The Art of Letter Writing: Meet the Artist Behind Kathryn Hastings & Co.

The Art of Letter Writing: Meet the Artist Behind Kathryn Hastings & Co.
Credit: Kay Collier/Kathryn Hastings & Co.

Artist Kay Collier, also known as Kathryn Hastings, revives the lost art of letter writing with her elegant collections of wax seals, stationery and letter-writing tools. Kay’s designs are ideal for personal and special-occasion correspondence, such as wedding invitations.

With a keen eye for detail and a dedication to preserving traditional techniques, Kay’s work is a testament to the appeal of handwritten letters in our digital age.

In her interview, Kay shares how she thoughtfully designs each piece to evoke a sense of nostalgia and sophistication. Keep reading to learn more about her artistry.

Credit: Kay Collier/Kathryn Hastings & Co.

How did you get started in the art of letter writing?

I’ve always been a letter writer. My grandmother taught me to write letters, and when I went to boarding school for high school, I became a pretty prolific letter writer then because I had friends at home. When I went home during the summers, I’d write letters to my friends from boarding school who were at their homes. 

When I was 19, I did kind of a grand tour of Europe. I went to find the oldest paper. There’s multiple people that claim to be the oldest paper in Europe, but the most famous oldest paper in Europe is on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It was there I got my first wax seal, and then I collected modern seals for a while. However, I like collecting antiques, and then just one day I was like, I wonder if there’s such a thing as an antique wax seal. I stumbled upon it, and the first piece I ended up collecting was a pretty historic piece without me knowing it. And then I was hooked, and I collected for a long time. 

I really believe that not only should we have these antique objects in our lives and like, integrate history with the modern times, but that it’s meant to be shared. And seals have that quality. If somebody’s, you know, making something artistic, they don’t keep it in their house, right? It’s going on a letter, and it’s going out in the world. And with my own antique collection, I didn’t want it to be something that I just had to enjoy myself in with letters with my friends. So that’s when I decided to start sharing the collection. And then it just came to my idea of like, okay, well, I don’t want to be an antique dealer. Because I like keeping the seals that I have. But I could create these collections, using my seals and sell them that way. So it came together organically.

Credit: Kay Collier/Kathryn Hastings & Co.

When did you realize that you could start a business?

For me, it wasn’t simply about transforming my passion into a business. It was a deeper realization: that I could confidently claim my space in the world as an artist. Once I understood that I could share my art with others, it felt like a natural progression. While art and design always take precedence for me, much like many artists who have paved the way, there remains an intrinsic interplay between art and commerce when showcasing one’s creations to the world.

How do you define success for your business?

I gauge success through two primary measures. Firstly, it’s the daily joy and passion I feel—to create pieces that resonate with me and to maintain the zeal for crafting is essential. Secondly, it’s the meaningful interactions I have, especially with my patrons. I genuinely believe that the art of letter writing and wax-seal crafting can profoundly enrich the world. I’m convinced that those who discover this art form will unearth a unique haven of beauty and serenity in their lives. Feeling content within myself, coupled with the testimonials about how my work has touched others, stand as my ultimate benchmarks for success.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Inspiration surrounds me, but it often originates from within. My emotions act as the guiding compass, helping me decipher the aspects of myself that are elusive to words. Once I grasp the essence of what I wish to convey, a tangible form naturally emerges. I’m deeply influenced by the traditions of art history, with a particular fondness for Renaissance and Baroque paintings. The opulence of Baroque artistry provides a wealth of ideas, leading me to embellish wax seals with elements like tassels and pearls, invoking a touch of elegance. At times, I gaze at the world and ponder how it might be captured in the confines of a seal. This contemplation gave birth to my ‘Tiny Worlds Seals,’ encapsulating vast landscapes within the petite canvas of wax seals.

Credit: Kay Collier/Kathryn Hastings & Co.

What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started your business?

Embrace the time required for growth. The patience in nurturing a dream allows you to craft it precisely to your liking. The more time you invest, the clearer your preferences become. However, don’t let this delay your start. Create and venture forth daily until you discover your direction.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start selling their art or creative product?

Dive in. While it may seem necessary to master business intricacies before selling art, remember: your art is sellable. I advise artists to focus on their primary selling platform, ideally their website. While other platforms can aid artists, owning your website design offers the unique opportunity to curate the exact experience you want to convey with your art, and you won’t need to pay hefty commissions to host platforms.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

Many might be taken aback to learn about my past as a freestyle skier and yoga teacher. Yet, these elements are intrinsically tied to my craft. For me, mogul skiing is one of the purest forms of creative expression. It necessitates a natural, instinctual grasp of movement, reacting to the snow’s whims spontaneously. There’s an undeniable flow I experience when skiing moguls, akin to the fluidity I feel when creating art. 

Yoga, on the other hand, has honed my connection with my body and deepened my meditation. This has opened pathways to my intuition, facilitating self-healing. I firmly believe that every genuine artist possesses a healer’s touch, and yoga seamlessly complements the heart-driven essence of my work.

As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?

Perfectionism lights the initial spark of my work, serving as an inspiration. It shapes my vision, acting as a guiding North Star. However, its influence is mostly confined to the beginning of my process, seldom hindering my creations. I firmly believe that true perfection is borne from experience. Instead of letting the pursuit of perfection restrain me, I visualize the epitome of beauty and continue crafting until my vision comes to life. For me, perfectionism stems from a wellspring of pure self-love, not self-criticism or loathing.

Credit: Kay Collier/Kathryn Hastings & Co.

What’s something that surprised you about running a creative business?

It astonishes me how my business has ushered such incredible individuals into my life. I’m now surrounded by friends I couldn’t have envisioned before. Realizing there are others who share my fervor for nuances, which might seem mundane to somelike the craftsmanship of a 400-year-old wax seal or the nuances of a specific blue shade for conveying emotions—is heartwarming. Through my business, I discovered a safe space with fellow creatives.

What’s your advice for handling the highs and lows of running a business?

Instead of merely navigating life’s ebbs and flows, I advocate for seeking a skilled astrologer. It’s fascinating how my choices and business trajectories have often aligned with the cosmic patterns in my astrological chart. While it may not resonate logically for everyone, it provides me with a unique lens to interpret the world. This perspective frames challenges as opportunities for self-growth and successes as acknowledgments of my personal evolution.

Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?

Criticism has come my way, but I realize not everyone will resonate with my work. Some might not grasp its essence, and that’s okay. I believe it’s impossible to appeal to everyone; we all have diverse tastes. Rather than dwelling on critics, I see it as a numbers game: for every person who may not appreciate my art, I’m a step closer to someone who will find it indispensable. After all, the world is vast, and the right audience is out there. Every piece of feedback, good or bad, means I’m reaching a wider audience, bringing me closer to those who truly connect with my work. 

What’s a cause you are passionate about?

Preventing malaria is a paramount charitable cause due to its direct impact on saving lives, especially children under five. Did you know that dollar for dollar, Malaria prevention saves the most lives globally? Donations to malaria prevention, particularly for insecticide-treated nets, offer cost-effective solutions with tangible, trackable results. By supporting this cause, not only are you curbing the spread of a deadly disease, but you’re also empowering communities, fostering economic growth, and promoting education. In essence, a contribution to malaria prevention is an investment in a brighter, healthier future for countless individuals. You can learn more about the Against Malaria Foundation at

Can you share the name of a supplier or vendor that you use for your business that you just loveone that makes running your business a bit easier? 

Yes! I love ShippingEasy. The platform is easy to use, and the customer service is top-notch!

What brings you joy?

I cherish the fleeting moments in life, particularly those shared with my husband and children, as well as the hours spent amongst fellow creatives or immersed in my own artistry. The privilege of existing on this earth and partaking in the creation and admiration of beauty fills me with profound joy.

Thanks, Kay! You can learn more about her work at

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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