Friday Favorites with JKath Design + Build

MN Home Designers, Builders, Remodelers | Jkath Design Build | Friday Favorites with construction2style

Good morning friends! Happy Friday! We were supposed to get a snowstorm last night and throughout today here in MN and I was all excited about waking up to a blizzard and having a day of cuddles with our little man but….nothing. So much for snow day for us! Back to the grind…

Friday’s are our favorite because we get to introduce you to yet another brand that is constantly inspiring us. And today we are extra excited becuase we are introducing you to our good friends, Katie and Jesse Kath from JKath. We post a lot about and with these guys because seriously I can’t get enough. From their incredible work to their contagious energy we are surrounding ourselves with them as much as we can.

We’ve only gotten to know this couple within the last year. Long story short, we met through our mutual friend and videographer, Chelsie Lopez. I was putting on a blogging workshop and Katie and Jesse brought in some backdrops for Chelsie for the shoot and after they left Chelsie told me I had to know that girl. We grabbed coffee the following week and a month later we were flying out to TX for our first blog workshop together.

After a couple more trips, a lot of events, collaborations, wine dates, belly laughs and having a ton of other fun together- these two have become our people. And the best part they have introduced us to so many more incredible people I honestly don’t know how I lived without these people in my life. I really love how good people lead you to more good people.

So say hello to our dear friends, give them a follow, and you’ll be sure to pick up on their contagious energy and loads of inspiration on the daily.

MN Home Designers, Builders, Remodelers | Jkath Design Build | Friday Favorites with construction2style
Hey guys! I know how crazy busy you are with all of your projects right now so I’m so thankful that you took the time to come hang and say hello to our readers. Tell them a little bit about you guys, who you are, what you do, and how JKath came to be.

Newly married, blended family, and now business partners, enough to make you crazy some days. We juggle life, home, and work and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We simply get one another and know how to get the job done regardless of which ‘arena’ we’re in.

We met three years ago; we were set up on a blind date (ugh!). It was winter, and I was certain a spray tan and a clean shave were not in my future. Reluctantly, I agreed to go; I was curious about his business sense. I figured if the date was horrible I could chalk it up to a learning moment in my career. Fast forward 12 short months and I sold my Minneapolis wine bar that I had for eight years, jumped ship into the design world and began tag teaming with Jesse. He had started JKath back in 2010 as a full-time boutique cabinet maker, and now a full-time (insanely talented) remodeler and custom home builder, if you twist his arm. After getting his MBA and doing the corporate gig for many years, Jesse walked off work over his lunch break and never looked back. He built his business from the ground up and continues to be a successful referral business in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market.

We didn’t waste much time; life was moving quicker than we were, kids were growing up, activities were happening, business was booming, so we decided to jump in with both feet. We combined our family units and married May 2016. I currently run the marketing and design efforts while Jesse, well…he does everything else, truly. He’s the man on the job, he’s creative, inspirational, ongoing client interfacing, problem-solving, and detail oriented to a fault.

I love it! And seriously #bestweddingever!!

What was the hardest thing about getting your business going?

Aside from just finding a steady client base (before my time), I would add three years ago when I started helping out; it was creating processes that we can honor across all of our clients/projects. No two jobs are the same, but a process is in order if growth is the objective. Setting boundaries, checks and balances, and staying true to the kind of work we enjoy and excel at doing. (i.e. Not saying yes to all opportunities.) This balance comes with time and losing vulnerability due to the newness wearing off.

MN Home Designers, Builders, Remodelers | Jkath Design Build | Friday Favorites with construction2style

I love, love, love how JKath has become a husband and wife team. How do you divide up the responsibilities?

If I am not on repeat, Jesse is the talent; I do everything else. We are both very creative people, and it’s fun to watch us apply that creativity in different spaces with a common goal.

What is your favorite part of the design + build process?

I love the beginning of all projects. Dreaming up ideas, drawing inspiration from our clients, past work, other influencers out there, and putting it together for a combined vision and goal. These concepts always evolve as we get going, and changes are necessary to accommodate budgets, availability, etc.. But the initial client interaction, with the opportunity to start from scratch, is what keeps our creative engines going.

What has been your guys’ biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Last year we installed a high end, custom cut countertop in a client remodel. We ‘assumed’ the past process with our supplier was tried and true until the install, where the cut on the corners was a disaster. It looked fine but wasn’t the design style we, or our clients, were after. We were unfamiliar with this particular cut, and while we were surprised this was the suggested cut, we looked back at the sign off sheet. We signed off on this particular style. It was our error to trust a process and not look closely at what we were signing off on. It was an expensive error, and we had to have the tops uninstalled, hand chiseled to a design style we were after, and then reinstalled. What did we learn? To always closely review all design details, not only sign off yourself but have the client review and sign off as well. Specifically with custom items that cannot easily be adjusted or replaced.

How would you describe your design style?

Modern craftsmanship…is that a style? (haha). We feel we are very on trend, we did a lot of white-on-white last year and are looking toward more simple yet eclectic designs into 2017. We use a lot of neutral and classic designs, such as marble, geometric tiles, custom painted cabinetry, and pair them with bold elements such as mixed metals, statement wall colors, and oversized fixtures.

MN Home Designers, Builders, Remodelers | Jkath Design Build | Friday Favorites with construction2style

Do you only cater to clients with that look?

We do not select client work based on any design style. We love expanding our horizons and taking on new visions and challenges. Working with existing home decor, flooring, and how it connects to the rest of the home (that may not be undergoing a remodel) is what we have become accustomed to.

What’s the hardest part about being a general contractor?

Wearing many hats in one day, anything from sub-contractor coordination, problem-solving, to marriage counseling. Remodeling is an emotional process, and we quickly become a part of our client’s home life. Each day brings a new set of challenges, mostly unknown, so it’s quick thinking and working on the fly.


What are your favorite suppliers, the brands you love to work with on your projects?

We most consistently use Cambria Quartz for all of our countertops. They continue to release new designs that fit into client requests. Their product is versatile, a leader in terms of durability and ease of maintenance.

We’ve recently started working with a local handmade tile company, Mercury Mosaics, and can’t wait to implement more of their designs.

Hygge and West is a favorite wall covering supplier.

We also hope to partner with WD Flooring out of Wisconsin; they source all of their hardwood floorings from their forests in Wisconsin, with a plant that can customize to all customer needs.

MN Home Designers, Builders, Remodelers | Jkath Design Build | Friday Favorites with construction2style

Katie, I know you run the design and marketing side of the business and helped take JKath to another level. Do you have any favorite tools you use that our readers would love?

Besides Instagram? (lol). It’s my most used tool, and I credit much of our growth to the consistency of using this app and making daily posts.

I am a numbers geek, I often run and use reports from Quickbooks to keep a pulse on the business growth and if we’re meeting goals.

I also live in Pinterest. So much inspiration there, plus we use it as a personal portfolio for all of our work along with pinning other inspiration we love. It’s fantastic for creating collaborative boards with our clients that are private and we can co-pin inspiration for new jobs.

Best advice for managing your team? As you know, something that is new to us is building our team and sub-contracting out work.

Working alongside our team is the best way to manage them. Being available for questions, things that come up, and showing them we’re willing to roll up our sleeves along with them goes a long way. Also, listening to them is key. Our sub-contractors are experts, which is why we partner with them. Letting them share knowledge and collaborate on solutions is huge.

Have you ever had issues with your subs being entrepreneurial spirited and learning through your brand to create their own?

Not necessarily. Our subs are really loyal to our brand. They typically prioritize work for JKath requests as they know our company will continue to bring them back for repeat work, they know Jesse is very active on site and available to answer questions, juggle scheduling, etc.. Also, we almost always do work when clients are away. Our ideal situation is to work in a home before the client moves in, or can live somewhere else temporarily. As this isn’t always the case, clients are usually away at work, and we always protect our workspace with floor to ceiling plastic and add a zippered entrance for the clients to access. This provides privacy for our subs as well as the clients.

Where do you find your inspiration?

As mentioned, Instagram and Pinterest.

Jkath Design + Build Instagram | construction2style

What is your most recent project you are proud of and why?

Our whole house reno in Tangletown, St Paul on Goodrich Avenue. This was a major restoration project where all the casing was replaced. Mostly new interior doors to match the few existing doors we could save and matching existing hardwood floor on the main level. Closing off a staircase to the 2nd floor and rebuilding all of the 2nd story rooms and interior walls. Every square inch is custom work with all new plumbing and electrical. It’s a new home with old bones that were solid in a sought after neighborhood with adorable curb appeal. We can’t wait for the final images so we can share this project with our followers.

Where can our readers find you?

What words of advice would you give your 23-year-old selves?
Self-care. It’s impossible to please others and meet client expectations if we aren’t putting ourselves first. This includes our health and wellness, plus boundaries. As business owners, it’s hard to put ourselves first, but when we recharge the batteries and take time off it makes our work and progress even more rewarding. I would also pat my 23-year-old self on the back for following my dreams back then the way we do now. Another key is to get started young building your business before the stakes get higher. Learn some messy lessons early on as we are often more resilient when we’re younger. Take risks, trust yourself, and be passionate. Learn from your mistakes, and surround yourself with peers that get you and support you. Lastly, be YOU, this is the only way to differentiate yourself. There is only one of you and therefore what you have to offer is unique, period.
You guys are the BEST. Thank you for giving us your time, your advice, and inspiration. We are so incredibly lucky to have you in our lives and cannot get enough of your creativity. XOXO
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Katie 'Milburn' Greeman
Katie 'Milburn' Greeman

We love how this turned out.. thank you for sharing our journey.