This is the first in a new series on interviews with eco crafters from across the globe. As part of the Eco Etsy Team, I have met many talented people dedicated to creating items which cause as little impact on the planet as possible. These interviews offer me the chance to showcase some of the fantastic talent to be found in the team.
Don't forget to search 'teamecoetsy' when looking for eco friendly products on etsy
First up is the lovely Rikkianne of Chakra Pennywhistle!
Name: Rikkianne Van Kirk
Shop Name: Chakra Pennywhistle
Shop Link(s): www.chakrapennywhistle.etsy.com
Location: Tucson, AZ USA
Ships To: Everywhere
What do you create?
In my shop, you will find organic cotton pillows, organic onesies and tees, along with recycled money bag pillows and wallets.
How did you get into your craft?
Oh Goodness, that is a long story. I will try and make it short. I have always enjoyed art in all of its forms. I started out in performance art and actually went to a dramatic arts school in NYC. I guess that I got caught up in just living in the city and basically trying to pay the bills and art just became nonexistent. With acting on the back burner, I eventually found myself in need of a creative outlet. I went through countless mediums! Collage, painting, knitting, felting, and finally sewing. I received a sewing machine as a gift and never looked back. I recently took a screen printing course and think that I have finally found my true passion.
What materials do you use for your eco friendly products?
I use organic fabrics along with recycled materials.
Currently in my shop you will find organic cotton pillows that are hand printed with waterbased ink. I stuff the pillows with raw organic cotton and sew them with organic cotton thread. The thread is a joy to use. It is smooth and very sturdy.
I also make pillows out of vintage money bags. These are so much fun to transform! Each one is unique in the fact that they were once working bank bags and carry the wear and tear of their past life.
I also collect and make goods out of vintage calendar tea towels.
Why did you decide to make eco friendly products?
I have always found pleasure in making something new out of something old. I also feel the need to support forward-thinking businesses and, specifically, those that incorporate organic farming. Speaking of something old turned new, there is a quote that I love which comes from an organic farmer….
“Organic farming is rediscovering old techniques, and applying them with a new plough.” La Rhea Pepper
There is something to be said for businesses that do their part to create a sustainable future. No matter how small a part I may get to play in this future, I have the opportunity to use eco-friendly materials and choose to do so….
What inspires you?
A lot of things. My husband, daughter, and grandma are constant sources of inspiration.
I am also obsessed by both folk and outsider art. I just finished reading the book, The Folk Art Tradition, Naïve Painting in Europe and the United States. The author, Jane Kallir describes folk art to be a “catchall category for misfits – wallflowers at the dance of western civilization.” I swear, I have read that sentence over and over! Amazing!
Is this a job for you or a hobby?
I would say that it is both.
I stay at home with my daughter, Mia. She is 2 years old. When she was born, my husband and I decided that I would take care of her and start my business. We planned on giving it 5 years (until Mia goes to school) to see where I could take it.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I spend time with my family and friends. I go thrifting and antiquing quite often. I read mostly art and design books. I go to our local used book store every single weekend and look for issues of Selvedge Magazine for half the price :)
Do you have any advice to share on how you have made your business grow?
I am so thankful for my customers. I treat them how I would want to be treated.
I really try to have fun with it! I am addicted to making Etsy treasuries and recommend everyone to curate! The collections are so inspirational!
Join a team. I am so proud to be a member of Eco Etsy (teamecoetsy) and my local team, the Desert Indie Designers. I have learned so much from both of those groups and enjoy the people so very much.
I support handmade wholeheartedly.
I also think that it is important compliment someone else’s work. If you love another shop, convo them and let them know. We are usually one person in our workshop, sewing room, or corner of the living room. We all belong to a giant community of like-minded people. I think that we tend to forget that the person behind that amazing shop is just like us. Etsy is extremely inspirational - not only in the creations it offers, but in the community it offers as well.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Oh my…. I would love to be living out in the country supporting my family on my income, alone. It would be a complete dream to work with my husband and get to spend every waking minute with him, my daughter, and my grandmother.