Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Art of Being You: Interview with Courtney Feider of Fig & Honey


Courtney Feider is the founder of the REN Method and Fig & Honey makes apothecary-style  * fresh * clean * body * products using nutrient dense by-products from the beer and winemaking process.  
With inspiration from some of the most serious and committed sustainable and organic winemakers in Italy, and several eco-sensitive breweries in the PacificNW, we process body products which echo a sustainable and gentle lifestyle.   

Using whole food-grade ingredients, essential oils, and upcycled by-products distilled from natural foods and beverages, our team creates handmade goods for body, health, meditation, and home.  Founder Courtney Robinson Feider developed and continues to develop a natural body goods and products line.  

With grape seeds and skins fresh off the wine press, we create a solar-infused, nutrient dense oil which becomes a healing base for all of our salves, lip balms, and body scrubs.   Taking hops grown in the local and regional area, we develop a solar-infused, nutrient rich anti-inflammatory oil which is our second most popular base for balms, scrubs, and salves.  


When and why did you first start your business?

I started making Fig & Honey style products in 2004 after I went to massage therapy school.  I already had a bachelors in health science, so when the curriculum was repetitive I would dig in to advanced study of aromatherapy, food as medicine, and food therapy.  It stuck.  I have sensitive skin and so do my kids, and I was forever spending massive amounts of money on natural products.  One day I looked at the ingredients, and thought - I can MAKE this.  So I did.  After several years of "practicing", friends encouraged me to put it out for the general public.  That was January 2014. The rest is history.  


Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity?

I grew up in Boise, Idaho.  It probably did influence my creativity because I knew very creative people growing up.  It was a much smaller community back then too, which meant you had an opportunity to invent your own reality.  I was a child of the 80's and very influenced by the graphic features of the time.

Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively?

I am finding a new version of myself every day.  I am constantly in re-invention mode.  I am also a fine artist (watercolor/mixed media) and it's important that I keep moving, express, document my place in the world at a given time.  Lucky for me, this is emerging through Fig & Honey and special recipes that genuinely help people heal.



What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?

A very convoluted one, but all variations on a common theme :: lifestyle and consumer engagement.  I was first in corporate marketing, then agency work, then selling boutique wine, then back to agency work, then corporate marketing, then massage therapy/natural healing/food and aromatherapy, then the natural stuff while doing agency work, then founding my own companies starting in 2007.  All roads lead back to the center, which is my soul purpose, my ethical core, and my desire to help people help themselves.

How would you describe your process?

Ongoing.  Dreams, journaling, sketching, designing, smelling, absorbing, fixing, refining, trying, tasting (yes, often actually tasting).  Then being committed to the best end product and being okay with refining it until it's right, but releasing it early to the correct small audience so that I can receive the feedback.  I want to make things that people can use for multiple purposes, daily, and blow through before they know it so it's at it's freshest and best.  I desire the creation of things that help them improve how they feel about themselves.  I design with the intention of creating a time and space memory in each essential signature scent from the natural raw ingredients + essential oils.

What is your favorite medium?

Right now - raw, food based products.  Cocoa butter.  Beeswax.  Propolis.  Essential oils of every kind.  Shea butter.  Kokum butter.  Kaolin clay.  And lovely, colorful mineral oxides that are saturated color and tons of sparkle and shimmer.  Like nature's watercolors.  I feel like a fairy princess when I am working with those (but maybe that's the influence of two young daughters...).



Where do you find your inspiration?

Nature
Family
Friends
People with an "issue" they can't solve
And by obsessively researching

What do you do for fun?

We live on a half acre that we just bought so for now, fun is redevelopment of this space.  We're gardening, urban homesteading, we raise chickens, and I can't wait to plant my herbs.
I also road bike, do hot and traditional yoga, sing, and try to spend time in the company of exceptional people, first of which are my 4 and 6 year old girls and my lovely urban homesteader of a husband.  Watching all of that Little House on the Prairie as a kid is really paying off :)

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?

I feel that every day right now because my business is still developing, and all of my projects have something in re-invention at a given moment.  I do feel like I have made it because I have a loving and healthy family, a wonderful spouse/partner, and successful businesses that don't cause me too much heartache and have no debt.  I live on a lovely green space in a growing and desirable community in the PacNW. After 7 years in office space, I moved my businesses and production to a home based place.  I feed my chickens between meetings on Skype and fulfilling orders.  I have it GOOD.



How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?

Just checking in on that point every day.  Some part of it has to be action, some strategy, and some planning for the future.  And a lot needs to be love - family, friends, business supporters, coaches, mentors, and mentees.  Balance.

What is the most difficult part of Being You?

I have to remind myself to slow down.  To breathe.  To take things one at a time.  To accept each day as "enough".  I am fascinated by what I do, so if I didn't need to sleep and there was a time vortex that still allowed me time with my family and obsessive amounts of creation, I would create that much.  It's a tough energy to balance and a tough one to be in a relationship with.  I value my husband's mental peace, fortitude, and patience.

What is the most rewarding part of your day?

The early morning when one or both of my kids come bounding into my bed and fit like a puzzle piece next to me for a little while.  We stay there a long time on weekends and days off.  It centers me for the rest of the day, and I think it does the same for them.

What do you have in the works?

Narrowing my product line and refinement of the beauty products.  I want to stick with what works best and people use most.  I am also developing a line of natural home cleaning products and some "apothecary" style reed diffuser systems.


Who do you admire?

So, so many people.  I am not really someone to admire people who are a "big deal".  I admire people I find on the serendipitous path of daily life.  When they are meant to be in my life, they show up again and again, without me trying.  I admire the lifecycle of community and connection.  I admire people who are a big deal who don't act like they are. I admire people who struggle and overcome.

Follow and reach out to Courtney at:

  Instagram A Sensible Habit  Facebook A Sensible Habit

Courtney, thank you so much for sharing your story! These products just look luscious and you are doing so much to make us all more beautiful.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Art of Being You: Interview with Brandy Schumann



I am so excited to share the art of Brandy Schumann with you! She is a very creative gal with a great eye for color and design which are translated onto beautiful textiles and prints. Her company A Sensible Habit is a playful line of home goods that includes hand painted textiles, rubber stamps, and stationery for the like-minded young-at-heart.  Inspired by her travels, the South, and her everyday surroundings, she creates whimsical and colorful items that add an extra touch of fun to entertaining and the home

Why did you first start your business? 

I started selling my work in 2005, but the business and work itself has grown and changed along the way

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity? 
I grew up in Savannah, GA and spent most weekends swimming in rivers, going out in the boat with my dad, and running around in the woods. Savannah is a great historic town, and perfect for exploring.  I’m influenced by the South, but I find inspiration everywhere, especially in nature and traveling.

Atlanta has a lot of hiking near by, it’s a short drive to the ocean and even shorter to lakes. I can head to Nashville, Charleston, Savannah or New Orleans in just a few hours. Pig out on amazing food, get inspired, come home and get to work.


Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively? 
Yes and no. I am constantly searching for new mediums to explore . I venture out to studios around town for letterpress, calligraphy, and currently I’m attending a ceramics studio. Maybe I have a more distinct style than i realize...

What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?
Art has always been a part of my life. I’ve never entertained the idea of doing anything else. I fell in love with Printmaking because of all the different tools and mediums. On a life-changing study abroad trip to Italy, I met my best friend who was a Textiles major. Fast friends, we took classes in each other’s major, yapping and collaborating like crazy. These collaborations are what led to turning my designs into functional items.  Seeing my work go off into the world is beyond exciting, rewarding, and a dream come true. I’ve just been plugging away, putting myself out there. Growth takes time, and we have to be patient.


How would you describe your process?
I keep sketchbooks with lots of drawings and found images. Usually I just put pen or brush to paper and go for it. I’m not a big planner and enjoy an organic creative process, letting my ideas flow freely.

What is your favorite medium? 
Watercolor on paper and working with inks on fabric

Where do you find your inspiration? 
Museum visits, taking a walk, the tiles on a restaurant floor, or the sand on a beach. This week I spent the day at the Botanical Gardens snapping pictures of the leaves, flowers and plants. I see shapes, patterns and a color pallette in these things.



What do you do for fun? 
I love entertaining friends, eating out and traveling.  We are always hosting parties and having people over. Any reason to break out my collection of platters and glasses. Some of the best nights have been spent around the kitchen table with conversation, good food and too many bottles of wine. I also get down on some Netflix.

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it? 
This past year fun things have happened that have encouraged me to keep at it. I’m a part of the West Elm local initiative, My work appeared on ElleDecor.com, Refiery29, CoutryLiving.com, and a snippet in Uppercase Magazine These were all small features, but pretty big to me! There is always work to be done, and I’m not sure I will ever feel like “I’ve made it”.

How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life? 

Lately balance is something I’m searching for. In addition to A Sensible Habit I have a full time job so it’s hard to find the time for everything I need and want to do. I keep lots of to do lists, and try to schedule time for fun. Many nights I want to plop down on the couch, but I’ll make myself get in the car and head to ceramics. Sometimes I just want to hide in the studio making things, but I have to remember to make time with friends and family.  



What is the most difficult part of Being You?
No complaints here really. With the business I would say that balance is hard. It’s just me, and often I feel bogged down in emails and admin stuff when I would rather be painting.

What is the most rewarding part of your day? 
Opening the front door to find my furry guy Hendrix jumping and wagging his tail.


What do you have in the works? 
I’m working on expanding my product line to offer pillows and I’m currently working on some ceramic necklaces.

Who do you admire?
Risk takers and everyone out there going for it! I have a few friends that are doing things we sometimes tell ourselves aren’t possible, and they give me hope. Right now if I had to pick a person it would be Lisa Congdon. She does amazing detailed work that is bright and fun. She didn’t get started making art until her 30’s and that shows us that it’s never too late to go down a path you love.

Brandy Would is offering a 15% off coupon for you! ARTOFBE15 in her shop

  Instagram A Sensible Habit   Facebook A Sensible Habit




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Art of Less


Let's talk about less.


We like to feel like we got it. Like we are super duper multi-taskers who can take on the world. Some times we can. Most of the time...we can't.

There are so many things in the world to distract our focus away from the things that matter most. For some reason we've let "busy" become a part of who we are. It's important to be busy. Right? It gives us the sense that we are accomplishing so much. Well, you might be accomplishing quite a bit, but are those accomplishments and checks on our to-do list really helping us to progress, grow, and learn?


Now don't get me wrong, we've all got things to do to keep ourselves and families fed, strong, and growing. (I know that if you have children they may be involved in dozens of activities on top of school, that is totally a personal thing.) I'm not talking about those things. I'm talking about you, and what is important for you.

I just wonder if you are feeling like you can squeeze more onto your plate because you feel you should and not because you actually can. Look at your plate as a symbol for your life. Can you really fit one more thing onto your plate? Oh, wait! Just grab more plates! Stack them up high, keep them spinning, balance them all and you can do it all!

Until you can't. You'll have a serious meltdown. Like I did. Ew. (to keep it simple)

You'll see that your life is out of balance.  

I'm hoping you'll have read this before that happens. Believe me it's an ugly cry, despair disaster-ridden that will leave you feeling empty and inadequate.

Be very grateful I didn't stop to take a picture of the real-life ugly cry epic meltdown of 2012.

BUT...

It’s exciting when people ask things of you!
It’s exciting to say yes to new opportunities too. However you can’t do it all or be everything to everybody. Saying no is so hard, but it can also open up room in your life to say yes to the right things at the right time.

Here are 3 things to try.

1. Learn to say NO. Or more politely, "I'd love to! However, I'm not able to take that on at this time." This leaves everyone feeling better. You don't need to explain why either. 

Also by practicing this Art of Less you'll find it gets easier to say NO.

2. It's your plate. Everyone gets their own. Don't let others put things on your plate!  Delegate or delete the things that you don't have room for. Pare down. Simplify. Take some time and focus on what are the most important things on your plate right now. 


3. Some days and tasks will be more important than others, that's ok too. You can't do everything all at once, and shouldn't. It's bad for your brain and will leave you feeling very out of whack. This is call prioritizing. You wouldn't shower and get dressed simultaneously, just like you shouldn't be checking social media while making dinner. You will either burn something or disappoint someone in every case. FOCUS on 1 task at a time.

All photos by Steffanie Frandsen

So stick to one plate. I promise, it is better this way. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015... almost

I hope that all of you have had a wonderful time enjoying family, friends, and copious amount of calories as we all deserve this time of year. I took a much needed break from the business of blogging and have spent many hours contemplating what I want to accomplish and be in 2015. I try to choose a new word for each year. Last year was BLOOM. I felt like I had finally pushed through many hard things and have really begun to find myself creatively. I wanted this new budding creativity of mine to grow and bloom into something more.

Looking back on 2014 I think I was able to bloom in so many ways. I attended Alt, launched the interview series with creative women on this blog, appeared on NH Chronicle with Eva Blake's Makery, designed and published a few new sewing and quilting patterns and cross country back to my home state. Feeling pretty good about this last year, but already I've plans for 2015!

I'll be continuing to interview creative women (I'd love to hear from you!) and as a result will be transitioning more of my creative works over to Eva Blake's Makery, so this blog will be going through some adjustments in the coming weeks.

What are you up to this next year? Do you have plans for 2015? Do you choose one little word to keep you focused too?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, 

I'm sure you are here to read another fantastic interview with an amazing creative woman, as you should be! It's been a fantastic to learn more about these ladies.





I'll be bringing you even more interviews in the coming weeks, but for now I'm taking some time off through the end of November. This will give me time to wrap up some new patterns and designs I'm working on as well as planning the next Eva Blake's Makery Make & Mingle Event


If you are interested in being part of the next round of Art of Being You interviews I'd love to talk to you! Please email me at ebmakery{at}gmail.com


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Art of Being You: Interview with Katy Skelton



Katy Skelton Acuff has been working in the furniture industry for over eight years.  After graduating from the University of Texas, she remained in Austin to work at one of the industry’s top wholesalers.  She held the position of product designer and traveled the world to visit factories and inspect samples of her designs. Katy returned to graduate school in 2009 to pursue a Master of Fine Art in Furniture Design from Savannah College of Art and Design. During research for her graduate thesis, she focused on the benefits of manufacturing with factories that are committed to social responsibility.  She worked with fair trade factories in India to produce a small line of wooden furnishings for her thesis, which greatly influenced the style of her first independent collection.  After completing her MFA, Katy relocated to Brooklyn, New York and opened Katy Skelton LLC. 


When did you first start designing furniture?
I started designing in 2007, while working for a major furniture wholesaler. I started my own independent line in 2013. 

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity?
I grew up in South Texas. My dad is an engineer, and is always building something. I think I was inspired by his ability to make anything he wanted. 

Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively?
I think so. I am always learning, and my style is always evolving, but I think I have learned my aesthetic and know what works for me and what I am drawn to. 




What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?
I started out as an assistant in a product development department at a furniture company after college (I got an undergrad degree from The University of Texas in Austin). I moved up to become the product designer at that company before leaving to get an MFA in Furniture Design from Savannah College of Art and Design. After that I moved to Brooklyn and started my own company. 

How would you describe your process?
It is always different. Sometimes I think of a design and take months to develop it and figure out the best way to make it, and other days I think of an idea and create a prototype on the same day. But I am always reading design blogs and magazine, and looking at what my peers are doing.  


What is your favorite medium? 
Wood! I have a great factory that produces my wooden pieces, and I feel that they can make anything I design. 

Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere! Traveling, reading watching movies.  

What do you do for fun?
I like to be outside when I am not working. We live close to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, so that makes it easy to get into nature without leaving the city.  

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?
I will tell you when it happens! 



How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?
I am still figuring that out. Some days it is easy, but other days I find it a struggle to make time for myself. 

What is the most difficult part of Being You?
Right now, the most difficult part is that I am running the company by myself. I have one part-time employee, but I usually only use her for specific projects. Trying to balance design, marketing, accounting and customer service can be overwhelming at times. 

What is the most rewarding part of your day?
Anytime I make a sale or connect with a customer. That is great validation for me. 

What do you have in the works?
I have several new additions to my collection that I am launching this week at High Point market. They are all tabletop items.  

Who do you admire?
Lindsay Adelman, Emerson Fry and Everlane. I think they all make beautiful products and I admire Emerson Fry and Everlane's business models. 

You can follow Katy Skelton at: