Lauren is the lady behind the beautiful felt flowers we always have stocked in the store. She is the owner of Zella and Kay and one of Market 1023’s first (if not the first) consigners. She was part of Market 1023 when they were located at the Parker Street location.
Where does the name Zella and Kay come from?
The name Zella & Kay comes from a combination of my grandmothers' middle names - Mary Zella Meyer and Patsy Kay Summers. Both women were creative in different ways, and used their time and talents to care for their families.
My maternal grandmother (Patsy Kay) sewed my mom, aunt, and uncle's clothing as they grew up and even made my mom's wedding dress, which was really beautiful and ornate. She never met a project she didn't like!
My paternal grandmother (Mary Zella) grew up during the Great Depression and was always very resourceful in her creativity. She put a lot of thought into making her home a warm and hospitable place for her five children and eleven grandchildren. The name Zella & Kay pays homage to them...I am very much a product of the women who came before me.
When and how did you start making felt flowers?
In winter 2016, I had been going through a prolonged season of depression, which I've struggled on and off with throughout my life, and was looking for an outlet to feel generative and creative again. I had taught myself to crochet the previous year and decided to make another go at an Etsy shop (of which I had had about two prior attempts). I began making blankets and throws, ranging from baby blankets to full size, and had some initial success.
In spring of that year, I visited the Denton Community Market (where I lived at the time), and thought to myself, "I would love to have one of these booths!" Several weeks later, I decided that that would be my new challenge - I'd set a goal of having a table at the Community Market that summer.
I knew I could bring my blankets, but also realized that, because it was summer in Texas, they probably wouldn't sell very well. I began looking through Pinterest for inspiration, and I remembered trying to make felt flowers several years earlier, with moderate success. That week, I went to Hobby Lobby, bought some felt and started working on my new project!
This didn't go so well, though, as the felt was pretty challenging to work with - more than I had remembered. After a little internet research, I realized that wool blend felt was the key to making better felt flowers. I ordered my first batch from BenzieDesign.com, followed some tutorials I had found online, and made my first batch of flowers. After a couple of weeks selling in the Denton Community Market, I realized my felt flowers were way outperforming my blankets and I began the slow, steady shift to solely making felt flowers (which officially shifted over in fall 2017).
What’s your process for choosing a new flower?
It actually takes me a long time! I like to browse pictures of real flowers and fellow felt florists' flowers on Instagram, bookmarking what I like. From there, I start playing around with the materials I've got, mimicking shapes and designs. It usually takes me five or so tries before I get to something I really like! And, of course, the flower designs get honed over time.
About how long does it take you to make a flower? Have you gotten any faster since you since you started?
The time to make flowers just depends on their type! The rolled roses are the quickest...probably about 2-3 minutes per flower. The dahlias are the most intricate and, therefore, take the most time - close to 30 minutes per flower.
You have taught classes at other stores and taught one in February here. What should attendees expect?
That was my second-ever class! The DIME Store in Denton graciously allowed me to host a workshop last August and I facilitated the one here in February, as well. The class is an introductory class on how to make felt flowers. I share everything about how and where to source materials, how to do about five basic floral and foliage stems (including anemones, ranunculus, rolled roses, berries, and lemon leaf), and how to arrange a mini-bouquet. No experience required!
What can we expect to see in the future from you?
Right now, I'm focusing on growing my business locally. I also work full time and am in my second semester of a doctoral program, so this business serves as a fun, creative outlet for me. It allows me to work with my hands after long days of desk work and advising - something that I really treasure. My hope is to be able to bring more new and interesting products to Market 1023 and to expand class offerings, too!
Any advice for any aspiring makers?
My best advice is that growing a creative business takes time! Know that sometimes it takes several tries for a creative endeavor to take off...just keep plugging away and trying new things. Nothing will be perfect the first few times you do it! In fact, I still cringe a little when I look at my first few felt floral attempts. The best part about owning your own creative business is seeing the growth in your products and feeling a sense of pride and gratitude in how far you've come.
You can also see more Zella and Kay products on Instagram here and on Etsy here.
feeling a sense of pride and gratitude in how far you've come.