We had the good fortune of connecting with Kayla Haugen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kayla, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
In relation to my craft, certainly setting the price point on my art has been the hardest decision. I had no real expectations when I first started woodworking so pricing low seemed to satisfy the ‘shy gal’ in me. It’s more than asking yourself ‘how much do you want to make?’; it’s a question that requires me to put a value on my creative expression and that’s SO difficult!
My craft is wooden geometric artworks and my passion is to inspire people to create the things they wish existed. After a year and a half of creating and experiencing some major growth, I finally found a balance of my time and what I charge. I have to be fair to myself if I want this to be a sustainable craft that I continue for years to come.
When I complete pieces, I often hear this same comment over and over, ‘You know, you could probably charge a lot more for your work. I feel like I got a great deal for this custom piece of art!’
I really enjoy making large pieces of artwork accessible to people of all backgrounds. For the average person, art is often somewhere towards the bottom on the priority list. Knowing how art has helped me throughout life, inspiring me along the way, I made a promise to myself that I need to make this accessible above everything else. I’m not here to get rich off of my artwork. I’m showing up in this space in hopes of inspiring people to create the things they wish existed.
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.
One of my favorite stories to tell is when I took a woodshop class in elementary school and the first day I had some how tangled my long hair into an electric drill. My teacher tried to untangle the mess for an hour after class but the damage was done and there was no other option than to chop my hair out of the mess! Some introduction to woodworking, huh?
In college, my mother gave me a simple five-piece tool set. I thought, ‘Thanks mom, what a great gift for a college student…’
Little did I know, it really would end up being a wonderful gift. Years after college, I had just moved into an apartment with my now, husband to be, Eric. I wanted to fill up some wall space with a fun statement piece. I got inspired by wooden art and decided I would try to create something using an old frame and some extra wood I had acquired. On the living room floor, I used the side of an envelope to mark lines and eyeballed the angle of the cut. While Eric would cut pieces on our second story porch using a circular saw and a camping table (it doesn’t sound safe because it isn’t safe).
Eventually the finished piece hung in our living room and I couldn’t stop staring at it. The one piece we made together, sparked an interest and so I created kayla.creating. Once I created my Instagram account, referrals and word of mouth grew from my amazing network of humans! I really felt my community supporting me which isn’t something I had felt in a long time. One piece has turned into roughly one-hundred and fifty pieces in just a year and a half.
When talking to other artists about building a brand, I think every artist I know is thinking beyond just the pieces they are creating. We’re thinking on how to expand the impact. The impact of art and inspiration. Inspiration is a really special and sacred feeling. When you feel immensely inspired, you are motivated to no end. Filled with that ‘I-can’t-stop-thinking-about-this’ passion that really lights a fire within you. It can be life changing. One idea can change it all.
So what do I want the world to know about my brand? Yes, I build some pretty badass wooden art pieces, but I’m also here to remind you to go out and create the things you wish existed.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh man, Denver has a wildly immersive scene. Some top spots would be: RiNo Art District for all the murals and street art.
A cocktail at one of Denver’s newest bars, The Beacon is a must-see.
Meow Wolf is certainly a show stopper for any age and something everyone should experience here.
For one of my favorite views of the city, dinner at El Five at sunset; ah, chef’s kiss.
Monday jazz nights at Meadowlark stole my heart when I first moved here in 2017; it’s really magically to see such talent!
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 has to go to Priya Parker, author of ‘The Art of Gathering’. In my day job, I work in experiential marketing and events. This book was recommended to me and I absolutely love it. There’s a section in the book about spacial design and the power of creating the right atmosphere. As an artist, I thought a lot about this and started asking myself how I could take up more space with my art and create a larger impact. That’s when I found woodworking as my medium to explore.