Jesse MacKenzie, this month’s featured crafter, is the creator of ANYKIND, an amazing line of vintage-inspired accessories. The moment her purses, pouches, bow ties, and hair bows made their way to the shelves of Kitsch, they became some of our best sellers. Indeedy, there is truly something for everyone in this gathering of vintage and hand-printed fabrics. The popularity of ANYKIND is a direct result of Jesse’s love for her craft and keen eye for detail. Even her tags are pretty -too darn pretty to throw away (in fact, they make great book marks)!
Since moving to Norfolk in October of 2012, this humble craftswoman has become a much loved member of the Kitsch family -always willing to offer a helping hand when we accidentally overstretch our crafty selves. Check out the interview we had with Jesse and get a peak into her beautiful and quirky world…
Where do you find inspiration?
I get so much inspiration from vintage fabrics – the texture, colors, patterns. I hunt all around for fabric, and when I find a really awesome one, I already have an idea what it’s going to turn into. Even when I can’t go looking or haven’t had much luck, I love looking online. There’s a site that shares a huge library of vintage textiles from Philadelphia University – http://thedesigncenter.tumblr.com/ – I love looking at their collection.
What’s your studio playlist?
This summer it has been: Deerhunter, Kurt Vile, covers by Walk Off The Earth, and the songs “Ways To Go” by Grouplove and “From The Valley To The Stars” by El Perro Del Mar
Where is your studio?
My studio is in the second bedroom in our apartment in Ghent. It has so much natural light and white walls filled with pictures that inspire me. I’m incredibly lucky to have a whole room dedicated to making things. It helps my productivity so much to be able to spread out and have my supplies organized and easily accessible.
How do you get yourself out of a creative rut?
By going somewhere – thrift shops, book store, cafe. Just separating myself from what I’m doing resets my mind, so I can come back with a fresh mind. If that doesn’t work, I clean and redecorate some part of our apartment – it really inspires me to have something new to look at and make our apartment feel homey.
Favorite blog/movie/tv show/book that never fails to inspire or just clears the mind.
I have watched (or listened to) a lot of TV shows since I started my business and began working at home. Having something to listen to really keeps me productive and helps with the repetitive steps of making things. The two shows I always go back and watch over and over are Breaking Bad and Freaks and Geeks. I usually don’t go for action-y, crime-related shows like Breaking Bad, but I couldn’t love this show more. The show is so well thought out and the characters are amazing – and while that is in no way related to bag making, it really inspires me. I do love a good high school show, and Freaks and Geeks is my favorite of all time. It’s only one season, but that one season never gets old. It’s my comfort show.
What artists influence your work – who are your creative idols?
These people get me really inspired and excited to create things: Justin Wallis of Milkbbi, Hollis Brown Thornton, and Annie Bukhman of Gift Shop Brooklyn. Justin Wallis’s work just really makes me happy and the attention to detail in his drawings inspires me. Hollis Brown Thornton’s art makes me feel nostalgic, I love the subject matter he chooses, and they’re so colorful. Annie Bukhman’s bags are so simple and gorgeous – it really inspires me that her brand is so cohesive – everything is different but it goes together.
Describe your work in 5 words.
simple, useful, vintage, durable, happy
Tell us something funny that happened recently.
This is funny now – not so much then. I was on a plane from Austin to Norfolk, and I was dozing off. All of sudden there was a huge amount of turbulence and the place dipped really, really hard. I was so startled that I automatically grabbed the girl’s hand who was sitting next to me. Total stranger. Luckily she was nice and started chatting with me….but after that I couldn’t get off that plane fast enough.
Is there a story behind your blog/shop name?
I wanted a shop name that was one word and wouldn’t limit me if I ended up wanting to make other things. I also wanted to make things that would appeal to and be useful for lots of people. So I kind of created my own word – anykind – that works for all of that.
What’s your typical day?
I don’t really do the same thing at the same time every day, but every day I try to: design and sew what I need to get done that day, take care of other tasks that come along with a handmade business, keep up with apartment cleaning, go to Zumba, take photos for my blog (wellitsokay.blogspot.com), have some time with Douglas if he’s home, cook something good, and take a walk around our part of town.
We’re handing you plane tickets to anywhere. Where are you going?
Tokyo – I want to see the street fashion, buy all the crazy toys, and get really lost looking around.
What’s your favorite local haunt?
The Public House – maybe it’s because it’s one of the first places my husband Douglas and I went to when we moved here October 2012. But we really love going there. Douglas is gone a lot because of his job in the Navy. But when he comes home after being away for a while, we like to devote a night to walking to the Public House, relaxing, eating some good food, and being together. Those times also help make it my favorite place.
These questions are silly. I’m going to tell you something else…
Over the past two years, we have lived in Athens, GA, Charleston, SC, Saratoga Springs, NY, and, since October 2012, here in Norfolk. I never thought I’d live this many places so fast, but it’s been, for the most part, filled with really great experiences. For obvious reasons, working from home and having my own business is fairly easy to move from state to state, but doing something creative and doing craft shows really helps with meeting people and learning about a new place. It’s been amazing seeing the different creative communities we’ve come across.