Interview: Karly Murphy

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Karly Murphy is a flower lover and craft enthusiast. Karly runs a shop called Kmpressed. I was lucky enough to interview Karly about her shop and what she is currently up to. 

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

Thank you for asking me to be on your blog! I'm well today, a little tired because my toddler has been waking up before the sun. 

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I am a lifelong flower lover and craft enthusiast. While I did not study art or anything like that in school, I have often admired various art forms and recently begun to appreciate quality craftsmanship. I've always made things, doing rudimentary crafts from a young age. I also have a background as a photographer of a variety of subjects, but one of my favorites has always been plants and flowers. Working with a local florist with a focus on seasonal, local material also helped develop a deeper appreciation for plants.

I adore your business. What made you decide to set up Kmpressed?

As self-taught gardener and long time photographer, I was looking for a way to save the beauty of the garden. Photos are one thing, but I began to try pressing a few flowers in books to retrieve on a cold winter's day. My collection of plants grew and I began to make cards featuring these pressed botanicals, then glass coasters, and decided to try opening an Etsy shop with these products.

What does your shop sell?

Now I create a collection of wall decor featuring pressed flowers and plants. Occasionally I will also create artwork on paper, or sets of those glass coasters, and I even make my own travel flower presses for those who want to try their hand at pressing flowers, but my main focus has been on the glass wall hangings. I also preserve wedding bouquets and create artwork with those for brides to enjoy for years to come.  

Why did you call your shop Kmpressed?

I knew I wanted to start an Etsy shop, but I had such a hard time coming up with a name! I tried lots of different ideas, but either they weren't available on Etsy or they just weren't a good fit. Eventually I got fed up and started hashtagging my pressed flower work on my personal Instagram "kmpressed," since my initials are K.M. and my work was "pressed" botanicals. I just went with it from there, and named my Etsy shop and subsequent Instagram account.

How has your creative process changed since the start?

It's always evolving! In the beginning I used a lot of ferns and certain garden blooms, but my repertoire has broadened to so many different plant materials. I now do my work in larger chunks, tackling one part of the process at a time for a number of pieces, but most of my work is still small-batch in the way that I only make one or two of a certain piece at any given time. My process has become more efficient due to increased demand and constraints on my time.

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

I learn by doing! After doing a few cursory online searches in the beginning, for how to make a flower press and what flowers might be good to use, I got to work trying many different plants and flowers I came across. For me it's been such a hands-on learning experience so when I am asked "how do you...?" questions I just have to say, give it a shot and see!

Have you always been into craft and pressing flowers? 

Always into craft, yes. Craft time was always my favorite at summer camp! I suppose I pressed a few flowers, leaves and four-leaf clovers in books as a young girl, but I only got serious about it and built my first press three years ago. Now I just can't get enough of it!

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

I think it has been a very organic process. As I mentioned, my background in photography compels me to share visually. I love following craftspeople and brands who share a variety of images, behind the scenes, process photos, professional photos, customer photos, so I just tried to follow that philosophy and bring people into my little world through photos. 

Who inspires your shop?

There are a number of botanical artists on Instagram who I just love to follow and who give me a daily source of inspiration and support. Some of them work with pressed botanicals, others use plants and flowers in other ways.

@iamronnicole

@helenahpornsiri

@thedandelionfoxart

@frame.and.flora

@elleroseartist

@flora.forager

Do you have any favourite pieces from your shop that you adore at the moment?

I'm loving the meadow-style pieces, where I use a variety of different flowers to create a little scene, like a blooming garden or wildflower meadow. Most of my work focuses on highlighting a single species of flower or plant but it's fun to create these little mixed pieces as well. I try to focus on using flowers that would naturally bloom at the same time, or at least within the same season, when putting together these compositions, which I think also makes them special. I'm also really enjoying the creation of my flower windows, though I'm not selling those through Etsy as they would be incredibly difficult to ship.

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram page?

That's a good question! I mostly take things a week at a time, and I stay so busy I don't do much strategizing there! Definitely more and more wedding work, more large scale work, but beyond that, I guess we'll see! 

What’s your typical working day?

No two days are the same. With a young son, my priority has to be caring for him, but I try to fit work in wherever I can. If he's playing outside, I'll tend to the garden a bit or pick flowers and press them, or if he's occupied with toys indoors I'll empty out flower presses to make room for new things! The actual creation of my pieces, cutting glass, and all that kind of thing has to happen when he's asleep, either during nap time or after he goes to bed at night.

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

In the beginning, it was just getting my work seen. I would try to use hashtags on Instagram in order to be found, but I was really hoping one day my work would be "picked up" by a big account and shared to a large audience. Ultimately, the Etsy official Instagram shared my photo twice in the second half of 2017 and that made all the difference. Now my biggest challenge is keeping up with demand!

Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

We will be taking a family vacation later in the summer and I think it will be just what we all need! I've been working so hard and it will be nice to have a little time away from work to relax. However, I can't ever resist the chance at new and exciting botanicals, so I'm sure I'll be working a little to collect seaweed and other coastal plants.

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Just be yourself! You can draw inspiration from anywhere, including successful creatives, but the only way to distinguish yourself is to carve your own path. A mix of innovation and consistency, making work that is recognizable as yours but developing new ideas, will help set you apart.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own shop?

Going off what I said above, do something unique! There are so many saturated and over-saturated markets for handmade products out there, and if you choose to go into one of those, you may get lost in a sea of others doing exactly what you're doing. If you can offer something different, find a way to present it in a unique way, and have a little marketing know-how, you'll be on the right track.

What’s next for Kmpressed? 

My mind is always buzzing with ideas! I write them down so I can revisit them when I have time, since wedding work and Etsy orders are keeping me so busy. New products and customizable designs, especially utilizing my new larger format artwork, are in the works.

You can follow Kmpressed on Instagram 'https://www.instagram.com/kmpressed/' and Facebook 'https://www.facebook.com/kmpressed'. You can find all of their products on Kmpressed website 'kmpressed.com'.