Many of you have asked to learn more about the models who don our badass gear. We listened and we’re sharing. So many of the amazing people we work with have stories much bigger than undies. During this year, we will share them with you. Say hello to our latest model, Katie Kuffel, the musician who marches to the beat of her own drum.
I heard you grew up on an island!
Yes! Born and raised in Pacific Northwest on Bainbridge Island. It’s a short ferry ride away from Seattle.
What was it like growing up on a small island?
I felt really lucky growing up there. I spent a lot of time gardening and wandering around the woods. Plus, I got to play sports with my brothers.
How did life lead you into music?
I still remember- first grade in Mrs. Ramsey's music class. It was show and tell day. This boy played this old man and London bridge is falling down on his cello. I loved it! But, I was at that age where kids do not really stick to anything. I had to ask my parents for two years to persuade them to a get a cello. Once I got it, I stuck to it and never gave it up. Then, I inherited a piano. That lead to writing music. A lot of my music is self taught. I play mostly by ear. And a I play everything- classical, Django and bluegrass. My family has been very supportive. I’m the only musician. They appreciate the arts, but are all tone deaf (laughs).
Where have you taken your music?
When I went to college, I thought I was being responsible by not making music my major, but then ended up pursuing a degree in ethnomusicology. The down side was a lot of music scenes in colleges aren't great unless they are super-classical and ridged. I ended up transferring, but was met with the same challenges. So, I decided to discontinue school and try my hand at making music for a living. There's a lot of hustling and learning on the job. I am getting more and more active every day. I am especially involved in the queer arts scene. You see, you’re your own product. I had to learn marketing strategies, contracts, etc. You learn fast because you get screwed over. It's definitely not something everyone can do. That's entirely your whole purpose. I am self-managed. I don’t have to answer to anyone. But, there’s also a lack of security. You have to keep going.
What type of work do you do to keep the dream alive?
You have to do a bit of everything. I am a solo artist. I teach. I accompany other bands. I do studio gigs. You begin to love the exhaustion. You get addicted to it. A new thing is I just started playing for weddings. Those can be stressful because everybody is stressed.
Did you ever get a bridezilla, or maybe even a groomzilla?
No major meltdowns. I have forgotten equipment, though. That means going through a phone to find friends within a 20 mile radius. Knock on wood, nothing horrible yet.
Yeah, that would stress me out. How would you describe your music?
I am lumped into groups like Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, even Carole King. I play 2-5 shows a month in Pacific Northwest. I just started playing with an upright bass player. He is very talented and driven. I have been able to create one full length album funded through a Kickstarter.
How did you get into modeling?
I have friends who went to school for photography and asked me. Through word of mouth it kind of feel in my lap. It is incredibly flattering. I was really surprised and excited that people wanted more diverse models. There has been acknowledgment of wanting to see more diversity. People are more aware of what people look like in real life. There are still a lot of things wrong with the industry, but it’s gaining momentum. People shouldn't look like anything but themselves.
What was it like growing up a tomboy?
I have always marched to the beat of my own drum. I had a lot of freedom as a child and was quite a trouble maker. I played lots of sports and loved seeing the crazy landscapes of our natural world. I used to have really long hair and cut it all off on a whim. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t going to be defined by it. It was a big step for me and my own style.
Who is a tomboy you admire?
My mom. She is an incredibly hard worker. Pregnant at 19, went to college and built a career while being an awesome mom. I think we owe a lot to our mothers.