Professional Practice

Taking Risks and Trying New Things (Ep. 164)

In today’s episode, Nic invites Kayla Koslow on the show to share her bright personality and talk about her beautiful Instagram feed. Listen as they talk about moving to new teaching positions, making your own art outside of school, and why it is always worthwhile to take risks and try new things.  Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Nic: Today, we’re going to talk to Kayla Koslow. She is such a bright personality. I was drawn to reaching out to her for an interview because of her bright, bright, Instagram feed. It is gorgeous. I think you’re going to hear the bright colors from her Instagram page in her voice. And in her words, let’s get right into it. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m your host, Nic Hahn. Hey there, thanks so much for joining the podcast today. I’m going to have you introduce yourself. Can you go ahead and do that please?

Kayla: Yeah, I’d be happy to. My name is Kayla Koslow. I’m an art teacher in Austin, Texas now, which is crazy to say. I have lived in Virginia for 30 some years, and I just moved across the country to Austin, Texas. And I am an art teacher, obviously. I’ve been teaching art for nine years. I taught at the elementary level for four years at the beginning of my career, and then the past five years I’ve actually been at the high school level. And then this year, when I moved across the country, I’m going back down to elementary. So I just started back up at an elementary school and I’m really excited about it. I moved to Austin to be closer to family. My nephews live out here and I just decided it was time for me to make this dream come true, and so I moved all the way across the country. It was crazy in the middle of a pandemic.

Nic: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kayla: But it happened, and it went really smoothly, surprisingly. But I’m really, really happy I did it and I’m excited to be here.

Nic: That’s awesome. Man, so you’re telling me this first year in Austin, Texas is also, I mean, you just started up again in the pandemic?

Kayla: Yeah.

Nic: That’s a whole new situation. Why not? Let’s do it, right?

Kayla: Exactly. I actually decided about a year ago. I was just looking at it. It was in October, and so I decided a year ago I was going to make the move to Texas and now I’m here. It’s crazy.

Nic: Wow. Way to be brave. I’m proud of you. That’s awesome. The reason that I contacted you was from your feed on Instagram, that’s often how I find guests for the podcast, and you have such a bright, beautiful Instagram post, just a great feed for sure. And I just was wondering, do you feel that, that really represents you, your home, your classroom and who you are, all those bright colors that you project into the world?

Kayla: Absolutely. I been known for color for a long time. It just brings me so much happiness so I love to surround myself with color, because of how I feel. And then I realized that it made all of these other people around me, my students and my nephews and my family and friends happy too. So I just started to throw it everywhere. So when I started doing my Instagram feed, I knew that color was going to be really important to show who I was authentically through art and through my life. So, yeah. I don’t where as crazy as close as most might think I do, with how colorful my life is.

Nic: Yes.

Kayla: I’m more of a neutral color wearer, but I love color everywhere else in my life, yes.

Nic: Yeah. Well, you don’t want to clash with your space and your surrounding around you.

Kayla: Right.

Nic: So I accept that. You’re taking a back seat to all the beauty that you provide in your space. Very nice. I know that also I’ve learned from chatting with you recently, you have a photography business. Is color important for you in that area as well?

Kayla: Absolutely. So color, I bring it everywhere, like I said before. But I just love how bright I can make an image and how I can pull a ton of colors through Lightroom and all the applications that I use through photography. I forever was known as the color photographer in Virginia. I brought brightness and color, and people would flock to me because of the color I was using. And I realized that, that is what I wanted to represent and then I was bringing in clients because of that. So it really made my business boom in Virginia, because I was known as that. And right now the trend in photography is to mute all of these colors.

Nic: Right.

Kayla: And it’s so crazy to me. I love color, so I would not do that in my own photography business.

Nic: Well, and I think that’s exactly right, that’s probably why you’re standing out so strongly in a photography way, is because of that trend just having these neutrals and calm colors. That’s not everybody’s personality. Some people want a lot of colors, so that makes sense.

Kayla: Color’s never going to go out of style.

Nic: I agree, yeah. You want to really heighten that. That’s awesome.

Kayla: Yeah.

Nic: That’s not the only thing that you sell though, right? Are you actually working as a photographer right now in Austin?

Kayla: Yes, I am. It’s so crazy. I just did my first wedding on Saturday.

Nic: Congrats.

Kayla: I am starting up my business in Austin completely from scratch, which has been a blessing, because I have really enjoyed not being as busy, especially with the pandemic as well. I have loved the downtime. I am very much a hustler and love to work, love to work. And this really made me take a back seat and really figure out what I wanted to do and what was important to me. And so, yes, photography is definitely still important. And I am starting from scratch here, but I have gotten a ton of clients and it’s just going to start all over again. And so I’m excited about that.

Nic: Yes. Yeah, and speaking of pandemics, I know that you picked up a new hobby/another business. Let’s talk about your stickers. Tell me more about those.

Kayla: Yes, so the reason that I started the sticker business was because of my move to Austin. Starting a new business is really hard to do. It’s very intimidating and a scary thing. I have owned two businesses. I have my photography business, and then I owned a painting, like a sip and paint with a friend of mine a while ago. And then we don’t do that anymore, but I know that the business world can be a little scary. So when I moved out here, my sister-in-law actually was the one that said, “Let’s do it. I’ll help you.” And so because of her help, I was able to just be the creator and then she would help me package all the stickers and make sure I had everything in my inventory, and she has been just great.

And my nephews actually love to help too so they often package the stickers for me. They always mailed them for me. They never let me mail them. They love their little job of doing that. So it’s really been fun to start a sticker company just to do it. And it’s blown up too. It’s been really, really fun for me to just create things that I want on my things, and so I thought it would be a fun way to share that with other people.

Nic: Sure. And boy, can I hire them? Because I’ve tried a couple. I did the earrings for a while and I did a couple of things that I tried to sell online. It went well, but just that panic of getting home and shipping it out, that was really stressful for me. All I wanted to do was make the stuff.

Kayla: That’s what I kept saying. I’m the creator, I don’t want to have to deal with all this extra stuff.

Nic: Yes.

Kayla: And it is hard, but thankfully I have my photography business so I did know what I needed to do. But it can be scary when you start though.

Nic: Sure. Yep, that makes sense. And then so you’re making stickers. Tell me more about that, because I think that’s a hot thing right now and I think what you need is in the hands of a lot of art teachers already. Can you talk about the programs that you’re using and so forth?

Kayla: Sure. So I use Procreate. I bought an iPad about a year ago and I’m completely self-taught in that. I have watched lots of YouTube videos as well. But I just started drawing. I started just trying to figure it out on my own and I love Procreate. It is an amazing program. It’s only $9.99. This is not an ad. I try to tell people all the time, “You can do this.” It’s such an easy program. And now it has the add text feature in it. It’s just booming. So I always draw on that and I just started to make stuff that I knew I would want on my own water bottle, on my own computers. And so I just started making lots of art teacher things, and then I’ve moved into other things too, just to please all the crowds. But I’ve really loved Procreate, because it’s really bright colors, I can use the palettes that I love, and the brightness. And then I just ship out to a sticker company and they send it to me. It’s amazing.

Nic: Oh, is that right? Okay, that’s neat. So I love Procreate as well, and you’re right, I think this is very accessible. I think there’s so many tutorials out there on how to create on Procreate.

Kayla: It can be overwhelming sometimes, so I tried to focus on exactly what I wanted to get out of it. So I knew I wasn’t going to be a painter on Procreate and then print prints. That wasn’t what I was looking to do. So I wanted to make worksheets, I wanted to make things for my classroom, like posters, and then I started going into the sticker stuff. So you can really find very specific videos out there that just do that kind of stuff. And so I just really loved that part of it.

Nic: That’s really good advice, because you are right, it’s overwhelming. But yeah, I love that you’re saying, “Just focus on what your goals are.” That’s spectacular. You talked about going onto YouTube and learning that way. But I noticed that you do have a YouTube channel as well. Tell me about that. How’s that going?

Kayla: I mean, sort of. So my high school kids last year kept bugging me that I needed a YouTube channel. And finally, I gave in and we started it. But really, I haven’t done much with it. I feel like my focus right now is on so many other things in my life that I love that I just haven’t really dived into that yet. I do have a couple tutorials out there, but it’s just not really my thing. I love to share on Instagram, I do tutorials on there all the time. And I just know that I just have to drag and drop and upload it onto YouTube, but it’s all that extra stuff that we try to do in the world.

Nic: You know what though? I so appreciate you saying that, because this is the thing, especially in our super digital world right now, half of us teaching hybrid or online or whatever, you can still be yourself and be successful. You don’t need to have a YouTube channel to be a good teacher. And so I love that you said that.

Kayla: You don’t need a Bitmoji classroom either.

Nic: No, no, you don’t.

Kayla: It’s just so funny how we make so much more stress and pressure on ourselves to do these things when it’s not our thing. And it’s okay. I just feel like, do what you love and find a way to make money doing it, or do what you love and just give to people and share. It’s just find what you love.

Nic: Yeah. Find what you love, exactly. But also, it’s okay to try a Bitmoji class and if that’s your jam, spectacular. But I’m with you, I had to release some of that stress of, “Oh my gosh, my room isn’t cute online,” or whatever. Nope. I just need to do what I can do. And that’s for all of us, right?

Kayla: Exactly. Exactly.

Nic: So you were talking about trying to do things that you love and then if there’s a way to make some money on it as well, you should. Can you talk about your Teachers Pay Teachers page, and tell me about the store that, and how do you decide what you’re selling, how do you distribute it? Tell me about that store.

Kayla: So I started Teachers Pay Teachers because of Instagram, honestly. People kept saying, “Kayla, you have to put this stuff on. I want to buy this. Stop giving this stuff away for free. Just put it on there. I will give the money.” And so finally I gave in and got Teachers Pay Teachers, and I love it because I make all of these things for myself and for my kids and my students all the time that I am happy to share these things. But I know that Teachers Pay Teachers is so important because it is a good thing to pay people for their work and their time and their effort. And so yeah, I gave a lot of things for free on Instagram because I love to share. And sometimes I’m like, “This didn’t take me very long. It’s fine.” But I understand why it is important to also put it on Teachers Pay Teachers so you can make some monetary advances with your own work.

So I started putting stuff on there and then people started to love it, and so I just kept putting it on there and I already had all of it. So I tweaked some things and now I’m starting to get into the elementary stuff, because I wasn’t doing that when I was elementary. I have mainly high school stuff on my Teachers Pay Teachers right now. It’s just helpful. I think it’s so important to share. As teachers, we’re all in this together. We’re not competing against each other. We can only make each other better. So I love to learn. I consider myself a lifelong learner for sure, and I love to from other people and take things from other people. I love to take takes from other people.

Nic: Yeah.

Kayla: So I just think it’s a great, great opportunity to make a little bit of money and to share what you know.

Nic: So I’m hearing you finding some different outlets in your life where you decide what to sell or how to sell. There’s a lot of people, I hear this often, because I’ll talk about my TPT page or something like that, and people are hesitant to do that. What advice would you give to someone who’s like, “I don’t know. Should I sell it? I’m not sure”? What would you tell that person?

Kayla: Just do it.

Nic: Yeah.

Kayla: Why not? What’s there to lose? I mean, I think it’s so important to put yourself out there. And I totally get how scary it can be, but all you can do is put yourself out there and put out something that you love. If you love something and you show people why you love it or how you love it, how you use it, why it’s important to you in your teaching or whatnot, I think people will see your love come out and then will love it as well.

Nic: Yeah. And do you feel that most of what you do it just is either part of your personality or it supports what you’re doing as an art educator already?

Kayla: Absolutely.

Nic: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that is some amazing information. Thanks for chatting with us today. I am so glad to get your bright personality onto the podcast today. And I think just the little tidbits that you gave us, I think a lot of people are really going to appreciate it. So thanks a ton.

Kayla: You’re so welcome.

Nic: I loved talking with Kayla. I think we all need a friend like her in our life. I mean, someone who is encouraging, someone who isn’t afraid to take risks, someone who is going to say, “Yeah, just give it a try.” And I have done that in my life definitely plenty of times. And you know what? I’m not selling the earrings that I gave a try to. I’m not doing that anymore. Not everything that I’ve done has been successful, but I’m glad that I gave it a try, because it’s going to teach me more about myself and it’s going to teach me more about what I truly want to do in my life. And so far, things that are risk taking behaviors for me, such as taking on this podcast, well, that’s gone pretty good so far. I still enjoy it. So definitely listen to the words that Kayla had to say to us, take those risks, give it a try, and I will chat with you next week.

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