Today, I’m smiling ear to ear as I introduce you guys to Marie of Feeding Pickle! She makes the most innovative fabric postcards & other mixed medium sewn goodies, and as I was interviewing her I fell in love with her whimsical, wild soul personality & kind heart with a deep love of family and creativity. I hope you enjoy getting to know Marie as much a I did!
Hi Marie! First, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was the kid who always said I would be an artist when I grew up. I devoured art classes at our local art center, and my parents provided opportunities to take classes, inhale art museums, enter contests, supply me with all the paints, pastels, paper, glue, scissors, needles, fabric, yarn, books, and patterns and the freedom to create. Weirdly enough, I ended up spending more time practicing violin in my formative years, even pursuing music in college. But as much as I found my voice in music, I still couldn’t put down the knitting needles or the thrill of creating whatever I dreamt up with the next bolt of tantalizing fabric calling my name.
Fast forward to marriage and our first child. With a nickname of “Pickle,” feeding her creativity was something I could hard wait to begin when she was born. I had paintbrushes in her little chubby hands as soon as she could swipe them across Christmas ornaments for the grandparents. Now, six children later, we still “do and make things that feed creativity” in each of the Pickles’ own unique way every day.
How long ago were you bit by the creative bug?
Growing up where creative supplies and tools and pieces were always at my disposal, I don’t remember life before that bite! Something was always calling to be created! Even from early on, I had a strong innate drive to make things that were useful, but with an extra artistic flair. If it could be made, it could be made creatively, I believed. Little me, in my mussed-up hair and mismatched shirt and knitted vest, proudly proved this one day with a loaf of bread, baked in the shape of a turtle. That was where I started.
What got you into sewing and experimenting with textiles?
I don’t remember a moment in my life without a humming sewing machine in the background. My mom sewed the majority of my clothes, doll clothes, and so many toys and home items when I was young. My grandmother and great-grandfather were fiber artists as well in the knitting and crocheting realm. I sewed my first skirt when I was about seven. Knitting was what kept my hands busy while reading my high-school textbooks. In college, I fell in love with a high tenor and we married. As he directed choirs and led music in several churches, I became the costume lady and took on the challenge of creating my own patterns for whatever the children’s choir drama needed. A full lobster costume? Bring on that layered tail design! Full body sunshine or flowers? Plant the seed, and I’ll make it grow! Acorns? Oh! The adorable little caps! I couldn’t wait to get out my tracing paper and begin! (And by tracing paper, I mean recycled music copy paper.) Most of my pattern designing experience happened during this time and further honed my sewing skills. I love to feel the line of stitching on fabric and see the colors combine. I love the longevity of a well-made fabric item. I love creating practical items from scratch, making them over from a new perspective, and infusing them with originality.
Your fabric postcards are so unique! How did this idea come about?
I love mail. It’s that plain and simple. My husband and I wrote letters during our long-distance dating phase post-college. My great-grandfather, even though he lived nearby, took the time to mail thank you notes to me for the tiniest little gifts I gave him, and my grandmother would send postcards from her travels all over the United States. For reasons like these, mail has always been dear to my heart. I just adore knowing someone will get to open their mailbox and find a tiny piece of my heart for them in there.
When I found an old crafting book with the idea of scrap fabrics being crazy quilted into a postcard, I was smitten with the concept! The seed has always been there for mail–special mail that would stand out and convey the heart of the sender. It took me a few years before I actually wrapped my brain around where I wanted to go with the idea, but the challenge was accepted. I wanted to make fabric postcards that would embrace the endearing heritage of classic postal mail, with a breath of fresh, new contemporary life. Like I said before, if it can be made, it can be made creatively! That idea thrived on the idea of fabric postcards!
I love the idea of fabric postcards traveling through the mail—what sort of research went into this design to figure out how to mail them?
I love when people ask this! Fabric with a stamp on it masquerading as regular mail sounds so….intriguing! It stops us in the tracks of normality: “For real?!” (I hear it a lot.) “I can MAIL this?!” I had seen beach balls and flip flops and other crazy things get delivered by the postal service. I knew that what could be mailed was pretty broad, and suddenly, a card made out of fabric instead of paper didn’t sound nearly so far fetched.
Beginning with the USPS website, I researched size and weight requirements. I brought in samples and discussed with the postal clerk about the use of the clear plastic envelopes to mail the postcards (I loved that the clear envelopes allow all who see them on their mail journey to also enjoy art in unexpected places!) and discussed the need for hand stamping them there. The final step, of course, was the maiden voyage to test mail some postcards to friends. And them some more. And more! The response is always the same delight. It was a winner.
Do you have a ton of mixed media textile art throughout your house?
Do all the projects in process count?! Ha! I think I could be described as “mostly minimalist” (as minimalist as I can be with eight people and all of our basic necessities under one roof), and so my home décor is minimal. But when I stop and take a look around there’s…
–an antique tennis racquet woven through with ribbon bits and hung on the wall
–a fabric “family portrait” of sorts, of a birds on a branch made from our life’s fabric scraps
–the handknitted throw blanket that gets drug around and used for making tents as much as for making us warm
–Oh yeah, the crocheted basket I made out of t-shirts, and ironically holding more t-shirts waiting for a re-vamp in life
–my knitted bag by the door, of wool yarn dyed with Kool-Aid by all the Pickles
–and, of course, the Pickles’ artwork dispersed throughout our home.
How often do you mail out your own fabric postcards to friends and family?
Honestly, not enough!! When a moment strikes when I know someone is especially hurting, when I want to thank them in a super special way, or when I want them to know they were specifically on my mind that day, a postcard gets addressed and taken to the post office! I still write paper letters, but fabric postcards punctuate those mailings. There can’t be enough happy mail being shared in the world, of all fibers and textures!
As a textile artist with a stunningly unique product idea, how do you handle copy cats/protect your product’s integrity from mimicry?
Here’s the funny thing about my business: I genuinely hope to inspire others to also be creative, to dive into all the stuffs, to make something! Anything! If making fabric postcards to spread more joy in this world looks like something they want to do, I’m absolutely going to cheer for them! Just like there are many jewelry designers out there, each with their own flair and level of product quality, there are more fabric postcard designers out there as well, each speaking to a specific style trend and making their people smile. Obviously, I do love my own personal designs; they’re my signature, and stealing them would not be cool.
Fabric postcards are somewhat complicated in their own right—to find the materials that give them huggable softness, yet stability for writing, and of course they require a tough yet tender persona to survive the postal system trek and still deliver a smile. Like any product, time and practice and research are needed to offer a quality product.
At the end of the day, I really love creating together. The world has more than enough room for more creative people! Can you imagine how fun it would be to see the whole mail system suddenly become flooded with a vast array of inspiring, encouraging, and absolutely unique mail, with fabric postcards at the helm?! You better believe that I’d be over here with stickers on my feet cheering them on! …oh wait, I haven’t gotten to the part about stickers yet have I? I can explain that in a bit!
As a mother and a maker, how do you balance your days?
“Doing and making things that feed creativity” is not just the tagline of the business; it is the lifeline of our family. Blending family into the making process is normal here. Daily tasks get an ounce of “creative” injected into them. With Feeding Pickle Ltd, the mommy and the maker get to be one cohesive unit. While I create products for the business, there is at least one Pickle at my elbow, creating something of their own design. Most of the business’ “thinking work” gets saved for after Pickle bedtime hours so that I can hone in and focus.
From turtle bread to lobster tails to making cards made of fabric, the mom and the maker are not at odds, but rather in harmony. They are not separate directions, just one teeter-totter I find myself on. And sure, I have fallen off one end or the other occasionally. But coming up laughing or having a little cry never hurt, and I get back up and keep going with what I’ve learned and I try again.
What advice do you have for mothers of young children who want to pursue a creative business?
My Pickles are a constant flow of “What if…?” questions. And usually I respond, “Well, what if?!” Meaning, let’s pursue that thought and find out!
One Pickle in particular always asks, “How did you get so good at…?” Now that question is a joke. She rolls her eyes now when it pops out of her mouth and laughs, “Oh yeah, you’re going to say ‘practice,’ aren’t you?!” I try to keep all the creative tools available for them to use at their leisure and when inspiration strikes. The Pickles will practice most what they love. And in time they will begin to make something that stands above the rest.
My take on feeding their entrepreneurship it is this: Walk the road with them. Set an example of digging deep and trying things! Help them steer when needed and be honest about what you learn in your own business. Help them learn to be honest about their strengths and to recognize areas that can be strengthened. Help them find sources for more research to further grow them in their interests. Let them learn along with you. They learn best by watching how we handle our own businesses, clients, and any hurdles we face and then they build off of what we have learned. Be an honest example for them, and watch where they go with it.
Oh and about all those available creative tools. Yeah. Word to the wise—those stickers I mentioned earlier? Be prepared to find them floating around the bathtub. I regularly fish them out of the bath water as they come off my feet at the end of the day there. Because the supplies were available, they played all through the day with them, and assuredly some pieces are left about and pop up again in the most unexpected places. Embrace the maker lifestyle.
Tell us about a “work day” in your life
It usually starts and ends and is filled in the middle by the littlest gherkin nursing. And Pickles doing school, and Pickles doing play, and me grabbing moments between checking school books/doing field trips to update the business’ social media or finish paperwork. Or maybe sewing as many seams as I can while they practice their musical instruments. Most of the bulk of sewing happens in the evening hours and weekends. Usually. Mostly. Sorta. Every now and then there’s a sew-a-thon for a big order to fill. Oh, there’s also an interjection at least twenty times a day of a Pickle asking for a piece of paper (literally just happened as I typed that sentence—I can’t make this stuff up!). Then a request for a sketch of a dog. Then a doodle of a cat and mouse. Then the Pink Panther. And eventually she returns with a melt-my-heart doodle of her own octopus.
Oh, oops—rabbit trail. Yes, my days have a lot of those too. I’m a mom and a maker. It’s about as random as you might expect it to be.
How do you take your coffee?
Plain, boring, and black. Coffee is one thing I don’t feel the need to reinvent! Unless I can find some cream…
And my final question:
Mountains or Beach?
Beach. The secluded rustic type. Just my husband, our Pickles, and me soaking up the water and ocean breeze.
Isn’t Marie just the sweetest!? If you loved getting to know this beautiful mama & maker, please be sure to visit her shop & snag a product handmade with love by Marie to support her creative business. You can also follow her on Facebook & Instagram and say hi!
Want to be featured in a Meet the Maker showcase? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!