Meet Ann Arbor's Jamie Merkel of Slightly Smitten Kitten, who creates whimsical switch plate covers, mouse pads, baby goods, and much more. Jamie only uses fabrics that she adores, so she has a fantastic collection of prints to choose from!
What do you remember wanting to be when you grew up?
In first grade I was asked this question and my reply was "a scuba diver." I drew this fantastic picture of me in a diving suit surrounded by fish in a coral reef. The idea of being surrounded by color and beauty ended up being more of a continuing motivation than anything else!
What inspired you to start creating your artwork & how did you turn it into a business?
I started out as an art major in college, but changed gears along the way and graduated with a Master's degree in Anthropology and Museum Studies. I worked at a few museums helping to create and install exhibitions and this met my needs for a creative outlet at the time. My last position did not involve this creative process, however, so I started my etsy shop as a way to keep the creative side of me active. My first items were a hit and the creative process has been snowballing ever since.
What are your goals for the future, both artistically and in life?
One of my life goals is to constantly push myself to grow: both artistically and in the other areas of my life, from learning to cook new and exciting meals to being and becoming a better mother, friend, and individual than I was before.
What are you currently working on?
Lately I have really been enjoying making knit fabric headbands (knit is a stretchy type of cotton fabric, like the type you would find in a T-shirt). They are a fun and easy way to add a splash of excitement to any outfit. I have also been sewing a lot of cute short sets and rompers for little ones and will be refreshing my inventory for summer very soon!
What do you most love about the creative process?
Thinking about how something will look in my mind and creating it for the first time.
What do you least love about the business side of creating and selling art?
I LOVE owning a small business! I am both lucky and proud to be supporting my family 100% with my business and the opportunities it gives me in terms of flexibility while raising a family is awesome. The main drawback, however, is simply the amount of time and effort it takes to run a small business full time. My friends and I joke that I get to work whatever 80 hours a week I want!
Do you have any other interesting hobbies or maybe a fun story about an experience involving your artwork?
In my free time I volunteer on an organic farm. I love to be outside and to be able to contribute my time and attention to such a great endeavor.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I have a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Museum Studies. I have worked in Art Galleries and a variety of Museums. I have installed numerous art exhibitions, and have also worked on conserving and housing art and other museum objects. I love art and material culture, and these appreciations inspire my work.
What is your strongest memory of your childhood?
I always loved to sew and work with my hands. In second grade we learned basic embroidery skills in art class and I made a rainbow tarantula (The legs were made with a chain stitch using different colors of the rainbow).
You can find lots of Jamie's darling home accessories at Yellow Door, as well as online. Stay tuned for more fun and interesting info about Jamie all week!
Like learning about creative people in your community? Stay in the loop by signing up for our emails in the upper right hand corner of this site.