Sometimes life works in mysterious ways, and we meet the right people at the right time. Connected by plants and their growth mindset, it was a friendship destined to bloom into something magical…
As a little girl, Katie Rike could be kept occupied for hours if just given a marker and some paper. Often she preferred sitting in the grass picking flowers rather than play with other kids at recess. Now into adulthood, she realized that is still exactly how she needs to spend her time —sitting amongst nature and creating. For some years she was also focused on photojournalism, pushed by her desire to create change in this world through images and travel. Katie is an artist, photographer, flower enthusiast, as well as the illustrator and co-creator of the book Grow, Florecita, Grow.
Grow, Florecita, Grow is a bilingual poem that takes the reader on the journey of the growth of a flower. Beginning as a seed, the flower grows despite the adversity it faces, constantly turning towards the light, and in the end blooms to unleash its beauty. The book delivers an inspirational message in the form of a metaphor, which aims to inspire the reader to connect with the innate power within themselves and bloom just as flowers do. Although aimed at children, the book is appropriate for all ages, as it shares a lesson that you are never too young or too old to learn.
Just like the journey of a flower, Grow, Florecita, Grow started out as a book, but flourished into something much more than that.
Katie met Mayra Stewart, the author and co-creating business partner of the book, while in college at San José State University, where they were both studying Sociology. They had an instant connection, much stronger than they could ever possibly imagine. Grow, Florecita, Grow was born while Katie was living in Madrid, Spain. She had been having many conversations over the phone with Mayra, as they each, separately, had been wanting to launch their own businesses. They began connecting over this while continents apart, still under the impression that their businesses would be separate from one another’s. Somewhere during those conversations, clearly sharing the same desires and mastermind, Florecita was born. Mayra emailed Katie this poem and she immediately fell in love. “It was like she had read my mind and put it into beautiful words,” says Katie. They had finally found the answer they had both been looking for, they realized this was the business they both desired. In fact, Florecita became much more than just a book, she is a brand and movement herself. Mayra and Katie have been expanding Florecita into clothing, various worksheets, and coloring sheets. They are also planning to create a Florecita educational curriculum based on her values of mental, physical, health and environmental well-being.
“Flowers make for our greatest teachers in life, while plenty of them also make for powerful medicine for us to consume. Mayra has inspired me to connect deeper with flowers as teachers and medicine, which for me is something so powerful and magical.”
I had the pleasure to interview Katie to find out more about her inspirations, her story, and more. And of course, the story of Florecita won’t end there, Mayra’s interview will be coming soon. Here is Katie’s interview:
“For me, Florecita is a focus on healing through individual creativity, and the power of our personal stories “-Katie Rike
Describe your creative process.
My creative process is pretty simple. I just need a quiet space of solitude to be able to connect to that juicy state of flow. I prefer, of course, to be around trees/plants, have fresh air, and a comfortable place to work.
What form of art media did you use to create your illustrations for Grow, Florecita, Grow?
To illustrate Grow, Florecita, Grow, I used the Adobe Sketch App on my iPad with a traditional stylus. However, I have grown quite a bit since then as an illustrator and have been using Procreate with an Apple Pencil for everything now which makes digital drawing much more fun and easy.
How is your personality reflected in your work?
I’m often looking for the beauty in things and people, and I think that is displayed in my work, regardless of the medium.
You and Mayra worked on Grow, Florecita, Grow when you were living in two different countries. Did you face any challenges in working at such a large distance from your business partner/author?
At the time, we had not yet agreed to go into business together, so our work together was very organic. Our collaborations then were simply bouncing ideas off each other and moving completely from inspiration. Because we didn’t yet have to tend to all the nitty-gritty details of growing a business, I don’t recall facing many challenges during this time. She sent me the poem, and I sent her back pages throughout the process to get some feedback, but we weren’t even too concerned with the printing process or anything else. It was just creative and fun.
What surprised you the most about the process of making and publishing the Grow, Florecita, Grow?
I really didn’t realize it would be such a big endeavor! I figured we’d just upload the book to any company that prints and ships on demand, which for us would mean no inventory and no financial investments. The surprise came when I discovered Stone Paper from a book in my local library. We fell in love with it and became committed to this soft, durable, super eco-friendly paper that took us on a whole other ride.
How did you realize that Grow, Florecita was more than just a book?
It was clear that both Mayra and I had a great love for flowers, plants, herbs, and the concept of growth mindsets. For some time, we made a great attempt at continuing to build her herbal tea company, while also working on Florecita. The split focus was overwhelming, and we finally decided that Florecita held the most energy to move forward with. Our ideas have been completely ENDLESS in regards to Florecita’s expansion and all of the ways she can be expressed. Florecita is a movement, and the book is one expression of that; it can even be understood as a mantra representing a Florecita mindset.
You have been expanding Florecita into clothing, product, and various worksheets and coloring sheets. How did you come up with the idea of creating worksheets and coloring sheets?
I’ve probably always wanted to create coloring sheets of some sort, but the idea to do some based off Florecita may have come from sending Mayra’s little sister black and white drawings for her to color. She’s 11 but I showed her what app I used to illustrate/color and she would then text me what she wanted. I’d draw some things up and send them over to her. Quarantine is what pushed me to begin making sheets available for families and people at home, looking for new things to do with their time.
You mentioned your passion for photography and how for years you focused on photojournalism. I had to go on your website to take a look, and I must say your photos are very powerful and really do tell a story. How has photography transformed you as a person?
Photography has shifted the way I see the world in many ways. I’ve learned that everyone has a story to tell with their own unique perspective and experiences. To me, this makes just about everyone an interesting person to meet, and every city or neighborhood an interesting place to visit.
Would you say that your passion for taking photos has influenced your art? If yes, how?
Absolutely, photography has helped to train my eye. I’m very aware of colors, patterns, and interesting little details around me that may easily go overlooked. In general, I think it has made me more aware of the beauty that is everywhere.
What is the one thing that an illustrator/artist must keep in mind when illustrating a book?
Just focus on one little chunk at a time! Chances are that you’ll never finish the whole thing at once, so it’s important to just do whatever little bits you feel inspired to do, without putting pressure on yourself to go in a certain order or get it all done as quick as possible. That being said, done is better than perfect! I’ve been learning and reminding myself that everything is forever evolving, never finished, never perfect so just get it done and move on to the next project!
You mentioned that you had learned that many flowers make for powerful medicine for us to consume. Could you share what flowers you like to use medically?
Yes, Mayra has been a huge influence on me with understanding flowers as medicine. Echinacea, Calendula, Dandelion, Passionflower, Hibiscus, and Rose to name a few. These are all such beautiful looking flowers, delicious, and incredibly healing for different reasons. We occasionally share the details of certain flower powers on our Instagram @GrowFlorecita
What other interests and hobbies do you have?
I’ve recently discovered a new love for food! It’s been really exciting to learn about different superfoods and to get reacquainted with brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Delicious, healthy, high vibrational meals that are also aesthetically pleasing (and topped with edible flowers!) has become a huge interest of mine these days.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
Being able to express myself creatively, especially in ways that bring joy and inspiration to people.
What’s next for you?
I’ve got pretty big visions and ideas, so I’m just allowing things to unfold day by day, I suppose you could say I’m just like a flower!