Meet Kyla Donner, the founder and maker behind jewelry and home goods brand Genuine & Ginger. I first began following Kyla and her gorgeous creations on Instagram a few months back and was instantly struck by her keen eye for design, unique aesthetic and her honest and poignant perspective on her business. After learning more about Genuine & Ginger’s story, I’m even more enamored with the brand.
Read on to learn more about the beginnings of the brand, what Kyla’s day-to-day looks like as a creative business owner and more!
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH GENUINE & GINGER, AND WHEN DID JEWELRY AND UNIQUE GOODS-MAKING INITIALLY SPARK YOUR INTEREST?
A: I have always had busy hands, as a kid I was always DIY-ing, making things out of my old clothes, or figuring out how I could make the better version of something that I saw in the store. So I think to build a business based on hand-making things is not surprising to anyone who knows me. This brand was actually created out of a failure. I had taken a couple years off from making and creating things because the business I had prior to Genuine & Ginger had taken over my life, and not in a good way. I lost my voice, my passion and my integrity as a creator. I instantly became someone consumed by a need to make money and push product.
Q: GIVE US INSIGHT INTO WHAT YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOKS LIKE WHILE RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS – IF THERE EVEN IS A ‘TYPICAL’ DAY.
A: Well it often starts with me convincing our dog Jeffery that we need to get up and get to work. He is not ever convinced that it is a good idea, haha! But then I make some coffee, head into the studio, light up some candles and begin mapping out the day. I have to make a full-on list of things that need to happen all week and then I list all the tasks under each day of the week that they need to happen on. Otherwise, I will sit scrolling through Instagram thinking I have nothing to do. But everyday is so different, it can be delivering wholesale orders to our in-town stockist, working on woven commissions, fulfilling orders, trip to the post office, designing new items, attempting to get through emails, taking product and lifestyle photos for social media, meeting with potential clients or collaborating with other designers, etc. I am usually the most productive at night, so the bulk of my work happens between 7 p.m. and 1:00 p.m…I don’t sleep much.
Q: WHAT ROLES DO SOCIAL MEDIA AND PRODUCT STYLING PLAY IN YOUR BUSINESS? I’M KIND OF OBSESSED WITH YOUR INSTAGRAM FEED!
A: Personally I have tried to be very authentic and real when it comes to social media. I am very open and my social media is very clearly just an extension of me as a designer and creative. I don’t post anything that I don’t feel represents my brand or the vision I am creating. I live and work in the Southwest so I use a ton of earth tones and neutrals in my feed, and try to stay consistent with my editing and caption content because I want people to have an honest and consistent connection with the work we do. I have a love-hate relationship with social media because it does take so much of my time, when if I am honest I would rather be designing and creating new work, but I know that there is a special bond that is created when I share my process, my inspiration and work with people. It allows me to have direct community with the people I create jewelry and woven goods for. So in that way I do love it.
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF RUNNING YOUR OWN CREATIVE BUSINESS; WHAT’S THE MOST FULFILLING?
A: There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to get done. I have to know my limits and know what my downfalls are so I can reach out and connect with people who are good at those things. But the hardest thing by far is disconnecting my identity from my work. As a artist that sells my creative work it is hard not to put your worth in whether a design sells well or if it doesn’t. Being able to separate yourself from your work and to know that regardless if an item sells out or never sells at all, it doesn’t say anything about who I am as a creative, as a human, as a woman.
Q: HOW DOES YOUR FAITH AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS AND CREATIVE DECISIONS?
A: I think that knowing that I am not in this alone has been massive for me. Every time things get really hard and I don’t know if I can keep doing this, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me that I don’t have to fear, because I am taken care of. I don’t need to freak out over finances because his promises aren’t broken and they belong to me. It has helped me be brave in pursuing things, it has kept me going on the hard days and it has brought me peace that I don’t have to have all the answers. I have so much freedom to be who he has made me to be without fear of what people will think.
Q: FOR OTHER MEN/WOMEN WHO WANT TO LAUNCH THEIR CREATIVE BUSINESS (ON OR OUTSIDE OF ETSY), WHAT WOULD YOUR BEST WORDS OF ADVICE BE?
A: KNOW YOUR WHY!! Know exactly why you are pursuing your business. On the crappy and stressful days you will need to know why you started to begin with to keep you pushing forward despite all opposition, fatigue or criticism. Have people around you who know your ‘why’ also, so they can remind you when you haven’t showered in days, are deep in piles of work and have tears streaming down your face.