This Friday, a|dash is thrilled to introduce y'all to mother-daughter duo, Lori and Kirsten Schmidtke! This pair blew us away with their creativity, drive, and passion. Their unique, fashionable jewelry brand is designed to give wearers a sense of self-identity. While crafting their jewelry, Lori and Kirsten hold themselves to standards of sustainability to make the world a great place for the innovators of the future. With Klas squared, the pair combines elegance and sustainability...what more could you ask for? Anyways, that's enough from us! Let's hand the reigns over to Lori and Kirsten for a peek into their motivations, inspirations, and more!
Mother-daughter duo Lori Schmidtke and Kirsten Schmidtke are the beauty and brains behind fashion accessories brand Klas squared. Born from a need to be creative, to leave an impact, and to build something to call their own, the pair teamed up to develop designs that make women feel joyful, feminine, and powerful. Together, these two women have learned that the potential of working together far exceeds what they could achieve individually. By acknowledging one’s weaknesses were the other’s strengths, they soon realized the impact of working together ultimately discovering the Power of Two.
Our name is rooted in our brand’s aesthetic of classic and modern design. Klas squared wearers want to exude class and by using a play on language and math, Klas to the power of two or in other words, Klas squared, was inspired. This concept of exponential klas led to the Power of Two and the force which drives us to continue to build our brand and inspire our customer’s style. Your personal style is a sneak peek into your soul; a sacred place that leads you to self- expression, self-awareness, and self-confidence. We believe that accessories have the power to make that personal connection while elevating your look from ordinary to extraordinary.
At Klas squared, we ensure our designs are functional and fashionable without compromising quality. It is important that our pieces are not only timeless in aesthetic, but can stand the test of time due to the quality of materials and craftsmanship. Our jewelry is designed from a palette of sterling silver, 18k gold filled, Swarovski crystals and pearls, and semi-precious stones, all hand crafted by our Lead Designer, Lori. Klas squared continues to use sustainable processes, practices, and materials in designing each collection to ensure we are making the world a better place for the women who lead us today and will lead us tomorrow.
What drove you to become an entrepreneur? Do you envision Klas as your only entrepreneurial endeavour or do you have future entrepreneurial plans/goals?
Lori - I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life. After graduating from fashion design school, I began designing knitwear which eventually transformed into designing and making children’s clothes as I started to have a family. Everything was designed, sourced, and created locally. I sewed every piece in my home studio.
Klas squared marked another transformation as I decided to retire the sewing machine and channel my creativity into designing jewelry. I see everything through a lens: colour, shape, and composition. Whether it’s admiring nature, fashion, contemporary art or travel, I’m always envisioning it as a piece of jewelry. I would love to see our designs expand into other lines of accessories in the (near) future!
Kirsten - Kirsten was drawn to the colour, detail and composition of fashion, falling in love with its ability to transform your mood, your energy, and your confidence. While leading a successful corporate career, she was drawn to join forces with Lori, her mom, for an opportunity to make a mark and leave an impact. Kirsten is currently working on a new project where she plans to help people like herself who have creative small businesses while working full-time. You can join her community on Facebook (The Creative Connection Network) and follow along as she hopes to turn it into a business of its own!
Who are some women who inspire you daily, personally or professionally?
Lori - Arlene Dickinson, her authenticity and always sharing through a lens of real life - both the ups & downs. Diane Von Furstenberg, she is fascinating - her wisdom, courage, not to mention her genius as a fashion designer. It was a surreal moment when we were shopping in her store in NYC and she appeared giving instructions to the staff as they prepared for fashion week!!
Kirsten - Julianne Hough, growing up as a dancer, I have forever been a fan of hers and even more so now as she is leading her own entrepreneurial journey with Kinrgy and Fresh Vine Wine. Brené Brown, absolutely everything she says is so profound and yet absolutely accessible. I find her inspiring and thought-provoking.
Who has been the most influential woman (women) in your life, in becoming the person you are today, helping you discover and pursue your passions?
Together, we've learned that the potential of working together far exceeds what we could achieve individually. By acknowledging one’s weaknesses were the other’s strengths, we soon realized the impact of working together ultimately discovering the Power of Two.
Lori – Kirsten helped challenge me around the business and operations of Klas squared and to understand how technology can support us - it’s a lot to learn but I wouldn’t be at this point without her. She also encourages me to dream big - having worked alone for so many years, it is inspiring to have a co-creator who brings another perspective!
Kirsten - Without a doubt my mom has had the most influence on who I am today. Whether it was moving to California out of high school to pursue dance, to being successful in my career, or to developing a distinct sense of style - she had a hand in all of those things. Without her lighting a match, there are a lot of opportunities that might have otherwise passed me by.
Is there anything that you wish/hope will be different for girls growing up than it is/was for you?
We want girls to feel empowered to speak up for themselves and what’s right.
We want girls to see themselves represented in leadership across industries (this one is close to Kirsten’s heart as a graduate of Biochemistry, and having built a career in Technology).
What has been your proudest moment personally or professionally?
Lori - In the late-80s, a couple of years after starting my children’s clothing business, I was to be featured in the newspaper. My children were modeling the clothes. I slept on the floor of the family room because I wanted to hear when the newspaper was delivered.
Kirsten - Buying camp. My lakefront cottage property was literally a dream come true. I had bought my downtown condo 5 years prior and never imagined as a single woman, I’d be able to have a second property as well. I had dreamed of having a cottage on the lake since I was 12 years old and my grandparents sold theirs. It is my happy place and where I find space and inspiration for new dreams.
What has been your most challenging moment personally or professionally and how did you overcome that challenge?
Lori - Balancing working from home and being a mom/CEO of the household, and learning to create boundaries
Kirsten - Leaving my first business as an entrepreneur, co-founder/owner of a dance studio. I got back to dancing for myself by taking classes, workshops, and performing again.
What does wellness mean to you?
Lori - Being creative.
Kirsten - To me, wellness is being multi-passionate; I am a founder, writer, and dancer. Additionally, being a student of spirituality and wellness, and being a community builder are important for my personal wellness.
What does your typical daily wellness routine look like?
Lori - I start every morning with a cup of tea and end everyday with self-reflection: sometimes journaling, gratitude, mantra writing. Getting off tech and reading a book before bed.
Kirsten - My wellness routine seems to continue to expand, but it works! First thing in the morning I have a glass of lemon water followed by yoga practice (asana, breath work, & meditation). I usually journal, then make myself a cup of coffee and read for a little bit before turning on any of my devices. At night, I have a cup of herbal tea and leave my phone at my desk when I head to bed to read.
If you could sit with any woman (or women), dead or alive, on a long-haul flight, who would it be? And why?
Lori - Diane Von Furstenberg and my Grandma Tillberg (my Dad’s mom). As I mentioned above, I find DVF fascinating and inspiring. On the other hand, I would love to talk to my grandmother about her life as a child immigrating to Canada from England.
Kirsten - Michelle Obama because we’d have endless things to talk about like women in the workplace, equality, health and fitness.