Tell us little about yourself!
I am a thirty something vegan mother of two wonderfully rowdy boys and a dog. Sometimes I mother my husband too, but he totally deserves it. I grew up in southern Mississippi, where my hometown is sadly now covered in tar balls and oil sheen. It was a lovely place to grow up; exploring marsh lands, bayous, and barrier islands. But… when the teens years hit, I couldn’t wait to leave. Alas, I got out and spent a couple of years drowning myself in college at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I was working hard towards that BFA in sculpture when I suddenly dropped out because I really just wanted to ride my bike. I worked and saved and pedaled some major miles in several different countries. Then it was off to Atlanta, where I met and fell in love with a small circus troupe who taught me everything they knew. Eventually the troupe fell apart and I fell in love again, this time with a cute tattooed boy whom I convinced to move to San Francisco, where I enrolled in circus school. I spent a year and a whole heap of dollars in that lovely city before getting sucked back to Atlanta. Then, I got married, had a baby, and made that baby an organic quilt. After my first one’s first birthday, we started looking at different cities. Portland, OR won the toss up and here we are, and I am finally “home.” I love this city. It’s got the good vegan food, the family friendly everything, bike trails galore, and is surrounded by nature nature nature. Baby #2 was born here and is a true pale skinned Oregonian. Our little family spends as much time as we can in the woods, rivers, and on mountains. I’d probably have more stuff listed on etsy if there weren’t so many dang waterfalls to find.
What do you make and how long have you been creating?
At this point in my life, I mostly make organic baby quilts. I do some wall-hanging quilts and clothes as well. I’ve been creating as long as I can remember, isn’t that how every artist/crafter is? There’s a picture of me, in a high chair, sleeping, with the outer crusts of a pb&j sandwich stood up in front of me. They are placed just so, my first sculpture.
What inspires you?
My children, Portland and all it’s grandness, and all that nature. Portland is a great city for artists, every business contributes a percentage to the arts. There are beautiful sculptures all over the place, as well as artists markets. The parks are amazing. The Willamette River and all the grand bridges, old and new, that bring it all together. The wildflowers, trees, and birds of the Northwest.
What got you started working with quilts?
When pregnant with my first child, I couldn’t find any organic quilts. Organic foods were really important to me, and when I got pregnant, I started thinking about how I wanted to expand to organic fabrics as much as we could. I couldn’t find one, not even on etsy, so I got a couple quilt books from the library, ordered some fabric, and did the best I could. I fell in love with the process, the textures, the way the cotton batting pulls everything in and shrinks and wrinkles the fabrics. It satisfied my love of 3D and 2D art all in one.
How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I think I started in ’05, when my little one was still little. My first shop was under the name crustychristy, an insulting childhood nickname I had embraced and stuck with. I started BearyOrganics in ’09 because I wanted a more refined shop, image, name. I love being a part of the etsy family. It hasn’t been extremely lucrative for me yet, but I spend far more time outside and playing with my children than in my sewing dungeon. It is a creative outlet for me, that’s there when I have the time, and doesn’t get jealous of my life when I don’t. One day, maybe when the kids are in school, I’ll have more than one page’s worth of stuff, and the sales will roll in.
What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I am so not the person to give advice here. My aunt though (Artsy), she’s full of great ideas. She’s been on etsy forever and makes wonderful things, and a decent living. She always says, use all your tags, take great pictures, use all your pictures, re-list occasionally if you aren’t making new things, and network.
What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I love being part of a group of mostly parents and grandparents who care about their kids and this world enough to pass by the cheap plastic beeping toys, and make great things. The toys, clothes, bedding, furniture, etc. that NattyKids members make inspire children, and they do so in a sustainable way. Eventually, I’d like to learn more about running the business more efficiently, and pick at the brains of those in the team that do make a living at it. As for contributing, I must admit that I’ve mostly been a bug on the wall so far. If anything is asked of me, I try to provide in a timely fashion. I’m sure that in that magical ‘one day’ place, where all the time that I don’t seem to have exists, I’ll become more involved.
What thoughts do you have for parent
s on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Natural toys are just so much more inspiring for children, not to mention safer. Natural Kids team members make quality non toxic products for children, as all products for children should be, but somehow aren’t. The closer the toy is to nature, the more they can just imagine themselves in the world, doing worldly things, or out of this world doing alien things. The possibilities are endless. Sticks, rocks, and dirt have always been the favorites around my house, but we also love blocks, books, and puppets. Kids imaginations are so fascinating and wonderful to watch at work. I guarantee the parents of children playing with natural wooden blocks is happier than the parent whose kid is playing with the sesame street tool bench that makes horrible noises all day long. Wouldn’t you rather listen to your child sing and talk out scenes while playing with toys, than those crazy recorded hi-pitched machine voices? Of course you would.
Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard