Rebranding Modern Macramé: An Interview with Graphic Designer Kelly Thompson of KTOM Creative
It's fall, and Modern Macramé is keeping up with the changing nature of this time of year. Over the course of the past month, we've transitioned all of our shipping to our studio in Portland, Oregon in our effort to bring more love and care into our fulfillment. To top it off, we are launching new packaging as part of our full rebrand of Modern Macramé.
Yep, you read that right! For the past year, we've been dreaming, collecting inspiration, sketching, and designing what has turned into an incredibly exciting and fresh take on who we are, what we do, and how our community experiences Modern Macramé. And it's finally time to share it all with YOU!
Come along for the journey with us, and see how we've landed on our final rebrand designs and concepts!
Our graphic designer, Kelly Thompson of KTOM Creative is a multi-disciplinary independent creative professional specializing in brand identity & development, package design, and illustration. She has worked on a wide variety of projects over the years, but her niche lies in the development of innovative concepts that truly resonate with people.
A proven thought leader and creative problem solver, Kelly enjoys collaborating with the movers, shakers and feelers of society who aren’t afraid to dig a little deeper. Kelly is a fresh thinker rarely satisfied with the status quo. She thrives in an environment where people are often found laughing and have the freedom to display forward thinking brilliance. She believes great design is a combination of beautiful, meaningful and powerful.
At Modern Macramé, Kelly brings our brand vision to life! As a communication and design nerd, she is passionate about translating our brand message into every touchpoint, making sure every piece of Modern Macrame feels meaningful. She is inspired by Modern Macrame’s dedication to sustainability and values working with companies who put people and the planet first.
She currently resides in Austin, TX where she can be found working on her latest side project, waiting for the sun to come out, or mapping out her next trip.
Q+A: An Interview with Kelly
Tell us about yourself! How did you get started in design? What drew you to it? What are your biggest inspirations in the design world?
I first knew I wanted to be a designer when I watched “What Women Want” with Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson. The scene where she comes up with a Nike commercial concept — I just loved watching her brainstorm ideas, look at storyboards and get into the audience's head to create something that would resonate. I found it so inspiring and creative! I thought, I want to do that! I didn’t know graphic design existed yet, I only knew it as advertising but after researching colleges and reaching out to mentors, I eventually made my way to the Communication Design (aka ComDes) program at Texas State. What I loved about that program is that it’s called communication design instead of graphic design. The key difference being communication. In my mind, being a successful designer isn’t just about creating pretty pictures but communicating ideas and messages that resonate with people. So needless to say, I am more of a communication nerd than a design nerd.
What exactly is a rebrand and how do you approach it?
Have you ever watched Queer Eye? It’s like that but for companies. Essentially you take inventory of your current brand— its values, goals, obstacles, existing graphics, logos, photo styles, strategy etc., and do an audit on what’s working and what’s not. I like to hone in on the core values/personality/heart of the brand and see how I can tell that story in a different way than they are currently doing. Give it a new wardrobe, so to speak.
You initially met Emily at a Modern Macramé workshop, and your paths crossed again in Guatemala with Thread Caravan textile workshop. How does it feel to now play a key role in Modern Macramé’s image and branding?
Yes, it’s a funny story actually! We met back in 2015 when I lived in Seattle, I signed up for a random macrame workshop at a local boutique, Velouria I had no idea who Emily was but I wanted to learn macramé so I went. I was intrigued by her story and that she was traveling the world doing cool workshops. Girl crush! I was totally the annoying girl in the workshop who asked Emily a million questions, haha! Fast forward 5 years, I sign up for a textile workshop in Guatemala and guess who is my roommate?! Emily Katz.
Our first night in Guatemala, we made a cozy fire in the fireplace and chatted all night in the twin beds about our businesses and futures and that’s when Emily mentioned a rebrand….
It’s so surreal that I am now working with Emily on a daily basis to help shape her brand and the future of Modern Macramé! If you would have told me that in 2015, I wouldn’t have believed you. I love that the common thread (pun intended) of what brought us together is all the badass women following their dreams. From the boutique owners (2 amazing ladies!) who hosted the workshop to Caitlin of Thread Caravan. I am drawn to creative ladies who pursue their dreams! Shout out to them and a big thank you providing these spaces for like-minded individuals to meet.
What did Emily initially share with you about her ideas for the rebrand? What were those first conversations about when you began?
With every project I take on, I am huge on the discovery phase. This is where I do a deep dive into Emily’s head on all things Modern Macramé. From our discovery phase, the main theme I gathered was interconnectedness. Emily used words like 'woven, connected, threaded together, playful, artful.' There is a bit of mysticism and ceremony around knot tying so we wanted the brand to feel inclusive of that idea of being woven together. We also wanted the new brand to capture the energy and movement of creating something. You can see that in the mood board below — lots of stylized lines and movement signifying creation, process and connection. Additionally, we wanted the focus to be on the materials and not be limited to JUST macramé, as you can use the rope for so much more than knot making. That’s where “materials for all” comes in.
What was it like working with a fellow creative? How did it differ from working with a client who leaves much of the imagination up to you?
I love working with a fellow creative! Emily has such great taste and really pushed for something more artful than my average client. She has her own aesthetic and knows how to express herself artistically, so it was fun getting such specific feedback and combining our skill sets. I love what we came up with and I couldn’t have done it without her design sense and vision for the brand.
Let’s talk about the final logo design that you landed on. How did you get to that point? What made it work?
We went through a ton of “M” variations! I started out a little too literal with actual threads, knots, and loops in the M.
Finally, we landed on the final M and the branding came together: a design that was fresh, modern and playful.
I have joined the team as a creative consultant and offer graphic design support on a monthly basis! We have been working on the rebrand for a full year now and the new website launches in mid November. You can expect to see fun graphics continue to roll out all of 2021 from packaging, Craft Kits, totes, tees, sticker sets and maybe even a zine!
What does the future look like for you as a designer? How do you see your path evolving and growing?
Good question! I hope to partner with more like minded brands such as Modern Macramé who value going the extra mile with design, sustainability and thoughtfulness. It’s rare to get to work with a brand that takes time to think through a thoughtful solution instead of the pedal to the floor-- grind, print, sell mentality. Companies are now realizing they need solid branding to stand out but they think that slapping a logo on everything makes a strong brand. Customers can feel when each touchpoint is designed with care and it makes all the difference. And that is what I want to offer companies :)
Interested in following Kelly's creative work? Check her website out at KTOM Creative or follow her on instagram at @ktomcreative and @howdy_ktom
Stay tuned for more exciting updates from Modern Macramé as we move towards launching our brand new website and continue to roll out our rebranding design elements. If you've ordered products lately, you may have already received some of our new branded packaging! We are so excited to be moving into this new chapter, and we couldn't have done it without you, our community, and Kelly, the amazing woman behind the designs.