Proofing Stage

The Art of a Well-Placed ‘No’

May 15, 2024 Joan Kanner, Michelle Bond Season 2 Episode 2
The Art of a Well-Placed ‘No’
Proofing Stage
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Proofing Stage
The Art of a Well-Placed ‘No’
May 15, 2024 Season 2 Episode 2
Joan Kanner, Michelle Bond

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Guests - Kait Klusewitz (she/her), Muralist/Artist | Caroline Lampinen (she/her), Artist

Bringing art to business and business to art, hosts Michelle Bond and Joan Kanner dive into a vibrant discussion on "Proofing Stage" with two extraordinary creatives. Kait Klusewitz and Caroline Lampinen join the episode to unpack the powerful intersection of creativity and social impact. Celebrated for their engagement with community and social movements—particularly their support for the Black Lives Matter initiative—they share how they've transitioned from “W2” jobs to self-employment and roles that fuse passion and talent with purpose and personal well-being.

The conversation spans the essential tactics for setting both personal and professional boundaries. From navigating client expectations to appropriately valuing their creative output, Kait and Caroline deliver actionable advice not just for artists but for any entrepreneur.

For anyone drawn to entrepreneurship, art, or social advocacy, this episode is a treasure trove of insights on handling the hurdles of small business ownership while using one’s craft to foster community and advocate for change. Tune in to hear Michelle, Joan, and their guests explore the art of running businesses that do more than just succeed—they make a significant impact.

Gems include:

  • Sometimes the $$$ just isn’t worth it
  • Setting boundaries for yourself, not just others
  • Having an art soulmate is (okay) everything
  • Burnout can mean you’re not charging enough
  • Developing a signature artistic style takes time
  • The power of leveraging your industry’s ecosystem
  • Resentment isn’t just a River in Egypt!


Links

Connect with Kait Klusewitz:
Kait K Designs, She/Her
@kaitkdesigns
https://www.kaitkdesigns.com/

Connect with Caroline Lampinen,
Artist, Okay Everything, She/Her
@okay_everything
https://okayeverything.com/

More on working with Creatives: S1: EP9, Points for Creativity

“The Capers Song” written and performed by Katie Long


Theme music by Thorn Haze

Additional music: “Downfall” by AlisaBeats (via Pixabay)

Podcast cover art by Lisa Orye

Executive Producers,  Joan Kanner and Michelle Bond

Podcast production and show notes provided by HiveCast.fm

Find more at proofingstage.com
Follow us on Instagram and Threads @proofingstage

Join Proofing Stage+ to support us supporting you, AND access new bonus content in between episodes!

See Buzzsprout's Privacy Policy for listener privacy and read our disclaimer here.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Guests - Kait Klusewitz (she/her), Muralist/Artist | Caroline Lampinen (she/her), Artist

Bringing art to business and business to art, hosts Michelle Bond and Joan Kanner dive into a vibrant discussion on "Proofing Stage" with two extraordinary creatives. Kait Klusewitz and Caroline Lampinen join the episode to unpack the powerful intersection of creativity and social impact. Celebrated for their engagement with community and social movements—particularly their support for the Black Lives Matter initiative—they share how they've transitioned from “W2” jobs to self-employment and roles that fuse passion and talent with purpose and personal well-being.

The conversation spans the essential tactics for setting both personal and professional boundaries. From navigating client expectations to appropriately valuing their creative output, Kait and Caroline deliver actionable advice not just for artists but for any entrepreneur.

For anyone drawn to entrepreneurship, art, or social advocacy, this episode is a treasure trove of insights on handling the hurdles of small business ownership while using one’s craft to foster community and advocate for change. Tune in to hear Michelle, Joan, and their guests explore the art of running businesses that do more than just succeed—they make a significant impact.

Gems include:

  • Sometimes the $$$ just isn’t worth it
  • Setting boundaries for yourself, not just others
  • Having an art soulmate is (okay) everything
  • Burnout can mean you’re not charging enough
  • Developing a signature artistic style takes time
  • The power of leveraging your industry’s ecosystem
  • Resentment isn’t just a River in Egypt!


Links

Connect with Kait Klusewitz:
Kait K Designs, She/Her
@kaitkdesigns
https://www.kaitkdesigns.com/

Connect with Caroline Lampinen,
Artist, Okay Everything, She/Her
@okay_everything
https://okayeverything.com/

More on working with Creatives: S1: EP9, Points for Creativity

“The Capers Song” written and performed by Katie Long


Theme music by Thorn Haze

Additional music: “Downfall” by AlisaBeats (via Pixabay)

Podcast cover art by Lisa Orye

Executive Producers,  Joan Kanner and Michelle Bond

Podcast production and show notes provided by HiveCast.fm

Find more at proofingstage.com
Follow us on Instagram and Threads @proofingstage

Join Proofing Stage+ to support us supporting you, AND access new bonus content in between episodes!

See Buzzsprout's Privacy Policy for listener privacy and read our disclaimer here.

Joan Kanner (00:00.142)
On occasion they've been known to come together and form. Okay, terrific. On occasion they've been known to come together and form. "Okay, let's get on with it." On occasion they've been known to come together and form. "It's not right, but it's okay." Say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

On occasion, they've been known to come together and form, "okay, let's fucking go." 

Michelle Bond
Boom. 

Michelle Bond
This is proofing stage with me, Michelle Bond. 

Joan Kanner
And me, Joan Kanner. We're queer female founders who over a decade ago envisioned and created products and services designed with end users in mind. Go figure. 

Michelle Bond
Frustrated in our prior careers, we began to consider what all our energy and passion can do if we use it on our own terms.

A company with karma as its driving force, a music app that put users in control, and for the last eight years, a bagel business. 

Joan Kanner
This podcast is about our experiences and the nitty gritty of being an underrepresented small business owner. Just like we've worked to fill the gap in quality bagels, lox and schmear, these conversations fill the gap of knowledge, mentorship and straight talk that are missing from other business pods and success stories.

I come to the table with a ton of customer service and compliance experience, from a sports complex startup to new university centers to many years in grants and contracts administration, not to mention social science research, including focus group and survey work. 

Michelle Bond
And I've combined a passion for hospitality, communications, and PR with community development and diversity training, all with the aim of engaging others to actively show up in the spaces we all occupy.

Together we have a lot to offer and we have a lot to learn. 

Joan Kanner
So join us and our brilliant guests in this space between, "at it girl," and "I told you so."

Joan Kanner (02:05.198)
It's season two and we have live guests. And in part, season two is meant to build on season one. And in season one, episode nine, entitled "Points for Creativity," we talked about working with creatives. And then Michelle and I thought, why don't we bring on some of the real live creatives that we have worked with? To that end, today we have Kait Klusewitz and someone who calls themself Caro. How mysterious is that? It's kind of like Banksy.

So welcome Kate and Caro. 

Caro
Thanks for having us. Hi, thank you so much. Happy to be here. 

Joan Kanner
Who knows what fun we'll get into. 

Kait Klusewitz
Can't wait. 

Joan Kanner
All the time in the world. These are independent people, Michelle. Would you please stop combining them? 

Caro
Because so many people mistake us as being a duo and we're not. So we try to, yeah.

Joan Kanner
Oh, no, no, we're gonna fix that shit right now. 

Kait Klusewitz
We are individuals who very much like working together a lot. Yeah, there you go. Correct. 

Michelle Bond
And we are really excited. So happy to have you. We have thought so fondly of you both since we worked with you now almost three years ago, 2021. And I think that's when we did the Black Trans Lives Matter mural. And we definitely want to talk about that.

But we thought we'd just jump into it because I know right at the time that we were meeting about that, I know for sure, Caro and I think Kait, you as well, we're going through this transition from having full-time other gigs to moving to self-employment and kind of taking this leap of faith with both of your art. And we should have said too, right? That Kait, you are an artist and muralist. Caro, you're an artist and you both have these businesses that we mentioned, which frankly are taking over the town. So I definitely want to hear what that transition was like for you all in any way you want to go with that. Please tell us about your experiences. 

Kait Klusewitz
Well, Caro and I both met doing the project that it sounds like we might talk about in a minute. And at that point, we were both working our like, employed by other people jobs. 

Michelle Bond.
Yeah

Kait Klusewitz
I think what do you?

Kait Klusewitz (04:31.406)
Caroline calls it her W9 job. And so we met that way. But we both met at this point where we were both pretty dissatisfied for different reasons about what we were doing and kind of were both having some pretty major growing pains. And we both knew that it was a plan to kind of start our own business, businesses in the arts. But for both of us, those plans were at least a year out.

And then Caroline's transition happened first. So I'll let you start, Caro. 

Caro
Yeah, I actually will say I had no plan. I did not have an intention to work for myself in the arts. I will say specifically in the arts. That was not ever a plan. Maybe not ever. But at that point, I had...

I've had a career in education for about 10 years and hadn't really touched art for a long time, moved to Baltimore, blah, blah. The way that I got to actually quitting my job was it was a very do or die situation of I don't think my mental health could tolerate another two weeks in the job that I was in. It was a cool job right, for me for a certain amount of time. And at that point, I had an executive coach through my job and I had a therapist. And I alternated them weekly.

And I was about to get a major raise and a bonus. And I was talking, I can't remember if it was the therapist or the coach, but I was talking to them and they were like, and I was talking about this money that I was like waiting to land. And she was just like, "is it worth it?" And I looked at her and I was like, "no." And I called my manager the next day and put in my two weeks. And so I very much quit in a moment of desperation. I am not one of those entrepreneurs that like planned for it or had money set aside or was like. "No." Like I really quit out of desperation, which by the way though, I have a very strong track record of doing not in that kind of desperation, but like I've never held down one job for more than four years. I'm a, I'm very much a Gemini. I will always flit around. I will never be satisfied with one thing for a long time. So for me, that's like very, very natural to quit. That was not a scary thing. I was very comfortable doing that. And I thought I was going to have to make my money doing education consulting...

Caro (06:50.766)
...which was the first contract I got when I quit my job. And I thought that was going to be the moneymaker and I would get to start doing more art on the side for fun. But what quickly happened after that first contract is art started making the money I needed to sustain my life. And after that one contract I had after my W -2 job, I've done no education work since then, which is wild. It's wild. So that was, for me, it was very unintentional. Being a muralist was, unintentional. We can get into that journey too, but it was very much a moment of desperation, which I do and do not recommend, depending on who you are. 

Michelle Bond
Right? No, absolutely. Joan? 

Joan Kanner
I have to say that I would have been, I would have treasured having people on the team for four years. 

Michelle Bond
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. 

Joan Kanner
In my career, I've been like three and a half years maximum anywhere. And this girl could not be held down by Hopkins more than two years. It was like one of the biggest turns around. I just could not, I was just like, "not this place," you know? And it's not to say every, every part of Hopkins is like that, right? But, but damn. So just four years to me, it's, it's enough to like, learn yourself, like push things to the edge of what you can learn. And then... 

Caro
I agree. I agree. And I feel it's a very millennial of me. Like none of us hold down our jobs. It's very normalized. I've never felt bad about it. I've gotten some,some feedback from other people are like, whatever, you know, there's stuff you see or read, but I 100% agree with you. I think it's only been a benefit. And I feel like I've spent, it took me a couple of years to realize and defend that to myself. Bless therapy, like, this is an asset. I'm a unique person that I love to flip around. And like, it's great that there are people that like to stay in a career for 10 years too. Good, we need all people on the planet. So who knows what I'll be doing two years from now, we'll see. 

Michelle Bond
All right, great. Yeah, and what about and so Kait, it sounds like for you it was a little bit more of a plan or a goal. Is that? 

Kait Klusewitz
I mean, yes and no. So and I think the reason why I handed it to Caroline first is because that was really important for me. 

Caro
It was.

Kait Klusewitz
So yeah, and well, and I realized that I kind of I didn't mean to speak for you, Caroline. It wasn't that Caroline had that we both had plans to transition into the arts. But we had been talking about how we both knew that we needed to stop what we were doing. And we both...

Kait Klusewitz (09:13.934)
you know, had been talking about thinking that that was about a year or so out from where we were. And then Caroline had her moment. And, and I was in a kind of a different position. I was not in a job that was high stress or that was really taxing my mental health. I was really lucky. And I was kind of the opposite. So I'd been at that job for, gosh, I don't even, I don't even remember now, but it was, it was maybe seven or eight years. I'd been there for a pretty long time.

I was working in retail, which was never a plan. I never saw myself as somebody who would be in retail and then I was managing and it was kind of a job that challenged me enough that it was kind of easy to stay. And also, you know, I was kind of the primary bread winner for my household for a while there and it was a steady job. So I was doing that, but I also, it was never an industry that I really saw myself in or wanted to be in. So it was something that I was like hoping to leave and always knew that I wanted to do something creative, but didn't really know what that would be. The BLM Windows project was a huge segue for me kind of, you know, 2020 and having a lot of space to do art and then having this project that ended up just completely blowing up and taking a lot of my time and realizing, wait, I actually love doing art this much. Like this much of the time. And I like it this much.

So, you know, that's so... Caroline and I were kind of both at this place and then she had this, you know, this day where she was just like, "okay, I'm done now." And we literally met up. I want to say it was just, it was like a couple of days after that. It wasn't, it wasn't even a week, I don't think. And we had planned to meet up for drinks and we're chatting and Caroline, it's just like somebody took the weight of the entire world off of her shoulders. She was like a different person. I mean, she was always a happy bubbly person, but she was just like, ethereally light, like she was just floating and she was so like giddy. And I was and I was also suffering from some mental health stuff like I was I was feeling the opposite. I was feeling very heavy and not because my work situation was bad but it wasn't the right situation for me and I've been in it for too long and I was just feeling so stuck and so Caroline's got this energy and she's like "this is amazing I...

Kait Klusewitz (11:25.102)
my job. You can quit your job." And I was like, "I can't, I can't actually quit my, like, I can't just quit my job." And she was like, "why not?" And I was like, "because I'm Type A, I don't know, that's not what you do." She was like, "why not though?" And so, you know, we kind of have our conversation and in the car on the way home. I called my partner and I was like, "Caroline's crazy. And you know, she was telling me I should just quit my job."

And my partner is like the pragmatic one of us and I thought for sure he was gonna be like, "well, you know, so maybe we talk about like, you know, we'll plan and you know, see how much work you can get doing something you wanna do." And like, and he was like, instead of that, he goes, "why don't you just quit?" And I was like, "are you serious?" 

Michelle Bond
Yeah, I have permission, holy cow. 

Kait Klusewitz
Wait a minute, right, right, like I needed permission, but like I had.

And it was like, Caroline had this crazy idea and then I had like the other most important person in my life going, "well, that's why is that crazy? Just fucking do it." And I was like, "really? Like, you can just do that?" That was kind of the beginning of this sort of like adult, like kind of epiphany of like, there's not rules, right? Like there's not actually rules. You can just kind of do a thing. Like if you can make it happen, just you can just do it. And we were in a fortunate position that my partner was just, graduating from his doctorate. So he was about to have a job that could take over for paying the mortgage. And he was like, "just do it, man. He was like, you've been saying you want to do this for so long, just do it." And so, you know, one evening with Caroline going, "why don't you quit?" And then, you know, like the next day I went in and I chatted with my boss. And for me, it was a little bit more of a transition out because I think I was a pretty big part of her business at that point. So, you know, it was a little bit more of a slow step out, you know, a little bit at a time, but it wasn't more than a year before I like had pretty much completely replaced my working and retail time with working for myself time. 

Michelle Bond
Amazing. 

Kait Klusewitz
So thank you, Caro. 

Michelle Bond
Yeah. I was gonna say, go ahead, Joan. 

Joan Kanner
I'm giving a visual cue to because it's, it's more fun using so much of a romp, which is great to have like this many squares going on. But I think one of the things that you said that was really impactful and you illustrated is that...

Joan Kanner (13:40.366)
One thing with our pod was that we wanted to make sure people can talk to the folks who are like a year or two ahead of them in terms of like their thinking versus watching a TED talk and having someone who's at the mountaintop. "We have gotten God knows what kind of help or like, you know, skipped a few steps along the way." And it wasn't even like a year ahead. I mean, it was just like mere moments. 

Michelle Bond
It was three days ahead, you know. 

Joan Kanner
Right!

Kait Klusewitz
Yep. So the project started in 2020 when, at least in Baltimore, we had a lot of activity around the BLM movement. We were doing a lot of protests and marches and things. And I mean, the very short story is I did a march. I had one of the little signs, but because I'm me and I'm extra, I made it pretty and put it in my window, but it was blocking all the lights for my plants. And I was like, you know what? I'm a window artist. Let's make this permanent. Let's make it pretty. So I painted my window.

And then a couple of neighbors were like, "ooh, paint my window." Friends were like, "paint my window." So I started and the more I was doing, the more people I was getting asking about it. And I was like having this moment to thinking about allyship and what that meant and how to kind of harness platforms and how to, you know, what it meant to be like a purposeful and meaningful ally, not just somebody who's like, "yeah, Black Lives Matter." 

Michelle Bond
Yeah, for sure. 

Kait Klusewitz
And so I was like, "okay, so maybe this is something that I can actually do." And so it very, very quickly became a project and it evolved to me just doing it for free for people who wanted that message, you know, kind of to be broadcast to realizing that so many people wanted it and were so passionate about wanting this piece of art, but it could also be harnessed to kind of produce like some financial infusion into some like, you know, organizations that could do things with that money.

So essentially what it was was coming to whoever's house requested it, painting their window, and then instead of them paying us, we would just suggest, you know, we would ask them to donate to a black or BIPOC organization of their choice. And it was totally honor system. I never wanted to have anything to do with seeing or touching any of the money, but we, you know, we...

Kait Klusewitz (15:48.782)
I feel very strongly that people participated in a genuine and an honest way. And that's how I met Caroline, because I had actually reached out to her asking about what kind of, she was doing a lot of window art at the time and she was an artist that I'd found on Instagram and followed. And I was like, "can you tell me a little bit about the materials you used?" I just was kind of curious to compare it to what I was using. And she was like, "yes, can I please come help?" And I was like, "my God, please, yes, I have more people asking for windows than I can do." So that's how we met.

And we both, I mean that like yellow windows went pretty strong for about a year. I gave myself a pretty bad wrist injury with it. I was doing so many windows and just the, so we use like chalk and acrylic paint markers essentially to do the work. And this is a, this is a problem unique to me. It's just however I must hold the marker and however much pressure I must be applying, but I gave myself a really bad and pretty long wrist injury. So I had to kind of take a step back and I had a brace for a year and it like broke my heart. I felt so bad to step away because one of the things that I felt really strongly about when I started the project was that I did not want this to be a fad. I didn't want this to be a thing that like: people are talking about BLM right now and as soon as this isn't a thing it would disappear. And I feel proud of the fact that we definitely were doing it beyond when it was kind of mainstream media to be talking about.

But it definitely, I mean, like, you know, and especially because at that point, during that process is when I left my job and wanted to transition into doing art in some capacity full-time, it was like, I can't, I got to, my, my, my, my wrist has to work. So we, we kind of fizzled that out. We were doing a little bit here and there, but I kind of found that, I don't know, just, it doesn't take a lot of, of using the markers in the way that I was to, to kill my wrist. So right now it is not active.

The Instagram still exists and I still think that like, I think it's a fine thing to allow the Instagram to still exist because I mean, there's a lot of beautiful art there. I think it can still exist as I don't know, as I always... the coolest thing to me was how many other artists I had reach out to me and be like, "can I do this in my city?" And I was like, "yeah, man... 

Michelle Bond
That's amazing. 

Kait Klusewitz
... this in your city." So I'm glad that it's still there for that. And Caroline and I have talked many times about, you know, like if we have time kind of picking up...

Kait Klusewitz (18:11.246)
... you know, a couple of windows here or there, we've got kind of an ongoing list of people who have made requests. But that's going to be more as my wrist health and time allows. 

Michelle Bond
Sure, sure, sure. Yeah, well, definitely. It definitely brought you all to us. And I know as a result of the mural that you did on the BUB Hub, I mean, I've at least half a dozen people I've given your names to. So hopefully, that's also, you know, part of the part of it all.

I mean, and I mean, I think one of the things that was really important to us, even as it was 2021 or going into 2022 really, was that, you know, the ethos behind it, you know, that you all were very adamant about not profiting from it. And not only not profiting from it, but also donating your time and materials and encouraging those people who, like us, who were moved by it to not only donate to an organization, but in our case, like former relationship. You know, we had, we had worked with Baltimore Safe Haven and we knew back in the day Baltimore Trans Alliance, peripherally at events, but it really, it, it allowed us to have some conversations and to have some visits and to have, you know, something more than just, a money, a money drop. And especially at that time we were both on Greenmount corridor. So, so thank you for that work. And I, and I hope that, you know, you've gotten similar,responses from other people that you've worked with over time, too. 

Kait Klusewitz
Yeah, I mean, thank you guys so much for, you know, finding us and asking us to come and do it. Honestly, the thing that I feel like was the coolest thing about this project to me was the fact that we had so many people that - I've got a list of literally hundreds of people on a spreadsheet that I just never even got to. I mean, I think that that's one of the things that was the most inspiring to me about that project was how important it was to so many people in the city. To spread that message and to like, not just to have somebody come and do it, but to like pay money to spread that message, right? So yeah, no, that was, I mean, like businesses like 
y'all were a huge part of the reason that that project happened. 

Joan Kanner
Do you remember, Michelle, like when we had different customers come up and they had trans kids and they would just say, "when my child walks past, it reminds them that they exist and that they are welcome."

Kait Klusewitz (20:38.83)
Yeah, that's really cool. I know when we were designing that I know something that was super super important to us was to make sure that the silhouettes of the people that were going to be in the parade really, it really reflected like everybody like, you know, like adults, children, you know. People who are short people who are tall, you know. 

Michelle Bond
Yeah, yeah. No, it was beautiful. And I mean, it was Joan's, I will say to you, I mean, Joan, it was your idea. We had four windows to say not only, Black Lives Matter, but Black Trans Lives Matter. And as, as queer folks ourselves just recognizing like so much of the life that we have, that we can live openly is, you know, on the backs of people who have endured a lot, you know, in some of the worst things. 

Joan Kanner
And continue to, and get murdered at a crazy rate, you know. And like, I remember that you folks were going to be done with the mural around Mother's Day. And like I mentioned to you, and I'll say it again for the pod.

These people are the mothers of a movement. Just like let that settle on your brain a bit. That without them I wouldn't have the rights that I have as a cisgender lesbian, a queer person, you know. 

Michelle Bond
Yeah. But our very, very... go ahead, Caro. 

Caro
I think as a business owner it says so much to put that... Like it's on the one hand, it's easy to be like, "here I am, a very comfortable white woman, just like going to draw in a window," like what am I doing? Like it's really, really easy to gaslight yourself into being like, this isn't important. Like I'm not doing so many other things that I can be doing. Like I've been to protests, but I'm not a huge protest person. And I carry a lot of like, okay, "where am I best suited? Where am I like natural inclinations? And when is it really, really appropriate to be very, very uncomfortable really intentionally?" and all of the things. 

And I think, how thoughtful you are about exactly what you wanted on your windows, how many conversations we had about it, the fact that you were reaching out to Baltimore Safe Haven. Like that was such a process. And I think that it became a relationship with people you didn't have relationship with. And that Kait and I have so many stories and so many new relationships that came out of all of those windows that we created these images for. And I think...

Caro (22:58.414)
it can feel really small and insignificant in the beginning and like giving it time and space to breathe and grow. And like one that I will not ever forget the first conversation Kait and I had because I had reached like, we had had these conversations on Instagram and she was like, "let's jump on a call." She didn't know at the time. I hate phone calls deeply in my heart. She knows this now and I didn't know her and I'm like wandering around Michaels getting like materials and like I'm all haphazard and the thought and time of like the question she was asking me.

Making sure that my intentions were good and like finding out what type of person I am and vice versa because like it's just so easy to be performative. And living in Baltimore City being really really aware of being a white woman like it's so it's, it's, it's just so it's a lot it's a big complex topic to be talking about race and gender and sexuality and all of the things. And that conversation like showed me a ton of who Kait was from the jump and I hope vice versa.

And was very much the beginning of like such a rapidly wildly strong relationship. But my point of this was to say for you to put that on a business window, like especially as I'm here in Texas where there are horrible, horrible laws happening right now, specifically against the trans community, it just to be able to put that on your window and keep it up there for so long, it says so much about y'all as business owners. It's pretty cool. 

Kait Klusewitz
Well, I mean, it's literally putting your money where your mouth is, right? Because I think, and that's kind of what you're getting at, right, Caroline? Of like it's one thing to just be like, someone's house like "this is my house. I as an individual I'm gonna say that this is something that I care about" It's another thing to like have your business say "this is what this business is about," right? And that's I mean there's some stakes there that don't exist for the individual and so, you know, I don't know I kind of... it speaks to how important that was to you. 

Caro
Yeah. 

Joan Kanner
Well, thank you. 

Michelle Bond
Yeah.

Joan Kanner
I just I really need to have the reaction that you had the moment when I was just like, "you know people may want to like spray this off, or like to deface it." And the two of you were just like, "that's when you come back and you redo it." And I was just like, "that's all I need to know." 

Michelle Bond
Yeah. Yeah. And we never ever, I mean, that to your point, Kait, that was up for over a year. And it never, I mean, the only time it came down was when we left that site because we weren't aligned in values with the people that we gave money to every month. So that tells you something right there. But, anyway...

Joan Kanner (25:30.222)
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Joan Kanner
When it comes to... I'm someone who whether I've worked for other folks and I was at a W9 job or, I'm trying to look at my notes... 

Michelle bond
W2. 

Joan Kanner
Let's call it...

Caro
Yeah. 

Joan Kanner
... [W9]jobs or my #employedbyotherpeople jobs. 

Caro
Yeah. Yeah. 

Joan Kanner
I have really had no boundary. I would get in before my boss generally leave after. At one point working for universities. I worked, well, actually not one point. I worked for areas that were kind of like call centers almost and dealing with grants and contracts and all kinds of compliance stuff. And it was just a fire hose. And I had a really hard time, like not working. I won't say it's hard because when I'm focused on something, I'm focused on it. I wouldn't take breaks and I would burn myself out. Then moving to having my own business...

Joan Kanner (27:23.758)
... It felt like more okay to be able to push myself differently. It's also kind of addictive in that the harder I worked and the more organized I was, the more stuff I got done, the more money that came in. So I didn't know when it comes to anything, and this is definitely an open question to one or both of you, how have you established or reestablished boundaries in that you're working for yourself now? 

Kait Klusewitz
Like everything, we've got wildly different answers. Go ahead, Caro. 

Caro
We do. We do. This is something I also care so deeply about and practice. Like actively practicing, of course. All of us, all of the time. I come from and it like the education nonprofit industry where they churn you out and they gaslight you, and they trick you, and they say "we're family, we love each other." 


You know, like that environment that can feel so comforting when you're 24. And then you turn 34 and you're like "this is so manipulative." Absolutely not. Like that is basically what happened. Like I was ushered in right out of undergrad into that type of environment of like "You really care about children, right?" "And you care about racism in the United States?" "And you care about this so you better go be a savior for these little black and brown kids." And the shit like, and that...

That is so so deeply problematic and awful for everybody involved. So there was like such a learning curve going into that environment and then deciding to like quit other jobs. Join new jobs. Gradually learn and grow. Like the DEI movement I feel like was growing as I was maturing, and growing in the United States. 

And like learning that boundaries are healthy for everybody realizing like really examining white saviorism in the world, and how that relates to burnout and urgency culture and all. It like... there's so many ties to capitalism and racism and white supremacy and all the things. And so I'm like thinking about this and training other people about this and still being a workaholic and all the things. So, similarly like and you and I told you I quit my job like it was really out of desperation - which is a little bit embarrassing and a little bit a point of pride. Of like, yeah, that was a boundary being like "I'm done here. I'm not doing this."

Caro (29:36.174)
"You can't manipulate me into staying." I literally told my manager when I quit, I was like, "if you or the HR manager or our CEO call me and try to discuss this again, like I will, I won't, you won't even get two weeks out of me. Like we are done. You cannot guilt trip me into staying." Because the company I work for has a history of just really getting people to stay for like months and months after when they're trying to go. So I got out. 


There were so many times with Kait where I was like, "Kait, I cannot do a 12-hour day. Like I will not do a 12 hour day like da da da da." In the beginning I tried to be really, really strict and nice and I'd be like, "there is a reason why I quit. I will not work on weekends," all of these things. And then I will say - 

Michelle Bond
You mean with the art? With the art?

Caro
Yeah, yeah, with the art. And the more big contracts we got, the bigger the client. And now it's gonna play, like mural culture is also a grind culture in its own way. And mural specifically, there's so many factors where -

Very often you have to work a 12- or 14-hour day because of weather or because of access to a building or because of whatever. But I will say I'm way more sensitive now to balancing that out with days off, with times off, with digital projects versus painting projects. And there's also so many boundaries with money of being compensated for the type of work you're doing. I'm way more willing to push my boundaries if I'm getting paid 30% more or whatever.

And because I'm in control, like that... I'm in Texas right now, I'm doing this interview and I'm doing some digital work with Kait, yes, today and tomorrow. But I'm taking literally all of April off because I can. Because I'm a small business owner. I've made enough money to do so. Like I get to travel and be doing these different things. So, it's, I, I love being my own boss and it still has to be... 

My literal last therapy appointment was about "Unstructured Caroline" and "Structured Caroline" fighting with each other. And, again, as a small business owner, I still really, really, really need to give Unstructured Caroline a lot more time to not be trying to... Cause I agree, Joan, like the whole, every hour I'm not working is X amount of dollars I'm not making. Like there's a direct correlation. And also there's a reason I bought a tiny house in an up-and-coming neighborhood in Baltimore. It's cause like...

Caro (31:55.406)
The stakes are still so low for me. Like I'm still, I said it, and I think this is one thing that's the caveat I want to say about how I quit. I quit my job very suddenly, but with a strong history of doing that and doing it successfully and knowing I can land on my feet. And I've like always had a handle on my finances personally and professionally where even without a huge intentional plan, I know how I am and how I handle my finances. So I knew I would be safe.

I do not recommend that move for anybody where that would not be a safe decision. And I'm really careful. Kait, I also, I knew it was going to be safe because I knew about, enough about her personally and professionally to be like, "I know you're okay if you quit." Like, "I don't think you're, I don't think you're the happiest right now. And I want to do some art together during those business hours." 

Kait Klusewitz
[laughs]

Michelle Bond
I think there's this in Kait, absolutely. It's just what you hit on, Caro, which really, I could relate to was just this, this tension between being in some ways less boundaried when you're working for yourself, but it's also it's a different kind of payoff, you know? And it's not just obviously about money, it's about feedback for doing something that for creating something that people relate to. And, you know, we would probably all agree that that's more powerful in some ways. But it can also lead you to not taking care of your actual needs, whether those are financial or otherwise. So yeah, Kait, please, would love your take.

Kait Klusewitz
Yeah, no. This is such a fun question because Caroline and I work together so, so much. And one of the things that we constantly laugh about is how we care about the same things so ubiquitously, but we are such different people, like our approaches to things and the ways that we think about things are so wildly the opposite in so many ways. And this is a good example, because I think that I, because I came from a job where boundaries weren't quite as much of a problematic situation as they were for Caroline and her job before quitting. I think that I, you know, I'd almost like, I think for Caroline was almost like needing to like go to the opposite extreme. Whereas for me, that wasn't as necessary. I had a job where I wouldn't say the boundaries were perfect, but it was something that, you know, as a business, you know, the owner was really trying to be very conscious of and.

Kait Klusewitz (34:16.494)
So it was something that worked, but also I was working retail, right? So I was used to working weekends. I was used to having crazy shifts all over the place. So I think for me, moving into working for myself, it helped that, you know, starting your own business, it's always a slow roll, right? It's not like I jumped into a situation that was really intense with having too much work to do and needing to try to draw boundaries. I mean, it was like, you know, it grew. 

So I found that I had to kind of figure out boundaries slowly and a little bit at a time. I am somebody who naturally is not very good at holding boundaries. And I find that for me, boundaries kind of fall into two categories of like: "boundaries with other people" and "boundaries with myself." And it's something that I've been really actively working on and I'm proud of myself for making some really good progress on is the "boundaries with others." 

I'm still struggling. We haven't quite. We're still working our way to the "boundaries with myself" because what I'm finding is happening now is that I'm getting more and more comfortable saying "this is what I can do," you know, like when I'm being asked, you know? "Okay, well, you know, this is what I can do. This is what I can't do." Where I struggle is in offering too much, offering too much for too little money or knowing that I don't want to do a thing, but offering to do it. 


It's not like if somebody me I'll say "no" but but I'm, I have this weird like compulsion to like to prioritize other people's like convenience before it's even asked of me. So, that's something that I'm working on. So, I mean, I, I feel like I, I'm not nearly as rigid with my boundaries as Caroline is.

I'm also not as busy as Caroline is. And I think that that's important. Like I think that if maybe I was busier, it's something I would be forced to be a little bit more careful about. But going back to boundaries with myself, something that happens all the time when Caroline and I are working together is I will get hyper, hyper, hyper focused. So there's like 14-hour days, those will happen. But not because I have to necessarily, like I'll self-impose that I'll just keep working, keep working, keep working. And one of the amazing things about working with Caroline in particular, is that she will say, "Kait, you need to stop...

Kait Klusewitz (36:29.358)
... for half an hour and eat some food." Like, and she'll like pull me away from the wall, which I need because when I'm working by myself, I'll work for two, like 14-hour days and my back will be all jacked up and I won't have had any water, you know? So, so I'm not as good at them, but I'm working on it. 

Michelle Bond
Well, it's all, yeah, we're all evolving. I think I need my own Caroline too, actually it sounds like. 

Kait Klusewitz
I think everyone does, personally. I recommend it.

Caro
Here for it. Here for it.

Kait Klusewitz
A Caroline for everyone. 

Caro
Kait and I balance in, I mean, depending on what the rest of your questions are, like you, everything she described is so accurate. They're so, we, when we, very early on when we first met, we started referring to each other as "art soulmates" because of the way that we operate and how much we compliment each other. And it's like, we are constantly finding new topics that, and it's not, it's not that we disagree. 

It's that we are like the perfect, ah, compliment to each other of like... Because I'm somebody where sometimes my boundaries are too firm and I'm too quick to run away from something. Or if we just paint for 30 more minutes, it's actually going to save us a ton of time tomorrow because we don't have to restart this whole section or whatever. Like we, and like, like she said, like I went so hard in the other direction because I'd been just straight up abused in the boundary department that...

Sometimes it's good to take a breath and be like, "okay, what's also the smartest thing?" and "how many days off can I take after this 14-hour day?" or whatever. Balancing things across the board. 

So, in boundaries, in many other ways we're such good compliments and it is so amazing to work together. And there's nothing I love more than when Kait is like super hyper fixated on something and I just hand her, her water bottle and she's like, "thank you, thank you." I love it. I don't feel like a strong caretaker of a personality, but sometimes when I'm with Kait, like it's nice to be able to be a friend that can like, and we do it for each other in so many ways. So it's great.

Kait Klusewitz (38:25.998)
I'll say "I need to go to the bathroom" while I'm painting and then an hour later I'll be like "I need to go to the bathroom" and then an hour later I'll be like "shoot, I still need to go to the bathroom" and Caroline would be like "did you still not go to the bathroom? I'm not going to hear you say that one more time! Go to the bathroom. 

Caro
Like, "go now, please, go now. Now."

Michelle Bond
I love it.

Joan Kanner
I do love the, what you mentioned Kait, about what I would call pure play. But there are some moments when I'm doing work for myself or I'm like currently - nerd alert! I'm currently reviewing my friend's coins, like her family coins. Like I'm a numismatist, among many things. I'm sure, you know... pretty hot. And if I'm working 14 hours straight, it's because I am so fucking into it. I block out the rest of the world. I have pretty good focus, you know. Gen Xer - before all these different things came up [i.e. smart devices], you know.

So for me, like, I totally get that. I mean, I'm not I always I don't feel punished. If anything, if you try stopping me in some moments, I feel like a kid who's like toys are being pulled away. Like Tommy Pickles... 

Kait Klusewitz
Yes. 

Joan Kanner
... pulled away from his toy. So I understand that, too. So it's interesting to like do a self-check and go, "why am I so...? No one's forcing me to do this. I'm having fun. That's why I'm doing it. Oh, okay. Yeah, keep going.

Caro
Yeah. Right. Right. If I can say... I think too, I think it's so like a lot of people think work life balance or balance period or, or boundaries. They mean like - you work an eight hour day and then you go have dinner with your kids. And like, again, therapy is incredible. Everybody go. But like one thing I talk about a lot, and I think about a lot with my therapist was like, I, as a human -  Kait has seen this in me repeatedly at this point because we've been working so closely for so long - I really work in cycles. 

The reason I took all of April off is because I went so hard for six months straight. Okay, I will say, boundaries look so different for each individual and that's totally okay. And for me, a boundary is that I am going to work really, really hard for X amount of months and then I'm going to take April off. And being okay telling clients either, "I cannot do this for you..."

Caro (40:30.926)
"Or you have to wait until May." And that, there's like something so gratifying, too, as a business owner, like I feel like you've moved up a space in the world when you're able to so confidently tell a business, "no, I cannot do this for you." Full stop, period. Like that is what, that kind of boundary too, because either they don't have enough money for your services or you are too booked or whatever, where it's like, there, I spent many days early, early on where I was like, I will cram every client into every nook and cranny because of financial reasons or because I'm trying to build my way up or whatever. And now like it is a boundary to be like, no, April is closed. Other than this digital work that Kait and I have already knew was coming, like I am done for April. I will, you'll see my Instagram has had no content for a few weeks because I'm like, "I'm out". But when I'm back, I work like, I don't have the same type of hour differential. And like the way my energy is as a person, I just work really well in cycles. And that is my type of boundary and I've learned that about myself. Yeah, so like nobody's boundaries are going to look identical. I think that's important to know.

Joan Kanner (41:39.31)
That's important that you said that, because I feel like unfortunately there was this wave, especially around the time of, you know, quitting and quiet quitting and all that shit where people thought you had to, per your point, [have] just an eight hour day. And it's just the one size fits shit all doesn't work for anyone. So why would it work when it comes to boundaries? 

Caro
Right. Right. 

Michelle Bond
You hit on it in some of your prior answers, but...

I think this is really important for creatives when it comes to pricing your work. And I even know from our, you know, from - obviously our work is different - but there's, you know, your costs, there's your overhead, there's your supplies and expenses. And, you know, obviously those are different if you're mainly working like just yourself, but there's also this idea of what the market will bear and the perceived value of what you're doing, right? And that's something that, like, when it comes to bagels, we were always so acutely aware of, like, well, actually, what it takes to actually do this is not what people associate with paying for this piece of bread with a hole in it because of what they're used to. And so I just wanted to ask you all about that, like, how you're thinking on that and how you manage to...

... find that balance between obviously honoring your time and getting to the place that you are at now where you, you know, obviously that's a straight up consideration. And I mean, I know we've, we've talked about additional pieces of work and you've [Caro's] just been like, "yeah, well, because it's not what I regularly do, here's what it is." And I was like, "that's great. Totally respect. Okay. Maybe we're not doing that," you know? And that's, but so yeah, just when it comes to pricing your work, would love to hear about your thoughts and approaches to that.

Kait Klusewitz
Caroline and I both do, I mean, I know that it's not exclusively what we do, but a large part of each of our businesses is murals. And when we started it, we were also new to what pricing looked like for that. I feel very fortunate that it seems like we stepped into that world at a time, at least in Baltimore, where there is a big movement toward standardizing pricing. And we both got to know and work with some artists who were really passionate about that.

Kait Klusewitz (44:01.838)
So for us, we kind of learned about how to price our stuff at the same time and with other artists that were talking a lot about how important it was for us to, you know, kind of all think about valuing our work in a similar way. So this really is where when I was talking about the difference between like external boundaries and internal boundaries, this comes into play for me a lot. 

Where I find that I will have a really good sense of how much I want to charge for something. And then I... [laughs] what happens often is that I'll talk to a client about price on that, what their budget is, but then because I'm me, I will over-design or I'll over-promise or I'll over-... you know, so I struggle with pricing. I'm getting that's, that is an internal boundary that I am actively working on because I have to for my business and I'm getting better at it. 

It's hard though, because, you know, when you're talking about something like a mural, it's a lot easier to be like, "okay, well, you know, there's this pretty, you know, well-accepted range. And I understand, you know, where this mural is going to fall in that range per square foot." It's a little bit more concrete. But I think whenever you're doing something in the arts or something creative, there's so much work that lives in a really nebulous space, like, you know, doing a commercial window, you know, that's... 

Is it, like, is this meant to be permanent? Is this meant to be temporary? Or like, you'll have somebody reach out about doing like a custom piece of art that's different than anything you've done, you know, that doesn't kind of fall into any of the categories. And that's where I feel like pricing gets kind of difficult. And what I do a lot. And I'm really, really grateful for the transparency of the artists that I work with.

But I do a lot of texting Caroline and being like, "hey, this is the job and this is what I want to ask. Does this feel fair?" I mean, I do that so much. I do. I think that I do that a lot more. I mean, I know that I ask people's opinions a lot more than I never asked my opinion. So I don't know if that's unusual or just because of being somebody newer, sort of in the mural scene that I'm not the person people ask...

Kait Klusewitz (46:12.59)
... asking yet. I don't know. And it could just be that I, you know, that could just be because it's a really difficult thing that I struggle with is knowing how to value my own work. But that's something that I do really struggle with. And I don't always have a good answer. But I feel like one of the other many, many reasons that it's so nice to work with Caroline is because it is honestly, sometimes it's really helpful to come to Caroline and be like, "Hey, this is the job. This is how much I want to ask" and have her go:

"I don't know like, they you know think about how many hours it's gonna take, you think about this think about that" and she'll bring up things that I hadn't thought about, and you know, the number that I'll end at is Wildly different than the one that I started with but equally validating and helpful is when I come to Caroline and say "this is the job, this is what I want to quote" and she'll say "that's exactly what I would put" and I feel like we're getting to that place more and more and more as we each have our own businesses and so I think that, well, it's something I struggle with. I think it's something that I'm getting closer to being good at. But I mean, with something like art, I think there's not really an answer of like, "what is this worth?" right? Because it's like, there's no answer. It's completely subjective. What is this worth? And what it's worth to me as the artist to produce it might be completely a different number than what it's worth to the client to have it. 

So I think a lot of the time it's a, what I find that I, often will boil it down to, and I really just am not sure, is: how long will this take me to do? And how much do I want to make in that number of hours? And, you know, and sometimes I there's still sometimes when I will like, "okay, well, the answer to that is a lot more than I think that this should be priced at." And that's when I'll kind of find some sort of happy medium. But it's a good it's a good place for I have found for me, it's a helpful way to think about it when I just really don't know where to start.

Michelle Bond
For us, particularly catering, is a good example of that. It's like sometimes, and I'm sure it's much the same, you're going back and forth with clients, you guys are doing like, concept, you know, some ideas and back. I mean, sometimes you get to a point where like, "I could get paid a million dollars for this thing and it still feels like it's not gonna be worth it" because it's been such, you know, such this thing to just keep pushing at. And so I think a place that we often landed at too was like...

Michelle Bond (48:29.966)
I need to be happy. I need to be satisfied and not resentful with whatever I take for this. 

Caro
Okay. First of all, I could do an entire 15,000 episode podcast about pricing. 

Michelle Bond
I know. 

Caro
I love talking about money. I love talking about business and I deeply, deeply value transparency. I think the number one thing that Kait already said is I feel so, so grateful to have started my career in Baltimore, surrounded by people that believe in transparency and believe in community. And some people in Baltimore can be competitive, but I would expect compared to some other cities and places to do what we do. The community has been so kind, so welcoming. And then on top of that, the virtual community is so transparent, like you can find the people who are so transparent. So doing a ton of research to know, like you said, industry standard.

But I, and I think there's a world where like you can hit a ceiling, but I also think there's not because there's always luxury brands. There's always really wealthy neighborhoods that want this artisan perfect bagel that you put all this energy into and they're going to pay $35 for it. Like part of it too is like - where do you want to be? And what are you willing to do to be in that environment? 

Like my, I will be very transparent. My Baltimore clients can't pay me the same thing that my DC clients can pay me because the cost of living is different, the cost of owning a business is different. And what I often do is I think of my bigger DC or whatever clients as subsidizing my Baltimore clients because that's the way that the, that's the financial environment that we're living in and the type of clients that I have were like, my Baltimore clients are the clients that I do with so much love because they tend to be single owner, very small businesses, often women-owned, et cetera, et cetera.

So I, another way that Kait and I are different and that we compliment each other so well, that is, this shouldn't sound like a bad way to say it, but it's true. I really see myself as a business owner first and an artist second, which is also how my business got to be at the level it's at, at the timing that it became at. Kait, I believe - correct me if I'm wrong - is an artist first and a business owner second. And this is why we work together so, so well because she cares so deeply...

Caro (50:46.062)
... about doing the art right and putting her whole self into it and like really presenting herself in her artwork. Whereas I'm like, I have a standard to pay my mortgage and put money into my savings account and do these things. And like when I approach my pricing or my energy or my boundaries, it's always about like, okay, this is my threshold. And I said from day one, if I can't contribute to my IRA, I have no business being a business owner. 

Like I have to go back to a W-2 job because I care about future Caroline being able to take care of herself. So my IRA contribution has always been my threshold of if I'm allowed to keep doing this or not. And then on top of that, it's just a forever moving bar of like, okay, this is my income level month to month. Like my rent went up a year ago. So what do I do to account for that dollar that changed your year? 

This year I'm hiring way more contractors because I have enough work and my rate is high enough and I need to hire additional people to help, et cetera, et cetera. And I'm also at the point now where like, I really realized my brain is much more literally dollar-amount-valuable working on landing new clients, getting the designs done and the big picture stuff. My time is not well-spent building a shelf or washing brushes. So if there is a way that I can not only, not only get my business taken care of, but also this is like Caroline in this moment. Like I've been talking about hiring a studio assistant for months and months, but like somebody who is fresh out of college, who needs a $20 an hour job, who that's a good paying job for them, who can do these lower level skills and I can be mentoring them and working with them, et cetera. Like all of those things go into pricing. 

And I think a ton about what's the industry standard? What is my minimum threshold? And then the reason Kait and I both made those faces, Michelle, is because from day one, Kait and I have talked of like, the gut check is always resentment. The second I feel resentment about anything, I am not charging enough or I should have said "no" to the client.

Michelle Bond (52:59.47)
And one of the things that we're exploring this season, as you know, the name of the pod is Proofing Stage. And that really started because of the space that we've been in, of really trying to figure out, you know, is it too soon? Is it too late? What's happening in this space? Trying to be patient while also doing everything that we can to grow the business. And so I'd like to ask if like where you all feel you're at individually with your businesses. Like this idea of Proofing Stage - is there something that you're proofing on? Is there an idea that's baking? Is there a project? Is there just, you know, the, the evolution of your business where it is now and where you'd like to see it? Or do you feel like you're just in a good space and you want to keep doing what you're doing? So I don't want to, you know, seed it too much, but just this idea of like, what are you proofing on?

Kait (53:55.278)
Caro, you go. 

Caro
Yes, yes ma 'am. I am in a place right now where...

I am proofing on rates, for sure. Like I'm at, usually it's a sign that it's time to increase your rates when you're really busy. And that has been me for the last six months. And so like October, October to now have been much, much, much busier than I expected them to be, and 2023 was a pretty good year for me. And in, right before this month off, I was burned out for the first time as a small business owner. And that to me is a huge sign. Like, okay, it's time to hire help and/or greatly increased prices and/or drop a product or service and niche down yet again. And so I'm trying to figure out which, which of those three am I about to do? Like, do I need to hire and like realizing the risks of hiring people? Like, do I want to be a manager? Do I want to have to deal with the labor-intensive setup to get somebody on their feet? And then can I be a good enough employer to keep somebody around for a period of time that can do things the way I want them to be done, but for all these things and still maintain the same clients and the same all of that. And then like we said, there's a threshold. Like when I know my environment, I know my competition, I know Baltimore city rates can go up to a certain extent, all these things. 

So, that's where I'm at. It's like expansion. I'm in a place where I'm really, I have grown and I am definitely substantially since I started and now I'm at - "what does this look like for my business to keep growing financially for me to make?" I'm still not at the salary I walked away from. So I would love to at least be at that point, but ideally get higher than that. And then the second part that Kait doesn't love to hear about, but like I am engaged.

Caro(55:55.438)
And my partner, yeah, we got engaged on Christmas. The part Kait is not excited about is that we, I mean, family planning is part of my future and as a single owner, women business owner, if I want to have biological children, which is a thing we want, we're talking about and we want to do. I'm like saving to give myself a maternity leave. And Kait is all about being the best auntie in the world, but that would really impact Kait's work life. 

If I'm gone for a year, Kait like, building a human and birthing a human and taking care of a human, Kait and I have talked pretty substantially about what that looks like for both of us. And is there a way where my love for the business side of things and her love for the art side of things might work really, really well as me and my partner build a family? We don't know, but like for me, for the first time like that, I'm starting to really think about "what does five years look like?" "How does my business withstand birthing a human as a single owner, woman, business owner?" Like that.

Michelle Bond
Yeah. Absolutely. 

Caro
United States, if only you would take care of us. 

Michelle Bond
Right? 

Caro
Those are my things. 

Kait Klusewitz
Yes. I am a jealous soulmate and I just want Caro to myself. I don't want to see that baby getting all our attention. That's mine. My time. 

Caro
This is how much we love each other. 

Kait Klusewitz
It's so funny. There's so many tie-ins. So, what I was thinking about while Caro was talking is how funny it is, how different our answers to this question are gonna be, going back to how Caro described us as her being a business person and artist second and me being an artist first and business second because obviously Caro just gave a very business forward answer. When you asked that question in my head, I was like, "my style, my brand." 

Michelle Bond
Yeah, yeah. 

Caro
Which is so real.

Joan Kanner
Valid.

Kait Klusewitz
But it also ties back into, what I mentioned before, but what y'all were talking about at the beginning of your last episode, you know, Season One, Episode 9, where you're talking about developing a brand and understanding who you are before you've actually done the thing. And I feel like now a year and a half, two years in, I'm at a place where I think I allowed myself some time to just grow my skill, grow my network...

Kait Klusewitz (58:14.51)
... grow all of my things, let the business kind of do whatever it was gonna do. Go with the direction it was gonna go. And just kind of say "yes" to as much as I possibly could. That I'm now in this place where I'm thinking a lot about, I'm thinking about myself as an artist and one of the things that I, and I'm looking at other artists, other muralists specifically, that I really love, respect and want to emulate and kind of want to be. And the thing for me that is so consistent in those artists is that they have such a clear voice in their work.

And I think this first couple of years for me, again, because I've said yes to so many things, I mean, I'm doing like corporate logos and I am doing wedding signage and I'm doing a lot of these very generic things that don't have any of me in them at all. That I mean, I love and I'm finding that I love doing a little bit of everything. But what I feel like I'm at a place now where I really want to try to be deliberate about my clients and the kind of work that I'm doing. 

Is, is the kind of work that will allow me to start developing my own voice. Like, I think for me, when I think about being successful as an artist, it's having a client come to my Instagram page or have a look at my website and my portfolio and be like, "I see what this artist does. And I have a sense of what I'm going to get from them." I'm still at a place now where I have this kind of like heartburn over when I'm starting to talk to a new client being like, I mean, one of the things that I talk to clients about is "what style are you looking for?" 

And I want to get to a place where, I don't have to ask a client that because when they come to me, they know what style they're going to get. It's just going to be designed for them. So that's something I'm thinking about a lot right now is, and I mean, that kind of ties into the branding and it's like, I've done this enough now and I feel like I've got the skills now that I don't, that I can focus on what I want my business really to look like. I mean, at the end of the day, like this is a visual medium for me. And so that's what I think about the most is like, what do I want Kait K. Designs to look like? 

And, and I think that once I've got that really well developed, it will bring the clients who want that look to me rather than me trying to feel like I'm fitting what the client wants. 

Michelle Bond
Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. 

Joan Kanner
Yeah. Put it out there and then you attract something totally differently and nice call back to Season One, Episode 9. I mean, fire. 

Michelle Bond
Fire. 

Kait Klusewitz
I just, you, when you talked about that, I was like, like my brain was lighting up. I was like, "yes, I feel that in my soul." 

Michelle Bond
Yeah. So thank you, Kait at...

Michelle Bond (01:00:41.838)
Kait at KaitKDesigns and Caro at okay_everything. We'll have all that information in the show notes. It's been so fun to reconnect with you guys. Thank you for all of this wonderful time and insights. 

Joan Kanner
You've been listening to Proofing Stage, our theme song, It Goes for the Kraken, was written and performed by Thorn Haze. If you're looking for a transcript, show notes and additional credits,they can be found at our website, proofingstage.com. Want to join the conversation? Email us at proofingstagepod at gmail.com. You can also find us on Instagram, Threads, and TikTok at ProofingSage. I'm your co-host, Joan Kanner. 

Michelle bond
And I'm your co-host Michelle Bond. Thanks for listening. 

Michelle Bond
Yes, yes. And we're sporting. I'm sporting my okay_everything very soft comfy t-shirt. 

Caro
I didn't realize you were actually wearing my shirt. I thought that was just a statement about the color. I just realized you were literally wearing the same shirt as me. Thank you. Wow. I'm so honored. 

Michelle Bond
Oh, good. This shirt has been, this shirt has seen some things. Let me tell you. 

Caro
I love it so much. 

Joan Kanner
Likewise, I'm sure. 

Caro
Yeah. 

Joan Kanner
Well, not to be outdone, I'm wearing part of Kait's Diamonds and Denim collection. It is a denim song with rhinestones in front from back in her jewelry days. And honestly... 

Kait Klusewitz
Lovingly handcrafted. 

Joan Kanner
No, I don't know why you placed them where you did. But at the same time, I kind of do know why you placed them where you did; the rhinestones. Thank you! 

Michelle Bond
That's the adult content warning on the show. Yeah.

Kait Klusewitz
[laughs]