4 Mar 2011

This Much I Know Is True - An Interview with Katie

So firstly happy belated world book day and happy pre-world book night folks! Tonight on my sofa I am delighted to have the very lovely Katie Vale of Katie Vale Design. Katie is a good friend of mine from a forum I used to frequent and (random fact) I got my veil from her for my wedding. Katie makes beautiful jewellery and hair accessories, so it’s really exciting for me to feature such a talented designer on my blog today. Hope you like our chat!

Just so you know, like last week we’re eating pizza with black olives, mushrooms and extra cheese mmmmmm we’re low calories ladies here, plus we’re drinking Blue WKD which is a delightful alcoholic beverage that dyes your tongue blue. Did I mention that we’re hot as well! Finally, to keep us in a fun, Friday night mood we’re listening to an up-beat mix of The Fratelli's. Kooks. Marner Brown. Lady Gaga and Lily Allen on my iPod – Katie’s choice. Grab a snack and join us J

Me: So Katie, first of all what is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
KV: Oh god this is hard! I would probably say from my Dad: treat others as you want to be treated. Both of my parents believe that if you are able to, you should step up and help someone, even if you don't know them.

Me: I think that’s something that’s really good to try and do, so following on from that what is the nicest thing you have done?
KV: Ohhh! Now that's really tough, but this is a bit of a blow your own trumpet question. I like to do something nice all the time. I often buy meals for homeless people on the street; as I'm passing I'll ask them what they fancy and get it from the cafe. I've driven hours to get to a friend who was sad.

But all of this is normal stuff right? I suppose the one thing I can think of is when I was a teenager my parents had 2 different children, who had been affected by the Chernobyl disaster stay with us for a month. There were other families in our town that did it too, so the children would meet up and play in parks together, go on big fun days out etc. And for that month I had to empty my bedroom, live out of bags and sleep on the sofa so the boys would have somewhere to stay properly. We did it for about 5 years running and each year we had 2 different boys over. Some of them still send us Christmas cards now. I suppose as a teenager that was a nice thing to do. It was frustrating at times, having to empty my whole room of everything. But really, it also made me look at the luxury I had in my life, & compared to these guys, sleeping on a sofa for a month was nothing.

Me: Wow! That’s awesome stuff. Really amazing. I’d love to more about when you were younger and how you became a designer.
KV: I've always been creative and artistic; I could often be found making or drawing things as a child. About 8 years ago I went to a jewellery making class, and I started experimenting with the items I was making by putting them in my hair. I have quite big, unruly curly hair; so liked the idea of being able to pretty it with my designs. It all started from there really. I've since done millinery courses, and learnt the art of hat making. And this is the route my business seems to be taking

Me: Where do you get your ideas from?
KV: Urm......that depends! There are a huge amount of items on my site which were inspired by nature: Icicle Tiara; Waves Tiara; Flower Tear Drop Fascinator. I love that nature is forever evolving and changing in front of our eyes. So pretty! And yet if I'm doing a bespoke item, the inspiration comes from the client. It's really important that I get it right, as items that don't suit someone's personality really show. You couldn't put Lady Gaga in the same headwear as Catherine Zeta Jones! All of the designs I do, are ones that I would wear myself. Generally that's my aim. If I like it......it works! 

Me: I’d love to hear more about the process of creating a unique, one off piece of jewellery so can you talk us through it?
KV: The first thing I always ask is: "what dress are you wearing?" "how are you having your hair?" And I also try to find out a little about their personality. From here, I'll sketch some designs and send them to my client; sometimes a client will be happy with a design and I start making it, sometimes they want little bits here and there tweaked. Some like full involvement, some are happy to hand over the trust to me. So I can work to suit whatever the input level is from a client
Me: Finally, before we move on to the fun questions what does the future hold for Katie Vale Design?
KV: Originally I started off just doing bridal tiaras etc. But now I am getting more and more requests for millinery items for guests of weddings. And so I'm going to be trying to keep things very separate; the bridal side and the millinery side of things. There will of course be an expected overlap, but that is the plan. I'm saving for a new website hopefully launching in the summer too. At the moment the future looks a haze of veiling, velvets, crystals and feathers. And I couldn't be more excited for it

Me: Okay then, first up what is your favourite book?
KV: Ouch! So tough. I've done a degree in Eng Lit so have read hundreds of books. I honestly couldn't say a favourite, but I can tell you that Lady Audley's Secret is a fabulous classic. And I've just read One Day that made me weep on the bus on a daily basis.

Me: Please describe yourself in a dating ad
KV: GSoH. Loves animals. Loves films. Can talk the hind legs off a donkey. Can be sarcastic, so it's advisable to have a thick skin. (I wonder why I'm single?!)

Me: Go on, no one will know, tell us a secret about yourself (Do you have a tattoo? piercing/criminal record LOL)
KV: No criminal record I'm afraid! I do have a fairly big tattoo on my back I only had it done at Christmas, but I love it! 

Me: And very finally, what do you know to be true about life?
KV: That you make it what it is. Everyone can sit and wallow in despair, but there are always people in the world worse off than you. And there is always something new and exciting around the corner; even if that corner is really big to get around. I have joint condition, which does leave me in a lot of pain on a daily basis. I've spent time in hospital when it now affects some organs. But now every day rather than moan: "oh no, I need more painkillers...." I say: "yeah baby, the painkillers allow me to run, hop, skip and jump through life" :-) it's a much better outlook on life!
Wow that's been a great interview. We're now going to finish the Blue WKD and dance around my sitting room. In the meantime check out Katie's website, her twitter, her blog and her facebook. Before I forget, Katie has also agreed to do a guest photo essay for me tomorrow so do stop by to check out pics of her beautiful designs - and also of her tattoo!

Thanks for tuning in, I'll also be back with my top 10 favourite kids books on sunday plus the usual WoTW and other regular slots next week!

Thank you and good night

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. Thanks for the interview. Katie - the pics on your website are gorgeous.

    Becky - looking forward to favourite kids books!


  2. am glad you liked it! Katie - caroline is my mate so will have to introduce you guys sometime!

    Caroline - am stocking up on maple syrup this weekend!

  3. Thank you Caroline, glad you like them. And cheers SG for featuring me - I feel like a real celeb xx

  4. It's no good saying you have a tattoo and not posting a pic Katie! dying to know what it is now :-) Great blog post,really relaxed and friendly to read. x