Today’s guest interview comes from Kristen Ley, the talented and incredibly hardworking founder and owner of Thimblepress®—a letterpress stationery and gift studio just a couple hours north of Lucky Luxe in Jackson, Mississippi. You’ll probably recognize her Push-Pop Confetti that has swept the world in celebrations of all kinds, or the vibrant, upbeat aesthetic that spans her entire product line. Kristen has become one of the great bouncing boards, friends, and mentors of my work life and I’m excited to share some of her thoughts with y’all today. Welcome, friend!
Our senior designer, Sauce, says that when you’re an artist or designer professionally, “every choice is a design choice.” Do you see that in your personal life outside of your work?
I do, but I think it is so engrained in me that I don’t even realize it until I have made a decision, picked something out or made a comment. To me, design is in everything. Now that doesn’t mean that it is always great, but that is just the stuff I stay away from! Seriously though, every single thing in this world has a grand design first and foremost created by God. Even the food we eat has been designed by a chef at a restaurant or a food brand at a grocery store.
What would your best day be like?
My best day… Oh, that is hard. I have never been one to even have favorites. I just claimed my first favorite a few years ago with my favorite number. I love options, choices and variety. If I had to dream a large dream, I would be able to pack up my entire Thimblepress® studio, all of our team members, all of the pets, and Family Matters Steve Erkel or Star Trek style transport our offices to a private island. The island would have Fun-Dip powder sand beaches with trees that grew fruit popsicles and homemade beef jerky. Ha ha! Honestly, I love every day at work… even the challenging days that make me want to bang my head on the desk. It is rare that you get to do what you love every single day, and I feel honored God has allowed me to do this!
Do you make an effort to design your routine and your life around the things and moments that give you joy?
I try to do that. My routine is a routine of non-routine activities. I have a routine of being here in Jackson, Mississippi and working, but every day at Thimblepress® is different and I do tend to do the things that I want to work on the most, first in the day. I know some business people say do what you don’t want to do first and work your way out to the best, but I would rather just have dessert first! The joys in my life are very simple despite my large requests for a candy island with beef jerky trees. I find joy in the fact that I can call my own schedule, bring my dogs to work, create things that make people happy and celebrate the small moments. Those are some small but HUGE joys in my life.
How does your home reflect your life, your history, and your design choices?
My current home is actually at my work. I have a 2,200 square foot studio on the bottom level and a 2,200 square foot studio apartment on the second level. The second level contains my office, our photo studio, Bekah’s office, and our meeting area for Thimblepress® in the front and my apartment area in the back. I am very sentimental. I love the stories of furniture, blankets, knick-knacks, and art in my home. Everything has a story, and I love that. I really try to only keep things around if they make me happy. I used to hold on to everything, but when I held on to everything, the things I really love got lost amongst the mess of the stuff I really didn’t love. Now, my home is filled with only things that make me happy. I love vintage mid-century modern mixed with touches of folk art style, bright color and happy green plants. A lot of what I just described is very much reflected into the products we create at Thimblepress®.
Every person is a little weird in some way or another, and those weird things are important parts of what give us our personalities. For instance, I collect books with white spines and sleep with my baby blanket, and those objects feel significant to me and to my story. Tell me about a weird thing that’s essential to you.
Oh gosh, well, if you didn’t read the questions above, then I will go ahead and tell you… I am a little whacky—and I own it. It makes who I am, and truly makes living an honest life easier. I have been collecting tacky thimbles from every new place I visit since I was a kid. I have some beautiful thimbles from friends, but most of them are tacky gas station thimbles… And I LOVE them. I also love my animals more than some people may love their children. I act like I can take them everywhere with me, and often call in advance to the location I am wanting to visit and explain that my dogs are more like “human dogs.” Doing that always yields a small chuckle and a resounding “no,” but I have a lot of fun with it.
Who was one of the first pop or movie celebrities that you admired?
That would have to be Andrew Keegan. I was a huge Tiger Beat reader when I was in the 5th grade. Our group of friends all decided that we were going to like one of the main guys. You know, there was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Devon Sawa, Andrew Keegan, Rider Strong, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jonathan Jackson, James Van Der Beek, Ben Savage, Joshua Jackson, and Jared Leto…And I ended up with Andrew Keegan.
How did you answer “What do you want to be when you grow up” when you were in grade school? I have, crazy enough, always said “artist.” I dressed up as an artist when I was five years old for my kindergarten career day. Isn’t that crazy!? I wore an apron and little French beret, and held a palette and paint brush in my hand.
Thank you so much, Kristen!