Kate Whitley earned a degree in public relations with a minor in business, and worked several corporate jobs. Then, in 2007 (at age 27), she decided to leave her position at a bank’s corporate office to go back to school. She got her degree in graphic design from Mississippi State University in December 2010, and although she initially “wanted to work in-house for Kate Spade or someone like Martha Stewart for a few years,” she decided to continue growing her own Little Things Studio. She started out with prints, and then began making hand-bound journals, bookmarks, stationery, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, and calendars.
Despite her first, less creative career path, Kate has always been making things. “My mom is a retired elementary-school teacher, so I grew up doing super-awesome craft projects. I’m not sure what the first thing I made was, but my grandmother recently found a ‘book’ I made called Rainbow Land.”
From collecting to making
The idea to start making hand-painted silk scarves came from Kate’s own love of vintage scarves. And that love isn’t a surprise when you learn one of her major influences is Vera Neumann: “She’s my design hero.”
Kate’s love of vintage scarves isn’t
a surprise when you learn her design
hero is Vera Neumann.
Kate has been collecting vintage scarves for over 10 years, and has four drawers filled with them. She researched getting fabric printed digitally, “but there are so many designers just getting stuff manufactured for themselves, and I wanted something handmade — something I spent a lot of time on. So I researched online, bought several kinds of paint and dye and different kinds of silk, figured out how to build a frame, and started playing. I bought two silk-painting books and read online. And that brings me to today!”
But Kate doesn’t plan on stopping with scarves. Up next are “hand-painted neckties, pocket squares, and bow ties for men. Other dream projects include hand-painted silk dresses and shirts, screen-printing clothing and housewares, and wrapping paper. I really, really, love wrapping paper.”