Alexcia Patterson is the creative force of nature behind Make & Mingle, a retail store and studio in Westport, CT. It’s a vibrantly decorated space where you can get crafty with friends and peruse the abundance of unique trinkets and handmade gifts from bracelets & earbuds to totes & wallets, and more. When I dropped off my products for the first time, I marveled at the beautiful space and chatted about all sorts of things with Alexcia. We were like kindred spirits! I’m so happy to share her story with you today.
Poor & Pretty: First, tell us a little about yourself, Alexcia. Where does your creativity stem from?
Alexcia Patterson: I grew up around art as my father is a Pre-Columbian art dealer. It was just all around us. I also traveled a lot and lived in different countries like Mexico, Australia, France, England, and Switzerland.
P&P: Wow, that’s a lot of traveling! That must have been very inspiring.
AP: Yes, absolutely. I was always inspired by different prints and patterns from different cultures. Having studied art history, I found I could go through the famous paintings and find beautiful prints throughout — everything from the blanket in the background of a Vermeer painting, the designs in Moroccan weavings, to the gorgeous colors of Picasso’s early period.
P&P: How did you find the courage to open such a crafty shop in a not-so-great economy?
AP: I noticed that DIY was going through a sort of renaissance. People were becoming more interested in the whole concept of making things and being creative without the old, stodgy feel that had formerly been associated with crafts.
P&P: Hence, your crafty classes! You offer a range, for all ages at Make & Mingle – from sewing pillows to decorating headbands. What are your most popular classes?
AP: I would probably say that my “Learn to Sew” class is the most popular. I’ve heard so many moms and kids say they have a machine (still in the box) in the basement. They all want to learn how to sew but have just never found the right inspiration and/or fun place to learn. The next available dates are Thursday, February 14 or Tuesday, February 26, 4pm-6pm. Check out all of our February 2013 classes here and our drop-in classes here.
P&P: Do you host special events like birthday parties?
AP: Yes! Birthday parties are a big part of our business. We make a special effort to pick fun and modern party themes that are all about decorating and embellishing. Everything from our tote bag “Animal Lover” theme to our “Fashion Runway.” The Fashion Runway is my favorite because kids are challenged to create an outfit from a myriad of supplies under an hour and a half. Cupcakes included :)
P&P: Sounds perfect for me! So, you have three few kids… one of whom I met when I stopped by. Have they inherited your creativity?
AP: I have two daughters and a son. Truly — who you met — is still only 1.5 years old, so we’ll see. She came to the store with me when she was 8 days old, so it’s probably already engrained in her. My son West loves to build with Legos. He has so many now that I made him a few pouches to keep them organized! My oldest daughter, Tessa, is more creative on the computer. She designs websites (including Make & Mingle’s) and has her own business, Pixelton Designs. She also recently created a really cool product called The Techlace, an iPhone case connected to an adjustable & fashionable necklace. I think that we are all creative in our own way, we just have to discover our own outlets.
P&P: What do you envision as the future of Make & Mingle?
AP: Most of our products are fabric based. However, I would love to delve into other creative outlets like beauty products, yarn, etc. I’m also hoping to grow our online presence to share the crafty goodness. I would really love to get more local artisans/Etsy sellers in the store so that Make & Mingle can become a platform for people to touch and feel products of local Etsyans.
P&P: Speaking of local artisans, what advice do you have for aspiring artists who want to start selling their creations?
AP: Promote yourself! I would say half of it is doing what you love but the other half is really all about getting yourself out there through social media, local events etc.