I met Kendra of Ink Orchard at an art show (surprise, surprise!) several years ago and loved not only her work, but her outspoken personality. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and a tenacious business owner that I admire. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have over the years, and even more so during this interview!
Hey Kendra! Tell us about you.
I grew up north of Philadelphia, PA, and moved to Minnesota when I was 16. I was always creative and loved art classes in high school, and a good friend inspired me to go to college for art. I enrolled at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, and was head over heels for that school. I graduated in 2000 with my BFA and a minor in Printmaking.
Where do you call home these days?
My husband and I bought our first home five years ago in Northeast Minneapolis, and we love it. The name of our house is The Stinging Nettle. We have almost a quarter acre, and there was so much nettle when we first arrived. We try our best to keep just a small patch, but this place is a jungle. Our cats Cricket and Oatmeal love it, too.
Will you describe your work?
My art is mixed-media oil painting and woodcut printmaking. I combine the two mediums, and each piece is one of a kind. I print my hand carved woodcuts onto Mulberry paper or fabric to create lamps, fine art, messenger bags, and more.
Tell us about the process.
I start off sketching a design in my book and then transfer the drawing backwards onto a wood block. Then I carve out all of the negative space. I roll ink onto the carving, and everything that has not been carved away gets printed onto paper or fabric.
Has your process changed over the years?
The process hasn’t changed but I keep adding new products every year.
What has your path been like?
About seven years ago I quit working in the restaurant business and started selling my art at farmers’ markets, boutiques, and art fairs. I needed immediate income and I loved it right away. I wanted to create an affordable, fine art and craft, and my love for printmaking came through.
Now, many years later, my small surface design company, Ink Orchard, is growing more and more every year. I travel so my brand can be seen nationally, and I have more boutiques exhibiting my work. I love creating new designs and testing out different products at the different art events I participate in throughout the year.
What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?
I have my own groove throughout each day. I really love that.
What other jobs supplement your art work?
I work once a week at Utrecht Art Supplies in downtown Minneapolis. This keeps me experimenting with art materials. I meet so many interesting and talented local artists by working there.
What are the challenges to doing what you do?
I push myself very hard. The to-do lists can be daunting. I have learned to manage my time better and give myself more credit. I know I’m a hard worker and at the end of the day I’m doing my best. I am a tough boss!
What’s some of the best advice you’ve gotten?
Don’t take things personally. Manage your own life, not others’. Be professional.
Who or what inspires you?
Everything. I am amazed every day by the people in my life. I love people who ride the line between being totally healthy and totally bonkers. That kind of balance truly inspires me. [Editor’s note: I love this answer!]
Where can we find your work?
On the Ink Orchard website, and in person at the Casket Arts Building (Studio #411), Gallery 360, Moss Envy, i like you, Krista Artista Gallery, Mill City Farmers’ Market, and Powderhorn Art Fair.
What’s your favorite pair of shoes and/or shoe story?
When I was a teenager I had a pair of blue suede shoes. I really thought that was awesome—Elvis! I also just bought my first pair of cowgirl boots at Ragstock for $20. They are killer and fit perfectly.
What else should we know about you?
I play electric bass for two local country bands, The Beavers and The Changeups (hence needing the boots)!
My friends Karoline and Mike Wells of The Elixery are up for a very prestigious award! They were recently selected by the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors Association (ICMAD) as a finalist for a Cosmetic Innovator of the Year Award. The award ceremony will take place in Battery Park in New York City on June 18.
Other brands nominated for awards include Oribe, NYX, Amazing Cosmetics, GlamGlow, Suki, eOs, Thymes, and Jane Iredale.
The Elixery placed in the Grassroots Marketing category for its “Dessa” lipstick marketing campaign. “Dessa,” created for hip-hop star Dessa of Doomtree, launched in September 2012 at a sold-out charity ball featuring performances by Dessa and Aby Wolf. After the launch, the lipstick was distributed to Dessa and Elixery fans worldwide.
The Cosmetic Innovator of the Year Awards are given by the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors Association. The prestigious awards honor the year’s most innovative products, packaging, and marketing concepts.
Here’s the shoutout The Elixery gave to the people who helped make the “Dessa” lipstick possible. Go, Team Elixery!
Photography: Bo Hakala (Dessa), Rebecca Zenefski (Product), Herb Stellner (Event Lead)
Design: Christy Johnson, redshoes26
Makeup: Crist Ballas (design/Dessa’s makeup); FACES, Etc. – Laura Westrem (Event Lead)
PR/Marketing: Mary Thayer, Karoline Wells, Michael Wells, Dessa
Event Planning: Danielle Stellner
Music: Aby Wolf, Sean McPherson, Ashley Gold, Dustin Kiel, Joey Van Phillips, DJ Barb Abney, Dessa
Product Development: Karoline Wells
Merchandising/Sales: Ander Other, Lazerbeak
Voltage, now in its eighth installment, is the Midwest’s premier rock and fashion show, put on by MNfashion. It features all local bands and local designers, and it takes place at First Avenue‘s Mainroom.
I’ve been MNfashion’s Art Director for about a year now, and I truly love being involved in this non-profit organization and celebrating my love of fashion. Tickets are on sale as I type. Get yours now before it sells out, as it is known to do!
Voltage is a fresh twist on a traditional runway show, with models walking to the sounds of the crème de la crème of local bands, who also serve as models themselves. In addition to a killer runway and rock show, you can also purchase a stick of the lipstick that The Elixery custom made for Voltage! I’m so excited about this!
CounterCouture with accessories by Objects & Subjects
Idle Child with accessories by Vikse Designs
Lindsey Hopkins with accessories by Artist Built
deLange Designs with accessories by Larissa Loden
Punkktual with accessories by Made by Liz P.
Stephanie Rei with accessories by Karen Morris Milliner
Ellie Hottinger with accessories by Engels by Design
Danielle Everine with accessories by Aprilierre
Bomba de Luz
Sean Anonymous and Dreamcrusher
Aby Wolf: Wolf Lords
You can help support MNfashion’s mission and receive a runway seat to this year’s show by donating $100 here. Once your donation is made, we’ll get in touch with you via email to get you your tickets. Limited quantities are available.