We are so excited to be welcoming Nancy Vayo, founder and creative powerhouse behind KA.TL.AK for November. Shop Nancy's creations all month long in the shop and online.
Tell us a little about yourself and your brand. How did you start creating? KA.TL.AK is a vehicle for a lifestyle where art meets fashion meets transformation. I started KA.TL.AK about a year ago after having left my corporate job as a store planner. I have my graduate degree in Interior Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design, I focused my studies there on adaptive reuse of spaces. I feel like some of the work I am doing with KA.TL.AK is a similar practice, taking existing clothing and adapting and reusing it. I have always loved textiles and fashion, growing up in the 70’s with an artist/maker mother I was exposed to many amazing clothes and art and people. As a young girl I had a friend that was just as passionate about vintage clothes and thrifting as I was, she was an inspiration to me and we spent hours going through her grandmothers trunks full of beautiful silk dresses from the 20’s and taking photos and doing “fashion shows” for the labrador retrievers that she had. The name KA.TL.AK is a combination of my friends name; Kate and my daughters name; Lake. It is pronounced like the car, I love the classic coolness of a vintage Cadillac.
What do you derive your inspiration from?
I am a nature girl, and a bit of a daydreamer. I find so much inspiration in nature and in quite observation. I also love music and color and shadows and the evidence of the presence of the maker found in handmade objects. I once attended a lecture on Georgia O’Keefe’s work and the lecturer pointed out how you can see Georgia’s presence in an ink painting by observing where the line goes from being thin to thick. The weight that she applies to the brush, which makes the line thicker or thin, is her presence. That reality can be applied to so many handmade pieces and I find that truth so wonderful, the artist/maker can speak to the end user/viewer with no words.
What are some of your favorite creations you’ve made? Is there any project that stuck out to you as a maker?
I am especially drawn to the unpredictability of the dyeing process, it’s like a collaboration between me and the textile that I am dyeing. Every weave and material takes the dye differently and I enjoy the freedom that process allows. No two pieces are ever alike, and being open to the infinite possibilities in the process is a good practice for tolerance and acceptance in my work.
Can you tell us a little bit about your philosophy, how do you keep your work sustainable?
I also love the adaptive reuse of clothing, changing the structure all while utilizing the existing functions, the potential in a button down shirt is unyielding to me! All those buttons and buttonholes and collars and cuffs…the endless possibilities to repurpose and redefine, ahhhhh, bliss! I love the idea that textiles carry stories, the story of the fiber, the story of the maker and the story of the people who touch and wear the textile, the places the clothes have been, the conversations they have heard! All these stories are literally woven into the pieces and when I source from thrift stores I feel like I am writing the sequel. The idea of giving a new life to a piece of clothing, whether it be through hand dyeing or restructuring, brings me great pleasure. I strive to make the ordinary more special and to keep textiles out of the landfills.
Tell us about your thought process when creating.
I rarely draw my ideas in a sketchbook, I mostly just begin with my intuition. I process information and explore ideas through interacting directly with the piece, folding, pinning, cutting, dyeing, etc. With this new venture, KA.TL.AK, I have given myself permission as an artist/maker to “fail” and to experience “failure” in order to accept change and let go of expectations. This way of working is very different from my work as an Interior Architect, and it is proving to be a fertile process for growth. Many of my proudest creations came from trying, failing at and retrying an idea. I have learned techniques and skills through this trial and error process that I probably would not have learned if I had a more dogmatic approach. With each piece I make I infuse my belief that objects have energy and stories and the potential to be more than meets the eye.