We are ecstatic to have Kristara Schnippert as the newest member of #WomanofHouston. Kristara is the owner of Kristara Calligraphy, author of Creative Calligraphy, and freelance copywriter (not to mention, soon-to-be mommy). 2015 was a big year for Kristara. She started the year off as a successful full time copywriter for Hearst and part time calligraphy artist, but by early February she decided to switch the two roles and pursued her love for calligraphy full time and freelance copywriting. In August, I was honored to attend the opening of her calligraphy studio and just last month in November Kristara launched her calligraphy book!
You’ve had an impressive career as a copywriter; you’ve worked at Rehak, Schlumberger, Astadia, and Hearst! What is a copywriter and how did you get started?
Copywriters develop creative concepts and content that sell products and services. But we’re more than just writers. Advertising copywriters have to wear a lot of different hats. Over the years, I’ve written all sorts of things—taglines, print ads, brochures, books, websites, presentations, case studies, commercials, the list goes on. Each day is different, and that’s what I’ve always loved about being a copywriter.
Calligraphy is a lost art that is making a strong comeback. How did you get started in calligraphy? And what made you decided this was something you wanted to pursue full time?
When I was 12, I found a calligraphy book at my grandma’s house. I fell in love with how beautiful it was and I’ve been hooked ever since. So, not to date myself, but I’ve been practicing calligraphy for over 16 years. It’s a slow, beautiful, personal process—that’s what really drew me to it.
My business started very organically. Being in advertising, I was always surrounded by beautiful typography. Also, over the past few years, a lot of my friends and family have gotten married, so I helped them with their wedding calligraphy. I got to the point where I realized I was good enough to do calligraphy professionally (and I even had a lot more experience than a lot of professionals). So I decided to start my business and see what happened. My background in advertising has definitely helped along the way—it’s grown way faster than I ever dreamed.
You’ve recently opened up a calligraphy studio. Please tell us about the classes you offer and where we can sign up.
One of my favorite things to do is teach calligraphy. I teach several calligraphy classes a month, so I knew it made sense to invest in a dedicated space. Before, I had been temporarily renting a space, renting tables and chairs, and frantically setting everything up. Now I have everything set up exactly the way I want and I think it makes for a much better experience. You can see my latest class offerings on my website at kristara.co/calligraphy-classes
What would you say is the most challenging part about becoming an entrepreneur? The most rewarding?
The ad industry is well known for long, crazy hours. I naively thought that I would have a better work-life balance when I dedicated myself full time to my business. But in many ways, it’s actually gotten worse! It’s hard to say no to projects—and it’s even harder to disconnect from my business after work hours. You can find me updating my website, answering client calls/emails and fulfilling orders day and night—on holidays and weekends. When you own your own business, the work never stops.
Since starting my business, I’ve had some amazing opportunities. I’ve gotten to work with some huge brands like Omega, Kendra Scott and Madewell (eeek!). But more importantly, I’ve been able to make my family a bigger priority. Even though I work a lot, I can work from anywhere. My mom had to have surgery earlier this year, so I took a few weeks to be there with her. I have the flexibility to meet my husband for lunch whenever I feel like it. And I can bring my baby to work with me!
You have a book out! What inspired you to write Creative Calligraphy: A Beginner’s Guide to Learning the Basics of Pointed-Pen Calligraphy?
Even as a writer, I never thought I would write a book. But about a year ago, a publisher saw some of my work and reached out to see if I would be interested in writing an instructional book on modern calligraphy. It’s been one of the coolest things I’ve done in my professional career.
Where can we get our hands on your book?
My book is available in bookstores and craft stores around the country (as well as online retailers like Amazon). Click here to purchase her book.
Baby Elle is due in January! Congrats! Are you ready?
I don’t think I’ll ever feel completely ready, but I’m as ready as I’m going to be!
I have a not-so-secret obsession with HGTV and Home DIY blogs. So I’m always dreaming up projects to update our little bungalow and new ways to rearrange our furniture.
Work – I love J. Crew. I think it’s the perfect mix of dressy and casual. So that’s what you can always find me wearing. I love well-made, classic pieces that I can dress up with statement accessories like sparkly jewelry or colorful shoes.
Non-work – When I’m lounging around the house (or, let’s be honest, working late on a big project at the studio), I’m usually in comfy clothes like yoga pants from Lululemon.
Getting Ready in the morning:
In the mornings, I always slow down and have breakfast while checking emails, reading the news, or catching up on my favorite blogs. I just think it’s a great way to relax and start the day.
I’m a Sephora-holic. I’m always experimenting with new makeup and goodies. Lately I’ve been really into Tarte for their lipstick, cheek stains, and makeup brushes. I also love how shimmery Urban Decay’s eyeshadows are (sounds dramatic, but I don’t know how I lived without the Naked II palette). For hair, I reach for anything by Bumble & Bumble or Living Proof.
For me, food can’t get much better than a great pizza (if you’re in Houston, you HAVE to check out Luigi’s Pizzeria or Coltivare) and a glass of wine.
When I have time, I like to squeeze in a long run or some vinyasa yoga. Key phrase: when I have time.
Photos are unfiltered and unedited. Photography by A. Pham