Tag Archives: maker

Virginia Made

Meet Lora Cartrett of Tater Tot Trends

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

Tribe. Sisterhood. Movement. All things that today’s woman longs for and needs as she battles the day to day of balancing family, career, life, and self. Lora Cartrett, the founder of Tater Tots Trends, is no different. They are words that she never expected to use to describe the business. Yet, it has become everything the 35-year-old founder wanted her Concord, VA based trendy jewelry line to represent. 

Tater Tots Trends began as a creative outlet for Lora as she transitioned from working outside of the home as the director of a daycare to a stay at home mom. As her children were so young, she naturally began making a variety of unique and fun baby items. The brightlycolored and whimsical bows, headbands and bowties quickly took off. Between pop up shops in her mom’s home, craft markets and selling on social media, Lora found herself busier than she ever imagined. Then life threw more than a few major curve balls and Tater Tots Trends took a backseat to personal and family well-being. 

There is nothing quite like going through a storm that gives a whole new perspective on life. Lora’s journey took her down a path of insecurity, hopelessness, postpartum depression, devastation, and loss. In her survival, she discovered a new self-awareness that needed to be reflected in the business. As Tater Tots Trends began its return, the name remained the same, but the vibe was different. Jewelry was the focus and women were the priority. This revitalization was for Lora and every other woman who longed to feel accepted and beautiful wherever they are in the journey. 

Visiting Tater Tots’ social media pages, one can’t help but notice the diversity of women (and their daughters) posting daily photos wearing TTT. Women are complimenting, supporting and cheering each other on. They are proudly shouting that even though they may not be feeling their best or having the best day, one pair of earrings can evoke the TTT motto, Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful. It is a safe space to post filter free and feel a certain celebrity status throughout the day as likes and comments promote the “You go girl!” feeling. It is then that you realize, this is not just about accessories. 

“Tater Tots Trends is a movement. It has evolved into so much more than ladies’ jewelry. It has moved into a tribe full of women who empower and inspire one another!” 

Even as she sits on the first day of a beach vacation, Lora assures her customers turned sisters, that the TTT team will take good care of them in her absence. Her two daughters and son (whose nickname inspired the business name), plus her husband Joe (deemed her fourth child) will always take priority. The journey continues and storms may still arise but with a supportive family and thousands of “sisters” by her side, Lora is at peace in her newfound purpose. 

FindTaterTotTrends: 

www.tatertotstrends.store

Instagram: @tatertottrends 

Facebook: /tatertottrends 

BELLA MAGAZINE DEAL!

Use code BELLA for a FREE pair of earrings with purchase during August.

 

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer. Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.” www.thehillcityhandmade.com 

Virginia Made: Sew Brave Designs

Meet May Gonzalez

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City Handmade

“April showers bring May flowers.” How often have we heard this old adage quoted? Every April, as we experience rainy days more often than not, we try to look on the bright side. We think about the reward and beauty the gloomy days will bring. That philosophy can be applied to May Gonzalez and the inspiring purpose that was birthed from her storm. 

Born in the Bronx and experiencing foster care in Texas, May eventually found her way to Richmond, VA. She jokes, “Oh boy, I have a Lifetime story, I’ve seen a lot in my 31 years.” In April 2012, May and her husband lost their first child to Trisomy 13, a genetic disorder which is considered incompatible with life. After receiving the news at 19 weeks, they made the difficult decision to go through with the pregnancy. Caleb was born “sleeping” at 32 weeks. Amidst the devastation and loss, May turned to sewing to deal with the grief. What began as hand sewing personalized pillows and baby moccasins soon manifested into much more.  

With her passion ignited, May began to focus on what she really loved, bags. Armed with a sewing machine (gifted from her mother-in-law), a few lessons from her husband’s aunt and plenty of YouTube videos, Sew Brave Designs was born. The name for the business came to her in a dream. “It was pretty clear from God. I wanted to combine my experience in life with my passion. I love sewing and I wanted to remind people that they too can be brave no matter what they face.”  

The handmade bags feature bold flowered fabrics combined with leather and are not only beautiful but make a difference. A portion of the proceeds for each one is donated to Noah’s Children in Richmond. The Bon Secours organization provides for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Each donation is made in memory of Caleb and he lives on each time May sees someone carrying one of her creations. 

Though faced with the showers of life, May Gonzalez has found her flowers. She and her husband have since been blessed with two fun-loving boys, ages five and seven months. Life is not always easy but they face it together. Assuming there isn’t a Golden Girls marathon on, you might find May enjoying a date night involving tacos and movies or just hanging out and laughing with the family. Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, you can be sure that May is counting her blessings and enjoying the flowers after the storm. 

www.sewbravedesigns.etsy.com

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.” www.thehillcityhandmade.com

Bella Finds

Craft the Rainbow

Brittany Watson Jepson brings fun paper crafts to your home through Craft the Rainbow: 40 Colorful Paper Products. Each of these 40 crafts, split amongst nine color-specific sections, have step-by-step directions and images. Starting with pink and ending with rainbow, each section opens with a quote and some fun facts about the new color. These color-filled pages won’t just tell you how to make each craft, but will also tell you what materials you need, a description of the design and where her inspiration came from. While Jepson does give the time frame for these crafts, they’re mainly based around shows or music. So, if you like The Great British Bake Off, in a just a couple episodes you can complete the White Paper Sculpture on page 101. Or, if you like Michael Jackson, within just one album you can complete the Crepe Paper Streamer on page 125. Do you prefer Gilmore Girls? Then, during your favorite episode, why not make the Rainbow Necklace found on page 129? Or make the Rainbow Paper Plants on page 144 while you watch the VHS of Anne of Green Gables. Whatever craft you choose, and whatever method of background noise you choose, you can find the templates for these designs in the back of the book. Just trace what you want, pick a color, and get started.   

Written by Samantha Fantozzi

 

Just Creative People

Find your creative inspiration at Studio Six!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Grace Brian (left) and Maggie Perrin-Key (right) met in November 2017. They connected immediately, and decided to open an art space together, Studio Six, located in The Aurora Studio Center in Downtown Roanoke. Their serendipitous meeting led them to realize that they had the same vision for an art space that welcomed creative people within the community through workshops and portfolio consultations. The artists complement one other, creating a fulfilling and nourishing space where their talents flourish.  

(Grace and Maggie photo by www.paigelucasphotography.com )

Both Grace and Maggie began developing their crafts at a young age. Grace received a sewing machine at age 10, and Maggie started oil painting during a summer camp in fourth grade. In her early years, Grace never considered fashion design as a career option. While planning for college, she didn’t think of it as something she wanted to pursue. After attending Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCU) for a while, she went back to sewing and found that the stigma she had originally attached to fashion design kept her from seeing the bigger picture. More importantly, sewing made her happy. She decided to transfer to the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University, where she became interested in sustainability within the textile industry. 

As a young adult, Maggie continued her pursuit of the arts. First at VCU, and then at Hollins University. At Hollins, she studied printmaking, bookbinding, and papermaking. She also began exploring fiber art and textiles. 

“Coming from somewhere that was so arts-centered, I didn’t realize how important it was to have so much support for studying the arts. Originally, Maggie and I wanted to make a place where anybody, specifically young adults who are looking to pursue a career in the arts, can come and get that support. Guidance is important because a lot of people get to the art school application and they need a portfolio and they haven’t been working on one, don’t know what to do, or don’t know how to photograph their art,” explains Grace.

That initial idea morphed into something bigger, however, when the two decided to offer workshops within their space. The workshops have taken off, and with their success, Grace and Maggie have expanded their vision.

“I wanted an art space that was not as daunting and was more on community level where young people felt like they could come and hang out with us or make something,” says Maggie.

“There is a human desire to create things. It’s rewarding and confidence-boosting when you see something that you made. We want to be that outlet that gives people that opportunity. To be able to make something and create something gives you power and knowledge. In addition to knowing you can now do this, you will also know what goes into a painting the next time you see it. Consumer education is so important to me, so I think that when we are talking about the arts, this is consumer education in a way,” Grace adds.

Grace and Maggie offer portfolio consultation and open studio opportunities throughout the year. They also host popular workshops including Zodiac Embroidery, DIY Pom Pom Wall Hangings, Live Model Figure Drawing and so much more. Visit their Facebook page (@studiosixroanoke), Instagram (@studiosixroanoke), or visit their website at www.studiosixroanoke.com for more information on upcoming workshops and events!

Virginia Made: Lane Paper Works

Meet Sydney Lane of Lane Paper Works!

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

In a complicated world, there’s something to be said for simplicity. Simple shapes and colors are the signature that twenty-four-year-old Sydney Lane has become known for. What began as hand drawn greeting cards has now grown into illustrations and custom portraits. Lane Paper Works has emerged to be the area’s go to source for uniquely illustrated family portraits, localities (Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Nashville to name a few), and pets. Each of Sydney’s digitally drawn designs capture her subjects in a cartoon-like way that has become instantly recognizable as her work. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design and starting Lane Paper Works, she never dreamed that it would all take off so quickly.

Exactly one year from its internet launch, the company opened a storefront location on 11 S Main Street in Chatham. The quaint building features not only her own handcrafted designs but those of fellow makers. With a passion for supporting small businesses, the contents of the store consists of artisan gifts, each piece carefully selected from talents across the region. There are many advantages and challenges to going from a website to now running a store. Sydney has not given up her website or selling at handmade markets, she now has not only her products but all of the store inventory to take into consideration when making decisions.

Every day her she remembers the advice of her grandfather, who recently passed, “Do your best.” Sydney holds these words close to her heart as she goes through the day to day operations of planning out store products, display windows, and sales all while still creating for herself. While there are many pressure-filled days running the business, Sydney feels extremely humbled to have a supportive family and loyal customers who follow her work and shop in Lane Paper Works.

A self-proclaimed cat lady who takes pride in the unique names she gives her cats, Sydney also enjoys music. Her love of music keeps the tunes in the store changing to match her mood for the day. Every day is a fresh start. New and old customers to interact with and get to know, window displays to design around the season, and new work to create. Most importantly, every day is a day to be thankful as an artist and as a supporter of artists. Giving back is just as important as profiting. Her grandfather’s favorite three words of encouragement are featured in one of her prints whose proceeds benefit the American Heart Association. In addition, Lane Paper Works also supports another charity, A21 with proceeds from Sydney’s “Strong Women” print. “It is about 10% luck and 90% hard work, day in and day out. However, it is worth it—so worth it.”

For more information, visit www.lanepaperworks.com. She’s on Facebook and Instagram @Lanepaperworks. Enjoy a special discount during April for our readers! Enter code “lovelybella” for 25% OFF!!

Local business: Hawk + Owl Weaving

Meet Jen Whitcomb of Hawk + Owl Weaving

Interview by Samantha Fantozzi

How did you get your start with Hawk and Owl?

So my business came about from the need to just be creative again. I studied art in college and a couple years ago I stumbled across Maryanne Moodie; an Australian, well-known female weaver. And within the weaving world, she’s super popular. She made me want to learn to weave. Her weavings were super colorful, and full of texture and I thought ‘I really have to try that’: so, I did. And people really wanted to by them, which was a surprise. I didn’t plan on that becoming an actual business. But when they started reaching out to me, I opened an Etsy shop and it took off from there.

How did you come up with the name?

It’s about my kids. I have twins; boy and girl. My daughter was a really bad sleeper, so she was the night owl. My son was the opposite. They used to share a room, so it was totally insane. One would be awake, and one would be sleeping. So, when it came time to come up with a fictitious name, I had a hard time deciding and I finally landed on something funny that reminded me of them. Plus, my husband is super into birds, he can do like 400 different bird calls so it’s kind of a thing within our family. Not too much to do with weaving, just more of a family connection.

What kind of weavings can customers expect to find in your shop?

My color selections change seasonally, as do the designs. I don’t really plan out my designs, they’re mostly geometric, free-form weaving. They come in a variety of sizes from extra-large to small, and I also take custom orders. I try to have between 10 and 15 things in my shop at a time. Closer to the holidays I offer more smaller pieces like tassels and pom-poms. But, on a regular basis, just a broad selection of random geometric and bright pieces.

How long have you been weaving?

Not long, I would say 3 ½ years. I picked it up pretty quickly. I made my first loom. I took a premade frame that had canvas on it that was meant for painting. I stripped the canvas off and used the frame and hammered in some nails. After that, I started ordering professional looms. Made my first loom and just went to town: didn’t take too long to get into it.

Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done?

I made a piece as a submission for a New England based magazine called Taproot Magazine. It was really big and had lots of heavy fringe. I photographed it on the Blue Ridge parkway and I still have it. It was fun to make, and it’s become one of my favorite pieces.

Find Jen on Facebook at Hawk + Owl Weaving; Instagram at hawk_and_owl_weaving; and hawkandowlweaving.com. Her website contains a small portfolio of her work. If you wish to make a purchase, you can either click her Etsy shop from her website or go to the shop directly at etsy.com/shop/hawkandowlweaving. She also posts about upcoming events, such as workshops and pop-up events, on her website. She does classes through Wool Workshop in Roanoke and will be having one this April.

 

Virginia Made: The Leather Lotus

Little green sprouts will soon begin to make their debut. The occasional hint of a warm day will bring smiles to faces and a little extra pep to everyone’s step. It may not feel like it quite yet but spring is on the horizon. With the start of each new season comes inspiration and new ideas. Her love of the outdoors is where Taylor Smith finds her own creative inspiration to create handmade jewelry. A reflection of leather and natural beauty, her business The Leather Lotus is taking everyday casual to the next level.

Inspired by the colors of the season, Taylor’s jewelry is designed around a carefully selected stone or piece of metal before various colored leather is chosen to complement the element. The textures and shapes used seem right at home in her favorite photo studio, the great outdoors, as she photographs each piece for her Etsy shop. Taylor still remembers fondly the day she heard “cha-ching!” the sound that has become music to an online seller’s ears. Having no idea what it meant, she looked at her phone and was ecstatic to find notification of her first sale, a leather wrap bracelet. To this day, the sound still evokes the same excitement as if it were the very first.  More than a few products later, the fringe earrings offered by The Leather Lotus are this maker’s must have wardrobe accessory. “Something about fringe just seems like so much fun to me. Pair them with a basic tee and jeans and suddenly I feel excited!”

The best of both worlds is how Taylor describes her life as a stay at home mom and entrepreneur. She takes pride in the two young boys, Grayson (4) and Finn (2) whom she and her husband are now raising in Roanoke. A native of the area and a Hokie for life, there’s no place Taylor would rather be than outside with her boys chasing chickens. Although, a vacation to the small island in Puerto Rico where she and her husband honeymooned or Spain would not be unwelcome. Nap times are for making jewelry and craft shows a welcome break in the routine of full-time wife and mother. It’s a way to connect with amazing customers as well as fellow makers who have become friends. Taylor’s advice to anyone contemplating starting a new business? “Go for it! I had so many hesitations when I started this. It has grown more than I ever thought it would and I love every minute of it.”

This month, we will hosting a giveaway on our Facebook page for The Leather Lotus! Taylor is giving away a $50 gift card to her Etsy page! Stay tuned!
Also, use the code BELLA during the month of March for 20% off in her shop!

Find The Leather Lotus:
theleatherlotus.etsy.com
FB: /theleatherlotus
IG: /theleatherlotus

 

Written by Faith Jones

Meet the Makers: Minor Terry

Minor Terry started crocheting at the age of five in a friend’s basement. From that time, she could make a square or scarf for anyone who needed it. When YouTube become more prevalent, she was able to watch videos on repeat to figure out how people were holding their hands, and her projects became more intricate, personal, and detailed. Today, she crochets just about everything from fuzzy stuffed animals and stroller blankets to coffee cozies and ear warmers. Her hobby has turned into a small businesses, Crooked Mountain Crafts, and has given her the opportunity to reach more clients with her work. She crochets wherever she goes, and often has more than one project in a bag by her side.

“I can crochet and walk, and I’ve definitely been that person to pull it out at the bar during trivia night,” she laughs. “Anytime we are hanging out with friends, they know I’m going to have a crocheting project.”

  Like many knitters and crocheters, Minor has several projects “on the needles” at any given moment. Although this may seem like a large commitment, the reaction a person has when they receive something she has created makes the entire process worthwhile.

“I sent my sister a blanket, and I asked if she could film one of her friends opening it since I wouldn’t be there to see it. One of my favorite memories is her joy as she unfolded it,” she explains.

In addition to projects of her own choosing, Minor does a lot of custom creations. She’s crocheted blankets with specific colors, patterns, and even sports logos. Recently, a Mets blanket proved to be her most detailed design yet.

“It’s a single stitch, so every single stitch had to be counted and done. I think that was my most challenging piece, but that isn’t to say it wasn’t fun. Once you get into the rhythm of it, it goes pretty quickly,” she says.

Her clients are not limited to purchasing crocheted pieces. Minor’s boyfriend is an arborist, and he has designed copper trees that are available on her Etsy shop and at her craft shows. People use them for Christmas trees, jewelry trees, money trees, and talk pieces. With so many choices available, Crooked Mountain Crafts is a great place to find fun, personalized gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

Minor spends her evenings stitching and making everything she sells, so you know your purchase is made with love and not mass produced. If you still need a gift for someone on your list (or yourself!), be sure to check out her work. You can find Crooked Mountain Crafts at the Kazim Shrine Holiday Arts, Crafts & Vendor Show on December 9 from 10am-2pm, or at www.etsy.com/shop/CrookedMtnCraft.

 

Featured image by Ronnie Lee Bailey