Meet The Mafia

State your name and business.
Rebeca Mojica, (formerly Blue Buddha Boutique)

What is your mafia nickname?
Links

What is your craft?
Chainmaille (mostly jewelry but also sculpture and accessories)

Why do you do your craft?
Because I’m addicted. Um, I mean, because it is fun, and extremely gratifying to create something with my own two hands.

What’s your earliest memory of making something?
I used to make dolls out of tissue paper and rubber bands. Also, when I was about 7, I made a hideous purple ceramic ashtray. My parents didn’t even smoke! To their credit, they proudly displayed the ashtray in the living room

What are your sources of inspiration?
Science, fractals, beadwork… and almost everything I look at. I see the world in circles and always think, “Hmm, how could I make that out of maille?”

What is your favorite Chicago haunt?
Anyplace with good sushi.

What is your favorite beverage?
Water! Seriously!

What is your weapon of choice?
My mind.

What would you be doing otherwise?
Nonprofit public relations and development, or teaching English in a foreign country

What advice do you have for an artist/crafter who is just starting?
As Harold Thurman Whitman said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

On a more practical note – I’d say to practice being a sponge. Learn everything you can from the Internets, from experts in your industry, from the library, from small business development centers, from your customers…in short, keep your mind open to absorb everything. Then be prepared to squeeze out all the advice that you don’t need, and only follow what is right for you and your business.

Where is your work available for purchase?
At rebecamojica.com and at Blue Buddha Boutique in Chicago.

State your name and business.
Rachel Gedemer, Stitch

What is your mafia nickname?
The Machine

What is your craft?
Designing and sewing baby bibs, dog collars, and aprons. I also teach sewing lessons!

Why do you do your craft?
I love making things and keeping my creative skills sharp.

What’s your earliest memory of making something?
I made a pretty sweet locker organizer in my sixth grade home ec class. It wasn’t until I enrolled in the fashion design program at Columbia College Chicago though that I gained a true appreciation for design and sewing.

What are your sources of inspiration?
My nana is a big one. She is 83 and can still be found tinkering away at her sewing machine. She is an incredible seamstress and I always think if I am lucky enough to have inherited half of her talent I am in pretty good shape.

What is your favorite Chicago Haunt?
Any ice skating rink – I’m not quite ready for the Olympics but I don’t think there is a non-sewing activity I love more. Last year I mastered skating backwards….I’m guessing the triple lutz might take me a bit longer to nail.

What is your favorite beverage and where do you get it?
Right now I am kind of obsessed with root beer – either in float form or straight out of the bottle. I get it pretty much anywhere, but A&W is my favorite. When I’m feeling fancy I drink it out of a frosted mug.

How did you come up with your business name?
Hmmm….that is tricky. I don’t remember exactly how I landed on Stitch but I do know it was at a dive pizza place in Rogers Park. I threw a lot of ideas at my husband and Stitch stuck for some reason.

What is your weapon of choice?
My Elna sewing machine! She’s what I would grab if my condo was on fire (after my pup and husband of course).

What would you be doing otherwise?
Spending even more time chasing sticks with my pup, Maple. It’s good I thing have Stitch as Maple isn’t really into sharing her sticks.

What advice do you have for an artist/crafter who is just starting?
Go for it! I think the biggest regret I have is not starting my business sooner. I have gotten so much enjoyment from challenging myself creatively and getting to meet tons of other amazing crafters.

Where is your work available for purchase?
On my website, Sacred Art, Local Goods Chicago, Twinkle Twinkle Little One

State your name and business.
Michelle Kafko, Snarky Sleeves

What is your Mafia nickname?
“Swears McCussAlot”

What is your craft?
Making reusable coffee cup sleeves with swears on them. And the occasional rug made completely out of old T-shirts.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Fellow crafters who make useful things or upcycle stuff. Images of Martha Stewart in an orange jumpsuit.

What is your favorite Chicago haunt?
Any place with great chocolate cake.

What is your favorite beverage?
Green tea with lemon or earl grey with lavender.

Where do you buy your favorite beverage?
I’ll buy it any place that stocks Snarky Sleeves.

How did you come up with your business name?
Wordclouds, brainstorming, thumbing through a thesaurus, then going with my gut.

What is your weapon of choice?
A seamripper. Seems small and innocent, but with the right force and proper angle you could do some real damage.

What would you be doing otherwise?
Spending even more time at my photo studio. Or in jail for some kind of crime committed with a seam ripper.

Do you have any advice for other crafters?
Gorilla Glue is a lot stickier than it looks. Wash your fingers after using it.

State your name and business.
Maia Singletary, Astrida Naturals

What is your mafia nickname?
Heisenburg

What is your craft?
Cosmetics. I make body and skin care with natural ingredients.

Why do you do your craft?
I initially wanted to solve my own skin care issues but became obsessed with the chemistry of the entire process. Now, I can’t stop experimenting. I’m like a mad scientist, always tweaking and trying to improve my formulas.

How did you come up with your business name?
Astrida is a name of Norse origin. It means beautiful woman of divine strength. When I first decided I would make skin care for others I wanted to choose something that would reflect the belief that every woman is beautiful and strong.

What advice do you have for an artist/crafter who is just starting?
Start before you’re ready. Really. I spent years doing things very casually and tiptoeing around moving my business forward because I was scared I was missing some secret sauce or something. I wasn’t missing anything except that spark to get going. Things don’t have to be perfect right away. Doing is the fastest way to learn.

Where is your work available for purchase?
You can find me online at www.astridanaturals.com, Etsy and Abe’s Market

State your name and business.
Lucy Clasen, LuDesignsCreations

What is your mafia nickname?
The Hammer

What is your craft?
Jewelry made with Metalsmith and lapidary techniques and other crafts like fiber art, and papercraft.

Why do you do your craft?
As an artist/crafter I enjoy sharing my creations with others and that inspired me to enlarge my scope and turn it into a business.

What’s your earliest memory of making something?
I learned to sew and crochet when I was 5 years old.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Nature and natural materials like turning rocks into settings, freeform drawing and turning that into designs inspires what I do.

What is your favorite Chicago Haunt?
No favorite – just enjoy exploring different places in the city and trying out new types of food.

How did you come up with your business name?
I abbreviated my first name and came up with LuDesigns. When I realized so many others used the name and I was creating jewelry I added Creations to make it LuDesigns Creations.

What is your weapon of choice?
I enjoy hammering metal to make my Metalsmith designs.

What would you be doing otherwise?
I love going to Blackhawk games and historical places in Chicago as well as spending time with my family.

What advice do you have for an artist/crafter who is just starting?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. There are numerous institutions offering classes in all kinds of arts and crafts and it is fun to move ones art into a higher level.

Where is your work available for purchase?
My shop is on Etsy, my fiber art is available at Blue Buddha Boutique, my jewelry is at Local Goods and both fiber art and jewelry is available at Aurora Rose Boutique in Lemont, IL.

State your name and business.
Lydia Evans, Letterpress By Lydia

What is your mafia nickname?
Punch

What is your craft?
Letterpress printing and design, and all things paper craft.

Why do you do your craft?
Complete obsession with antique printing machinery, creating custom invitations, and making paper treats of all kinds.

What’s your earliest memory of making something? 
Growing up we were encouraged to make anything and everything. I fondly remember being given my mom’s garlic press to use to make ‘spaghetti’ and real life ‘hair’ with Play Doh.

What are your sources of inspiration? 
I get my inspiration from almost everywhere – nature, art books, museums, speaking with my clients about what they’re passionate about, and participating in as many crafty endeavors as possible with different mediums.

What is your favorite Chicago Haunt? 
The Art Institute, preferably early on a Sunday morning.

What is your favorite beverage and where do you get it? 
Anything gin or anything bubbly. I love any excuse to visit the RM Champagne Salon.

How did you come up with your business name?
We can thank the IRS for my business moniker. I picked LBL because I was an accidental entrepreneur and read that if I chose a name with my name incorporated it made taxes easier for me as a DBA. In mafia terms, I didn’t want to pull a Capone!

What is your weapon of choice?
My 1850′s platen letterpress (‘Gordy’) and his big sister Bertha, a 12×18 Chandler & Price steampunk princess.

What would you be doing otherwise?
Hmm, I would probably be spending even more time taking photos in small aircraft with Mr. LBL, trying to train my two shop cats to clean the print studio and/or the house, and reading with my feet up.

What advice do you have for an artist/crafter who is just starting? 
Keep going! Work hard and listen when people tell you they wish you would make something for them – and take them up on it! Start building a portfolio, a collection, and some experience about what path(s) your craft will take. Don’t be afraid to switch gears. Trial and error is your best friend, and if you listen to that little voice inside you that speaks your truth, you’ll be just fine and find your happy path to being a crafty entrepreneur!

Where is your work available for purchase?
So far it’s the old-fashioned way, direct contact with the artist via my website – www.letterpressbylydia.com

State your name and business.
Kandy Christensen, Meandering Design

What is your mafia nickname?
Kandy The Shearer

What is your craft?
Sewing. I make clothing and accessories out of upcycled, local and vintage materials.

Why do you do your craft?
Well, it is kind of a compulsion. I have to be doing or making something. Also, I make things out of upcycled, local and vintage materials because in our fast clothing and disposable world we need to change the way we look at clothing. I hope that people find sustainable clothing can be beautiful. I also love teaching people about ways to incorporate sustainable design in their lives.

How did you come up with your business name?
Meandering Design was actually inspired by a trip I took to Madrid. I was wandering through the old city and got lost in the medieval alleyways and byways. I thoroughly enjoyed being lost because I kept stumbling upon all of these delightful finds. In this day and age with gps enabled phones and our over planned lives we often don’t take the time to get lost and wander. I find that when I do take the time to explore I am much more in the moment and not worried about where I am heading to. That is what I hope people experience when they come to Meandering Design’s store, blog or events.

What advice do you have for an artist/crafter who is just starting?
Just start. You have to take that first step. Initially when I started Meandering Design I was simply making things to sell. I chose the name Meandering Design though because I dreamed that it would be a design house. When I realized that I wanted to teach sewing it wasn’t as if I had a certificate for it. I finally just took the leap and started teaching and I had an overwhelmingly positive response. Same with teaching interior design. I don’t have a degree, but I do have a lifetime of passion for design and I have been reading and researching about design for years. If I would have waited for someone to tap me on the shoulder with their wand and tell me I now had the authority to do what I wanted, well, I’d still be waiting. One other thing I would add is that you need to recognize that building a business takes time and that you cannot compare yourself to other people’s success because chances are they’ve been at it for awhile.

Where is your work available for purchase?
At Local Goods Chicago and online at www.meanderingdesign.com.

State your name and business.
Jason P. Pike, Lad Named Felix

What is your mafia nickname?
Chains

What is your craft?
I design and construct statement jewelry from modern, vintage, and found materials.

Why do you do your craft?
I believe style is a transformative tool, and jewelry is a perfect way to explore who you want to be.

What’s your earliest memory of making something?
When I was a lad, I made magic wands out of everything from odd lengths of pipe, sticks, kitchen tools, whatever I could find. I was a wizard and there was magic to do.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Glam rock runs in my veins and glitter falls from my hair. Well, it would if I had hair.

What is your favorite Chicago Haunt?
I spend an inordinate amount of my time (and money) dancing late at night in Lakeview and Andersonville.

What is your favorite beverage and where do you get it?
Hand me bourbon or cider and we’ll be friends for the length of time it takes me to drink a bourbon or cider. Hand me a Grey Goose martini, extra dirty with bleu cheese olives if you want to be best friends for life.

How did you come up with your business name?
The year I moved to Chicago, I was bored, it was snowing, and I was broke. A friend and I decided to go do all the winter tourist-y stuff downtown, and do it as English tourists, Felix and Bridget. The characters became commonplace for us, and we started becoming known at certain bars and restaurants…but only as English ex-pats. Felix is me, uninterrupted – dirty, bawdy, loud, glam rock, and dashing. It was only natural that I name my jewelry line, which adhered to those same tenets, after my superego character.

What is your weapon of choice?
Chain and a sharp wit.

What would you be doing otherwise?
I’m a writer, an amateur photographer, and a celebrity makeup artist. I’m also the chupacabra.

What advice do you have for an artist/crafter who is just starting?
Quit talking about it and do it. You’re giving me a headache.

Where is your work available for purchase?
At Lad Named Felix.

State your name and business.
Cinnamon Cooper, Poise

What is your mafia nickname?
The Ripper

What is your craft?
Making high-quality, creative, and fun handbags, purses, totes, and bags.

Why do you do your craft?
Because I can’t sit still for long periods of time without falling asleep and I have an obsession with purchasing fabric. The first purse I made was donated as a silent-auction item for a non-profit organization. It didn’t take me long to realize that I could support more organizations by giving them bags and selling bags to raise funds for them. I also abhor poor construction on bags so I’ve worked very hard to hone my skills to make each bag as durable and long-lasting as possible.

What are your sources of inspiration?
This has changed as I’ve developed a different design aesthetic. I spend a lot of time looking at the bags people carry daily on the EL. I look for areas where the strap is frayed, or how a flap curls at the corners, or how broken snaps get replaced with safety pins by users. My goal started out making cute bags that held stuff. But my focus has changed to be solving construction problems to make durable bags that last as long as possible. I’ve been delighted to get photographs of bags where the construction is still intact, but the fabric has been completely worn through.

How did you come up with your business name?
While visiting New Orleans in 2001, the owner of a Bed and Breakfast gave us a cheat sheet of “suthun’ sayins” and one of the items was “poise = purse”. It stuck and I brought it home with me.

What is your weapon of choice?
My main weapon is my sewing machine. My Juki TL-98E gets hugged, cleaned and oiled frequently.

What would you be doing otherwise?
Probably watching a lot more tv, taking more naps, and spending a lot of money on therapy. My happiness increased as my crafting output increased and I don’t doubt they’re related.

Do you have any advice for other crafters?
If you find yourself saying “Someone really ought to . . .” then maybe that someone is you.