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Nov. 28, 2022

Shop small business with Air Force wife and owner of Love and Lettering by Katie

Shop small business with Air Force wife and owner of Love and Lettering by Katie

I really wanted to spotlight mil spouse businesses in early December to encourage you to shop "local" and support our fellow mil spouses.

Today I'm sitting down with shop owner Katie who is company is called Love and Lettering by Katie. She makes super cute signs and ornaments and sells on Spouse-ly.

Check our her products here

Katie shares her military life so far, and man have they moved a lot in the past 14 years! We get into it a little bit with military move vice DITY move and the challenges.

We talk about her career as a nurse and the challenge of maintaining that career with her husbands crazy military schedule.

And finally she shares her path to opening her own shop and selling her creations. If you have or want to have a product based service, this is a great episode to hear how someone else did it!

Check out Katies Spouse-ly shop here
Follow Katie on IG @love_and_lettering_bykatie

I so appreciate you listening to the show!

If you wouldn’t mind leaving a rating and review I would really appreciate it!!

To get in touch with Alison with questions or potential topics or guests please email


Follow us on IG @themilspousepodcast
 And please check out our brand spanking new website! www.themilspousepodcast.com


[00:00:00] Today we are talking to Katie Prill, and Katie is is the owner of Love and Lettering by Katie.

[00:00:06] Which is available on Spousely. And so I wanted to, as we're approaching the holidays, I wanted to have meal spouses on that, have a business that creates products and, , get the word out about that so that as you're doing your holiday shopping, you can think about buying from another military spouse and supporting them.

[00:00:22] Cause I would much rather give my money to another military spouse than give it to huge corporations. Right. So, Katie, 

[00:00:30] welcome to the show. I'm happy to have you. Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here. 

[00:00:35] Yes. Okay. So we always like to start with , your affiliation to the military. What has your military life looked like so far?

[00:00:42] And then we'll kind of dive into your 

[00:00:43] shop. Absolutely. Well I have been in the military as a spouse for 14 and a half years. My husband is in the Air Force and I have been with him for his entire career. We got married just before he joined the Air Force or commissioned. And so I've been in this crazy life since the very beginning.

[00:01:04] Mm-hmm. . We are on, like I said, year 14 and I think we are on move seven at this point. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . So we first we first started out training in California. Quickly moved to Montana and we have been. Montana, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, South Dakota, and we just recently moved to the DC area in June.

[00:01:29] So yeah, it has been a lot of moving in these last five years in particular. 

[00:01:34] Yeah, for sure. Okay, so just stopping on that for just a second. Do you guys move yourself or do you have the military? 

[00:01:43] We have always kind of done a partial Diddy, so we do let the movers do the majority of the big stuff. They take care of packing up you know, all the furniture and stuff like that.

[00:01:54] Mm-hmm. . But we also try to make sure that we pack what we can in our cars. We get those weight, we make a little money that way, not that fun, but there's certain things. I apologize in advance for my dog that's having a fit over here. That's ok. No worries. But we have always car, you know, carried what we could in the car.

[00:02:14] Yeah. Especially cuz you never know when you're gonna get into a house mm-hmm. . And so we take what we can so we can live without our our things for a few weeks. Mm-hmm. if it takes a while and mm-hmm. . So we kind of do that mix between both, but there will be. I say never say never. I don't know that I will ever be a person that will fully move myself on my own unless it is absolutely necessary and there is no other choice.

[00:02:39] Yeah. Yeah. I feel you. I felt that way for our first. For our fir. So we've moved eight times, so you're well ahead of us. We've been in for 20 years and this was our eighth move. So you guys are definitely a lot shorter cycle than we are, which I thought we had got short cycled, but goodness gracious. And we had the military move us until this last move.

[00:03:00] Our move from Florida, and I've said this all the time so I'm not gonna get into it again, but from Florida to Washington State was just a nightmare and our. We had stuff that was stolen and broken and it took forever to get our stuff, and it was just a disaster.

[00:03:13] And I say, you know, I say I'll never move myself, but I feel like every move just gets worse and worse. And then I'm, at that point we're like, maybe it is worth our time to do a full Diddy. But then I have to remember, well then I'm gonna have to secure all the boxes, the moving trucks, all of that other stuff.

[00:03:29] And yes. Then I remember it's really nice that I don't have to load the furniture myself. Yeah. Or I don't have to pack, pack up the kitchen myself completely. There are some things that I will always do before. Sure. The packers and the movers come like wrap my silver, red drawer, all of that, all the containers like that so that they can.

[00:03:51] I can plop it in the next drawer and not have to find, you know, eight individually wrapped forks and all of my tucker wear, all of the lids are individually wrapped, yet they'll like wrap my China like it's garbage. So there's a toss up. 

[00:04:08] Yes, a hundred percent. And all of those reasons are so for us, that culmination of all of that stuff, I was like, I'm not doing that again.

[00:04:15] I'm gonna do it ourselves. And it is challenging for sure to do it yourself. It was not as bad as I thought it was gonna be. And and I, and I say this over and over again and I will continue to, because I feel like the biggest bone of contention for military families when they're thinking about moving themselves is the loading and unloading of the truck.

[00:04:33] And there is a company, it's called Hire a Helper. It's nationwide. Okay. Essentially like Angie's list for movers and packers. And you can, you can pay to have people come to your house and help you load your truck, but that's all they do. So we had two guys for two hours on both ends of our move and they, all they did was load the truck.

[00:04:53] So then we weren't doing it ourselves. And then we had two people help us here as well and they, it was, we had an amazing. And they rate everybody. So everybody has ratings and the, it wasn't, it was like $250 for two guys for two hours. Like it was well worth it 

[00:05:08] because we moved actually really a decent price.

[00:05:10] Yeah. 

[00:05:11] We moved in the middle of the summer. It was, it was the hottest day in the history of Washington state when we packed out of our house. There, Of course. And there's guy of course, right. That's just how it works. And they busted their butt. So that, so I highly recommend hire a helper. You can get people that can help because like, you don't wanna ask, you know, you don't, a lot of times your friends are other military families and they all know how much it sucks to move.

[00:05:33] And you're like, I don't wanna do that. You know, I don't wanna ask them to help me. So it's, it's a tough situation. I know. So hire a helper. Highly recommend. Okay. Okay, perfect. So then, so, so you guys have. A lot of places done a lot of moving. So what has your career looked like through that process? 

[00:05:51] Well, I am an a registered nurse.

[00:05:53] I graduated the same time my husband got ready to join the military. I graduated from nursing school. Mm-hmm. . So I started out in labor and delivery. That's where my first nursing school or my nursing job was and when we first moved to California, I got an, a labor and delivery job, but because we were going to be moving shortly after I, that one never really fully panned out.

[00:06:20] So I started in postpartum in that hospital, and then we moved about seven months after we got there. Geez. and they, I, I do understand that they didn't wanna spend the money and the time to train me for fully, for labor and delivery. So like I said, I start, I stayed in postpartum and then we moved.

[00:06:40] Yeah. And then we moved to Montana and it was difficult trying to find a job as a pretty brand new nurse with barely any experience. And there were no labor and delivery or postpartum jobs available. Cause we moved to a really small town. So, I ended up working in an outpatient. We had a small inpatient unit, but we mostly did outpatient surgeries.

[00:07:05] Okay. And it was really great. Great experience. I really enjoyed it. I never would've thought about that for myself as a job idea, but it, it was great until we had our first child. And we had the nights or not, we had the weekend call and the on-call time and Apel that was out in the field frequently for his job.

[00:07:25] Mm-hmm. and no family around. And so I had to think about. Cutting back my hours and you know, ultimately I ended up going more towards the clinic job and then we move again. Yeah. And he has to go TDY and route and I'm in this weird in between of we can't stay where we, where we were, but we also can't start at the new job or start at the new base because he's at a whole different base doing.

[00:07:56] And so, you know, my son and I, we lived with family for four months in between, in the middle of a PCs. Yeah. And that's more time that you're away from your job and more time. You know, they look at your, your job gaps. And so once we finally got settled in our new state and I worked on my nursing license, because it's never easy to transfer your license.

[00:08:18] Yeah. Each, each state is so vastly different and it's getting better. But, you know, five to 10 years ago it, the states didn't talk to each other about their Sure. Their requirements and. , it took a while to get my license. And then, you know, you start interviews again and then they look at your resume and your gaps and wonder what's going on there.

[00:08:38] And it's right. It's frustrating to, to continue to yourself, but also to. They know that they can figure out that you're military and they technically cannot discriminate against you for that. But so many places do. Yeah. Because they see, well, you're only, you're only gonna be here for two to three years.

[00:08:57] Why would I hire you? Right. But you don't know that Joe Schmo down the street that also has lived here his entire life, that he's not gonna, you know, get a job here and only stay three. Even though he's lived here his entire life and will continue to live here. Yeah. So I'd like to be honest during my interviews and tell them that I am a military family and try to explain the gaps that yes, I may not be here beyond two or three years, but what I can give you are two to three good years I, where I will be a loyal employee.

[00:09:30] Right. And that's, that's all I can offer you at this point. Right. And usually that works out in my favor. Yeah. Until we move again and we continue to do that again and again and again. Until finally we the pandemic hit and we were, he was at a school assignment. and that we had to move right when everything was locked down and we moved to South Dakota and my husband's job changed and the availability of jobs was slim for being able to work the hours around what would work for our family.

[00:10:06] And so ultimately I decided, you know what? Maybe, maybe this is the time. I stay home with the kids. And so we tried homeschool for a year. It was not the greatest school district that we were in. Yeah. And so you have to wait that too. And so I homeschooled my boys, stayed home with them, and you know, I had just started really working on my art and my crafts and, and I thought, you know what?

[00:10:36] This might be a good time to do something for myself. Yeah. That still can help our family, you know, I can contribute to our family. So that's when I decided to start my my small business. Yeah. Was in the middle of the pandemic. Yeah. While I was homeschooling my children brand new at a new base. But, you know, I think the, it was the leap of faith that I needed and, and it all worked out the way it needed to be.

[00:10:59] Yeah. 

[00:11:00] And so how long have you had your 

[00:11:01] shop? I have been open for business for just a little over two. 

[00:11:06] Okay. Nice. Very good. And so have you always been creative? Is that something that's always been like. 

[00:11:13] Think 

[00:11:13] I have been created, but it wasn't until we were in Alabama when my husband was at his school assignment that I saw this small art studio in town, that offered classes on how to hand letter and it. Intrigued me the idea of doing calligraphy and, and lettering. And so I joined the club to start lettering. And, it just sparked something in me. It was offering these classes to learn how to hand letter and you paid every month and they sent you curated boxes and then you got instructed like zoom meetings and different.

[00:11:50] You know, just instructions. And so that's, I started learning that and they had some in person events as well. And it just, it sparked something in me that, Hey, I could try watercolor, I could try to do this lettering and this calligraphy and And then of course, Covid hit and my husband was home for school and my kids were home for school and I had nothing else to do.

[00:12:13] And so I just started drawing on the, on the sidewalks in the, in the driveway with chalk and doing lettering everywhere and. I think I had, I mean, I filled up drawing books and sketchbooks of all sorts of things, and it just kept sparking more and more creativity for me. And, you know, I started, I started my Instagram account and started sharing my, my art and, and someone, people were like, Hey, you should just start selling it.

[00:12:42] And I was like, No, I don't think anyone's gonna buy anything, to be honest. And. And then I thought more about it and I was like, You know what, what's the worst thing that'll happen? I, you know, make a couple listings, try to sell something and no one buys it. Yeah, That's okay. Yeah. That's all right. Yeah, I tried But I was like, What, what happens if I, if they do buy it, this could turn into something?

[00:13:08] And it turned out so much better than I ever anticipated. Yeah. And the rest is history . 

[00:13:14] Yeah. I love that. So so what kind of things, what, what is your favorite thing to make? What's your favorite kind of medium to use? Like what kind of products do you 

[00:13:23] do? Well, I do a lot of like hand lettered prints and I do stickers.

[00:13:28] And then, you know, after we moved was when I really start, when I started selling everything, I got into more of like wood crafts and so I would do door signs and, and then it started with ornaments. And so one of my most favorite items to do, Tournaments with the state. Yeah. And I have the name hand lettered and it's just a really good way for at least the military to remember the places they've been.

[00:13:55] And I did a craft fair at our Air Force base and it was one of the big sellers there. Yeah. Because people wanted something that said, you know, Ellsworth or South Dakota on it. Yeah. And. Someone that offered that. And so I would list it on our, our base Facebook page and I'd make a bunch and they'd sell out right away.

[00:14:15] And then it just turned into other seasonal items and I created a fitness collection cuz I'm really, I got my. My certification to teach spin class when we were in Alabama as well. And so I started teaching spin as well when we moved to South Dakota and it just was a way to kinda combine everything that I loved together.

[00:14:36] So yeah, to still do art and get to use it while I taught spin class. So I had my short foot said like spin and tonic on it or you know, some sort of funny thing like that. Or motivational. I just, Found different ways to kind of tie all of my interests together, and it just has grown tremendously from there.

[00:14:57] Okay. So if, if people are looking to purchase products or just wanna see the kinds of things that you make, where can they find that? 

[00:15:04] They can find my items on a platform called Spousely. Mm-hmm. . So Spousely is like Etsy meets Angie list, but all of the vendors are military, spouses, veterans, and first responders.

[00:15:16] Mm-hmm. and anyone can purchase on Spousely, but all the vendors themselves have some sort of service related connection. 

[00:15:23] Yeah, I love that. And we were talking about this beforehand. You know, part of the reason why I started this podcast is cuz I feel like there's this breakdown. There's so much information and there's so many resources and there's so many cool things and we just don't know about it, you know?

[00:15:36] Mm-hmm. . And I feel like and as I've grown the podcast, that's one of the the things that I'm really. That I, that I really wanted to try and do was just kind of get like spread out. Let's get, get the information. There's resources, there's things that are out there. And SPY was one of the first things that I found and I was like, Oh my gosh, this is amazing.

[00:15:51] I had no idea that this was there. Cause I love Etsy, right? Like who ever, I think a lot of people like that personalized. Right? Right. The. The the small business, right? We're trying to, you know, you wanna support small businesses, don't wanna just keep paying these big, huge corporations. And then spouses essentially that for military, spouses, first responders, veterans, whatever you know, service, service affiliation that they have.

[00:16:12] And I think it's a great Really, really good idea , and so that's one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the show today is to talk about Spousely. As you're starting your shopping, for the holidays, maybe consider or, go on spy and see what kind of items they have that you could, Support military spouses and, and veterans and first responders while still getting your Christmas shopping and things like that done.

[00:16:33] Which I, I would much prefer to spend my money that way than, you know, buying more stuff on Amazon . 

[00:16:39] Absolutely. Yeah. And what I love too about spouse is that it's not just product based vendors. We have service based vendors as well, which is mm-hmm. . You can find a photographer, a real estate agent, you can find a business.

[00:16:50] Coach, an accountant, you know, in your area and while it is still a new platform and it's just a little over two and a half years old mm-hmm. , they're a adding vendors every single week. And yeah, if they, you can't find it at this point, it could be soon. We're constantly adding more vendors. It's just, it's an amazing platform.

[00:17:10] And just knowing that you're supporting military families or veteran families, or first responder families, You know your money is going to something. Yeah, 

[00:17:21] for sure. And then we kind of talked about this a little bit offline cuz as happens with most of the interviews that I do, we talk a really long time before we hit record, getting to know each other, which is always fun.

[00:17:33] It's my favorite, my favorite part of, of the interview. But we were kind of talking about the you know, why as, so, so looking at this as, because, you know, There's a lot of military spouses that listen to the show that maybe are thinking about, Hey, I have this creative outlet. There's something that I make, There's something that I have.

[00:17:50] Why would you choose to sell on a platform , like Spousely as opposed to something like Etsy that so many people, millions of people know about, millions of people are shopping on their everyday. Why would you choose to sell on Spousely Vice Etsy? 

[00:18:05] I started with Spousely because I had a friend who had already started there and she had told me about it, told me about the mission, and when I was looking to start my business and start selling, I did look at Etsy to be honest, but then I realized that there are a lot of other vendors that are just like me, and it's hard to differentiate.

[00:18:24] Myself from them and you know, will my products be on the first page or will they be buried on page, you know, 20 or something like that and mm-hmm. , The great thing about Spousely is that there's not that kind of competition where you have a hundred other vendors selling the exact same thing.

[00:18:42] Mm-hmm. , it's not like that. Mm-hmm. . You know, the only way I felt like the only way I would be able to get my items seen on Etsy is if I were paying for ads. And you know, when you're a small business and you're just starting out, you don't necessarily have that money to be paying for ads and. There's certain things I didn't know when I first started.

[00:19:01] You know, the importance of product photography and SEO and all these other things. And I feel like it was much easier to grow and to start on spouse, where they also took the time to help you with your listings and they offer Just education for the vendors on how to do a listing, how to, you know, use good product photography.

[00:19:21] We have a, a vendor group, a vendor Facebook group where we help each other out. We value community over competition because we want us all to do well. It's not about competing and you know, your shop is, , so much better than so and so's shop. It's, no, we are, we are stronger when we all work together.

[00:19:43] Yes. And that's what I love so much about Spousely is yeah, we help each other out. The vendors collaborate with each other and. I'm not the only person that shares my work. Other vendors show, share my work, but Spousely itself shares my work, which is great. Mm-hmm. , and I don't feel like I would get that if I was an Etsy.

[00:19:59] Mm-hmm. If I had an Etsy 

[00:20:00] shop, to be honest. Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think that's really good information because if, , like I said, if you're, , thinking about starting a business or cuz I, I think that the more military spouses that I talk to, the more and more people have an online business or something, , where they are able to do it from home, from anywhere.

[00:20:20] Because our lifestyle, like, you know, we were talking about with your nursing career, it's so challenging. It's so challenging and you know, it's, With your military lifestyle and the moving, and , your moves have been a lot more than a lot of other military families.

[00:20:36] And the, just the stress in of the move itself, right. Everything that , is involved in that have actually like, Physically packing your house, moving it to a new place. The whole sh shebang, right? You're finding the new place, the doctors, the schools, the kids, the blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:20:51] And then you put on top of that the job, and it's just like, it's so. It's just, it gets, something's gotta give at some point, you know? And, then like you were saying, the more times you move and then you have a gap here and you have a gap there and then the, , and then, , inevitably we as the military spouse are the default parent, right?

[00:21:11] So we're the solid, we're the one that's gonna be at the pickup where the dropoffs we're the getting everybody where they need to go. Like we're the constant. And it's really hard to do that. When your husband's TDY or they're on deployment or, you know what I mean, Their optempo is super high and you can't, you, they can't be counted on to help with that household stuff.

[00:21:33] So someone's gotta give. Right. And inevitably it ends up being the military spouse, that gives, So I think, I think that the, that the rainbow of. Is that we're able to pivot and find something, hopefully find something that brings us joy and that gives us that outlet that we're looking for something for ourselves.

[00:21:55] So then I'm curious, is this, as you guys continue in your career, and, you know, it's, it's, it's kind of a silly question of where do you think you're gonna be in five years? Like, I, we were talking again beforehand, I literally don't know where I'm living next summer.

[00:22:08] Right. So, you know, kind of predicting that as like crazy. But do you feel like when you're, is this, is this a business that you feel like, is this is the season for this right now? Or do you feel like, hey, this feels really good and I see. This, even when I'm not a military spouse moving around all the time, 

[00:22:26] I think that this could be it for us.

[00:22:28] And it's also sparked something for my husband as well. He's kinda, he helps with the business. So a lot of my wood signs, he'll cut and cut the wood for it and get that kind of prepared and stuff. But it also, with the last place we were at, he started being more creative and woodworking and stuff like that.

[00:22:45] So I think we both see in the future potentially to combine forces. . And we could find a way to combine both of those together and standpoint. 

[00:22:56] , maybe offer some products together and maybe looking past retirement, doing something together with both of us. But in terms of what happens in five years, I have no idea. No, I know. I don't know if we will be two more moves out or what I. Think we will still be here next summer.

[00:23:12] I cannot guarantee it, but I think we'll be here next summer. . I know, but years, you never know. I have no idea. No idea what five years will bring. 

[00:23:22] I know. I Isn't that crazy? And that's one of those things , when you think about it, you're like, I really have no idea. 

[00:23:29] But then, , you know, if you're looking at it from the civilian, 

[00:23:32] You, you never know what life, what life might throw at you.

[00:23:35] You might decide, hey, you might meet somebody and they live someplace else, and then you, you know, I mean, there's tons of things that can happen, but it just kind of boggles my mind sometimes how little say we have in our lives. You know what I mean? Like, it just, 

[00:23:48] it's kinda crazy. You just roll with it, right?

[00:23:50] You roll with it because I. Don't know anything else in this in my adult life. All I know is moving since the moment I graduated college and started this journey with my husband. This is all I know. Yeah. So I don't know what it's like to be in one place for more than four years. Yeah. And that was our first real assignment was four and a half years in Montana.

[00:24:12] But besides that, it's been three, two, and as, as short. A year. So yeah, I, I hit that like year, year and a half mark, and I'm like, you know when it's time to move again. 

[00:24:23] I know. Do you worry? Cause like, Cause we're coming to the end of our career now and I'm like, I'm worried that we're gonna build our forever house.

[00:24:32] Right. Right. And then I'm gonna be like three years in. Getting all itchy. Like, we, we gotta move. I dunno, like I, I worry about that. 

[00:24:41] I like to think that all of the places that we have been have led me to that point of knowing, well, I don't want this in a house. I don't want that in a house. Our forever home will probably be exactly what we want because we've lived in 10 different houses that weren't it 

[00:24:57] for 

[00:24:57] us.

[00:24:57] Yes, that's true. I agree with you cuz that's how the house that we wanna build to is, I'm like, I know I want this. I know, I want that. I didn't like that. We want this like, so I hope that it's gonna be like Exactly. Cuz again, we're same as you. We've lived so many different places. We've lived in so many different houses.

[00:25:13] We'll be able to. It'll hopefully be dialed in and be exactly what we want it to be. Fingers crossed 

[00:25:18] that that's what happens if we don't get chy and wanna move . But you know, if we do end up moving afterwards, we know how to do that. There you go. 

[00:25:25] Exactly right. The silver lining. We know how to do that too.

[00:25:28] I love it. Okay, Katie, so I know you've got kids to get picked up and, and so let's, we'll wrap this. So again, if someone if people are interested in checking out your products, where can they find those? And then an important question too is what is, cuz I know for small businesses, the people that do things that are personalized, the date to order to have by Christmas is coming up quick, which is why we're doing the show when we are.

[00:25:52] So share that with us. 

[00:25:54] Absolutely. My cutoff for order date is December. Because it, most of my products I can get out within a couple days, but depending on how many orders I have at a time, it could be one to two weeks. And I really wanna make sure that you have products in hand before the holidays.

[00:26:10] Mm-hmm. . So December 2nd is my hard and fast. That's my guarantee. If you order after that time, if I still, I'm still deciding if I'm gonna keep the shop open or not and just, you know, you get your products when you get 'em or not December 2nd and you can absolutely, you can find me on social media. My handle is love and lettering by Katie you can finally exclusively on Spousely. That's where I sell all of my products is on Spousely.

[00:26:36] Okay, 

[00:26:36] perfect. All right. That's awesome. That sounds wonderful. Okay, so Katie, I appreciate you being here, and I wish you the best of luck as you move into the busy holiday season, and it was so nice chatting with you today. Thanks for being 

[00:26:49] here. Thanks for having 

[00:26:51] me.