This past month, we launched our TPY Marketplace by collaborating with four small batch makers whose goods we love and business philosophies we stand behind. Our “Meet the Maker” series will introduce you to the brands, products, and processes of our marketplace collaborators. Read on to find out how modern art, cups of chai tea, yoga, and her grandmother all played a part in the building of Caitie Sherrick’s brand, Leocadia K.
Let’s start with the name of your business—which is very unique. Where did that come from?
When I decided to start my own business, coming up with the name was the easy part for me; it was intuitive. My maternal grandmother’s name was Leocadia. It was pronounced Leo-Kah-Tee-Uh in Polish, but my family pronounces it Leo-Kay-Dee-Uh. Both her maiden name & married name started with a K, so that’s where the K came in.
My grandmother died the year before I was born but I’ve always felt really connected to her on a deeper level. From stories my mother has told, I know that she was a modern woman who worked during an assembly line in WWII, she was a plus-sized lingerie model, and she was once courted by a Texas cattle baron. She was also really creative and thrifty; she made her own clothes and the upholstery in her house.
She was also president of the ladies’ guild at her church and was so well-liked there that the priest would come to her house on Sundays for dinner. She started an organization in her hometown to help women lose weight, and she was the neighborhood mom— she took care of everyone. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. Everyone knew who she was and loved her. She was inherently good and didn’t hate anything or anyone.
When she hugged you, you would get lost in her embrace. Her whole body exuded love. She was extremely close to God & Heaven. She was Catholic; I’m technically Catholic, but I’ve expanded beyond it and now have a more spiritual outlook on religion. It’s the same kind of connection, though. I translated everything I knew about her and my own experience with spirituality into my “Living Life Creatively” philosophy. Leocadia K. is her essence and my artistic intuition merged together.
So, your grandmother had a huge influence on the name of the business. Is she also connected to the fact that you make jewelry?
She wasn’t directly related to the jewelry, but she’s directly related to WHY I do what I do. My brand is about being present and going with the flow. Loving yourself. Loving the people around you. Putting love into what you do.
The things I knew about my grandmother merged with my intuition and that’s how it all began.
I’ve always designed and made my own jewelry. My favorite thing to make at summer camp was hemp necklaces. I’d make jewelry for my friends’ birthdays and Christmas presents, but I never really saw it as a career option. I got my degree in drawing, and have really deep creative roots within the fine art world. I tried one creative job after another, but couldn’t find one in (or out of) the fine art world that would let me use all of my talents.
When I married a sailor, I no longer got to choose where I lived or how often I moved or what kind of jobs were available in those locations. Even at that point, I didn’t think of doing jewelry as a business until I did a Yoga teacher training course. At the time, I was getting more into yoga clothing and jewelry and I kept coming across women who were selling jewelry in Etsy shops and I thought, I can make that. I can sell that.
I was still making jewelry for myself and kept getting interest in the things I was making, so I used my fine art and graphic design backgrounds to design my logo and set up my website. I kind of just jumped in and decided to start my own thing.
Your pieces are very sculptural, which is something I’ve liked about them since discovering your brand on Instagram. How much influence does your modern art background have on your process?
I’m deeply inspired by modern art from the 20th century. It feeds my soul to go to museums. I don’t necessarily see a painting and say, “Oh I want to make something based on that.” I have the modern art aesthetic so ingrained in my brain that when I design, things naturally end up looking abstract and modern because it’s now my aesthetic too.
I’m deeply inspired by Mark Rothko, who painted color fields. They’re essentially paintings made up of colored negative space. My photos on Instagram—the compositions and the way the colors are laid out—remind me of him. But I’m mostly inspired by the whole modern art movement and what it stood for: experimentation, new ways of looking at the world, fresh ways to combine materials, the definition of art. I’m inspired by it but my pieces really do have a life of their own. They’re sculptural with a modern art vibe.
I also get inspired by the supplies themselves. If I want to create and I know I need some new pieces, I’ll browse supply shops on Etsy for inspiration and then go from there. Other times, I get an idea in my head—which is usually, conveniently, right before I go to sleep—and then I’ll hunt down specific supplies for that idea. I don’t design collections, but rather I swap pieces in and out to adapt to my store’s inventory needs, which actually helps me have a little more freedom creatively.
And, I’m always inspired by things I see around me, from making tea to the clouds in the sky…just the little details in life. The things that most people don’t notice are the things that make me happy. They don’t all translate literally into my designs, but I file it all away and then when I‘m sitting down to design or create, I pull from it.
The piece you designed for us is a customization of your “Big Mala” necklace. Why did you choose this piece as the one for our brand?
The necklace I re-designed for The Perpetual You Marketplace—the Big Mala—was originally inspired by the modern art world. My whole idea was to have a deconstructed version of a yoga mala necklace. I took this really traditional mala necklace, totally tore it apart and reconstructed it so that the proportions were new and different, but the end result still looked like a mala.
On a mala necklace, you pray or meditate the same prayer or mantra, once for each bead. That’s how rosary beads work too, by the way. You do the same thing but you say “Our Fathers’ and “Hail Mary’s.” I chose that particular necklace because your core mission is to promote intentional living, and that’s what a mala necklace does: repeating the same positive thought or taking a moment to breathe for each bead.
That’s also the reason why I thought collaborating with you would be a good idea. Everything that I do and design and promote and write for—everything that I’m associated with has this higher ideal of intentional living or mindfulness or choosing love over fear. It takes a lot of thought and effort to get those kinds of large concepts into a necklace!
What your magazine promotes aligns really well with my viewpoint. Living life creatively is infusing yourself within every little decision, every moment, every breath. I combine style and spirit in my brand and infuse it into my work, and The Perpetual You embodies the spirit side of what I do. This collaboration made sense because my “why” and your “why” are so well-aligned.
Caitie Sherrick is a jewelry designer + stylist for mildly rebellious flow-goers at Leocadia K. She’s deeply inspired by modern art, has a boho heart + loves the warm, unconditional love of a good cup of chai tea. You can view the custom “Big Mala” necklace Caitie designed for us in our marketplace.