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The Story

Crafting the Company: A Full Circle Studio, Inc. Profile
Kate Hartley, Founder

Kate laughing

Kate Hartley founded Full Circle Studio, Inc. in 1999, or rather, the business found her. Kate had spent her career as a driving force behind the artists and creators she surrounded herself with - a prop stylist for a film production company in New York, gallery director in Soho, and a product developer for a leading art publisher. So it came to some surprise (even to herself) that at the sophisticated age of 40 she made the move from creative "director" to "creator."

Though Kate's father was a Madison Avenue advertising powerhouse in New York City who later recreated himself as a gallery owner, she never considered going into business for herself, but rather came across her craft by happy accident. Of course, most outsiders would glance at her career and family history and see the line drawn in the sand - it was meant to be!

It wasn't until Kate attended an AIDS benefit in Seattle that she discovered her (new) life's work. The event organizers, in an attempt to keep the attending kids occupied, arranged a decoupage table to teach them how to make switchplates - complete with magazines, Elmer's glue and safety scissors. Kate sat down to make a switchplate of her own, but one quickly turned into two, which turned into four, etc. Fascinated by this new craft, Kate didn't get up from the table until she was politely, but firmly told to make room for a child. It was there, amongst the chaos and energy of a child's art project, that she found her true calling - decoupage diva extraordinaire!

Once home, Kate couldn't keep her mind off this new craft. Salvaging magazines, photographs, and various studio "stuff" from her father's legacy, she began to cover tables, boxes, trays…any found object that would stand still for her delightfully gluey scraps of paper. Kate would rummage through antique stores looking for fabulous cast offs that she could transform into beautiful decorative objects through collage and decoupage. When she discovered the ease at which she could practice her craft on switchplates, a light went on! And, in almost the flick of a switch, a business was born.

The idea that objects often seen as ordinary and dull could come "full circle" and become a point of delight and self-expression is the realized originality behind Full Circle Studio, Inc. A small something we use everyday, such as a light switch or coaster should reflect a person's individual style and bring joy to the home. Now, ten years later, working on a small island just outside of Seattle, Kate creates original works of art that mirror the vibrant butterflies, enchanting songbirds, and nature-inspired designs true to island living. Artfully combining style, sophistication and functionality, Full Circle Studio's handmade paperweights, switchplates, plaques and coasters are meant to provide another layer of personal flair to one's home. From director to creator to discoverer of her own new craft, it seems Kate Hartley has come…full circle.