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Katie's Art and Frames

By: Jan Morgan-Swegle

In all of our lives, there are things of beauty—things we treasure. Whether it’s a family portrait, remnants of military service, a romantic memory of a flower crushed between the pages of a book, or a favorite drawing from childhood in the distant past, we hold them close to us. Sometimes, we pass these things from generation to generation. Sometimes they stay tucked away in a photo album or locked drawer. But, sometimes, they find new life and purpose to be enjoyed by many for years to come.

I found some of these memories and treasurers when I went to Katie’s Art and Frame, located at 324 Village Road in Leland (behind Domino’s.) Katie Samsel is a Leland native who is also an artist who works in oil and acrylics. She is also an artist in how she presents the work and keepsakes of others. Katie works in the art of framing.

Katie got into the framing industry in 2006, learning from George Murray, an experienced framer who now owns the ice cream parlor next to the frame shop. She is a firm believer in preserving and conserving items we enjoy and she does that by encasing them in frames that match the style of the piece, but mainly matching them to the client’s taste and vision. Katie said, “At home, you need to surround yourself with things that bring you joy. When you do that, your home gives you peace and positive energy.”

You will find a strong commitment to customer service at Katie’s Art and Frame. All of the work is done in-house. A visit to the shop starts with a consultation. Katie learns how and where you want to display the piece, what styles appeal to you and how you envision the finished product. “Doing quality work is so important,” she explained. “Your client has to be happy with what they are taking home.”

“A consultation usually takes from 10 to 30 minutes,” she said. “You can’t be in a hurry when you are trying to determine what is important to your client. We look at mats, frames, shadowboxes and any number of ways to not only enhance the look of the item, but protect it as well. This area has a lot of humidity—people moving from up north might not be aware of how that can affect a painting or even a small sculpture. This is an investment you are making in something you value, so it has to be an effective solution for a long time.”

Katie and her team have seen an increase in people moving down to this area --they want the beach life and the beach look. The collective talents of Katie and her team have helped turn northern, traditional pieces of art into classy, upscale southern charm. Her coworkers, Amanda and Jennifer, are also artists whose creativity translates well into the framing business. They all have a sense of color and attention to detail that not only works well with various pieces, but helps them stand out. Katie hopes to train her son, Alex, also a talented artist, about the framing business so he can continue her dream one day.

As a single mother, as well as a business owner, it is important for Katie to show her children the rewards of hard work and dedication. During the pandemic, Katie began building her shop and her two boys often came there to do their remote school work. Katie said proudly, “Miki and Alex saw me put this whole thing together. They know how hard I work and they know I’m doing it to give them a good life. We’re a team.”

Katie and her business are thriving despite the supply chain issues that world events have caused. Katie explained that the broken links in the supply chain have sometimes increased her production time and expenses because of inventory delays.

“Because of the increased lead time, I always try to have a good supply of materials here in the shop,” she said. “I am in regular contact with distributors so I can keep clients updated on any delays They trust me to give them the best design for their art.”

Her assistant Amanda said, “I enjoy seeing the trust that Katie has built with her clients. If she’s not in the shop, they drop off their piece and say to just let Katie work her magic because they trust her to honor their priceless artwork and memories.”

Katie’s commitment to her clients is refreshing in this “big box” world. She is also part of the Leland Chamber of Commerce and stressed, “It’s so important to support small, local businesses these days.”

Going forward, Katie hopes to get back to painting. She said she paints “whatever strikes my soul,” which translates into water scenes, portraits, wildlife or other local scenery. You can find her work and that of other rotating local artists displayed in her shop for sale. So, if you don’t have that “perfect” piece of artwork for your home, you might find it at Katie’s.

Katie would eventually like to teach painting classes, do some specialized artistic workshops and help empower women so that more of them can take their passion and turn it into a thriving business like hers.

I asked if Katie had any advice for women who might want to start their own business. She said, “It’s like I tell my boys, stick to your authentic self. You can make anything happen if you work hard and believe in yourself. Success is a mindset—when you get knocked down, get back up. Take one challenge at a time, conquer it and move on. Follow your dreams.”

Katie has certainly followed her dreams. She treasures her family, her art and the success that she has achieved by following a simple formula—work hard and at the end of the day enjoy the kind of tired you get when you know you have done your best and made someone in this world treasure what you do.


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