I’m an artist and business owner with a passion for making art accessible, storytelling, and a love for all things spooky. Key & Crow Studios is the home for all of my creative endeavors, providing the framework for managing my projects and avenues of income. The central core of the business is the shop where I sell products I design, specializing in enamel pins, keychains, and stickers. I also do commission work, along with some yet-to-be-released projects. To date, I have four successful Kickstarter campaigns under my belt (including one that raised almost 17k) and closing in on a thousand sales on Etsy.

I come from the world of fine arts, having completed a little over half of my credits to receive my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (which has unfortunately been put on hold for the time being due to various complications that started when the pandemic cut things short for me). As a queer and disabled maker, my identity and lived experiences shape every aspect of my life– especially when it comes to my business. These immutable qualities are something that I take pride in and celebrate while simultaneously recognizing and pushing back against the barriers to entry they bring to anything, but especially career and business. 

In some ways, being disabled is what paved the way for Key & Crow Studios to be what it is today, even formally existing as an entity in the first place: It’s not an uncommon way to begin this story– it starts back with the advent of the pandemic and having my time at school cut short as a result. Going to an art school with a focus in media that is in no way conducive to taking online courses, I opted to instead go on a medical leave of absence to attend to pressing health issues that required multiple surgeries. 

Unfortunately for me, the last of three planned procedures became the first in a string of complications for the same disease. Plagued by infections, ripped sutures, surgical sites reopening, you name it, I was left bedridden and prevented from returning to school time and time again. Due to the nature of the disease, I couldn’t even sit; I eventually figured out a sort of modified lateral recumbent position to allow for activities such as using my laptop, writing, and drawing. Picture Micelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’, but with a MacBook adorned in stickers in hand accompanied by a small fluffy dog.

In the midst of this struggle and some version of cabin fever– a fervent need to do something– I threw myself into researching enamel pin manufacturing and how to run a Kickstarter campaign. Something of a magpie [or, more accurately given my branding, a crow], enamel pins have enamored my eyes since I discovered the world of pin trading at Disney World as a kid. Years down the line I found the world of artisan enamel pins and what could be done with them as an art form, while also making art as a product accessible to the general buyer. Designing enamel pins was something I’d had an interest in doing for around five years at that point, I just hadn’t had the time to devote to it before.

And at this pivotal moment in my time on this earth, time was really all I had. I needed to turn the oppressive weight of the days, the months, the years into something worthwhile. Something I could make something out of. 

In March of 2021 through some trial and error, along with a fairly slow process due to my physical limitations, I designed a set of pins based off of a previous project that had been very well received and threw my very first Kickstarter out into the world– the “Perfectly Normal Deer Collection”. I set aside my anxieties about how the project would be received or performed and put in the work to promote and update the project through its duration, and it was a smashing success. All five pin designs, along with an acrylic charm that was added to the campaign as a bonus, were funded and produced.

Rewards fulfilled, bookkeeping taken care, thank you’s liberally distributed, I took a moment to appraise the state of things and realized this was something I could really grow. Key & Crow Studios Ltd. was officially filed and organized a small business with only the future ahead. Since then, we are closing in at nearly a thousand sales on Etsy with glowing reviews, sales on the independent site, and four successful Kickstarter campaigns under my belt.