In celebration of Pride Month, we teamed up with Atlanta-based Tulipcake to create an exclusive collection of Pride-themed patches. These never-before-seen creations were designed and hand-manufactured by Tulipcake founder herself, Katie Culp. We sat down with the Atlanta-native to hear more about her inspiration and process.
How did you get started? How did your brand come about?
Although it’s mostly a one-woman-show, Tulipcake embroidery is very much a community-grown operation.
I worked for a while as a seamstress-for-hire, collaborating with other artists to build puppets, costumes, props, etc. All the while, my obsession with embroidery kept growing. I wanted the ability to create elaborate art with thread and to expand the resources of Atlanta’s maker community. So, after talking about it obsessively for years, it was pretty clear that the time had come to make it happen.
On day, an old friend wrote a personal check to cover my start-up costs. Shortly thereafter, another amazing woman allowed me to move my equipment into her space at The Workshop (a shared space for artists). And another talented young woman designed and built a website. As it turned out, my friends, family and colleagues were more than eager to spare their resources (advice, clients, art, food, clothing, labor, cash, etc.) to provide me the opportunity to do what I love to do.
Also, “Tulipcake” is an anagram of my name. Pretty cute, right?
Where/when do you feel the most creative? Tell us about your creative process.
The creative wheels are in constant motion - I’m nearly always thinking about embroidery. However, my process is directly linked to about 2 tons of stationary metal machinery, so my shop is my sacred space.
Most ideas begin as a flat sketch, and then are manually patterned as stitches in specialty software. Then, I go back and forth between the computer and my machines, adjusting the pattern little by little, back and forth, back and forth, until the stitching and thread colors are just right. Usually, the best ideas come to me as I’m putting on my jacket to walk out the door after a long day.
What’s unique about your brand? What differentiates you from competitors?
There’s no set menu of options, so the possibilities are nearly limitless. Not only are we able to embroider directly-to-garment, but we offer patch-making as well. And since we’re able to custom digitize and produce in-house, fast-turnaround and low-quantities are a reality. There’s plenty of embroidery to go around, so we work with other American industry-experts to ensure each project is worked on by the most capable minds and hands to meet your needs.
Is there a giveback/sustainable component to your business?
We regularly use upcycled fabric to minimize waste and enhance designs!
Alternative Apparel’s eco-jersey fabric makes for a beautiful textured background on our Eco patches, made in celebration of Earth Day. We’ve also used this technique to make a spectacular range of colorful patches for “Spread Joy”, the mission of Reggie Valentino.
We also purposefully seek out opportunities to work with women and women-owned businesses. Additionally, Tulipcake LLC regularly contributes to charitable organizations supporting women’s issues.
Describe your personal style/ Which Alternative items best fit your style?
I’d definitely describe myself as a “comfort-queen” - very simple and extremely practical. I wear mostly black or charcoal both as an aesthetic choice...and to disguise coffee spills - which cannot be avoided.
What’s next for you?
There’s a lot to look forward to - more patches, more polos, more high-visibility clothing and accessories… the to-do list is endless. Check us out on Instagram to find out about our progress in real-time @tulipcake.embroidery!