Mandinka Designs: Our process begins with the Hunt. We love to go hunting in thrift shops for gorgeous suit coats with fabulous linings and labels.
The labels are like little works of art in and of themselves. We “ooh” and aah” loudly while people look at the two strange women flipping through the men’s suit rack. Once we get the coats home we “fillet” them into the various parts- sleeves, collars, pockets, etc.
Then the real fun begins as we collage them into the varying styles of handbags, totes and accessories. Of course, no part of the coat should be wasted, so we make our adorable bugs out of the leftover sleeves.
Tell me about your shop.
I make one of a kind purses, wallets, and other bag type stuff from suiting fabrics and cotton prints. My goal is to create timeless designs that will never go out of style.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I have been sewing for most of my life, but had never considered that it could be profitable until after Katrina, when I moved to Los Angeles and discovered the Fabric district. There were so many fabric stores and the prices were crazy low.
I spent the next two years selling handmade lingerie in the dressing rooms of strip clubs and honing my sewing skills. When I moved back to New Orleans, a nurse friend of mine asked me to make her some scrubs. I had some fabric left over, so I made myself a shopping bag. it was the first bag I’d ever made, and I was so happy with it, that I completely changed my focus. I’ve been making bags ever since.
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
Well, the name of my shop is the first and middle name that my parents gave me. My dad’s reason for naming me Christian is that he thought I would get more respect in the business world if I had a masculine name. Of course, he didn’t know then that I would be going into business making things for women.
I added my middle name to title to clear up any misconceptions about my gender and to make sure that people didn’t think I was selling purses that believe in Jesus. Also, I think it has a nice ring to it.
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
I am a one woman operation for sure. I shop, cut, sew, photograph, package, and ship. I print business cards, design ads and shop graphics, and make sew in labels. I even built my own website.
I have a background in special effects makeup, where I learned to make molds for props, and I’m working on sculpting and casting my own plastic purse handles.
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
My shop is here, http://christianmarie.etsy.com, at Etsy. I love Etsy, but I can’t promise that I will be there forever. I link to them through my own domain, http://christianmarie.com, so that people will always be able to find me even if I switch venues.
I definitely prefer selling in person. It’s difficult to accurately convey things like size, color and texture with photographs and text.
Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers you’d like to recommend?
Here’s some super talented New Orleans folks:
Byapryl makes gorgeous gemstone and metal tree sculptures.
Hurricane Pottery has some very cool and unusual pieces.
Bobsandbits makes the cutest little furniture for kids.
What inspires and motivates you?
I wouldn’t say that I’m motivated and inspired so much as I’m obsessive and compulsive. :) I have dreams about sewing. My friends have to repeat themselves because I’m always thinking about how to improve some design. I sew because I have to.
What do you wish I had asked you?
“What do you love most about your craft?”
Making patterns is, by far, my favorite part of the process. It’s like doing a three dimensional puzzle. I see the finished bag in my mind, and then I have to break it into pieces and figure out how, and in what order, the pieces go back together. I have a very analytical mind, so it suits me perfectly. There is no better feeling than having a pattern come out perfect on the first try.
Thanks Christian! And if you would like to be interviewed next, just head over to DIY Interview.
The Christmas themed organic napkins above are from: Nikki Designs
Have you already got your shopping done? I’m not going to brag but mine is all finished! Ok, fine – you just heard some bragging. This is the last post in my series of holiday gift guides, and this one features a little bit of everything for all the special people on your list. One note – I’ve included a mix of items, from shops in both Canada and the United States. That means some items may not make it in time for the big day without some express shipping. Or one thing that truly can work well – print out a photo of the item and wrap it up. I actually love receiving a gift a bit late – it makes it feel like the holidays aren’t over yet!
It seems most of us are more than a little bit addicted to our iphones, ipads, or ipod touches. So I’d describe this as a gift for the tech-lover but we probably all have tons of people on our list that would love a cool stand or dock from Woodwerx.
Woodwerx shop owner, David, lives not too far away from me – which is always fun! His creations are all made from reclaimed wood, including walnut, cedar, and maple.
I know my favourite dog loving friend would be pretty darn happy if I got her a personalized dog bowl for her cute little pooch! I love these ones from Luckypups:
Have some sweet newlyweds on your list? Guaranteed they’d love a beautiful personalized vase from Los Angeles based Maid of Clay Ceramics:
We’re going to cover every stage of life here – how about those new parents or grandparents who want to have some pictures of their little bundle of joy at the ready? Check out these mini brag books from Painted Fish Studio:
When in doubt – handmade bath products are always a fan favourite! Olive Bath and Body is also from right here in British Columbia and their product titles alone (Winter spice, Forest walk, Italian orange) have me craving some of their all natural soap!
There you have it – lots of last minute gift ideas, hope these help you as you’re wrapping up your shopping!
“Paul Klee said “A line is a dot that went for a walk.” I just like that and use it in class all the time.”, says Lauren, an art teacher living near Kansas City, MO. Lauren has grown to love her land-locked mid-western life. She and her husband Danny share their lives with Sarah, age 17, and Buffy, “My sweet little baby girl poodle mix. She’s my angel!”
This week was the final episode of Lost. There are may fan sites where people hypothesize about the details of the show, like where the island is supposed to be. We know it’s somewhere in the Pacific, some say Bali. Jakarta is also a pivotal location to the storyline, so I thought I’d showcase some local sellers from this magical place. Oraber is an Indonesian painter and printmaker who studied painting, but has evolved her craft to doing mainly printing, especially woodcut. This piece is a great image of many themes within the Lost series, which I attribute to the mystical energy of this part of the world.
As designer Maria Theresa says, the clothes we put on can be inspired by our constant changing moods, and can inspire or subdue them. This dress reflects the ethereal nature of the Lost story, if I were on the island trying to sort things out I think it would be just the thing to don. The designer wants each piece to be an extension of the wearer and reflect who that person is.
This pillow is named the “Tree of Life,” and it called out to me as I sat and watched the final moments of the show. Jakarta resident, Kainkain, is a talented embroiderer who now calls design her fulltime job since she discovered Etsy. This particular design is a fitting end to this story. The tree is both delicate and stand sure, and as such, it is a perfect reflection of how each and every one of us experiences life, no matter what far corner of the earth we find ourselves.