Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Kristen Dressler and my Etsy shop is Kitty Dune. Kitty Dune comes from a nickname I’ve had since I was very little. My family still uses the name to this day. When you mix my first and middle name, Krissy June, with baby talk, I guess Kitty Dune is what you get. Anyways, it stuck with me and it’s been fun getting to use it for my designs, so thanks Grandma June!
I would love to tell you that I went to a really cool design school and traveled the world but that’s just not the case. My education came from growing up in Syracuse, New York where the winters are harsh and the summers are cherished. Upstate NY is one of the most beautiful parts of the country, it’s full of creativity and we have the best local food. I’m the product of a mother and a father who grew up during the ’60s. No, we didn’t live in a teepee (although I would’ve loved to!) but there was a lot of creativity surrounding us. I can remember pressing flowers with my mother and listening to my dad and his friends jam on their guitars. My brother and sister and I were the kids who could entertain ourselves with rocks and sticks from sun up to sun down and like most young families we didn’t have a whole lot but we had the outdoors.
Fast forward to today, I’m living in Rochester, NY with my husband Chris, who has been a godsend. He is a professional model maker/engineer student. I now have step parents and siblings (hate the word “step,” they are a huge bonus!) and the cutest little niece who we call “Punky.” How could I tell you about myself without telling you about my family? I am who I am because of them and their love and support.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I was a nail technician for 16 years and recently stepped away from it to run my Etsy shops full time (my other shop is called Kitty Dune Cuts). I loved being a nail tech — I was great at it and it was fulfilling but it was time for something new.
When we have free time, you can find Chris and me working on some sort of project together. If we’re not working on something then we’re salsa dancing or going to see our favorite musician, DJ Skywire, mixing it up at the local clubs or just hanging out on the couch eating brownies and ice cream.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I love the idea of making an accessory that can both dress up or dress down any outfit. I’m always looking for balance so I make items that will be a statement piece but at the same time will be that go-to accessory, worn with whatever you’re wearing. When I’m designing I’m looking for simple yet brilliant. My color palette is pretty neutral which makes for versatile accessories.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means creating that perfect piece while allowing the flaws to be a part of the perfection.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
The person who has most influenced this endeavor is my husband Chris (yes, he is the “dead sexy” guy modeling the Man Cowl). He has a gift that is so rare — being creative and organized at the same time. I think that’s why I haven’t turned my creative side into a business until now. He understands the need I have to create. In fact, he gets more excited about my ideas than I do! Being creative can be difficult because you never know when the inspiration will come. Add trying to make a living off your creativity and you have a potential train wreck. If I get discouraged and start to think this was a bad idea he brings me back to being calm. When I get to that point it’s because I’ve gotten unorganized and overwhelmed. He doesn’t give me the “keep the faith” speech but instead he’ll sit down with a pen and paper and start writing lists and making deadlines to get me organized. It helps me regain my focus.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I spent my elementary and some of my junior years in different schools so I really didn’t take any art classes until I was in the eighth grade. I remember for my very first project I had to paint my sneaker using complementary colors. I painted my Adidas Sambas in red and green using watercolor. It was so much fun! I was surprised that it resembled my actual sneakers! A few weeks later my parents came home from a parent teacher conference with my art teacher Mr. Craven. They told me that he said I was gifted. That word was gold to me and that’s when I knew I had something special.
How would you describe your creative process?
I had to laugh when I read this question because my creative process goes a little something like this: I get an idea, YAY!, start knitting, take some notes, rip it apart and huff and puff (and probably whine and cry a little too). I go through that cycle for about two days until I’ve figured out the perfect pattern and it’s YAY again!
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Although I LOVE all things Art Nouveau and any artist from that period, I would have to say my sister Dani Owens. I’ve seen her artwork and I’ve seen the space that she works in but rarely have I seen her actual process. When you look at her paintings you feel like you could step right into them and be in the most magical place beyond your imagination. I’m waiting patiently for her Etsy shop opening.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
When planning our wedding, Chris and I didn’t want to do the traditional unity candle. So instead we decided to brand a piece of leather with our initials and frame it. So, my jack-of-all-trades fiancé spent a day with his welder and made a branding iron for our ceremony.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I don’t force my way out of my creative ruts, I just wait them out. Don’t get me wrong, I go through these ruts kicking, screaming, and pouting, but I know they will end and there is always something pretty damn cool waiting to be made on the other side.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
On a vacation!