We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathryn Yoder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kathryn, what do you attribute your success to?
Relationships are everything in my business. This became especially clear when COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect last year and my wholesale orders were cancelled or downsized. I had to maintain flexibility, understanding, and compassion for my customers even when my profits were severely impacted. This has paid off and this year customers who had to cut orders last year in some cases doubled their orders for this year. Relationships with my customers are quantified in reorders and reviews on direct to consumer platforms like Amazon Handmade and Etsy.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started Art For The Young at Heart after a happy accident where friendship met crafting. During the Christmas of 2014, my friends and I got together and painted our dogs on ornaments. After I posted pictures on Facebook I found myself painting all of my friends’ dogs on ornaments too! While I’ve always been artistic, this moment helped me find my niche. I decided that my calling was a Christmas ornament business so naturally, I left my secure government job to follow my dream. I began Christmas ornament production and selling in gift stores across the country. I am inspired by all things adventure, wildlife, and national parks. I love using my artistic talents to create unique gifts that hang year after year on your tree, reminding you of your adventures. I continue to ignite my creativity by travelling with my family and sharing experiences with my young children. I hope that my story will inspire you to follow your own dreams and seize every moment. Every moment is a precious gift. While most of my business is Christmas ornaments, I also produce other art prints and gifts and do murals for commercial and residential properties. I wouldn’t say it’s been the easiest path. Starting a business while raising two young children presents many challenges. I have learned that having a schedule for mom time versus work time helps me focus and still have time to dedicate to Wilder and Charleigh. It’s amazing what I can get done during the magical hours of nap time. Also, having help with the administrative portions of the business so that I can focus on the creative aspects is critical. Otherwise I get swamped in business management and bookkeeping and don’t have time to sell or work on new artistic content. Additionally figuring out which platforms are best for my art has been critical. Some online platforms and stores work really well while others don’t.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Everyday my best friend was in town we would start by doing something outside in beautiful Colorado. We would hike around Red Rocks park, go to the Botanical Gardens and rent scooters to ride around downtown. We would eat at my favorite restaurants, Root Down, Hops and Pie, and Sushi Den. We would Mountain Bike on any of the amazing trails in the Front Range, my favorite being Floyd Hill. We would hit up an It Burns Joe Fitness Workout at Red Rocks and check out a concert there. We would check out the Murals in the Rhino District and hit up Yoga at CorePower. Finally we would go out dancing at The Grizzly Rose or La Rumba There are so many amazing things to do in Denver there would never be a dull moment.
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 shoutout is dedicated to my husband, Mike McCollum who is my greatest supporter. He has encouraged me through moments of uncertainty to think long term. I also want to thank my mentor the late Kerri Gedert, who initially encouraged me to expand my brand beyond ornaments but to initially target Colorado souvenirs and who told me that I could sell through my initial run of ornaments. Without her support I may have not made the leap to scale my business. She was another strong, female entrepreneur who was so instrumental in me establishing this business. Additionally, Brian Fox provides emotional, business, and capital support. He has helped me improve my processes and is always there to help me decide “what’s next”. My office manger, Rae Christy is my number two and helps me keep things running smoothly while filling orders and developing new platforms. Finally my mom, Susan Yoder, who has provided hours of free labor to prepare orders for shipping and customizing artwork with city names. The love and support I receive from my team is key in all times. They are the first ones I call when I’ve gotten a killer new account or when I need to cry on someone’s shoulder. I absolutely love the Podcast “How I Built This” with Guy Raz. Listening to success stories by other entrepreneurs keeps my fire burning.