Please be sure to check out Colleen’s ETSY Shop! She’s got some fantastic items for sale!!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a single mom of two rambunctious little boys and my life evolves around theirs. The boys and I moved from Austin, Texas to Southern California four years ago and we couldn’t be happier. I grew up in Alaska and loved the mountains and lakes and active outdoor lifestyle. A few decades later, I moved to Bali, Indonesia which is an amazingly beautiful island and culture. Running my export business in Bali exposed me to the myriad of talented craftsmen on the Island. There are so many creative entrepreneurs making wonderfully creative products it’s quite inspiring. I started testing my product development skills those years in Bali, and haven’t quit. The leather roll-up travel backgammon games I make, I started making in Bali in 1998. They remain a consistent favorite, and this year I’m featuring them in beach glass blue and green. I’m thankful to again be living near the beach as it keeps me feeling healthy, inspired and creative. I feel like I’m where I want to be.
2. Apart from creating things, what do you do?
My boys are only five and six, so when I’m not working, I’m spending my time with them. We spend time at the beach, Legoland, great parks and working in our garden. Next year I’ll introduce them to camping. We have a large vegetable and citrus garden we tend, plant seasonally, and harvest. I love incorporating fresh produce into my cooking. I enjoy entertaining and often end up hosting impromptu dinners for up to 15 (mostly kids!).
3. Whatʼs the most important question a customer/client should ask you when considering purchasing from you?
If a customer likes something in my shop, they should ask if I have additional items like them. I have an extensive collection of Alaskan art and vintage military items and only have a handful of items listed. I also collect new items regularly, but don’t get them on my site very quickly.
4. Whatʼs the most memorable custom order you’ve created?
The most memorable order I’ve sent out is one preparing a dozen backgammon games for an executive’s Christmas list. I felt such pride in my product and had a great time preparing them to be gifted. The best thing about this order, is that he had received one of my backgammon games as a gift himself, about six months before. That’s a wonderful compliment!
5. What would be the title of your memoir and why?
Raising Gentlemen. I love my little boys with all my heart. They crack me up and keep me constantly amused with their rough, raucous, and sometimes raunchy antics. While it’s great fun to raise boys, (and a lot of work), I think it’s extremely important to make sure the little people we are putting out in this world are respectful and kind. My boys are kind, loving and polite. They know to hold a door open for others, use good manners and to treat elders with particular respect. I see too many kids who treat their parents terribly, let alone elders and classmates.
6. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from all over. I recently started a small business, Wild Violetta Ltd., creating natural aromatherapy products for the bath, body and home, specializing in organic shea butter and essential oils. I love working with fresh, healing products and have an endless list products I’d love to create. When I see recycled products I like to play with different ideas of how I can incorporate them into my backgammon games or up cycle them into fun useful products. Inspiration is endless, my time is not!
7. What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade is something that has had hands-on personal attention.
8. Who has been the most influential person for your business?
I would have to say that my sisters are the most influential people in my business. Both of my sisters are extremely creative and talented. I sell my California sister’s pottery on my exnomad etsy shop, and my other sister in Alaska runs a very successful retail florist. I ask them questions and for advice regularly.
9. How would you describe your creative process?
As a single mom, my mind runs in circles, often colliding into a creative burst. Working on one project, leads to creative ideas for other projects I have. I have to stay focused long enough to get through one project, without being distracted by an idea for another project. Things have to happen quickly, so if a creative idea doesn’t get written down or acted on immediately, it might be lost for a while.
10. If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I would love to step back into the studio Salvador Dali. His art and life were so wild, he must have had a fabulous studio and amazing stories to share.
11. What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My grandma, Violetta (whom I named my business Wild Violetta Ltd. after) would crochet these wonderful slipper booties. As she got older, they got longer and longer. I still have my favorites which fit perfectly, but are wearing thin, and the floppy long pairs which I will forever cherish. She also crocheted beautiful baby blankets which were set aside for when my sister’s and I had children. Sadly, my boys never got to meet grandma Violetta, but they have a special keepsake from an amazing woman.
12. How do you get out of your creative ruts?
There’s no time for ruts. But if I’m not feeling terribly creative, I’m always behind in administrative stuff which has to get done. That’s certain to shove me in the direction of creating again.
13. Where would you like to be in ten years?
In ten years I would hope to be established enough that I could take chunks of time away to take my boys on Holidays around the world. I’d love to be collecting great treasures from our travels and putting them into a retail boutique we open. And of course, we’d still be going to play at the beach.