When Kristin Loffer Theiss started her own business in 2005, she had been looking for a career that would let her use her creativity and would also let her be a parent. She began by making nursery decor, including handmade mobiles, and the fledgling business immediately took off.

“I hit it timing-wise with the maker’s movement,” she says. With an MFA in studio art, Theiss has experience in a wide range of art media, so she chose the business name KLT Works to cover whatever she might do. “I would never outgrow that name, because it’s whatever I make.”

Photograph by Jessamyn Tuttle

She currently focuses on fabrics, from tea towels to sweatshirts, printed with her own original designs. A native of Skagit Valley, she says her work is “very very locally inspired,” and the patterns and shapes she uses are taken from nature, from birds and insects to flowers and seedheads.

Many of her designs are created by using a sewing machine to “draw” on fabric. These pieces are made from a single strand of thread. She then converts those images to a screen for printing, so they can be available on T-shirts, hoodies, dish towels, or napkins. She also creates abstract patterns and prints them on large swathes of fabric.

Photograph by Jessamyn Tuttle

When she began selling T-shirts, she was having them printed elsewhere, but then found that she could print her fabrics at home using water based ink.

“I do everything myself,” she says. Sometimes that even includes delivery: During the pandemic she focused almost entirely on making masks out of her own fabric and sold them online, but hand delivered as many as she could as a way of staying in touch with people.

Theiss mostly sold wholesale for many years, but she has scaled back recently and is making more one-of-a-kind things. The online shop on her website can sometimes be empty during her busy seasons, as most of her work is sold at local outlets in Skagit and Whatcom counties. 

Currently her work can be found at the Lido Collective in downtown Mount Vernon year-round, while she and her husband Chris, also an artist, have a booth at Barkley Market and the Christianson’s Sunday Farmer’s Market in the summers, and at Gordon Skagit Farms on weekends in October. She started selling her work at Gordon Skagit Farms 14 years ago, as part of the now famous pumpkin farmstand run by Eddie Gordon and his family.

Photograph by Jessamyn Tuttle

“As his business grew, our business grew,” she says. “He’s my touchstone.” Looking ahead, Theiss is currently focusing on learning digital design, and has her patterns available on Spoonflower, with the hope of further products to come. However her business may change and grow, she’s focused on her artistic process.

“I’m a creative person who likes to make things. It’s a creative way of life for me,” she says. “It allows me to use every part of my brain, every part of my personality.” kristinloffertheiss.com

"I’m a creative person who likes to make things. It’s a creative way of life for me. It allows me to use every part of my brain, every part of my personality. - Kristen Loffer Theiss "