Seattle Spotlight: Clara Kim of Euni & Co.

Steady Catalog Seattle Spotlight: Seattle calligrapher Clara Kim of Euni + Co.

I am so excited for today’s post because this is the first Seattle Spotlight feature of 2018 and I’m showcasing the beautiful work of a longtime IG friend, Clara Kim, of Euni + Co! I first met Clara in 2015 at a thoughtfully curated holiday market where she was running a calligraphy workshop. Since then, she’s turned her creative take on modern hand lettering from a side hustle to her full time gig creating beautiful paper goods. Hope you get a chance to check out Clara’s work and insights on her creative business.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with calligraphy?
[CK] I was a gifted a calligraphy kit in June 2015 and that was my first time ever picking up a pointed pen. I had just gotten home from Philadelphia after finishing up my grad program, and told myself I wasn’t going to start job searching until August, so I basically spent the next three months just completely immersed in calligraphy. The market wasn’t as saturated then as it is now and there weren’t any workshops in the area that I could find – so I looked at photos, videos, and taught myself. As I started seeing improvement in my writing, I began reading up on articles about different nibs, inks, papers, and continued growing from there.

Seattle Spotlight: Clara Kim of Euni + Co. calligrapher and paper goods

We first met at a holiday market where you were running a beautiful calligraphy workshop. What was the deciding factor that made you want to switch gears from Eunligraphy to Euni + Co.?
[CK] Yes! I totally have a photo from that day with you in the background – that was my first time ever teaching a calligraphy workshop! Eunligraphy started on a complete whim – Cherie (owner of @shopmiroja) reached out to me after seeing my work on Instagram and invited me to one of her events. A couple months later, she asked me if I wanted to host a calligraphy workshop in her space, and asked me if I had a logo and a website. I definitely didn’t have either of those things, so I told her I’d make them (who knows what I thinking back then?). I bought myself a domain, created a website, and brainstormed my name to be Eunligraphy (Eun– coming from my Korean name, and –ligraphy coming from ‘calligraphy’) on a random night with friends.

My shift to Euni + Co. happened when I realized I wanted a lot more from my “business” than just calligraphy. And as pretty as calligraphy is, I’m more of a type-font person, and knew that my Eunligraphy logo wasn’t a good representation of who I was and where I wanted the direction of my brand to go. It looked nice, it was written well, but it definitely wasn’t me. Once I made the ultimate decision to shift gears from just doing calligraphy to creating stationery, I felt that it was time to make the change. ‘Euni’ is how one of my closest friends used to write out my Korean name “Eun Hee” (which means to shine with grace). I love the meaning behind my name and wanted to keep the business name simple, so I re-branded to Euni + Co.

That is so fascinating to hear how quickly the business came together after the calligraphy workshop! As a modern day business woman wearing many different hats (creative lead, creator, social media manager, product stylist, etc), what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far and how did you overcome it?
[CK] The biggest challenge… it’s so hard to choose because everyday is a struggle. I imagine it getting easier and more manageable in the future, but I think when you’re just starting out and trying to figure out all of the little pieces, just sitting down and thinking about the direction of your business is a struggle in itself. There’s a lot of things I could say about the financial, logistical, or design struggles, but I think the most difficult thing is finding balance.

When I worked an 8-5 job, I did what I needed to do at work and I came home and found time to do my house chores, cook dinner, find time to create things, etc. But now that I’m at home all the time, it’s difficult to spend the whole 8-5 doing “work” when I can see dishes in the sink, laundry that could be done, etc. I’ll end up doing a little bit of everything throughout the day and end up working through the night, but going to bed as if I haven’t really done anything at all – and that feeling is not a good one.

Clara Kim of Euni + Co. Seattle calligrapher and paper goods shop

It’s weird because I’ve never been the type to need affirmation while working, but I think working solo full-time has changed me. Ever since I launched Euni + Co., I find myself needing more encouragement and support – and the process of recognizing this, admitting it, and figuring out how to move forward hasn’t been easy. My husband’s been really supportive and although he knows nothing about stationery, whenever I bring up any doubts, he’ll stop me and make sure I’m not going down the path of self-destruction.

I’ve learned that finding balance has more to do with my mental/emotional health than the workload itself. When I start the day right (with an agenda/plan, prayer, and coffee), I’m much more productive – and even when I am distracted (because I am constantly…constantly distracted), I try not to let it get to me. I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to embrace your distractions. When I make a plan for the week, I’ll breakdown all of my big projects into manageable pieces, and everyday, I’ll try to finish at least one piece, so that when I’m going to bed, I can visually see that I’ve completed something. I’ve started to be less harsh on myself and I’ve been giving myself room to fail and room to grow, and this has helped me design more freely, creating better work.

I LOVE the concept of having a big vision and then breaking it down into more manageable pieces when it comes to executing on the idea. Where do you draw your inspiration for the products you create?
[CK] My biggest inspiration comes from my faith – my best work comes out after a lot of prayer and meditation on the Word. As for aesthetic inspiration, I rely on a lot of interior design inspo (especially kitchens – I think my obsession with kitchens got heightened after getting married…and coffee shops!), color inspo (I’m a neutral color person but sometimes I surprise myself and will want a pop of bright colors), and shape inspo (I love lines – and rectangles).

The things I create aren’t really fancy by any means – but I think everything I create is an accurate representation of who I am and what I want my brand to be. I’m a pretty simple person, love dainty + petite things, and enjoy clean spaces – and I like to think that all of that shows in my creations!

Euni + Co. Seattle calligraphy and paper goods

Calligraphy and modern handwriting seems to be gaining mainstream momentum. What advice can you offer to someone who may be nervous to jump in to try their hand at the craft?
[CK] The worst thing that could happen is that you walk away with a hand cramp! Just kidding…kind of. Handlettering really is gaining so much interest — with ‘hygge’ and ‘self-care’ becoming such a huge part of our society now, it makes a lot of sense that people are trying to channel their inner creativeness.

The best piece of advice I can give is to recognize where you are. If you’re a beginner and you’ve been writing for a couple weeks or a couple months, don’t compare yourself to people on your Instagram feed who’ve been writing for years. If you haven’t started yet, don’t expect to pick up your pen and create something that you’ll be super pleased with. It really does take so much practice and time – just like anything else that we do. No one is ever going to be their best on their first day of work. Calligraphy is no different – be lenient on yourself, take the pressure off your wrists, grip firm with your fingers, and create something!

Thank you so much to Clara for taking the time to chat today! I love how insightful she is about her end-to-end process, from where she draws inspiration to executing on her vision to how to take things one step at a time. If you’re ever in the Seattle area, Clara participates at many locally curated small business markets. She also sells her beautiful paper goods online at Euni + Co.

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