Text by Hannah Jones
It’s been said that artists simply interpret nature and the world around them, but what happened when one Southern artist incorporated this piece of nature into her art changed the face of her small business.
Katelyn Kozuch has always been an artist. After graduating from East Carolina University School of Art and Design, she pursued a career as a freelance artist, but her work really started to take off after her own wedding. “I continued to offer design and creative expertise to friends and family, ultimately becoming a ‘friendor,’” she says.
She started with painting and writing on the humblest material—rocks. “I would travel back and forth to the beaches of North Carolina, collecting and shipping these rocks,” she recalls. “I was known at the post office as the rock lady!” From there, the transition to oyster shells just seemed natural. With a few strokes of paint and gold embellishment, she spruces up nature’s creation to an artistic gem—pearl not included.
From chinoiserie to sea life to tie-dye and everything in between, the patterns inside Katelyn’s one-of-a-kind oyster shells are just as varied as their uses. A beautiful ring dish, handy salt bowl, or festive ornament—Katelyn has seen her art on display in almost every way. “Since their launch in 2019, Statement Oyster Shells have quickly become my signature item,” she says. “These pieces take their cue from North Carolina’s shorelines and exude Southern charm.”
To add to the charm, Katelyn hasn’t changed how she’s made the beauties since day one. She still handcrafts each one by herself in her home in Washington, North Carolina. It’s that exquisite attention to detail that could be one reason why these shells have had such enormous success. “I’d never seen anything like it when I made these, so to say I wasn’t even prepared for the over 4,000 likes my first Instagram post of these beauties drummed up is an understatement,” she says.
In addition to the Statement Oyster Shells, Katelyn also produces stationary, prints, and custom-made pieces. “I never thought my hobby would become a successful business that I love doing every day,” she says. “But I feel very lucky that it has!”