol that had become generally accepted within her support community for the condition: mint green and an owl.  I found the materials and began experimenting with designs and settled on a Japanese braid in mint green leather cording with brass owl and hardware.  The blog post I wrote on the story behind the bracelet received more comments than any blog post I'd written for Knotty Origami.  The response was overwhelming.  Many were thankful to find more resources about a condition that has very little information available right now. 

5% of total sales of the awareness bracelets will be donated annually to Boston Children's Hospital, where leading research into the condition is being conducted.

Oh, yes, I have a soft spot for businesses that have the desire to GiveBack.  I love that you worked with the mother to create something so unique and personal for that support group.  What a special cause. And, I love how the giving never ends.  Every time they wear that bracelet, or see someone else with one, they know.  They know the love and care you took to heart for their design, to be an outward expression of support.  It's just wonderful.

Is it also your favorite piece?  I know that must be a loaded question, right?!  Every piece is probably your favorite, or you wouldn't want to create it!  

<insert laughter>

...My favorite piece is probably the antique gold arrowhead necklace.  Everything I love is in this versatile necklace, which I wear all the time. 


Antique gold is my absolute favorite metallic to wear.  It is a little unexpected for a neutral.  It is also much more difficult to find, [so] when I find a supplier, I cherish them.  The arrowhead reminds me of my love for the beauty and wonder of the natural world.  The knot that is used in this necklace is called a Clasped Hands Knot for its resemblance to two hands holding each other. It is a Celtic reminder of friendship.  

Being a girl from small town Oklahoma, of Indian heritage, the arrowhead has quite a different impression on me, but no less inspirational.  I remember searching for them in my backyard all the time, like they were just supposed to be everywhere.  My hometown, Owasso, actually means "End of the Trail (of Tears)."  Paired with the antique gold, I could definitely see some chic country girl sporting this beauty around town.

Which reminds me.  When I was looking over your website, did I really see a children's line of jewelry? How fun is that?!  Was it a natural decision to branch into mini versions of your creations?

My daughter is definitely the inspiration for that line!   My daughter is 7 and has always had her own style!  Her favorite word is "Vibrant".  She often tells me that my style is "too dull".  (haha!)  

When crafting the children's Spring necklaces for The Bitsy Collection, I knew I needed to use materials that were durable, so many of them are actually made using vivid paracord, and the tassels are shorter and not prone to tangling.  With children, these are details we need to consider!  My daughter was ecstatic with the color choices, so I was very happy.  

Your daughter and my daughter could be BFF.  My daughter is much more daring and bold in her fashion choices.  (and personality)  Well, I just love The Bitsy Collection and will need to get my little girl her first piece soon - she does have a birthday coming up.  

As we mentioned earlier, your pieces are so versatile.  They can work for so many different styles and occasions.  Won't you tell us a little bit about how your jewelry is making the wedding scene these days?

Knotty Origami is a great choice for brides or bridesmaids during the wedding season because the symbolism inherent in our handcrafted pieces.  Two people are coming together in a beautiful union, and for that reason, our "Fusion Knots" make the perfect choice.  These knots are created from the joining of two separate cords into a single piece.  Examples of that would include our Infinity Knots found in our Mini-Infinity Bracelets, our braided rope necklaces and bracelets, or any of the knot necklaces in a delicate doubled-strand design.   

Our origami wedding bouquets have been requested by brides who want to keep a permanent bouquet in their home as a piece of art from their special day.  Our recommended wedding options can be found in the Wedding Collection here:  http://knotty-origami.com/collections/the-wedding-collection. I also have done one-on-one consults with brides and mothers of the bride to create unique designs based on the dress.  It has been a lot of fun matching swatches, and collaborating on the final design. I just finished a consult this week. 

Oh, i just love it!  They are fusing into one.  So romantic! And, wedding season is nearing closer and closer. Between weddings and Mother's Day, you must be in your happy place creating and sharing your masterpieces!  I know Mother's Day is less than two weeks away, but do we still have time to order something special?

For customers in the US, the final day to order for on-time delivery is May 2nd.  Most USPS Priority Mail shipments get to where they are headed within a week.    

Wonderful!  Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story.  I've really enjoyed learning more about you, and your amazing talent.  I feel richer just having you and your story in my life.  So much inspiration around, I'm bursting to get out and create something!  

So, Tricia, would you like to leave us with any final words or thoughts today as we head into a time of celebrating motherhood?

I'd love to share my favorite quote from my own mother, a woman who made huge sacrifices for her family.  She left her native Korea to begin a life in America, where she raised me and my two sisters. She always told us, "Every mother wants her child to be more than she was."  She meant this in every way.  She invested in us and views her wealth in terms of our success as human beings.  

I remember this now that I'm a mother, and understand the depth of what she was saying to us all of those years. I want the world for my children, and I want them to thrive in the world.  

My favorite part of being a mom is the reawakening of awareness that comes from literally seeing a child see "something" for the first time.  Little things are huge; a pretty drop of dew in the morning on a flower's leaf leaves a child in awe who sees it for the first time.  

How wonderful is that to witness? 

And, when you walk away, you are still thinking about that drop of dew on a flower in the morning, and you realize, "THAT.  It really was beautiful.  I'm so glad I got to see that."