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creative makers: lauren friday

Boy, it’s getting harder and harder to write introductions that do my subjects justice. I’m surrounded by so many creators in my life, amazing women who conquer fears every single day and inspire every person they know. I don’t want to start sounding repetitive but there are just not enough words. Not enough words. This particular darling of a gem is someone I’ve admired from the day I met her; she has always had a fearlessness about her (although I’m sure she’d argue otherwise), a confidence that was so evident yet still humble. She’s just one of those people who loves people and you can see it radiate in how genuinely she presents herself. I strive for that sort of graceful transparency, and I couldn’t do it without role models like Lauren.

creative-makers-lauren-friday-12 Tell me more about what you do.

I currently work for a brand new educational business named The Callback Company. It is a company focused on training students of any age how to audition well based on their own skills. We provide Broadway masterclasses, seminars, cabaret performances, local showcases and NYC showcases to help broaden our students horizons and give them the skills needed to succeed in the professional world. We also help high school students prepare for their college auditions so they have an even bigger shot at getting into their dream program. It has been an amazingly fulfilling experience.

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So what’s your average day look like?

To be truthful, I don’t feel like I have an “average day”. Since I have so many different projects, it’s all about prioritizing and multitasking. Every day begins the same, however, with a bountiful amount of coffee.

What inspires you? How do you stay motivated?

I have to find the tiny joys within each day. The small victories often lead to giant ones. I also have an amazing support system that surrounds me. I try to fill my life with the most creative and positive people there are and gain strength and motivation from their encouragement and talents of their own. Inspiration is all around me, I think. I can be inspired by commotion or stillness. The challenge I face most often when it comes to inspiration is being in the correct mindset to see it. I feel like as an artist living in this world as it is today, it is hard to take yourself out of the daily grind long enough to truly experience your surroundings. This is something I am working on. The tactic that works the best for me is changing my scenery and other elements in my environment. 

creative makers: anna oh

Something that I really love and want to get back to is interviewing other creative and stylish individuals. The connections I get to make in this city are more inspiring than anything else could ever be. I do tend to make connections with other women, not because I particularly choose to, but because there’s a deeper understanding between us about how our creative pursuits really affect the trajectory of our success – both professionally and personally. As women we are carriers of the responsibility to nurture families and raise the next generation. That added layer of pressure on top of trying to chase our dreams makes every step feel that much more crucial; every success and every failure is that much more important. Anyways, I digress.

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Today I introduce you to Anna, a fellow artist who is brimming with talent and just trying to make her way up in the world. She’s already got the hard part down, I mean just look at her illustrations. Now all she has to do is be patient and wait for the world to pay attention. I have no doubt that soon this girl’s IG followers with explode and I’ll be seeing her drawings all over the industry. Her work is effortlessly precise yet loose, a striking balance of form and free strokes.

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When did you start illustrating? How did you decide that pen and paper was your destiny?
I started drawing early in grade school–really the same time anyone else starts drawing. Nothing else really “clicked” with me like art did… and I threw myself into it wholeheartedly. Maybe art found me ūüėČ I haven’t stopped drawing since.

creative masters: ashley buzzy of press shop

I think once Ashley reads the word “master”, she’ll probably¬†chuckle¬†in humble disbelief. She and I have met a grand total of two times and within those two conversations, I became¬†convinced that she’s got it all figured out. Not in a “got all of my ducks perfectly in a row” sort of way, but in a “real person with real expectations yet still a dreamer and a doer”… sort of way. Her studio, Press Shop, is filled with natural light and is quiet yet welcoming (like Ashley herself). I sat down with her one morning¬†as she elegantly free-handed Happy Birthday using pink and orange brush tip markers. Her down-to-earth candor and entrepreneurial courage is exactly what you’d expect out of a seasoned ladyboss. I greatly admire her willingness to take risks as well as her ability to determine where desire meets capability and compromises with circumstance.

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First things first – why printing, why letterpress? How did you get into this medium?
After taking lots of various printmaking classes in college, I realized in my professional life that I missed the process of actually using my hands to see a design or idea come to completion. Since I was already in the design and stationery business, I decided to invest in having my own letterpresses – they are the most commercially usable presses, don’t take up too much space and require very little maintenance. I love all kinds of printmaking, but letterpress seemed like the best press to personally own and operate a business with.

Flash back to ten years ago, or even just five. Did you envision that this is what your life was going to look like?
I’m not the type of person who envisions things, haha. If you asked me five years ago what my life would look like now I’d tell you I couldn’t care to think about that when there’s so much to get done today. That’s exactly how I would answer today if someone asked me about 2020. I think the key to my life has been to just keep making the next right choice and saying yes to the next opportunity that feels right in your gut. Not all of those choices have brought success or forward motion, but if you just keep trying different things, your gut will get a lot smarter about what to chase.

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What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about running a creative business?
That it’s any different than running any other kind of business. I always tell people that running a business is 10% being really good at something and 90% learning how to do new things. People look at my work and assume that the majority of my day is spent creating beautiful things. Nothing could be further from the truth. 10% of my time is spent creating and 90% is managing administrative tasks, email, bills, legal/accounting stuff, logistics, the studio, etc. I spend a lot of time cleaning. When you run a business you are everyone from the CEO to the maid. If you think you’re gonna get to skip the maid part – sorry dudes!

Describe a typical work day for you.
I try to tackle on “physical” project as soon as I walk into the studio. Whether that’s cleaning up my mess from yesterday, printing a small order, getting some calligraphy on paper that I’ve been procrastinating on, etc. It feels good to get one of those to-do’s off my list before I get trapped in the black hole of email and errands. I try not to spend all day on my email – although it can be INCREDIBLY tempting to do that because it feels like being productive even if you never get any actual work done. Usually I spend a couple of hours in the middle of the day running around to the paper supplier and the post office, etc. I usually end up staying late if I’m having a creative moment. Most of my original content is created at the end of a workday when I’m doodling and ignoring that I’m hungry and should go home.

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What are you inspired by? What is fulfilling to you?
I’m inspired by problem-solving. My favorite thing about running a business – or what keeps me interested in having a business – is creating business models or strategies and testing them. I really love to do that for other people too. I think being creative is great and all, but at my core I’m a business lady. I care less about WHAT I make and more about HOW I reach people with it.¬†

creative makers: charlotte smith

It took months of working with this woman to find out that she was a ceramist. And when I finally saw her porcelain pieces, it all made perfect sense. As is always the case, an artist’s work is a direct reflection of the person she or he is, whether intentional or not. Charlotte’s work is quiet, elegant, unexpected. Her live-work studio made me a bit jealous; with the sunlight streaming in through the loft, I felt a sense of calm and an overwhelming desire to get to work. My admiration for her diligence only grew.

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How did you get here? Why did you choose clay?
It was something to do while I couldn’t find a job, that was a frustrating time.

Do you remember the first time you worked with porcelain?
Yes, it’s because they were out of the stoneware that I normally buy. I’ve not used stoneware since I tried porcelain that day. Well, aside from my black clay.

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What does a perfect day in the studio look like to you?
I mostly work in the studio on Thursdays and Fridays along with the time I have off during the weekend. A perfect day in the studio is when I can complete enough things that I feel satisfied when I have to go back to work on Monday. I enjoy sunny days with my big windows. I also enjoy days that start with coffee.

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If you could pick one functional item to make for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Well, I’ve enjoyed making cups for the last year, so why not more cups. They’re almost instant gratification, and I enjoy using them as small canvases to do patterns on or experiments with new techniques.¬†

creative masters: rachel k garceau

If I sat down and tried to count all the talented people that I’ve met in my life,¬†my mind would probably implode. And yet still, I find more artists to admire, more hands to watch. As I move through different stages in my creative career, I find that there is always someone riding alongside me, just ahead of me, or right behind me. We’re all connected and relate to one another through some form of aspiration or insecurity. This instant bond over “figuring it out” is key to moving forward.

You may have noticed that some of these interviews are termed “creative maker” and some are termed “creative master”. What makes someone a master versus a maker? For me, these two terms are very fluid and subjective. I don’t know if any artists I could relate to consider themselves masters. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be moving forward. For me, a master is someone who is sure in their practice, sure in their voice, and sure in the goals they set before them. By now, all the Creative Makers I’ve featured are probably now Creative Masters.

I fell in love with Rachel’s forms before I met her in person. Over last year’s holiday season, I picked up a porcelain mug at Crafted Westside and my cabinet was then forever changed. It was smooth, elegant, and easy to hold, the perfect size. I had to have it. Not long after, I found out that Rachel was actually a mutual friend. It was then that I realized the universe was telling me that I had to meet this woman. Well.. I ended up meeting her and the time I spent with her was everything I anticipated it to be. When you connect with someone’s work, you are ultimately connecting with them as a person. So obviously, I knew I was going to¬†like her.¬†

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Can you describe the earliest memory you have working with clay?

It was second grade–we had Art class once a week, on Friday afternoons. I sculpted a whale out of clay and, just as I was instructed, I hollowed out the inside so that be wouldn’t blow up in the kiln. After a long week of waiting, he emerged from the bisk with a giant crack extending in both directions from his blow hole. Mrs. Rosetti suggested that I fill in the crack with glaze. That seemed like a good idea, so I selected the glaze called “blue-speckled gray” because, naturally, that was the best fit for my whale. I kept filling and filling and filling that crack with the blue-speckled gray glaze but the crack just kept absorbing and absorbing and absorbing the glaze. I did the best I could and put it on the cart with the others. The next week, I met my freshly fired whale, who was now indeed a beautiful shade of blue-speckled gray, with a crack extending in both directions from his blow hole. To this day, he lives on a shelf in the closet of my old bedroom in my parents’ house.

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What do you love about porcelain and why do you continue to work with it as your preferred medium?

So many things….it’s as though porcelain is this other material which lies somewhere between clay and glass. We treat it like clay when we manipulate it in its raw form, but when embraced by the fire, it begins to dance in the fluid realm of molten glass. And when it emerges, it contains luminescence. It is not transparent like glass, but it lets the light through and it glows. When vitrified, a sanded surface becomes as smooth as skin–such a pleasure to touch, to hold, to place to the lips and take a sip… In the process of slip casting, there is a certain predictability–when the porcelain is released from the mold, the form will be that of the hollow space of the mold. However, once turned over to the kiln, the porcelain may shift and transform in unexpected ways. It maintains mystery in that way. Porcelain also contains the paradox of extreme fragility and ultimate strength–it can be the finest teacup, locked safely in a cupboard, pulled out for only the most special occasion, and, if dropped, will shatter into a million pieces. It is also rugged and durable–a toilet that we sit on or floor tiles that we walk all over. And it is everything in between–it’s all in a matter of how we approach it, and what qualities we choose to expose.

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creative makers: audrey of tiny buffalo

I’ll never forget the first time I had a Tiny Buffalo cookie. My boyfriend brought it to me at the first Root City Market and I was immeeeediately hooked. The baker, Audrey caught my reaction and proceeded to hand me more cookies because of the ridiculous happy face I was making. Right there and then I knew that I’d have to keep an eye on this girl to hold onto this deliciousness in my life. Her granola, her scones, her hand pies… everything I’ve ever tried from Audrey’s kitchen is like a little piece of home and heaven. And of course, Audrey is as humble as the day is long – the epitome of a joyful baker, making it her business to put yummy in your tummy and a smile on your face.

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When you were little, what did you want to be when you grow up?

A gymnast. Which is hilarious because I am super clumsy and awkward! Then I discovered coffee shops and was hooked.

Where does the name “Tiny Buffalo” come from?

Tiny speaks to portion size – I studied nutrition in college and think that little indulgences can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Buffalo represents nature – being active/outside. It also represents the ingredients; I use local when possible, eggs and dairy from animals not treated with hormones, etc. But honestly… it’s just fun to say!

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What is your goal as a creative entrepreneur?

Not to have to get a real job ūüôā

Does baking run in the family? How did you begin to start making all these delicious things?

I definitely remember baking with my mom – we’ve made the same Christmas treats every year since I was two. I had an Easy Bake Oven and loved sampling batter off the beaters (still do). But I think we bake/talk about baking more since I started TB. And my dad has never complained about being a taste tester ūüôā They are my super fans.

What inspires you?

Chocolate milk and naps! 

creative makers: apple butter bakery

I’m thrilled to share with you the enviable and mouth-watering talents of a delightful¬†creative¬†entrepreneur that I’ve had the privilege of working with, Shellane Pickett of Apple Butter Bakery!¬†Three years ago she took me under her wing as an intern – teaching me the basics of cake decorating and always putting a smile on my face while doing so. After a brief stint on the west coast, Shellane has returned home (thank the heavens)¬†to realize the dream of opening¬†her own brick-and-mortar bakeshop, serving up everything from mini pies to brownies to custom designed¬†cakes.

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I’ve never been more aware than I am now of how difficult it is to do that, to choose a path you love and follow it no matter the obstacles.¬†I remember when this girl had only daydreamed of this moment and to see her finally have it is so uplifting, so inspiring.¬†With her husband, Daniel, and her family by her side, Shellane serves up an array of sweet treats that taste like home. All these delectable¬†creations are imbued with the spirit of the Pickett family; their warmth, optimism, and capacity for love lines every cupcake, cookie, and cup of coffee.

Where did your passion for baking originate from? When did you realize this was going to be your life’s work?

My passion for baking started when I was about 4 or 5 years old… old enough to hold the bowl steady while helping my mom bake some brownies or coconut cake. From then on, I was hooked. I had an idea that this was going to be ‘my thing’ during my junior year in high school. I wanted to go to culinary school, but I took an alternative route and ended up in the same place anyways. I remember I was in my mom’s kitchen decorating a cake and saying to myself “I wish I could just live in a little cottage and bake cakes all day”… I’m still working on the little cottage part!

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creative makers: bethany putnam of foxboxes

I am so ecstatic to be continuing my Creative Makers and Creative Masters series! I had fallen off track because of how busy I was in the past few months, but I’m on the road again and ready to introduce you to some seriously awesome entrepreneurs.¬†

Sitting down for coffee with Bethany Putnam reminded me how much I love interviewing other creative individuals; she’s a kindred spirit with a warm heart and a genuine desire to help others connect with their life’s bliss. I felt so comfortable chatting with her that I easily forgot I was supposed to be asking her actual questions! Bethany acts as one half of Foxboxes, bringing vintage-themed flasks to the drinkers of Atlanta and Los Angeles alike. Their sweet and nostalgic creations feature upcycled antique imagery with a cheeky sense of humor and whimsy to match. Having just been voted Best Indie Crafter in Creative Loafing, it’s easy to see that Foxboxes is on a steep trajectory towards indie craft stardom.

Bethany Putnam of Foxboxes | tide & bloom

ashley barnes ceramics

One of the best things about being an artist is having other creative people in my life. We all forge our paths differently, but at our hearts we are the same; we have an irrepressible impulse to create beautiful objects and meaningful experiences. My hope is to eventually introduce you to every single one of my amazingly talented friends because their gifts deserve to be shared. They’ll be sprinkled throughout my¬†Creative Masters and Makers series, which I fully intend to continue developing as soon as I get more time to interview!

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Til then here’s a short introduction to my friend, Ashley Barnes. She’s beginning her journey into flourishing as a professional ceramist and her whimsical pieces are sure to put a smile on your face.

creative makers: rachael riedinger of neva opet

I began my Creative Masters interview series in order to feature creative entrepreneurs who are a shining example of manifesting your goals and dreams. However, I quickly realized that there is just as much inspiration to be found in a newcomer – particularly because their decision to pursue passion over practicality is recent and fresh in their minds and hearts. I now present to you a “sister” series that I will call Creative Makers: a showcase of artisans, performers, and business owners who are new to the game and ready to give it their all.¬†

Within five minutes of meeting Rachael at Thread Count, I knew we would become fast friends. Her infectious laughter and evident love for all things well-made really made me feel like she was a kindred spirit from a previous lifetime. After only meeting me once, she so graciously opened up her home and studio to show me where the leather magic happens. That’s right people – leather. magic! Rachael Riedinger is the creator of Neva Opet, a line of hand-crafted purses and accessories that exemplify a modern take on the marriage between functionality and form. Her gorgeous array of leather and canvas bags were enough to make me swoon, but after getting to know her over iced lattes (made by Rachael herself) and scrumptious pastries, I knew I wouldn’t go home without one of her beautiful creations. Her work is dripping with passion and can be found via Neva Opet’s website, Etsy, and Facebook. Be sure to keep tabs on this one, ladies. I’m sure in a few years you will have wish you had bought one of her bags today!

Neva Opet: leather working tools | tide & bloom

First things first. Describe the personality or type of woman you make your bags for.

I make my bags for myself and for women like me. I like minimal things done in great materials that will last a lifetime. A woman like me is someone who appreciates art, design, and minimalism ‚Äď likes things a bit more understated. I think shopping habits have taken a change and people want to purchase things that they will keep forever. I’m hoping people won’t treat my bags preciously or baby them because they are meant to live and mature with their owners. The materials I use only get more awesome with age.

That’s a cool way to look at an accessory ‚Äď like a lifetime companion. So how did you learn to make what you make? Where did the impulse come from?

Well I started sewing when I was 14 years old. My mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I started sewing all the vintage silhouettes and patterns I couldn’t find in stores at the time ‚Äď like peg leg pants (skinny jeans) or just band patches onto my jackets. It just snowballed from there so I’ve been sewing for 11 years now. I just really enjoy making things and after one really awful job, I decided that I wanted to do something that I love. Even if it pays half as much, I’m still so much happier. In regards to the leather work specifically, I’m entirely self-taught. It took a long time to figure out the ins and outs of leather and I still learn something new every time I work. But because of that, each bag I make is better than the one before it.

Neva Opet: Rachael Riedinger | tide & bloom

Neva Opet: Rachael Riedinger | tide & bloom

Which part of the crafting process do you enjoy most?

Hmm. That’s tough. On one hand, I really love the transformation of materials ‚Äď seeing the fabric or leather become a finished product. But I also really love it when I see that someone else enjoys the bag as much as I enjoyed making it. It’s just such a gratifying thing to see a stranger say ‚ÄúI love this,‚ÄĚ and it makes me want to design more. Otherwise, I’d probably just end up with a bunch of bags in a room.¬†