Interviewer: Hannah Vaccaro
Q: How have you been so far this year? Tell us about yourself.
So far, my year has been great. I recently opened our studio in Houston where you can come in and paint your own doormats. It’s growing and I am excited about it! It’s awesome, and so far the year has been great.
Q: Tell us about your journey developing Kicky Mats. Meaning behind the brand?
So the backstory is: I created a doormat because I just couldn’t find one I liked on the market that I could really relate to. So I created it for myself! And that turned into others asking me to create them one which was like my side hustle. And then it turned into a full-blown career because the demand was so high to where I was able to quit my full-time job. And here we are today!
Q: What were/are some of your biggest inspirations when creating such unique designs?
My biggest inspirations are really the culture and just like whenever I feel a thought or something comes across my mind of how I am feeling or how I want to set the mood for at home, I literally put it on a mat. I use song lyrics, all types of things that people can relate to and that you would want to put at your door.
Q: What was your original vision for the business versus what may have become reality?
My original vision was just like I would be making door mats, having fun, being creative. And then, I realized that there is a whole business side to this! So, I had to learn a lot of business things. It’s still fun, I still get to be creative, of course. But, there is a business side that I kind of know nothing about…that I am learning every day, and growing every day! I was not thinking about it as something that would quit my job. I wasn’t thinking about business at all. It was just fun to me, and I think that is why it grew so organically.
Q: What stands out the most to me about your mats are the positive and humorous messages that I would assume makes every guest smile when they see it outside a home. What has been your favorite design to create and why?
That’s a hard question to answer because I am a very “my mood switches” type of person, so I always encourage people to get multiple mats to switch it up depending on your mood. I create them all, so it is really hard to choose one, it’s like choosing your favorite child! Right now, I guess I would choose the one that says “You grow girl” because, of course, it’s Women’s History Month and I just want to inspire myself and others with positive affirmations to help you keep going. I sometimes need a reminder to “keep going” and “keep growing.”
Q: How has the amount of visibility your designs and business received affected you?
It has affected me greatly in a positive way. Whether it is online or pop up shops in person, the reactions are always the same, and always gives me the same feeling. Even in my parties where people come in and paint the designs, they are so excited and make me feel so good inside! It really affects me in a good way and shows me that I am doing something right.
Q: Tell me a little bit more about people coming in and painting.
I do weekly “paint and sits.” I host the events and I also do private parties, so some people do private parties for their birthdays or friends gathering. And then, I also just host theme parties weekly. I do R&B nights, this Friday I am doing one for women empowerment called “Sis you got this,” so everyone will be painting positive affirmations. So I just try to switch it up and keep it fun.
Q: I loved the description you put in your Linkedin bio: “custom doormat company that allows you to let your doormat do the talking”. What led you to creating that mission and idea?
I guess it just ties into me being an introvert. I talk, I am a talker, and if you are my friend you know I’m a talker and you know I have a strong opinion, you know I am funny. But, if you meet me and I might not know you, you may think I am quiet, and I feel like a lot of people can relate to that. Some people don’t want to talk all the time, but they want to express themselves. So, I chose to use that as my tagline because you can literally let your doormat do the talking. Someone can walk up to your door, they know your mood and your vibe before you even open the door.
Q: Tell me about a time you got into a creative rut with creating a new design and how you overcame it? What were some other challenges you faced?
I honestly get into creative ruts all the time. I think it’s because, sometimes, the business aspect of things take me out of the creative mindset, and whenever I get like that, I just start creating things. Some things I don’t like, but I just try to dive deep into it and create a whole lot of stuff. So that way, something will come out of it.
I don’t think I have heard anyone talk about how once your business blows up and it’s trending and everyone’s reaching out to you, that doesn’t last forever. So when that turn happens, you have to find ways to keep people interested. And no one ever warned me about that. I was just like “Oh, they love me! They will love me forever!” And it’s like, people get bored, so you have to keep people interested. That’s been a challenge for me, but I just try to overcome it by remaining creative and doing new things and trying out new things and learning the things people like and don’t like.
Q: I noticed you were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network and Beyonce.com. What was that like for you?
Oh my gosh, it was insane, to be honest. So, I, of course, love Oprah and Beyonce, but Beyonce is like my #1 person. I’ve been loving her, like, forever. We are both from Houston and I’ve just always loved her. When I saw that I was on her website, I literally could not believe it. I was so excited and that was another stepping stone for my business. It just told me that I am on the right path because if Beyonce is posting me on her site, then something…I can’t stop. I literally woke up and someone DM’ed me and they were like “Hey, did you know you are on Beyonce’s website,” and I was like “What?!” They don’t notify people. I think they assume that if you are on there, then someone is going to tell you when they see.
Q: What piece of advice would you give small business owners looking to use their voice in creating something unique and special?
My advice would be to use social media in a positive way. It’s free, free marketing. A lot of people say bad things and negative things about social media, but I have built up a pretty big brand basically on social media. That would be my advice, to keep up with the trends, follow the trends, pay attention to what goes viral and find ways to bring your business into that and make it your own.
Q: :Lastly, what has been your biggest accomplishment and what are you looking forward to this year with your business?
My biggest accomplishment is definitely opening my studio. I went on tour last year, and I went to multiple cities, and they told me my brand had good awareness outside of Houston, and that gave me even more drive to open my studio in Houston. And just opening my studio and seeing different people come in every week and be so happy and excited. That makes me really excited. So, I want to continue building that, and grow my Houston studio, and expand to other cities and even locations in Houston, just because I see the joy it brings other people. And of course I would like to be in retail stores.
Let us know where people can find more information about you and your products!
My website is kickymats.com. I am on Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok. Everything is @kickymats