Back in 2011, I was taking some summer classes at BYU and decided to find a room off campus for the summer. Kileigh was one of my roommates at the time. I’ve loved seeing the photos from her business pop up on my newsfeed and admire the dedication and patience it takes to create her works of art. I had reached out to her awhile ago for this interview but school got in the way. I’m grateful that she was still willing to chat with me about her business, Origami by Ki.
Why don’t we start with you explaining what you create?
Okay. I make origami earrings, necklace charms, Christmas ornaments, and mobiles. I use origami paper when I can. When I am down folding, I spray the paper with 2-3 layers of acrylic clear gloss to help harden and protect the paper, making it more durable.
When I was In 3rd grade, a Japanese student had his mom come in to class. She taught us how to fold a paper crane. Since then, I have loved folding and bought an origami book as soon as I could. My sister is the one that told me origami mobiles are popular right now, and I thought also that making jewelry would be a unique thing as well. So I have found a way to do what I love, and also make some money at the same time.
I love that! Why don’t you think back to when you first started folding and look at now. What has changed, what has stayed the same with how you create your pieces?
The biggest change is that I am able to comprehend more difficult patterns. When I started, it would always take a while for me to figure out how to make something right. Now I am learning how and why the pieces are working with the folds I am making. A big part to more difficult pieces is being able to see what the end goal is, but also being able to look ahead and plan the next fold to make the piece work perfectly. I have become more of a perfectionist with time as well. I want my pieces to look flawless.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
The end product of my earrings and ornaments. I love when I am finished, and I take a moment to look at what I’ve made and go over all the details of it.
When you hit a wall while working, what do you do to get out of it?
Some times it takes a while. I like to look online at new ideas, and see what other people have made. I like to go on Pinterest and look at other peoples origami to see if I could make jewelry out of something different, or a new mobile. The thing that has been surprisingly difficult is finding pieces that look good on the mobiles. The more intricate origami does not look good, and you can’t tell what the animals or shapes are when they are the more difficult folded origami pieces. Also, finding origami that I can fold relatively small for my jewelry is difficult. The jewelry pieces are not very intricate, but they look that way when folded smaller. I also will sometimes just make a new pair of crane earrings that are a different color than I’ve made before to start getting excited again about creating.
Tell me about your creative space, what are some parts of it that are absolutely necessary and what makes it you?
I have a desk-like area in the office in our house. I have a lot of little plastic drawers for all of my tools and materials. I absolutely have to keep it as organized as possible. If I don’t, I lose little materials so easily. The part that makes my space me is having it organized. Each drawer has a specific purpose and needs to only hold what I have designated for that drawer. I get a little crazy about it.
Depending on what project you’re working on, how does your creative process change?
For my mobiles, I have to have an intense plan. I execute the plan step by step until the mobile is complete and perfect. For my earrings, I still have a process, but it’s not as intense. I guess for everything, there is a step by step process I go through, and I don’t really deviate from that process.
When I am creating something new, the first time it takes longer, and as I go through the new project, I find what I can do to make it easier, and to make the process go more smoothly. Sometimes it takes a few times before I have a set process for a new piece.
Of the pieces you currently make, what has the most intense process?
My butterfly mobile. I fold and spray the butterflies, and while they dry, I put together the rest of the mobile. I have to put the strings that hold it up on first.
What does your average day look like? Specifically when it comes to your work but you can include how life fits in as well.
When I get an order, I make it when I can. My son takes up a lot of time, but when he’s playing or busy, I will make my pieces. Sometimes I can only fold one thing at a time, or make one earring at a time. It takes a while, but it helps keep me busy and gives me a hobby when I’m home during the day. I really use the weekends when I’m not working to have my husband help watch my son and I’ll make my orders as quickly as possible.
What are a few things that inspire you?
My husband is a big one. He is really helpful. He does marketing, and has helped me figure out what people will like or will not like. My mom and sister help me, too. I get inspiration from random places, too. Sometimes when I am grocery shopping or out and about, I will look around and see a piece of jewelry, or art, or even toys that give me new ideas and get me excited to create.
I love finding those little pieces that spark ideas. If you received a million dollars, no strings attached, what would change in regards to your business?
I would get more supplies. I want to hang my little cranes inside those little clear bulb charms you can put on necklaces. I want to buy those 3D picture frames that you can put objects inside of so I can put modular origami in them. I have some new things I want to make, but sometimes materials are expensive, and I don’t know if I will sell them so I don’t like taking that risk most of the time.
Alright, one final question. Looking to the future, do you see anything changing with how you create or is there anything you want to change with your business.
I want to find more origami creations that I can make into mobiles and earrings. I also want to make more home decor origami. The biggest thing is I want to start going to boutiques and businesses to try to get them to sell my earrings. I feel like if people could see and feel them, they would buy them more.