In late 2015, we met Gracie Klutz, CEO and Designer of Klutz Mega Korp., at a flea market in Toronto’s west-end. We chatted with Gracie shortly thereafter about her brand’s online presence and what success means for a retail and fashion business that relies heavily on trade shows, e-commerce and networking.
We recently reconnected with Gracie to discuss the new adventures in store for her brand and her products, as well as what she’s learned about creating targeted, personalized accessories.
Read our full, follow up interview below:
- When we last chatted over two years ago, we talked a lot about your passion for accessory-making and how you use social media to grow your business. Since January 2016, what about #PinUpsByGracie has changed?
Oh wow! Since January 2016, so much has changed. Klutz Mega Korp., my little company with a big name, has gone from secondary side-hustle to main focus. The making of PinUps by Gracie have also improved with practice. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come. I’m tickled to be where I am with so many amazing things on the horizon.
- Klutz Mega Korp has just officially become a legal small business in Ontario. What are you most excited for, as 2018 turns a promising new leaf for you and the brand?
Legitimizing this business was a huge step. It meant I was no longer a solo dreamer. I am excited to be launching a comprehensive online strategy with the support of many artisan markets as brick and mortar outlets for me to be sharing what I do with the world, both locally and internationally.
- For other creative types and budding entrepreneurs, what advice do you have for them about registering an idea or business?
Do it! There are so many support systems both locally and provincially to grow small business. Small business is the backbone of the Ontario workforce. By becoming a registered business, I qualified for a small business loan, which meant I was no longer “boot-strapping” my business. I had cash flow to undertake larger shows like the One of a Kind Show and can grow this dream job where I can hopefully also employ others.
- This year, as you mentioned, you are also a part of the One of a Kind Show. What do you have to do to prepare for this highly anticipated Toronto expo?
Preparing for the spring One of a Kind Show – which runs from March 28 to April 1 – started in January with the curation of mini-collections, a thematic journey to PinUp perfection. Then, it became a manufacturing bonanza. As this is my first show of this size, I am unsure what to expect, so I’m preparing for the best case scenario. The booth design and staffing elements are new to me, too. Typically, I am able to work these shows solo, with help for load-in and out, but this will be the first time I am calling on my community of fans and supporters to help me out. I am SO lucky to have a group of folks behind me who want me to succeed. I’m grateful for each of them.
- What has your experience been like with the One of a Kind Show, so far? Would you do it again?
The One of a Kind team has been incredible. They’ve answered my very specific questions and host seminars for new makers on the show. It’s obvious they take pride in making this experience great. Depending on my reception at the spring show, I would definitely apply for the holiday show later in the year.
- The accessories that you make and craft are often very personalized, symbolic and meaningful. The patterns you choose are reflective of a potential buyer’s experiences, interests and values. Why is it so important for you to create products that empower your customers?
I firmly believe that we live in a time where the individual needs to be celebrated. All too often, I meet clients who don’t feel worthy of looking special. It is my passion to improve the confidence of each client. I have instituted a sales flow which dedicates my time to my current client conversation, and surprisingly, people will wait when they see that I care. Everyone wants to feel special.
- The term “pin-up” has been defined and refined many times. What about the term and its history inspires you to use it to describe one of your best-selling, brand-defining products?
There’s a sense of whimsy a PinUp calls to mind. It also winks at a feminist, “We can do it,” attitude. The original inspiration, Rosie the Riveter, is an icon of strength and solidarity. It is my goal to reinforce that in each headband.
- Where can our readers find your products?
The best way to find me is on Etsy and Instagram. I post all my newest designs on Instagram, [engaging with] direct messages and sending out orders. My Etsy will be updated with my newest products after the One of a Kind Show and I am also launching on Amazon Handmade!
- Since your brand has shifted and developed in the last two years, how has traffic to your Etsy shop changed?
One of the funniest parts of having an online presence on something like Etsy is that after someone has met me at a show, they often go away thinking of my product and find themselves late night shopping on my account. So, I see these micro-spurt sales after the fact. It’s fun to watch trends!
- If you could talk to yourself from 2016, what would you share about your personal and professional progression in the last two years?
I would say, “Stick with it, kiddo, you’re onto something.” That (not much) younger self was nervous that a silly idea couldn’t change the world. What she forgot was: If you want to change the world, you have to be the one to do it.
- Where do you think Klutz Mega Korp. will be in 2020, two years from now?
I’m hoping that I can launch my fun-tional clothing line and be presenting to retailers at the MAGIC show in Las Vegas, selling my dreams to an international audience. I want to share the spirit of Gracie with the world.
- What other advice might you give creative entrepreneurs and makers?
I want all those dreamy solopreneurs to know that yes, it’s hard. Yes, you might feel alone. Yes, you can do it. Don’t be scared to ask for help. Never stop learning and growing. The world has space for you and people in it who need to hear your voice, no matter what it is you’re making. You are necessary and wanted. And never stop being grateful, because even if it doesn’t go the way you want, it’s an amazing journey.
Thanks Gracie for chatting with us once again, sharing your story with the A Quarter Young community.