Friday Interview: Hoosier Magnolia! April 01, 2011 11:56

Happy Friday, everyone! Every couple of months, I notice a city wide baby boom and am always happy to see that a lot of these new additions are getting some awesome handmade goodness. Today's featured artist, Michelle Jones of Hoosier Magnolia, makes a lot of those incredibly cute gifts that you've all been bringing to baby showers, so what better time to introduce you to Michelle!  

Please introduce yourself and describe your handmade business.
Hi and Hello! Michelle Jones of Hoosier Magnolia here. I live in Boston, having moved here 8 years ago from Mississippi to attend graduate school at Massachusetts College of Art.
Hoosier Magnolia has a couple of definitions: 1. Transplanted Magnolia (literally. I found this out after I had named my business) 2. Redneck Magnolia (perfect!) 3. Who's Your Magnolia? (the impetus for the business name as my husband is from Indiana and I am from Mississippi, and if you speak Southern that's what it sounds like, and I am his magnolia...SO there you have it)! I make kids clothing and accessories, primarily working with patterned fabric applique. 

Describe your studio.
I have two rooms in my apartment devoted to Hoosier Magnolia.
One room is used for storage and preparation. The walls are lined with bolts of fabric and bins of tshirts/onesies. And there is a gigantic 8 foot by 4 foot table used for cutting/staging. It also has my business desk and computer.
The other room, my blue room, is devoted to sewing. It is painted an intense blue that makes me feel like I am swimming (my favorite thing) and a starry beaded blue quilt from India hangs on the wall. I have two sewing machines and a serger, as well as thread rack, sequin/bell/button/notions cabinet. I keep this room more sparse so that I am free to work.

What does handmade mean to you?
I love handmade! It is so important to me to see the artist's hand in their work. The particularity, the specificities are what handmade is all about. More freedom of expression. More authentic ideas. More quality. More. Handmade is just more.

How did you decide to focus your sewing skills on products for children?
Whimsy! Fairytale and adventure. I love the freedom in children's products. There is an openness, an unreservedness that makes the making pleasurable.
Working on a miniature scale is fun. Tiny things are adorable (and fun to buy!).

Can you give us some insight into how you design new products, but also still keep your whole product line cohesive?
I work primarily with fabric, so keeping my medium constant adds consistency. But within my genre, I am open to all possibilities. Anything can happen.
I use the slower winter months to feed inspiration--reading, watching, listening, drawing, printmaking--then take that cumulative  experience to enrich the line. I am open to new creatures and expressions early on in the season, but I nail down specific combinations of fabrics/animals/blankets etc. before I go into full on production mode in April. I also try to choose a loose theme each year. It gives me a place of interest to start and to return. 

What advice would you offer someone hoping to take their craft from hobby to business?
Focus on something particular. Don't try to cover too much. Pick your favorite thing and zero in on that. Also, wouldn't hurt to evaluate your market. Look at what's out there and see what you can add that is new and unique.

How did you first become involved in Craftland?
In 2007, a fellow artisan recommended that I apply to the holiday Craftland show. I have been a part ever since. It is a community of artists that I admire and am happy to be a part.

Guilty Pleasure?
Listening to the Counting Crows.