We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimberly 國子 Taylor-Pestell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kimberly, what’s your definition for success?
For me, it’s in knowing the purpose behind everything I make, stand for, and believe in, and choosing to live it out with intention both personally and through my art business. Success becomes a lot of little things: dwelling in a learning posture always; pushing myself and creativity in new ways; engaging in this world with kindness, openness, and compassion; and tending to my personal wellness with gentleness and honesty. Success is in the little acts of courage I choose to take each day amidst fear and second-guessing, as well as the larger, more calculated risks that come with growing an art business in a sustainable, loving way. Living each day with care and making some movement (however gradual) towards the sharing of meaningful things and important stories is at the crux of it all.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about.
I’m the hapa artist behind Lacelit, an illustrated paper goods and whimsies company that’s all about meaningful human connection and self-expression for the sentimental souls among us. I also host cozy, virtual retreats fostering creativity-building, storytelling in all its beautiful forms, and community for creatives of all mediums. As a half-Japanese and half-white American hapa growing up in Los Angeles with two diverse socializations, I was introduced to multiple ways of thinking and expression from my earliest memories simply by observing the varied behaviors, communication styles, thought processes, opinions, and traditions represented in each side of my family. I’ve long loved and resonated with different aspects of each culture, and learned early on that there are always several ways to see the same thing. It’s through the decisions I make and actions I take that I truly choose who and how I want to be, and it’s in the culmination of both cultures that I illustrate, design, paint, make, and write. My Japanese roots influence and inform my art in many ways through a love and appreciation of paper, endearing imagery and thoughtful subject matter, intentionally balanced detail and color, and the poetic sentiments and affirming turns of phrase that give life to my work.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?
Lacelit first began as a daydream several years after a childhood spent in the performing arts with dance, choreography, music, and theatre, and a college degree in psychology had all come and gone. Discovering the wonder to be found in visual art during my late twenties and early thirties, I’m mostly self-taught, so it’s taken me some time to figure out what I really love to create and to develop my artistic style and voice. In the summer of 2010, I first started to notice the doodled geometric patterns in the margins of my notebooks and the various handwriting styles that filled my journals and seemed to expressively shift with my current mood. Around that same time, I was drawn in to the world of artists of the early blogosphere and couldn’t help daydreaming about being like these inspiring women working from home and making beautiful, meaningful things. But, I didn’t have an art form of my own yet. While I did explore a freelance photography hobby for some years and was admitted into a graduate photography program in San Francisco, I didn’t feel excited or motivated enough to justify a big move and additional school loans. Feeling I wasn’t really good at anything besides organization and planning, I worked in various administrative roles, first at a dance studio and then eventually shifting into higher education where I found a home with a close-knit Communications and Marketing team. Meanwhile, I continued to explore visual art in my spare time and slowly begin to dream of a business.
Four years later in January 2014, I launched Lacelit with a small selection of delicately intricate, lace-like geometric designs that I drew freehand from tiny 6-pointed flames. This is where Lacelit got its name (lace + light). I featured these designs on stationery and art prints, and hand-painted them onto journals and clocks. Over the next few years, I continued to follow my creative curiosities, finding my way to freehand watercolor patterns and hand-lettering. These blended quite naturally into my greetings and paper goods business, which I was now selling online, in-person at art shows and craft fairs, and through my wholesale program to brick-and-mortar shops who carried my work. Yet, it was the arrival of illustration combined with clever wordplay and a more block-print lettering style that felt like coming home to a part of myself that I hadn’t realized existed. In July 2018, after 4 ½ years working 2 full-time jobs, I finally left the lovely team I’d worked with and learned so much from the last 6 years, and have been continuing to grow Lacelit from my little home studio ever since.
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?
Though it’s taken a more winding route to get where I am, I’ve found that the slow, gradual process was a valuable one for me. It allowed me to learn and establish other skills I’ve brought with me from my past career. It’s also allowed me to explore creativity without the rules and rigor of school, and grow my confidence in a gentle setting where I had a bit more space from comparing, competing, or second-guessing myself, as I’m quite prone to do. This slower process has given me time to develop a brand that is very much “me” and leaves space for shifting into new directions as I continue to grow because it’s been that way from the beginning. I’ve found that sharing personal stories seems to illustrate best what Lacelit is all about and allows me to connect with my audience in lasting ways. And with an earlier career in organization, communication, and coordination, I fully enjoy the business aspect of running Lacelit as much as the artistic side of things. It seems the perfect blend of my various skill sets, passions, and joys. All that to say, having discovered my love of art a bit later in my career, I’m an avid believer that there is always time yet to try something new- to explore our creative curiosities and uncover what joy may be there to engage with and gift back to the world in new ways.
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 love to take them on a jaunt through Little Tokyo where my sisters and I enjoyed many day trips with our mom as kids. Taking our time to roam through the ever-inspiring Japanese American National Museum and attend a special event or panel discussion would be first on the list. Next, several glorious hours spent shopping at Kinokuniya bookstore (the stationery aisle was a favorite childhood haunt of mine), followed by vegan ramen and sushi at Shojin (oishii!). And lastly, we’d make a stop at the Daiso convenience store to pick up some must-haves (futomaki, milk tea, assorted sembei, mochi ice cream, and Koala’s March snacks) for further enjoyment later. LINKS Japanese American National Museum: http://www.janm.org/ Kinokuniya: https://usa.kinokuniya.com/stores-kinokuniya-los-angeles Shojin http://www.theshojin.com/ Daiso https://www.daisojapan.com/
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?
My small business accountability partner, Jackie Sun of Wondershins. My paper mastermind friends Cheryl Loh of Quirky Paper Co., Kacey Schwartz of Mudsplash Designs, and Tessa Worley of Fox & Bear Paper Co. Kayte Ferris of Simple & Season for invaluable small business coaching sessions. And, my sister Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor and partner Jason Taylor-Pestell whose support never ends.
Instagram: https://instagram.com/lacelit (@lacelit)
Other: Subscribe to monthly Paper Trails newsletter: lacelit.com/goodies
KKTP-Illustration.jpg // Kimberly 國子 Taylor-Pestell KKTP-Lacelit.jpg // Deborah Tracey KKTP-LessAlone.jpg // Deborah Tracey KKTP-LittleDay.jpg // Deborah Tracey KKTP-LittleWorld.jpg // Deborah Tracey KKTP-Original.jpg // Deborah Tracey KKTP-Painting.jpg // Kimberly 國子 Taylor-Pestell KKTP-Portrait.jpg // Michael Finster KKTP-Staple.jpg // Deborah Tracey