Kayla French knew from a young age that she was an artist. “Art has always been a sense of home for me,” she explained to us, “I’ve always loved art and just any way that I can create art. We’d have sleepovers and they’d wake up on Saturday mornings excited to watch Saturday morning cartoons and I’m like, ‘Let’s go paint something. Let’s paint rocks and hide them around the neighborhood.’” Kayla’s passion for the arts grew throughout her life and from this, Made by Clayla was born.
An Iowa Native, Kayla describes herself as a “family photographer, doting aunt, graduate student pursuing my MS in clinical mental health counseling, and a polymer clay artist,” who values her family and friends above all. Through their support and influence, she discovered a love for creating and sharing her work. Kayla has a special connection to polymer clay, as she shared, “The first time I ever worked with polymer clay was with my aunt and she has since passed away, so I do have a little bit of an extra special connection to the medium just because she first introduced it to me when we made Christmas tags. It was super fun, but we ended up burning them all in the oven. So my first experience was, you know, less than perfect.” Her aunt is her biggest inspiration and she encouraged Kayla to create and reminded her that mistakes are okay.
Now, Made by Clayla is known for her unique jewelry that incorporates polymer clay and other elements into beautiful designs. From her earrings that portray the Aurora Borealis to quirky original designs, each of her pieces is handmade with complete love and care and values sustainability and affordability. Kayla describes her art as “intentional, colorful, and eclectic,” and here at LocalGood we love her individuality and clear passion for every creation. Not to mention, her incredibly kind personality.
Made by Clayla started as an entrepreneurial endeavor and turned into success, with Kayla taking the leap to start her own business. In its initial establishment, she admits that while it felt like a big risk, it ended up being the biggest reward. Because of her business, Kayla was finally able to recognize herself as a skilled and brilliant artist, who chose to take a bet on herself. Kayla expresses, “By opening up myself to my own artistry that had been hidden inside of me, I was also opening up myself to the world. The positive feedback my business has received has meant truly so much to me. Late nights of creating have led to an income during the pandemic, a means of sustaining myself financially as I pursue graduate school, and a path to give back to the community through charitable donations.”
By receiving support from her local community, Kayla has grown as an artist and individual, and values giving back to everyone who has helped her succeed. Her friends and family are very involved in her business, helping her set up booths at arts markets, modeling her jewelry in the pictures she posts, and even sending her inspiration when she’s feeling down or in a creative block. She wouldn’t be where she is today without the endless support from her friends and family.
This journey for Kayla has been unlike any other, as she was not only able to grow her small business but also to grow as a person and become more confident in herself and her artwork. She has truly blossomed into a well-rounded artist with crazy talent. Kayla shares, “It’s been a really great journey for me that all started with me burning pieces of clay in the oven.”