This week's featured Moo Crew artist is Kelley of gracie designs, http://www.etsy.com/shop/graciedesigns. In Kelley's own words, "I love working with fabric, buttons, felt, etc...There are so many amazing fabrics out there I can't keep up. I sometimes like 'matchy'. I sometimes like 'clashy'. It depends upon my mood." This is a great introduction to Kelley's shop, which is full of just about anything a person could make out of fabric. Headbands, passport covers, checkbook covers, wallets, handbags--you name it, Kelley can make it!
I asked Kelley to introduce herself. "I am Kelley Grace Quakkelaar, I have been married for 8 years to Dean (of , and we have a hilarious and sweet 2 1/2 year old girl, Maggie. We live in De Pere, Wisconsin, just south of Green Bay, and I work out of my basement in a studio that was once a men's 'work room'. When we bought the house my husband said, 'honey, you can have it'."
The name "Gracie Designs" came from a childhood nickname. "My middle name is Grace, and I was called Gracie, A LOT. So, it just stuck. Now my daughter shares my middle name."
Kelley started out making jewelry in college. "Jewelry is tough, it is really saturated, and unless you are really amazing, it is hard to stand out. I was okay at making jewelry, but I knew how to sew and started with headbands. Headbands are still, by far, my best seller. Especially for wholesale and local markets. I am known as 'The Headband Lady' at the Green Bay Farmer's Market." For Kelley, creativity was born out of necessity. "I just wanted to make cute stuff, and I have always been creative. I worked a very non-creative job, so I needed that balance, and sewing did that for me. But, I have always looked to make things that are useful, and versatile, i.e. the reversible headband."
Kelley's designs stand out from the crowd due to the mixes of fabrics she uses. " A lot of people comment on how I take chances on what I use for complimentary fabrics, and they love it." She finds fabrics in a variety of places so that her items are varied and don't look as though the raw materials were all bought in one place. "I like to mix in some amazing vintage fabric from time to time also." One important fact about Gracie Designs is that everything is handmade by Kelley, but..."I cannot tell a lie, my husband helps. I have always talked about my business as my own, but it really is ours. He is really amazing at sewing and coming up with new ideas (darn pockets). His gift is coming up with ways to increase productivity, while maintaining quality and a handmade touch to everything WE make." (Sounds like the two of them make a great team!)
When Kelley isn't busy creating headbands and passport covers, you can probably find her outside with her daughter Maggie, or having coffee or a glass of wine with friends...or in the kitchen, because she loves to cook!
I asked Kelley to tell the readers something interesting about herself that isn't related to her Etsy shop. "I know how a lot about beer. I ran sports bars for about 10 years." But it's creating that really keeps her going. And the best part of being an artist? "I get to make pretty stuff (and shop for fabric). I also love the creative people that I am lucky to call my friends."
You can find Gracie Designs products on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/graciedesigns. Kelley sells at local markets (Green Bay WI area) and events, and you can find a list of retailers who carry her products on her main web site, www.graciedesigns.com so you can still "shop local". She also keeps an updated list of events where you can find her items on the site.
Many thanks to Kelley, Dean...and Maggie!