Being creative is something I hold very dear. There are many thoughts continually at play in my mind – in addition to the “how can I make that better” or “how can I make that process easier”.
My dream has been to open a brick and mortar store that would cater to creativity and personal expression. In the early 2000’s, I was looking for commercial real estate for my employer. While in Santa Monica (California), we were a few blocks away from the ocean and the 3rd Street Promenade, when we found an architectural firm office nestled between numerous retail shops. They had huge floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick walls inside and a floating staircase in the center that led to a mezzanine. And they had LOTS of foot traffic!
Over the years, I have fantasized about how I would lay the store out. Bi-monthly there would be an artist/craftsperson on “display” in the front window. Maybe the demonstrations would be cake decorating. Maybe it would be a master in quilting. Large mirrors could be suspended over the work area so people waking by could see, in detail, the work that was being done. For more delicate work, maybe a video display behind the craftsperson.
Inspired patrons could purchase, in the store, materials, equipment and customized kits so they could create their own masterpieces at home. The store would also be home to experts who would conduct project specific classes, one-on-one training or open classes where patrons could ask questions about completing their own projects.
But, are the “arts and crafts” a dying skill set? I don’t think so. I think every generation is creative in their own way – especially as technology evolves. A current example is the cosplay industry. Some fabric stores have entire sections dedicated to cosplay. There are knitting patterns inspired by GOT. So, while your grandmother may not have sewn cosplay clothing, her grandchild might be doing just that.
So, while I slowly (sigh) work toward my eclectic store, I decided to launch Alex & Bee. One day, while waiting my turn at the cutting table at the local fabric store, I saw a roll of adorable dog fabric. Sketches of dogs on a cream background with a hint of color at their collars. Hmmm…
My mother is a huge animal lover. Dogs have been constant companions in our family. She’d have horses and alpacas if she didn’t live in the city. I bought the fabric and found a small leather dog collar and had a custom heart charm engraved with her name. Time got away from me and I was sewing her purse two days before Christmas. I wasn’t doing a respectable job because I was totally making it up as I went along. This would be the second purse I made her. I’d never seen her using the first one, so odds where I wouldn’t see this one either. As I’m sewing, I’m trying to come up with an alternative gift, but this was going to have be it.
On Christmas morning she unwrapped the purse, jumped up – not easy for a woman with two artificial hips and two artificial knees – and ran to me with tears on her cheeks. This was not at all the response I had anticipated.
With Mom’s constant encouragement, I decided to try a new approach and rather than making and selling bags online, I would sell the pattern and the supplies to make a similar purse. When time permitted, after my full-time office job, I would make purses and sell them online.
Added to the mix are children’s clothing I have made and sold previously on Etsy. And pins/brooches that are new or gently used/vintage. On the larger pieces, I have removed the pin and added a magnet so that you don’t damage your clothing with the pins – your favorite silk blouse. Soon I’ll post the beautiful vintage scarves I bought when in Paris.
Who are Alex and Bee? When I moved out on my own, my mom pursuaded the next door neighbor to part with one of their litter of puppies. Alex was a Lhasa Apso with a heart of gold. I was blessed to have him for 18 years. A few years in, I decided that Alex needed a companion so the “Bee” is for Buster. A sillier dog could not be found. I kept a journal of his antics – excellent content for a children’s book. Maybe when I retire I’ll pull that together.
So, a new chapter, starting with a dog print, has been named in honor of my two “children”. Hopefully Alex & Bee will be wildly successful, and I can move out of my apartment to a place where I can have as many dogs as I want.