For this weeks edition of the Lunch Break Interview Series, I had the privilege of speaking with Kathleen Patterson who created From Atlas On.
Kathleen learned to macrame when she was 6 years old by making friendship bracelets as VBS!
A few years ago, Kathleen wanted to hang a plant but couldn’t find a plant hanger that matched what she had in mind so she decided to create her own. Then her business was born! She is also interested in plant based dyes and uses them for some of her projects.
Kathleen has a 3 year old son, Levi Atlas and a 6 month old daughter, Aurora Mae.
“I’ve struggled to get back into the swing of business stuff since Aurora was born, this whole two kid stuff is no joke! I can really easily lose myself in my work, it feels so much more rewarding than doing the dishes or laundry, but in that mindset I can be impatient and distracted and Just not being the best mom I can be and that’s not really fair to my kids. They are my priority right now and so the business has taken a bit of a backseat.” – Kathleen
What made you decide to start a business?
I started making plant hangers for my friends, and then someone offered to pay for one and I was like “Heyyy maybe this could turn into something!” At the time I was settling into new motherhood and trying to figure out what it looked like to still carve time out for myself. And this little business has ended up a perfect means of self-care!
Do you create your own dyes? What first interested you in plant based dyes?
I’m also a knitter and at one point I thought it would be cool to spin and dye my own yarn. The more I researched dyeing, the more I saw how much pollution commercial dyeing produces and that there are natural means of producing beautiful colors. Better for the environment and better for us! Commercial dyes use a lot of chemicals that end up being absorbed through our skin over time. I make a lot my own dyes with food waste, so things like avocado skins and pits, onion skins, carrot tops, to name a few. Dyeing with indigo is definitely my favorite!
Have you faced any challenges with dyeing products yourself?
Oh gosh, many!! Probably half of my indigo vats don’t ferment properly, it’s a fairly scientific process and I am not a scientific person. I’m pretty terrible at following instructions haha. If the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons I just can’t help myself but put in 3. And even though, without fail, I kick myself later for altering it. It happens almost every time. As much as I love dyeing, dyeing rope is a whole different ball game! Prepping and washing the rope to remove all the finishing chemicals, rinsing the dye off without unraveling the rope, it’s a lot of work and feels very tedious! And I tell myself all the time I’m not going to dye plant hangers anymore, but I can’t help myself so I’m sure at some point I’ll do some more.
Your daughter is still fairly young, but does your son show any interest in your business?
No not really haha. I typically work while he naps! But he likes to use my rope scraps for pretend dog leashes or fishing line.
I admire that you have paused your business to put your children first. Has this been a hard transition?
The transition from one to two kids is no joke! So I’ve really wanted to press into being fully present as possible for this season. It’s been hard at times because I do love having a creative outlet but my children are my priority!
How do you keep your children a priority?
I’m a fairly anxious person (Enneagram type 6s say yeeaaah!) and so when I have too much on my plate I can get really impatient and short with my kids and husband. So I’ve had to really tune into my body’s signs that I’m heading to an unhealthy place and take a step back to regain perspective. What’s more important, finishing folding laundry or speaking to my children with kindness and empathy? I’m so imperfect at this and fail daily, but I’m really working on it. And thankfully my three year old can now remind me “Mom, just take deep breaths” and it usually works!
Where did you get your children’s names from?
We love Jesus and believe that babies are a gift from Him. We received prophetic words for both of our children which helped us pick their names. Levi means harmony and Atlas for helping people find their way. So far it seems to be pretty fitting for him!
I had two miscarriages between Levi and my daughter and it sent me to a really dark place. I really wrestled with doubt that God was good or even real. I had serious thoughts of walking away from my faith all together. The day before I went into labor I got this picture of a tiny light slowly growing bigger and stronger until it was all around me and I was filled with this divine peace and gratitude. The season leading up to her birth was a spiritual winter, cold and dark and everything seemed dead. But under the snow our roots were growing stronger and deeper, we just couldn’t see it. We named her Aurora which means dawn. And that’s exactly what she has been, the first light after a long dark night. Wow that’s super cheesy but whatever, that girl is pure sunshine!
After she was born she was having trouble breathing so we took her to the ER and she was admitted to the NICU for the most stressful and exhausting week of my life. The first night she was there (when she was not even 24 hours old) she started throwing up blood. Those first few days were an absolute stress blur but she ended up having pneumonia and just needed an antibiotic. Whenever the nurses would try to draw blood or whatever other procedures needed done, our sweet girl gave them hell! She would scream and fight them and man she was strong. So her middle name is Mae which means bitter although we like to think of it more as strength.
How did your sons name inspire your business name?
I had a lot of fear before starting this business, and let’s be real I still do. “Will people like it? What if I fail?” But I want to set an example for my children that fear of failure isn’t a good reason to not do something. I told my self “From this point on, I will not let fear keep me from doing hard things”, so “From Atlas On” since I started it not long after my son was born! I am actually planning a re-brand and changing the name at some point, but we will see when I get around to it haha.
Where does your inspiration come from?
There are lots of amazing artists that I follow on Instagram like @hellohydrangea, @stellamariabaer, @katrinarodabaugh, just to name a few! I love drawing inspiration from creatives who use completely different mediums, including books and music! I’m usually listening to audiobooks while working like The Chronicles of Narnia or an Enneagram podcast.
Can you explain what Enneagram means for those who aren’t familiar with it?
Uhm I will never pass up an opportunity to talk about the Enneagram! It is a personality typing system that lays out patterns of behavior for 9 different “types”. Each type is based around motivations and fears and the ways that we try to cope with them. What I love about the Enneagram is the insight it provides me into some of the ruts that I can find myself in and it lays out a path for growth. Each of us have something amazing that the Lord put in us to bring into the world and for one reason or another, we often get sidetracked from those gifts. Once we can see the extra junk that is keeping us from being our true selves, we can start unpacking it and realizing that we are not bound or limited to our types! As a psychology nerd, I totally geek out about it. “The Road Back To You” by Ian Cron is a great book to start learning about the Enneagram as well as his podcast “Typology”. You can take free online tests but really the best way to discover your type is to read or listen to descriptions of each type and you’ll know your type when you feel like someone has punched you in the gut! Jk kind of. The Liturgists also have a podcast episode where they go through each type description, and I would highly recommend that!
I’m so thankful to have interviewed Kathleen! She made me laugh a few times and as a mother of two myself, I can relate to so much! It’s hard to be open about personal things and Kathleen did a great job of sharing glimpses into her life.