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The Blue Mitre

Sofie Smolders2 July 2017

The door flies open and Cato welcomes us with a smile. With her bright red sweater and bushy blonde hair, she radiates warmth on this cold winter's day. The warmth continues as I step into the house and meet Cato's mum. I immediately know where that smile comes from. You can feel there's energy in this house, positive energy and love.

Coffee in hand, Cato takes me and Vincent, our photographer, to her workplace / studio under the roof. What we see upstairs is a pleasant surprise - we suddenly arrive in a light, spacious and comfortable work space. Here we are then, in Cato's world. I don't know where to look first. The space is bursting with authenticity; statues, cards, ink spots, books, paintbrushes and candles. And her products of course. The practical layout - from bedroom to office to studio - and the neat piles of notebooks, stickers, cards and confetti show me that Cato isn't just a creative spirit, but also a well-organised entrepreneur. She clearly has things in hand.

“Getting rich with no effort, I don't believe in it. Earning money with something from yourself, that's what I believe in.” - Cato

During our chat, Cato tells me about herself. Barely nineteen years old, she is already the owner of the Cato Oyen label under which she designs postcards, stickers, notebooks and writing paper. She also works part-time in an advertising agency and on freelance projects as graphic designer.
She does all this with a strong dose of self-confidence mixed with a touch of modesty. She says herself that she has difficulty with rules and that she has often been called cocky. I am sitting in front of a young woman with a huge amount of self-knowledge for her age and I can only admire this driven but deeply honest person.

She was already an enterprising child. She loved to play at shops, sold Scooby Doo pens to her friends and knitted her own sweaters. Even at an early age, she wasn't a follower. When she was at kindergarten and had to make a mitre for St. Nicholas, she was the only one to make it blue so it stood there, shining brightly among hundreds of red mitres.

“I have gotten to know myself better through the things I have already experienced.” - Cato

Aged thirteen, Cato tumbled into a difficult period in her young life. As a result of her perfectionist nature, she fell into a depression and had to tackle things a bit differently. From the fifth grade, Cato went to Art College, where she discovered herself and could develop. She got to know herself better through the things that she experienced so what she does today and where she is now are also thanks to that period of her life. For example, her depression gave her the inspiration for the postcards from her 'Hey you!' collection. She wanted to draw some attention to the subject and show that "sometimes finding it difficult" is really normal.

"I have finally found what I want to do and what I like to do. I have to do something with my hands.” - Cato

Cato started a Graphic Design course at high school, but decided not to continue it. She says herself that it was a well-thought-out decision, but it led to a certain lack of understanding from those around her. Cato chose to be self-employed and not to continue her studies. She became an entrepreneur and not a student. I am not surprised that she told me that there was nothing for her to learn at high school. Everything that she can do, she taught herself, by actually doing it and, as she indicates herself, sometimes by bashing her head against a brick wall. Cato goes through life as a young woman with the philosophy of "if you want to do something then you can", and for the moment she is consciously choosing her own path. And she is doing that well, very well even.

Discover Cato's collection here

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