Kristen Crumbley was looking for something new when her maternity leave ended after the birth of her second child a couple of years ago. After working in the mental health field for more than 10 years, her old job was no longer available. She also needed a change.
"I wanted to do something I really liked and be creative," said Crumbley, a mom of two in Raleigh. "I wanted to do something that was fun for me everyday and so it led to this."
"This" is KC Batik, Crumbley's online stores selling custom-made batik T-shirts, onesies, pajamas and more for infants to adults. Crumbley has always been artistic and creative, picking up the passion from her grandmother.
Crumbley started experimenting with batik, a process that involves making colored designs on fabrics using dyes and wax. Her first T-shirt, she admits, was "disastrous." But she kept trying, perfecting her technique and creating new designs. Crumbley has made a T-shirt a day since August.
She has since launched a shop on Etsy and a Facebook page to spread the word about her products, which include everything from T-shirts with Darth Vader and Big Foot on it to hearts and flowers, along with custom designs that are created when a customer provides a photo or drawing.
She always includes a little something on the back or sleeve of the T-shirt too. They are adorable details - a little mouse running down the sleeve of a shirt with an owl on the front, for instance.
Batik is much different from screen printing. Instead of stamping out a dozen shirts at a time, Crumbley said it can take three days, working a few hours each day, to complete one shirt because of the process that involves dyes, wax, curing, boiling, among the many steps. Her shirts range in price between $25 and $35.
She does all of her work when her younger child, age 2, is taking a nap or down for the night.
"It's tight," she admits of her work hours. "It's crunch time the whole time."
Crumbley has big dreams for KC Batik. She'd love to open a store where people could buy T-shirts or even make their own.
"I do love it," she said. "And there are so many possibilities. You could do anything you wanted on a T-shirt."
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