Saturday, April 18, 2009

Twenty Questions with Melinda of Kimisew!

Today I'm chatting with Melinda of Kimisew. She makes beautiful handbags, clutches and wallets as well as the sweetest stuffed birds, all of which she embellishes with block printing and lovely embroidery. She tells us more about life in Missoula, her recent switch to Vegitarianism and how her Mom inspired her to begin sewing. Enjoy!

The Fab Miss B: First off, tell us a little about you! What is the best thing about life in Missoula?

Melinda: I support my art habit by cutting hair, been doing it for eleven years now (can't believe it's been that long). Not originally from Missoula, we moved here from Colorado because my husband was accepted to the graduate program in creative writing. We have been here for three years now and my husband is just getting ready to finish up. We don't know what the plan is next, it's kind of exciting to know we could move again.

The best thing about Missoula is the sense of community, it's easy to network here because of that. The people here are really great, very genuine, which can be hard to find.

The Fab Miss B:Have you always been artistic?

Melinda: I have always been interested in art, in fact until a year ago I was studying visual arts with an emphasis in ceramics. But have decided to take a break from school and focus on my new endeavor, kimisew. I miss pottery and feel I will pursue it again someday, but need a break from school to see what I really want to do in life.

The Fab Miss B:How did you get interested in printing?

Melinda: Printing is my favorite. I am a collector of vintage textiles, and one day realized I could print my own designs on my work. I like block printing because it has an "old" feel to it, the result is faded and inconsistent, making them feel like they have a history.

The Fab Miss B:What about sewing?

Melinda: My mom is my inspiration for art, sewing, and crafting. She is an amazing seamstress, and I only hope that I can have her talent someday. I have been sewing since I was a small girl, but didn't do much of it until I was older. The process that interested me first in sewing was quilting, I love making quilts, and for awhile it was all I made. Then I upgraded to bags and the rest blossomed from there.

The Fab Miss B:Your blog is full of wonderful recipes. music and art. Do all these other interests tie in with your business? Do they give you inspiration for your creations?

Melinda: Oh yes, I am very inspired by other people's work, even if it's not my style, it's amazing to me what people create, and I look at it in awe. Then I want to run home and start creating. Art and music evokes certain emotions in me and these help drive my creative energy.

As far as food goes, I am a recent vegetarian and I want to share all my delicious meals, showing people you don't have to have a meat-based meal to enjoy a tasty and hearty dish. I enjoy cooking more now that I am a vegetarian, it seems easier to be creative with vegetables.

The Fab Miss B:What is the best part of blogging for you?

Melinda: Best part for me is taking pictures for it, I love my camera and find joy in capturing moments in time. Blogging is's another creative outlet and a way for my friends and family to see what I'm up to. And hopefully some of the things I blog about are inspiring.

The Fab Miss B:What inspired you to begin KimiSew?

Melinda: I wanted to share my ideas and designs with the world, and now that I am actually doing it I feel even more inspired. It gives me goals, and I like constantly trying to come up with new things.

I was pretty apprehensive at first and it took some convincing to start selling my work. I started out in a few boutiques and then decided to just open the etsy store.

The Fab Miss B:I like the off kilter proportions of your handbags- it makes them so unique. What is your best selling design? Which is your personal favorite?

Melinda: My new favorite is the wallet, they are more functional than some of the purses or clutches. And I am a little biased because I also collect old wallets.

I am also addicted to embroidering, it's very therapeutic, it's nice to just wind down in front of the t.v. with my hoop and embroidery thread. I love how the purses then have a sort of heirloom quality because of the embroidery. Since I am inspired most by things that are old I want my work to have a "vintage" feel to it, but with modern aspects. That's another reason I like to use old fabric, I feel there is just nothing like it now. It's great, too, because it's not being produced anymore and I always feel like I've found a gem.

I am also in love with the birds for the simple fact of just making them, they have such personality in the end. It's fun to come up with names for them as well.
The best selling design is the "organic flower," one of my first prints. The purses seem to be everyone's favorite, although the birds get the most comments.

The Fab Miss B:Your birds are my favorite item in your shop. Can you tell us more about what inspired them?

Melinda: It's very fun to conceptualize their structure. Just taking photographs of them is enjoyable, they are very photogenic. The eagles were inspired by an old 90's t-shirt my husband wears, and every time I see him wear I think "that's so coo!l"... so my ideas come from everywhere in my life.

I came up with the idea of the feather print after I had already made the ostriches, and love it. I think it adds more visual texture and personalization.

The Fab Miss B:Without revealing any trade secrets, could you walk us through the process of making these works of art? (Do you begin with sketches? Do you use patterns?)

Melinda: I usually start out with sketches, sometimes things are inspired from photos I've taken. Things just progress from there. Once I decide what I am making I begin designing the pattern, mapping out placement, and experimenting before I actual start. For the birds, especially, I do a lot of research before I begin. I make up all my patterns, everything is made from scratch. I like the challenge of coming up with a new pattern, to me this part of the process is the most rewarding. Then I have a hard copy and it can evolve from there.

The Fab Miss B:What do you wish you had known before you got started?

I did a lot of research before starting, and was very thorough in my endeavor. Since the community is so small, I also tapped into the resources here, asking business owners their thoughts and suggestions.

The Fab Miss B:What advice do you have to people starting their own creative small businesses?

Melinda: My advice to a new creative business is purchase a good camera. Take pride in your work by taking effective pictures of what you're trying to sell. Through them the online buyer experiences the item. When looking at other people's work I am drawn to their beautiful pictures. It just shows they took the time to really care for their item and it's another way of being artistic.
Also, just follow your bliss, you never know where it will take you.

Thank you so much Melinda! I so enjoyed learning more about you and your beautiful work!

1 comment:

melinda said...

very nice!
i enjoyed taking part of your interview section on the blog. thank you again for choosing me, it was a lot of fun.

your blog is very inspiring and not to mention cute!

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