Katie Kortman: Embracing the Color in Life

Wed Oct 13 10:00:34 EDT 2021
Episode 150

This season there will be a Relief Society president on Project Runway. Yes, you read that correctly. Katie Kortman is as shocked as you are. She knows she is not the fashion designer people are used to seeing after 19 seasons of the show, but she also knows that, as her mom taught her, “different is good.” On this week’s episode, we talk with Katie about her love for color, both literally and figuratively, and why she believes it is best to be yourself.

It's awesome to be different. Not everyone's the same. We want to stand out.
Katie Kortman

Episode References:
Katie’s Instagram account: @KatieKortmanArt

Watch Katie on the upcoming season of Project Runway: bravotv.com/project-runway

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, and pour out peace.
President Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” December 1974

Show Notes:
2:09- 2018: The Year of the Goal
6:04- The Influence of Mothers
10:16- The International Church
14:20- Color Brings Joy
16:54- Creativity and Coping
20:36- Developing a Love for Sewing
24:33- Road to the Runway
35:12- Modesty
38:13- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


Morgan Jones 0:00Before we get into this week's episode, I wanted to give you a little heads up about a special "Come, Follow Me," related episode we will release as a bonus on Friday. If you love sections 121 through 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants as much as I do, you will love the episode with Matthew Godfrey, who has worked extensively on the Joseph Smith Papers, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Katie Kortman is a Relief Society president serving the women in her Latter-day Saint congregation in Japan. She is a mother of four kids, and she is also a fashion designer competing on this season of Project Runway which premieres tomorrow night. These three aspects of her life may seem like an unlikely combination. but Katie is living proof that God is very aware of our hopes and our dreams.

Katie Kortman got her bachelor's degree in drawing and painting from Brigham Young University. She worked for Anthropologie as a display artist before getting her master's in teaching art. Her husband is a medical doctor in the Navy, and they live with their family in Japan.

This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so excited to have Katie Kortman on the line with me today. Katie, welcome.

Katie Kortman 1:26
Hi, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Morgan Jones 1:31
Well this is so fun. I have to tell you, my coworker Kensie Smith–shout out to Kensie–is one of the most fashion forward people that I know and she loves color, and so naturally, she loves you. And so she's the one that was like, "You've got to have this lady on your podcast," so I'm really, really excited about this.

Katie Kortman 1:54
Yay. I'm glad to hear that.

Morgan Jones 1:57
Your style is so fun. And I think, you know, for those listening, be sure to look Katie up so that you can get a taste for just how wonderful your style is. But as we start out, I have to tell you, I was kind of prepping for this interview, and usually one of my favorite things to do is to listen to other podcast interviews that people have been on.

And so I listened to one that you had been on previously, and I kept noticing how over and over again, you would mention, "Well, I had this goal for 2018," or whatever. And you would not only talk about what you accomplished in terms of achieving that goal, but it was almost like that goal would then lead you to other things that were amazing and cool. So, have you always been a big goal setter?

Katie Kortman 2:49
It's funny, because that year is probably the first year I really wrote down goals, put them on my wall and like intended to stick to them. I am a goal-oriented person, but I don't always write them down, I just have them in my mind.

You know, "Oh, I have this goal, I want to make it to this thing," or "Get into this program," or whatever it is, you know, I'll make goals for myself, but I don't always make such a huge thing about it, you know.

That year, I spent all this time writing them out so nicely, it was like at Christmas time I was making my goals for 2018. My mom and my sister were visiting, so I'm like, "You guys should do this, too. Let's all make these goals!" And so I posted about them. And so I think doing all those things–my best friend and I were doing it together–and I think so that year is probably the biggest goal year. And it really was life changing, making those goals but I do make goals all the time. But yeah.

Morgan Jones 3:46
So for those that haven't heard that podcast interview, can you tell them a little bit about what kind of came about in your life as a result of setting those goals?

Katie Kortman 3:56
So I had heard on Gretchen Rubin, she has a podcast called, "Happier,” and she had talked about–every year she likes to make a list of things that will make her happier, not just goals, like, "I should be doing this, I need to be doing this," but like "I want to do this, this will make me happy."

And so I've thought about that, and I'm like yeah, I don't want goals that I'd begrudgingly try to do, I want goals that are really fun things that I want to do, but I might not make time for.

And so I thought of 18 things for 2018. And on that list, two things kind of really were life changing. And one of them was I said I wasn't going to buy clothes the entire year. Because if I did that, then I would learn how to really sew everything and I was sick of shopping in stores and not finding anything I want. I wanted brighter, bolder, colorful, crazy, but like still super wearable because I'm a mom of four kids.

So I was like I'm just going to learn how to sew everything, and if I don't buy clothes, you know, that will help me achieve that goal. And then the other thing was I have a degree from Brigham Young University in painting and drawing. And I used to be an artist, and actually one of the goals was also to make a certain number of paintings.

But anyways I had been doing art still but I wasn't showing in galleries anymore because we move all the time and so a lot more of my creative time was spent sewing and I wanted to merge art and sewing together and so I thought I really want to learn how to make textile, like to design my own prints.

And that is something I had actually wanted to do in college, I almost tried to go get a master's in textile design and it had not worked out at the time. And so, you know, it was like a long-time goal, and then it kind of resurfaced. And so those two goals and actually accomplishing them and doing them like spawned a whole bunch of other things in my life and my life is totally changed because of that year. I–really, it's crazy to me that how . . . what happened from doing those two things on that list.

Morgan Jones 5:55
Yeah, so we're going to talk a little bit about how your life changed as a result of those goals. But before we get to that, you touched on your family and I'd love for listeners to get a chance to kind of know you and know your background and family situation.

So you've mentioned that you have four kids, and I saw where you had a post on Instagram and you said that when asked if you had always wanted to be a mom, you've said, "Not really, but I'll have kids anyway." And now you have four kids and you said that the best parts of the mom that you are come from being the daughter of your own mom. And you said, "She's helped guide me through life and kept me strong when I feel weak," and I think that is spot on for everything that a mother is and what mothers do for us, but what in your mind is the role of a mother? And I also want to ask you, I noticed that you had several posts about your mom so if you want to say anything about her she seems super rad.

Katie Kortman 7:00
You're like making me cry. My mom was–is, not was–she is awesome and was growing up. She really encouraged us to follow our dreams and she always told us like, "You can do anything you put your mind to."

I really believed that so much that like there have been a few things in my life that I was like, "Oh I can do this as long as I work hard enough," and I actually couldn't do it no matter what. And I was like, "Wait, but I thought I could do anything I put my mind to."

But like I know that that advice that she gave me has helped me have the confidence to do everything I've done in my life. She also told us–I mean, she was always a really good example of like, you know, we always saw her studying her scriptures and we saw her doing her visiting teaching and we saw her–she was a really good example, she's way better than I am at those things. Even–I'm currently the Relief Society president and I'm still not as good as she is at any of those things, but.

She also–so she was a really good spiritual example. She was a convert, my parents are converts that converted when I was a baby. But she also told us like it was okay to be different and we grew up in South Florida where there are not very many LDS people, so being different was like–that was how it was going to be. We were going to be different. And she said, "We're just different and different is good. It's okay to be different, it's okay to be weird," like and I also kind of kept that with me.

And it's something that I thought about maybe subconsciously my whole life, like I don't have to be like everybody else and there have been times–I remember when I first went to BYU I was like, "Oh I want to be like everybody else." "Oh they're all wearing these things and they like to watch these sports?" and "Yeah, me too”–no not really. I didn't really, but I thought for a second maybe I could. I did, but then and then all of a sudden I was like, “You know what? I'm different. This is me.” And I wore butterfly wings and tutus and I was crazy at BYU. So I think she was a really good example of having a strong testimony and being okay with being different and working hard and all those things, so.

Morgan Jones 9:06
How do you feel like that has–kind of–shaped the kind of mom that you are?

Katie Kortman 9:12
Well I try to be as good as my mom to my own kids and tell them the same kind of things like, "It's okay to be different." I really–it's like breaks my heart when I see my daughters worry too much about being like all the other kids in their class or whatever.

And I always try to tell them like "It's okay," you know, "It's okay. It's awesome to be different. Not everyone's the same. We want to stand out." And I try to show them by being myself and they see what I do and all the kind of crazy things I do and sometimes they're like, "Mom . . . " you know, I'm like, "No, it's okay. This is who I am. And this is who we are." You know, I try to show them through my example. And just hope for the best and hope you know that it will have that effect on them that my mom probably didn't even know she was having on me when I was growing up.

Morgan Jones 10:00
Right, which I think that's the cool thing, is like–who you are shapes your kids. And I think a lot of times moms don't give themselves credit for the influence that they have and how many little eyes are watching everything that they're doing. You mentioned that that you've lived all over the place, you currently live in Japan, and from what I understand, your husband is a doctor in the military. Is that right?

Katie Kortman 10:28
Yes. Yeah. He's an OB-GYN actually, he delivers babies.

Morgan Jones 10:32
Oh, that's pretty cool. So, having lived in a lot of different places, and especially having lived overseas, I wondered–and this is something that's always fascinating to me–what you have learned about the international nature of the Church, and what have members in the different parts of the world that you've lived in taught you?

Katie Kortman 10:56
You know, that was one of the most interesting things about–well, I studied abroad in college, so I did get a little taste of the Church outside of the United States, then. But I think on a bigger level, when I obviously, when I moved to Bahrain, which is right next to Saudi Arabia, it's a small island in the Middle East, with my family, we moved there and we didn't know what to expect. We're like, maybe we're going to be the only members and we should bring everything, don't put anything in storage, we might need to have a hymn books! And we really thought we were going to go somewhere that had nothing because you also can't find anything on the internet, because they have to kind of keep it on the down low a little bit.

So anyways, we go there. And it was one of my favorite wards–it's a branch, one of my favorite branch/wards, whatever–I've ever been in. And the other members that were in the military and from the United States, we would talk about how nice it was to go to Church where the only thing you were concerned about was Church, was the gospel. There wasn't a lot of like, "Do I look cute enough for Church?" You know, "Is this stylish?" You're not thinking about "Are my kids behaving perfectly?"

There was, it was just so . . . half the ward was like, did not have a lot of money, you know, like migrant workers of Bahrain. And the other half of the ward was military and expats from a few other countries. And so it was just so humbling, and such a good reminder of what was essential and important and not important.

Kind of like when you go into the temple, and you're like, "Oh, yeah, everything out there doesn't really matter." "Oh, yeah, all that stuff I think that matters doesn't matter." You know, it's always like that reminder. And I feel like we had that reminder the whole time we went to Church there.

And things were done slightly differently, and sometimes it's kind of kooky and kind of crazy. And you're like, what is going on at this activity? Or why is this done like this? And you know, but . . . but it was–you just were like, "Oh," you know, "This is the Church too. And it's true," and the gospel was the same and everything we taught was the same.

And I always tell my other military friends, you know, how nice it is, even though we move every one to three years, that I've never tried to search for the Church that fits a good fit for me, you know, they're always like, "Oh, I'm Church shopping right now." "Oh, I'm looking for the–" you know, and I don't have to do that. And I instantly have friends, even in a pandemic, when you move across the world, and nobody's like really getting together, I instantly had people who knew I was there who knew we needed help. We had to quarantine in our hotel room for two weeks and people brought us food and brought us toys and brought us stuff, you know, we were just cared for and immediately had people we could lean on, so.

Morgan Jones 13:36
That's amazing. So now you're in Japan, and you mentioned that you're the Relief Society president, is your ward–is it mostly expats? Or what's the nature of your ward there in Japan?

Katie Kortman 13:47
Yeah, it's mostly military and some government employees that work for the military. There are a few families that are neither, but I think because they predominantly speak English or they work at the base or something like that that they go to our ward, but it's mostly military and government. Yeah. It's small.

Morgan Jones 14:06
Okay. Yeah, well that's–I think it's so cool. And I love that you said you grew up in a part of the United States where there aren't a lot of members of the Church. I also did, and so I can relate to that.

Okay, I want to talk a little bit about creativity and designing and style. But like I mentioned before, you have this very unique, colorful, style and you shared a quote on Instagram that said, "The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most." And so I wondered what is it about color that you love?

Katie Kortman 14:46
I have noticed–I was a former art teacher, artist, all those things–and I have noticed that color, and I actually do a whole thing every year on Instagram I have this thing called "Wear happy color." I challenge people to wear color, I teach them all about the color wheel and different color schemes.

And people always message me with the same kind of comments. And that is that color brings joy. And then like, "I had no idea what a difference it would make to wear color." A lot of people–and this is the other thing I was going to say. I've noticed that as an art teacher, young children love color. They use all the colors, they want to wear all the colors. They're not like "No, I think I want to wear khaki, it looks better on me." Or "I want to wear all black, it's more slimming." Or, "I don't want bright colors on my drawing," you know, they want color and they're joyful, and it's pure.

And I didn't write that quote, someone else did–I think it was Lisa Congdon or something. But I loved it. And as we get older in our dressing, in our art, both things that kind of seem–both things happen where people start to worry about what everyone else thinks. Like, "Oh, do these colors look good together? I don't know." "Does this color look good on my skin? I don't know."

And, and with art, you know, like, "Oh, I find out I'm not really a good artist, I didn't know till somebody told me or I compared myself to somebody else." And if we forget about all those things, I mean, color–when you see something colorful, it like causes a reaction in your body. It does–I mean, there's all these psychological effects of different colors. That's because they do create a response and so it can bring so much joy. And whenever I've been interviewed about this before, I just talk about color, and obviously, all of my joy doesn't come from just color, obviously comes also from my testimony and the gospel. And I can't–I always try to sort of like, you know, carefully touch on that, but without being like too in their face about it. But, you know, the other thing is, I really feel like color, really color, wearing color and just all of that does help my mood every day.

Morgan Jones 16:55
You've talked about on your Instagram about how it was creativity that taught you to cope through difficult times. And so I don't know if maybe we want to touch on some of those times and how you found creativity to be therapeutic. But I think that that's something that a lot of us can relate to.

Katie Kortman 17:18
Yeah, so in my adult life, probably more than anything, I have used some sort of creative endeavor to help me get through something painful. And I don't think I was like, "Oh, this will help me," but I just did it and it is what helped me.

I had a fiancé in college break off the wedding a month before. And I was an art major so I was already doing creative thinking, I was painting all the time but I needed something different to kind of focus on and so I was like, my roommate liked scrapbooking, so I went all in on scrapbooking.

I was scrapbooking every moment I wasn't at school and in my studio. I was scrapbooking, because it was like instead of laying in my bed crying about this thing–I was still you know, I was still going through this feelings and emotions but I was able to do something with my hands and do something that made me happy. And I could focus, like "Oh look at these pictures and I can make these pretty colors."

And then later when I lost a baby–I had three babies really easily and my fourth pregnancy I lost the baby at like almost 18 weeks and I had to birth the baby and all that stuff. And that next month I sewed like 40 pieces of clothing for my children. And I was making them out of my old clothes, out of scraps of fabric, I was just making and making and making and I would cry and I would listen to books and I would make and I would cry, you know.

And it was just kind of like how I worked through it, and at the end of the month I was like, "Oh my gosh, I made 40 pieces of clothing!” That is obviously how I coped.

And when my dad died I also like . . . it was right when I was doing the "Wear happy color, sew happy color," for the very first year and I was like, I already committed to this, I've been pumped up to do this and now it's the beginning of the month, my dad was dying and a week into it he had died and I could have easily just been like, "Never mind guys, I don't want to do this, I can't."

And I am the kind of person who doesn't do that. If I say I'm going to do something, I do it, but also I knew that it was something that could help–not distract me from coping or from like feeling all the feelings–but distract me from just like doing nothing and just laying around and crying.

You know, and I was able to–again this is a good example to my children like–I still cried. They saw me cry, they saw me talk about it, but I also didn't just–the whole world didn't just . . . end for months or something you know. I did still keep going forward. And it wasn't always easy and sometimes I had to take pictures and I'd be like crying and I'd wipe the tears and then do a pose like, "These colors look good together guys." Poses over, okay.

And then I admitted that and I told people on my Instagram like, "It looks like I'm fine. I am still sad. I'm taking these pictures that I want to teach you guys about color. But just so you know, I'm not pretending like it didn't happen." So yeah, I find that doing something creative just kind of helps you as you work through something, at least for me it does.

Morgan Jones 20:20
Right. Well, I think you're absolutely right. For me, I'm not good with sewing or things like that, but I love to write and writing is super therapeutic for me. So I think we have to figure out what is the thing that helps us cope.

Okay, Katie, I want to hear the story of how you got into sewing. And I don't know if it's best to start with how you got into art? But, I think it's super cool that you were an artist for Anthropologie. I love Anthropologie. So I'd love to hear kind of just your journey to being where you are right now.

Katie Kortman 20:59
All right, I'll try to make this as concise as possible. I went to an art school for middle and high school and majored in art, and then went to BYU and got a degree in painting. I really wanted to do fashion design, but they had just closed the program–I went to BYU in 1999, and they had just like, gotten rid of the fashion design program.

So, I was like, "Okay, well, I know this is the school I want to go to," so you know, at first I was graphic design, then I realized I like painting better, so I went with painting. And I love painting I–obviously I still really love painting–but in the middle of college, I was like, "Oh, but I really do want to design my own clothes. So I'm just going to buy a sewing machine."

I had learned some very basics of sewing, you know, growing up. Very basic, like straight lines. And I just thought I'll just start making stuff up. I can figure things out. Like I'm an artist, I can think how things are made. I was making little like green fur backpacks, I was making a brush roll to put all my brushes in when I studied abroad in Tonga and we had to like carry all our stuff on our back.

I was making these weird apron things. I was like, "Oh, this is going to be a new style. These aprons that you wear over your–just like over your pants, like a short apron, but they're going to have weird shapes and vinyl. And I don't know, like when I look back at those, I'm like, what were those?

Anyways, I was just making stuff up. And I did take one class–actually, I was sewing my temple clothes in that class for the wedding that never happened. So there was a lot of crying in that class eventually towards the end when I had to finish all the projects.

But I took beginning sewing so that I could learn a little bit more like how to put zippers and how to do buttons, and just everything–how to use a pattern I didn't know. But I only got like probably 50% of–I only probably retained 50% of that because I was going through something traumatic during it, which is my fiancé breaking off the wedding.

So I just kind of kept whatever skills I actually got from that. And just for years just made stuff up for a really long time. I used a lot of stretchy fabrics, because I was like, "Oh, I could just make a tube and stretch it over." You know, I just could do whatever.

And then, like I said, in 2018, I think I learned how to use patterns a little bit before this. I did know how to use some patterns. I had indie pattern designers, they make them very, very easy to understand versus the stuff you get at like the store though, the big four patterns. But in 2018 I said, "Okay," like I said, "I'm just going to not–I'm going to learn how to do everything. I'm not going to be scared of anything. I want to make a coat. I want to be able to make a swimming suit. I want to be able to make all my pants, I'm sick of going to the store and only having black khaki and denim as my options."

So yeah, then my skills got . . . what they are now. Like, I mean just that year alone, I made everything. And now I can make anything. And obviously it went beyond that, if you want me to go all the way to where I am now. But you know, that's how my–that's how my sewing skills kind of got to where they were and I think having kids I practiced a lot on my little kids because you didn't have to fit boobs and butts and waist and hips. It was just you know, they're so much easier so I got a lot of practice with them before I really tried to do it for myself.

Morgan Jones 24:14
Right. Yeah. Which makes a lot of sense. I actually, I was listening to you on that other podcast and I was like, "Maybe I should try sewing," and then I was like, "Morgan, it's not your thing." So you were that inspiring that you got me to that, which is not a point I get to very often. But when you said, you know, I could keep going to where I am now. You had a chance this season to be on the upcoming season, I guess, of Project Runway. How did how did that happen, and what was that experience like for you?

Katie Kortman 24:48
That happened because of 2018. If I'm going to go back, everything that I am now is because of what I did in 2018.

Okay, so in 2018 I designed–so I wanted to reach that goal of designing fabric. And there was this big contest on Instagram that was in the sewing community it was called "Sew frosting." And they said, you know, sew something fancy for yourself. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, it's November. And I still haven't learned how to make a repeat pattern on Photoshop." And I'm like, I'm not going to have time to find out how to do that, that's like a whole like thing to learn. So I'm just going to paint a dress so that at least I designed some fabric and I can check off this goal."

And so I made this dress and I painted all of the fabric–I did not buy any special paints, I just use my artists acrylic, I did not buy the fabric, someone had given me this white wool. And I was like, "Oh, perfect, if it goes wrong, I didn't pay for the fabric." I used a pattern I already had, and then I added all these trims and kind of did different things to it. Everything I already had it, it's been . . . And I won the contest!

And it was so big that I got a big following from it. And I had–for weeks leading up to this actually been trying to like, make a name for myself in the sewing community. And I had started something called, "The Handmade Hustle," and I'm like, why are we just taking pictures of ourselves? We should be dancing. I mean, now everybody's dancing. But in 2018, there was less people dancing on Instagram, and I'm like, "We should be dancing, we just made something amazing, we should be celebrating."

And so I was trying to like, have people post themselves dancing in the handmade clothes they made. And then I'd give them prizes. And anyway, I had been doing that, and then I won this contest, and all of that together. Like all the sudden I had like, over 1000 followers, and I was like, "Oh my gosh!"

And then some companies reached out to me and said they would love to have me design fabric. And I'm like, "Okay, well I don't actually really know how to design fabric. But these people want me to do it, I'm not going to miss out on this opportunity." So I spent all of Christmas break watching tutorials and buying Photoshop and learning how to make a repeat pattern.

So in the end, I really achieved that goal completely. So then, because of that, I got an ambassadorship with a company called Spoonflower. And I was their first brand ambassador, I had to design collections for them every quarter, I blogged for them, and therefore got bigger following and bigger following. I had–people asked to come teach classes on colors after my "Wear happy color" thing–I keep doing that every year.

So I was teaching classes all over the eastern United States, different like fabric shops and stuff, and retreats–color retreats. And so I was teaching fabric painting, I was teaching how to wear happy color.

So all these things kind of my following got bigger and bigger and bigger. And then in February of 2020, and oh, I started selling my fabric on other websites like on a big Australian website, and now it's on Amazon and fabric.com. So my name is like really out there, but even before the Amazon and fabric.com, Project Runway casting people found me on Instagram, and called me–I don't know how they got my phone number, I guess it's on there, I don't know.

And they called me and I thought it was a prank call. They're like, "This is whoever from Project Runway casting, we're interested in you.” And I was like, “That has to be . . . what? That has to be a lie. What?!" I have watched that show since the very first season when I worked at Anthropologie, and we would like–one of the managers, his name was Dirk, and he would record it on his VHS or from his DVR. And then we'd pass it around from person to person, we'd watch it, and I was always so inspired, I would watch it and I would then want to sew things and make things and try crazy things even though I didn't really know what I was doing. But I was so inspired by that show. There's no other TV show I've ever watched, besides maybe like art documentaries that really inspired me to do something creative.

So when they reached out to me, I was like, "Oh my gosh, my–how could this even be?" And I didn't want to tell them I don't actually know how to design patterns. I only know how to sew patterns. I was just kind of like, "Are you sure? Like I only design–I only like sew for myself, like I'm not a real designer, like I don't have a line or anything."

And they're like, "That's okay, we love what you do. You're so fun. You should apply, you should apply." And they're like, "Can you turn in a video tomorrow?" I was like, "I'm out of town." They're like, "That's fine. Do it from your hotel room." I was like, "No. If I'm going to apply to this show, I'm going to apply like trying to actually get on the show."

So I called my Mom and I was like, "I don't know what to do mom, like I don't really know how to do a pattern." She's like, "You should do it! You can do it! This is amazing. You've always wanted to do this, you can do anything. You can do anything."

And I was like "I don't know if I really actually don't think I know how to do–I don't know how to do this mom." "That's okay," I was like, "Okay." So I went home the next day after this, I was like a guest speaker at something and I went home and I told my husband I'm applying to Project Runway, I need you to film me.

And so I made this funny video of dancing around in my clothes and showing how these paintings–I'm going to post it on YouTube. I need to post it on YouTube now, my video, but I'm like sitting on the toilet in a robe of fabric that I designed, I'm like, "Hey, you should see this robe that I made is designed by this painting here in my bathroom." And then I have my paintings on the bathroom wall and they loved that part. And I had my kids coming into the video and showing them how I do all this stuff with my kids around.

Anyway, they liked it. I went on to the next thing, the next set of interviews, and they wanted me to come to New York and present a collection of stuff I designed. So I quickly went onto Amazon and I bought the like pattern making design textbook and a few other textbooks and a dress form. And I watched tutorials and I learned how to make–like at a basic level–learned how and I made a whole collection, a small collection, and I was supposed to go to New York, and then the pandemic like, stopped that. And so I had a Zoom interview.

And anyways, it all shut down. I went to Japan and then they contacted me again this past December and they were like, "Are you still interested?" So in the end, I made it on the show, and I now know how to design clothing. And now I'm coming out with a fashion design, a line. I just am like all of this happened though because in 2018, I was like, I'm going to make these goals of things I've always wanted to do. And I did them. And it just, I mean, there's been a whole lot of hard work, a lot of hard work. But I just cannot believe the way this has turned out and where I am now, just a few years later.

Morgan Jones 31:39
Well, I love that so much. I just was speaking to some youth last night and I was talking about goal setting and about how important it is that we let the Lord know like what our dreams are and what our hopes are. Because then I think he can work in collaboration with us and help us achieve not only our goals, but I think . . . you know, it's like that Ezra Taft Benson quote, you know, when we turn our lives over to God, He can make more of them than we can. And I think you're a great example of that by communicating to the Lord, like these are the goals that I have for myself, then he was able to turn it into something even more incredible

Katie Kortman 32:20
It's, and this is like–you're better at speaking than I am.

Morgan Jones 32:24
I am not.

Katie Kortman 32:25
Yes, no this is, this is what I've been trying to articulate. I bore a testimony about it like before I went on the show, like this situation, and then also another thing that happened in Bahrain, has shown me so much that Heavenly Father, he obviously cares about my testimony, and about who I am as a daughter of God and how I am, you know, living the Gospel and how I'm teaching my children about me as a mother, but He also wants me to have joy and help me in the things that I love kind of outside of that, you know.

Even my other goals, like Project Runway was a dream for years. I never prayed about being able to go on that show I never even tried to apply to it, it just was a dream. And I could not believe when they I mean they kept pursuing me. I was–I kept being like I don't think this is gonna work now I'm in Japan, for sure they're not gonna want me.

And I was like, this feels like this is being, like Heavenly Father's like, "Here you go, Katie." Like, what? You know, it just . . . and all these little things. Wanting to do fabric design, I didn't end up having to get a Master's at Columbia University, like I wanted to.

Instead, I learned how to do it for free years later, you know, but I also tell this to my children and to my siblings. I didn't give up on myself. But I did say, "Okay, Heavenly Father, these are the things I want to do in life." Like I said, I didn't really want to have kids, I wanted to be–do a career. And I wasn't, I never really was into kids. But Heavenly Father wants me to do this. And I knew he wanted me because he constantly prompted me like, "You need to have another child," and I'd be like, "Okay, really? Just one isnt enough? Two isn't enough? Three isn't enough? Again? Again, okay. Okay."

And you know, and He would–I just listened to those promptings and I followed what he wanted me to do. And you know, not everything works out like that in life. I have had hard trials in my life, they have been there, but I know that the fact that I kept saying, "Okay Heavenly Father, I will do this thing. I don't really want to do it, I know you want me to do it, so I'll do it." And you know, not in my own time, but in His time now I am having the opportunity to achieve the other goals that I had in my 20s that I never got to kind of do, you know, so I just . . it has been such a huge testimony builder and in heavenly Father and how much he cares about me as an individual.

Morgan Jones 34:49
I think, I think that's so cool. Especially because one thing that I said to these kids last night was like Heavenly Father knows even the dream that you haven't spoken out loud.

Katie Kortman 34:59

Morgan Jones 35:01
Like the thing that you're like too embarrassed to even admit that you would dream that big, like Heavenly Father knows what that thing is and wants it for you. So thank you so much for sharing that. I wanted to ask you, I feel like one thing that people are always interested in when it comes to fashion is modesty. And I noticed on your Instagram that you always dress very modestly. And I feel like modesty is a kind of controversial topic these days, even within the Church, but I figure a fashion designer must have some take on it. And so, I wondered what your thoughts are about the importance of modesty.

Katie Kortman 35:42

Yeah, and in this–in the world that we're living in now, it's like I just constantly talk to my children, I'm like, it is a very confusing world. And I don't envy–like it was already confusing when I was growing up but now it's even more confusing. But, you know, if I believe that my body is a temple, then I want to try to treat it like that. And there's enough fashion out there that shows off the body and doesn't cover the body.

And obviously, when I went to BYU, and then beyond when I went through the temple and stuff, I was always looking for something that went to my knees, that covered my shoulders, and it was really hard. I mean that, like, you're already trying to find bright color, then you're trying to find something that's modest, it was like, yeah, right. I mean, now I feel like–actually, right now there is kind of both things happening in fashion, like showing off everything and like covering it all up. There's kind of both and I'm, it's refreshing, at least to have the modest stuff kind of going on.

But that is like what–even one of the reasons I wanted to start sewing for myself so that I could make a cool dress that I can wear to something that covered everything. And people–I don't say on my Instagram, like, “I am a modest sewer,” or, you know, but people notice it. And they will mention it to me either the big, "Are you LDS?" or they'll say, "I noticed that you always, you know, make modest clothing," also like Muslim women will like comment about that, even though I'm not covering up quite as much, but they notice. People notice.

And when I went on Project Runway, it also you know, it didn't really come up, nobody really said anything, I can't really say anything that happened on the show, you'll have to watch it. But I did make a point of saying like I do try to do modest fashion. And there are a couple of things that I made that I wouldn't have been able to wear, and it was kind of–I can't, I can't really say anything.


But I tried as much as I could on the show to like, make what I would make as a fashion designer outside of the show and show my own vision and be like, "It's okay, we can make cool things and be exciting and bright and fun, and also not have to have every part of my body showing. You know, that it can, it can still be fun to be modest.

Morgan Jones 38:03
Totally. Well, I so appreciate, Katie, you taking the time to chat with me and to share your testimony and your story. My last question for you, is what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Katie Kortman 38:20
I think to be all in is to have every part of your thoughts, of your goals, of your focus, to have the gospel intertwined, and to have, you know, an eternal perspective and everything. Everything I do, everything–even the smallest things, like the clothes I make, the gospel, is always in the background of my mind, you know, and what my goals in life are, what my goals for everything are, are with an eternal perspective.

And so it's easy to want to pick and choose what we like and what we don't like and what we want to do in the gospel, what we don't want to do in the gospel, and there are things that I'm sometimes tempted by, and I just have to keep reminding myself like this is just part of my eternal life. Like, I just have to just keep pushing forward. And just–if I don't understand something, it's okay. Just keep going. Because I know the gospel is true, even if I don't understand why we have to do all the things that we can and can't do. Yeah. So I guess that's what's all in for me.

Morgan Jones 39:26
Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Katie. I appreciate your time, more than you know, and will be excited to watch you on Project Runway.

Katie Kortman 39:37
Thank you!

Morgan Jones 39:37
A huge thank you to Katie Kortman for joining us on today's episode, you can watch Katie on the Project Runway season 19 premiere Thursday, October 14 on Bravo. Thanks to Derek Campbell for his help with this episode. And thank you so much for listening. Be sure to stay tuned for our special Liberty jail "Come, Follow Me" episode airing on Friday.

View More