March 03, 2021

USD Alumna and Professor Turns Hobby into Business with a Purpose

University of South Dakota alumna, assistant professor and owner of KTKreations, Katie (Schwartz) Kassin ’06, ’08, hopes someday her business will help bring an end to cystic fibrosis.

When her daughter Collins was born with the lung and digestive system disorder, Kassin began hosting backyard fundraisers and craft fairs to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. As a crafter, Kassin wanted to be able to add her own items to the fairs.

“I love crafting but had never made anything for anyone other than myself before,” Kassin explained. “I rarely wear jewelry, but I love earrings and decided to try my hand at some fun leather earrings."

Kassin’s leather earrings soon garnered much attention from her family and friends, so she decided to turn her hobby into a business – KTKreations – where 20% of its profits go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Collins’ name.

In addition to earrings, Kassin also designs tumblers and signs. Kassin recently partnered with the USD Charlie’s Bookstore & Fan Shop and joined the Coyote Creators Community, which features creative works by USD alumni and friends. KTKreations can now be found in Charlie’s downtown and Muenster University Center locations as well as online at usdcharliesstore.com. Kassin also sells in the KTKreations Facebook group.

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Kassin turned her hobby into a business called KTKreations.

As a mother of two, a physician assistant at Sanford Health Vermillion and an assistant professor in the USD School of Health Sciences, Kassin said creating brings balance to her busy life.

“I absolutely love being busy, but when I sit down to craft and create, it brings a sense of calm to my life. It’s relaxing and enjoyable.”

At the center of Kassin’s work, is Collins, who is an enthusiastic crafter like her mother, her son, Kellen, her husband, Chris, and finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.

“Collins is my inspiration,” Kassin said. “She also loves to craft, and sometimes, we just sit down together and come up with ideas. This year, she helped me design our ‘Cure for Collins’ t-shirts.

“I am motivated by my family,” she continued. “I want them to live happy and healthy lives, and everything I do is for them.”