June 2016, Witness at Work

Kelli Knight: Graphic Designer, Author and Mom

What the World Needs Now

by Sharon Furrate Bailey
Kelli Knight, owner of Illuminated Designs Studio. Photo by Tina B. Photos: www.tinabphotos.com
Kelli Knight, owner of Illuminated Designs Studio. Photo by Tina B. Photos: www.tinabphotos.com

Kelli Knight has been a graphic designer for 21 years. She started her graphics business, Illuminated Designs Studio, after serving as the public relations assistant for the American Red Cross in Southeast Louisiana for two years. She worked for the ARC while living in New Orleans, but while out on maternity leave with her son, there were many management changes implemented by a new CEO. The dynamics of the local operations had been reorganized and were no longer a good fit.

Kelli says she felt this was a sign from God that it was time for a new direction. Her husband took a job with LSU and her family moved back to Baton Rouge where she decided to begin her graphic design business. Kelli says that she feels blessed to have each of her clients and to be designing and assisting them daily with their graphics needs because not only has her career allowed her to be creative, but it has also allowed her to be a hands-on mom to her two children, Aidan and Lilli. To her, being a mom is her most cherished job.

Kelli believes what the world needs now is patience and kindness, two attributes that she truly believes have helped her maintain long-lasting relationships with her clients. Through word of mouth she continues to build her clientele, which is partly due to her ability to exude patience to others. When one is dealing with a client’s marketing needs, it is paramount to listen to that person and strive to get the project completed to his or her specifications.

Kelli shared a motto she lives by, “If someone is asking for help, it means that person needs help.” This is the reason that she volunteers her time, and another reason that people are drawn to her both as a friend and designer. Kelli and I have also worked together on graphic design projects over the years and her patience is like a salve to those working with her. She has the ability to soothe and calm clients and make one feel at peace, as well as an uncanny ability to assure clients that all things will work together.

Kelli currently has a number of projects in the works for various clients, some new and some old, but the blessings continue to find her. A little more than one year ago, Beth Townsend, publisher of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine, found Kelli, and she has been designing the magazine since its inaugural issue.

Kelli is a witness to others and here is her own personal story of faith:

Q: As a Catholic, what do you feel has impacted your life over the years and what makes the Catholic faith so special for you?

A: I was raised in the Catholic faith and there are many things about being Catholic that keep me fulfilled. St. Jude is my parish and the main thing I like about being part of the congregation is the sense of community that it brings to my family and me. Every morning I recite the rosary. I have a strong connection to the Blessed Mother and feel that this meditative time is a positive start to my day. I feel she and her son are watching over my family and me. I attend mass regularly and feel the Liturgy of the Word and homily speak to me differently each week. Mass reminds me of the true purpose of our life, and that is to “serve our neighbor.” The readings remind us to follow Jesus and His divine plan, which makes me reflect on one of my favorite scripture verses:

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 

I have found this scripture to be one I can depend on when work and life are tough. It reminds me to stay strong in my faith. The intimacy that connects me to Christ is not only found in this verse, but also as I receive the body and blood of Christ through the Eucharist at Mass. After receiving communion, the connection with Him is more intimate. He is in me, with me and beside me, and my faith lets me know without a doubt that all things are possible to those who believe.

Q: As a professional graphic designer, which is a competitive field, to what do you attribute your success, and can you share about some of the clients you assist?

The anniversary edition of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine designed by Kelli.
The anniversary edition of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine designed by Kelli.

A: My goal with any client is to give them amazing artwork as well as to build a long-lasting relationship. I do take on clients that may need help with a single project, but my hope is to create a connection. Patience and kindness are two attributes I have heard from others that I extend to my clientele. As long as I can give clients the time, understanding, and effort they deserve I feel it will help maintain the success I have had over the years.

Currently some of my clients include: The Silver Sun, S & S Printing, Planet Coupon, The Middleburg Institute, City Bucks and Tiger Bucks coupon books and Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. I’ve even had clients as far away as Australia. I created the logo for Loss Response Restoration Service in Australia. Another client I have enjoyed assisting is Rhymes ‘N’ Times, Turner Educational Products. It’s an international company, and I had the opportunity to design the entire series of books (in English and Spanish) and created “Sherman,” the interactive character for their DVDs. I still am friends with Anita, the owner/developer of the company.

I also have to share about when Beth reached out to me to do the design and layout of the magazine. A few years back, prior to her contacting me, I had attempted to create a Facebook page that shared positive news and thoughts, but it never took. When Beth called me to share about her endeavor to produce a magazine filled with Christian-based, positive, encouraging and life-changing stories. I was very excited and eager to be a part of BRCLM. The magazine has now been out for over a year, and every month is filled with amazing testimonies to the good that is happening here in our city and beyond. The advertisers are very loyal, and the content in the magazine is the type of news I was striving to share on Facebook. This project helps me remain creative and also share positive stories from others.

Q: Have you encountered a time when one of your clients encouraged you or helped you in some way on your faith walk?

A: Carol Thomas, publisher of City Bucks and Tiger Bucks, has been a client of mine since the late 1990s. Carol’s faith has inspired me because she literally never gives up on something she feels called to do. She has been fervent in prayer and her belief in God which had guided her in her career. Tiger Bucks is still going strong, now run by her daughter, Jennifer, and City Bucks, a book full of restaurant offers, is used as a fundraising tool for schools in the area.

City Bucks came about after trying for many years to get another publication off the ground. As we sat in the printer’s office one day, I remember she led us all in prayer while working on her publication. (The other coupon book was never produced though there was lots of interest and materials in place to launch it.) Out of that situation, City Bucks was birthed and it has been a phenomenal tool for the schools in this area that sell it.

Q: How can the body of Christ be more unified?

A: Praying for one another is something we can all do whatever your denomination is. Prayer is how we all can speak to God, touch others, and prayer is powerful. In my own personal life, I have found that if a prayer is not answered in the way I wanted or asked, it tends to get answered in a better way.

Q: What charities or organizations are you involved in and why?

Kelli with (L to R) son Aidan, French exchange student Charles Druguet, and daughter Lilli in summer 2015.
Kelli with (L to R) son Aidan, French exchange student Charles Druguet, and daughter Lilli in summer 2015.

A: St. Jude is my church and I’m active there in various ways. I lead St. Jude’s Children’s Liturgy of the Word. We take the children, ages pre-k through second grade, during mass and read the readings and give the homily at a level that helps them to understand the message being conveyed. Secondly, I am actively involved in Girl Scouts. My daughter, Lilli, was a Girl Scout, and I like that the girls learn responsibility and we emphasize how to be kind to each other. It can get harried at times when a bunch of girls are together, but they are learning how to be kind despite disagreements or differences.

Currently, I am a Girl Scout Service Unit Administrator over nine troops. I assist the troop leaders throughout the year with activities such as our camping trip, our daddy /daughter dance, and our awards ceremonies.

My family has also been a host family for French exchange students during the last three summers. It’s very difficult to find families to take these kids into their homes, but it is a very rewarding experience. We become family to the kids that we’ve hosted and we love doing it.

Q: Besides being a graphic designer, you have also written books and have had them published. Share with us about your books.

A: One of the books, “Cookie the Christmas Cat,” is very special because Lilli illustrated it. She and I are huge softies for animals and melt when we see pets needing homes. One hundred percent of the profits go to organizations that find forever homes for pets.

"Love for Dunces," written by Kelli. She also designed the book cover.
“Love for Dunces,” written by Kelli. She also designed the book cover.

“Love for Dunces” is my other book. It was written based on my own high school band crush, and I just love, love, love this story. I think it is relevant to so many women and girls because so many of us have had band obsessions. If you ever dreamed about meeting your celebrity crush, you will totally get “Love for Dunces.” It’s also very wholesome and stresses family bonds and friendships. So, for anyone with a teen daughter, this one may be the book to order. You can find both books on Amazon.com or at kellissimo69.wix.com/kellissimo or facebook.com/kellissimeaux

Q: What would you like to share as a word of encouragement to those reading your personal faith journey?

A: One of the stories I read in Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine had a quote in it that has never left my mind: “Our gifts are not from God to us, but from God THROUGH us to GIVE to others.” Writing and designing seem to be a couple of gifts God has given me, but patience and kindness are gifts we can all give to others, and we can use them daily to help people have a brighter day. To me, it is what the world needs now.

Check out her handiwork at illuminateddesignsstudio.com or facebook.com/illuminateddesignsstudio or contact her at illuminatedds@cox.net.