Indie Spotlight + Giveaway: Joy Atkisson of Purely You Minerals

Joy Atkisson Purely You Minerals - Poor & Pretty

You might remember seeing Purely You Minerals’ lip gloss as one of my Friday Faves last week. Like you, I struggle with finding the perfect lip gloss and — even more of a hassle — the perfect foundation! So I’m happy to introduce to you Joy Atkisson, founder of Purely You Minerals.

Purely You Minerals 2 - Poor & Pretty

Purely You Minerals is a new line of mineral makeup that is not only good for you, it’s good for others, too. Purely You products do not contain talc, powdered starches, clays, bismuth oxychloride, or parabens, and are gluten free and never tested on animals. 10% of profits go directly to Bring Love In, a non-profit organization founded by Joy’s friends. Says Joy, “It is a beautiful thing that we can make a life changing difference in the world just by putting on our makeup. Purely You Minerals brings out the inner beauty in us all.” Today, she chats with us about skincare, running a small business, and of course, makeup! Don’t miss the giveaway, too! Details at the end of the post.

Purely You Minerals - Poor & Pretty

Poor & Pretty: Like many of us women, you struggled with skin problems and cakey makeup. What made you switch to mineral makeup?
Joy Atkisson: For years, I had been caught up in the nasty cycle of wearing makeup, breaking out, having to wear more makeup to cover it up, breaking out more. I tried every crazy “cure” you can think of… including egg on my face! True story. In 2007, mineral makeup started gaining popularity, so I decided to give it a try. It took a little while to get used to the messy powder and to learn what the heck a Kabuki brush is, but my skin started clearing up.

Purely You Minerals foundation 1 - Poor & Pretty

P&P: What makes mineral makeup so different?
JA: Quality mineral makeup allows your skin to breath and doesn’t clog your pores. It also appeals to my inner hippy because it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, so it’s about as natural as you can get. What I truly love about it is that I don’t have to hide behind cake makeup. I can apply mineral makeup as fancy or as natural as I want and I still feel like ME! I love that!

P&P: So instead of continuing to buy mineral makeup, you decided to make it yourself. Why?
JA: Haha! I get this question a lot. The truth is…. I was broke! My husband and I had been married for a year, we had just had a baby, and I wanted to stay home with her. There was no extra room in our budget for expensive makeup. Most companies at that time were very expensive. I looked at the back of one of one of my jars and saw that there were only a few ingredients and I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could make this?” I seriously underestimated how hard it was going to be, but I love research so it really became a hobby. I would work on it during my daughter’s naps or late at night. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.

Purely You Minerals eyeshadows - Poor & Pretty

P&P: How is Purely You Minerals different from other brands?
JA: That is a key question! Purely You Minerals is made in small batches to insure quality control. I have tried to stay away from some of the most common allergens (gluten intolerance runs in my husband’s family, so I am very mindful of that especially). I also don’t use any fillers such as cornstarch (which can clog pores, and don’t even get me started about GMOs!) or Bismuth Oxychloride (it doesn’t photograph well, it’s shiny, and makes many people breakout). Another HUGE factor is price! Because I do the formulating, manufacturing and packaging myself, I can keep my expenses down, which in turn lets me keep my prices at an affordable level. Perhaps most importantly, I have a face; I am not a big company with fancy machines. I am a stay at home mom with a home office/lab. And, I wear my own products!

P&P: What propelled you to start selling your products?
JA: My husband! He and I have never really fit the 9 to 5 mold, but we weren’t sure how to survive without a “normal” job. However, my formula rivaled and out-performed some of the leading mineral makeup lines and my husband saw how it was helping my skin. He said, “You really need to start your own makeup line!” It has been five years (and 2 more babies) since then, but we are finally making it happen.

Purely You Minerals Berry Red lip gloss - Poor & Pretty

P&P: Wow, three kids! How do you balance being a mom with running a home-based business?
JA: I have no idea! Haha! Most of the time, my sink is full of dishes and I’m tripping over shoes and toys. I try to work mostly during naps and at night, but some weeks are busier then others. Family will always be my priority, but I am doing what I love so I am blessed! I am definitely not superwoman; I have help. My husband is a fantastic father and super supportive. My best friend, Melody Spencer is my Marketing Manager and Social Media Coordinator. My brother, David Arnold also owns his own business called Code Luna. He does computer nerd stuff, so he built my website.

Purely You Minerals foundation 2 - Poor & Pretty

P&P: Okay, let’s talk tips. Finding the right shade of foundation is hard! Can you help?
JA: Absolutely! Order my free samples! The best thing you can do is try and identify your undertone (warm, cool, neutral). I have cool undertones, but I get quite red in the face so I prefer to counteract that by using neutral colored foundation. If you still have a hard time getting the shade just right, I can formulate something just for you.

P&P: What are a few essential skincare tips we should always observe?
JA: Get good sleep. Drink lots of water. EXFOLIATE! I swear by One Minute Wonder gel exfoliator by Max International. Good skincare is essential to good makeup application.

Purely You Minerals blushing lip gloss - Poor & Pretty

P&P: The Purely You Minerals lineup currently includes foundation, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow, and lip gloss. Any new products on the horizon?
JA: We will be launching our all-natural pressed eyeshadows and blushes in the very near future. It will be a build-your-own pallet sort of thing where you can purchase refills and not have to purchase a new pallet each time. Also in the works is pressed foundation, nail polish, and all-natural mascara!

Want to try out Purely You Minerals for yourself? Joy is giving away one of her products to a lucky Poor & Pretty reader. Just “like” Purely You Minerals on Facebook, pick out your single favorite Purely You product from their online shop {choose from foundation, silk veil, blush, loose eyeshadow or lip gloss} and tell us what it is in the comments below. Hurry, though! The contest ends Sunday, February 10th at 10:00 pm EST.

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Indie Crafter Spotlight: Alexcia Patterson of Make & Mingle

Make & Mingle Wesport CT - Poor & Pretty

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.

Make & Mingle retail & studio 2 Poor & Pretty

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.

Make & Mingle crafting supplies

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.

Make & Mingle sewing & needlework - Poor & Pretty

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.

making and mingling at Make & Mingle - Poor & Pretty

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.

Make & Mingle Birthdays

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 :)

Truly - Make & Mingle - Poor & Pretty

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.

West - Make & Mingle - Poor & Pretty

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.

Make & Mingle retail & studio Poor & Pretty

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.

Stay in the loop with Make & Mingle! Sign up for their newsletter, read the Make & Mingle blog, “like” them on Facebook, Tweet @makeandmingle, and see what inspires Alexcia on Pinterest.

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Indie Spotlight + Giveaway: Krissy & Dennis Maksymiw of Kleiner Eisbär

Kleiner Eisbar Freight Street Gallery Handmade Market

In keeping with my second resolution to be social, I’m so happy to introduce you to my new friends, Krissy & Dennis Maksymiw. They’re the husband and wife team behind Kleiner Eisbär, makers of hand bound notebooks & felted trinkets. I met the pair at Freight Street Gallery’s Summer Handmade Market last year — we were booth neighbors! I’d recently begun making a scrapbook for my & Stan’s anniversary, so I asked them a lot of questions {though what I made was nowhere near as artisanal as theirs!} Now that we’ve done several events — and painted ornaments — together, I thought I would ask them even more questions, and share the interview with you. Don’t forget to enter to win one of their hand bound planners! {Details at the end of the post.}

Kleiner Eisbar - hand bound books

Poor & Pretty: Okay, first: What does “Kleiner Eisbär” mean?
Krissy Maksymiw:
It’s German for “little polar bear.” There was a famously adorable polar bear in Germany named Knut and he was referred to as “kleiner eisbär.”

Kleiner Eisbar polar bear stamp

P&P: Yes! I remember Knut! Polar bears are my favorite animal.
Dennis Maksymiw:
  I believe that there are few things bigger than David Hasselhoff in Germany, and Knut is one of them. Yeah, Knut’s that awesome. So awesome that our business name is inspired by him.

Kleiner Eisbar - wedding guestbook

P&P: Back to business: I’m blown away by how gorgeous your hand bound journals are. How did you get into making them?
Dennis:
Krissy and I were getting married and we wanted a guestbook that didn’t suck. Pretty much every guestbook out there is the standard silver one with lines for people to either write their address or to tell us congratulations. I find the idea of guests giving their addresses silly. If they’ve been invited, then clearly we already have their addresses.

Kleiner Eisbar - wedding guestbook 2

So, I watched an incredibly boring video with a guy who resembles Stanley Tucci {in none of the good ways}, ordered some supplies, and set out to make a book a week or so before our wedding. The cover uses banana leaf paper and the end sheets were printed with feathers and made in Italy. We encouraged our guests to draw us pictures instead of leaving us the traditional congratulatory messages. It was fantastic.

Kleiner Eisbar - wedding guestbook entry

Krissy: We tried to keep elements of our wedding as handmade and local as possible. We did many things ourselves, and with help from our incredible friends and family. So making our own guestbook seemed natural.

Dennis & Krissy of Kleiner Eisbar

P&P: As a husband and wife team, who does what?
Dennis: 
Krissy tends to do more of the repetitive tasks, like printing, or stab bindings and I bind the books that take more time and have more steps. Even if I’m making three or four hard cover books at a time, they’re different enough that I feel I’m making something unique. I also manage the website and do the designing.

Kleiner Eisbar hand bound book in progress

Krissy:  I’m terrible at cutting straight and measuring, so if Dennis takes care of that then I’m good for the rest of it. If it’s tedious, I am all over it. I tend to bounce around to different things, so I just adapt to whatever needs to be done. I’m also responsible for the needle felted dolls and critters.

Kleiner Eisbar - felted whale

P&P: So, how long does it take to bind an average book?
Dennis: 
Hardcover books take several hours to make over the course of three to four days. Softcover books can be done a bit quicker, but still probably take around an hour with perfect bound books taking a bit longer than smaller chapbooks. Designs are usually kicking around in my head for awhile before I sit down and spend a few hours drawing them up in Illustrator or InDesign.

Kleiner Eisbar - Scandinavian Inspired Wedding Guestbook

P&P: What inspires you?
Dennis:
 Anything and everything Scandinavian. Mid-century modern design is fantastic.

Krissy: I love art, especially contemporary art with an emphasis on Pop. Children’s literature has always been big for me as well. I can never get enough of picture books and can sit in the children’s section of a bookstore for hours on end. Music has always been an inspiration to me as well. I feel like what I latched onto in my formative years helped shape me into who I am today. I’m a preschool art teacher, so I find that working with young children is a huge inspiration. I gain so much every day just by being around the children I teach. I also find animals {both land and aquatic}, cute things, and miniature things to be inspiring.

Kleiner Eisbar - Coptic Handbound Sketchbooks

P&P: Krissy, I love your felted creatures, but what are a few of your favorite creations?
Krissy: Aw, thanks! All of my favorites are not book related. I have a few paintings that I have done that I’m really fond of. I also have some stuffed kitty dolls I made about two years ago. I also have a couple of large plush seahorses that I made maybe four or five years ago. I designed the pattern for them and they are completely sewn by hand.

Kleiner Eisbar - stuffed kitty dolls

P&P: What does your studio/creative space look like?
Dennis: We don’t really have one. We make all of our stuff on our bed. On a good day, I can set up an ironing board to work on, but it takes up the only space we have and ends up being more of an inconvenience than it’s worth. Here’s a garland that hung on our wall before our cat tore it down:

Kleiner Eisbar - heart garland

Krissy: Darn it, Sami! I was going to ask you for organizational tips! Anyway, Todd Selby won’t be photographing our space any time soon. Right now we’re in an interesting room situation, but we are trying to make the best of it. We don’t have a lot of space. We also try to recycle and reuse stuff as much as possible with our business so we have things in piles. One of our goals for the new year is to redo the space and make it work for us.

Kleiner Eisbar giveaway - planner customization

Krissy & Dennis are giving away two hand bound planners to help keep you and a friend organized through 2013. They’re so cool, they’re even letting you design your own. How do you win? “Like” Kleiner Eisbar on Facebook, then leave a comment below or on their Facebook page about how you’d like to design your planners. Choose from the 7 cover designs and two twine colors above, and select which inside design you like best {below}. See a few examples of finished planners here.

Kleiner Eisbar giveaway - planner page options

Not really sure how you’d like it designed? Tell them to surprise you! If you comment on their Facebook page, please make sure to indicate you’re entering to win their giveaway on Poor & Pretty, to avoid any confusion. The contest is now closed, thank you for entering!

Congratulations to Shannon!

KE winning comment

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Indie Spotlight + Giveaway: Dierdre Sowa of Love in Bloom Designs

We are really closing in on the holidays, huh? Here’s a two-for-one Indie Crafter Spotlight & Indie Giveaway for ya! I met Dierdre Sowa, owner of Love in Bloom Designs, earlier this year at the UNCORKED!/Vagina Monologues event at the Charter Oak Cultural Center. She was wearing the most darling little flower on her head and… well, I’ll let her tell you the story :) Read on after the interview for details on how to score one of your own Love in Bloom hair accessories!

Poor & Pretty: Dee, you’ve been wearing your own creations for years. What made you decide to turn it into a business?
Dierdre Sowa: Well, you did! I was in a performance of the Vagina Monologues this past February where we were asked to wear only red and black for the shows. I borrowed a black skirt from a friend, pulled a red shirt from my closet, and added some fun tights but it didn’t feel like my personality came through at all. The night before the dress rehearsal, I decided to make a red and black flower for my hair to personalize my outfit a bit. I received so many questions in the next few nights about where I got my headband! You had a table at the vendor fair prior to one of the performances. You asked if I made it, then suggested I sell them on Etsy. So, thanks!! :)

Continue reading…

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Indie Crafter Spotlight: Rachel DeCavage of sugarplum USA

I met Rachel DeCavage at last year’s Brazen Betties Black Friday Indie Craft Fair, and immediately fell in love with her hand-sewn aprons, upcycled vintage skirts, and organic cotton tees. We became fast friends, and I continue to be inspired by her creativity, ambition, and energy. In a recession, Rachel has a thriving eco-friendly clothing/home goods brand-turned-brick-and-mortar-shop {sugarplum USA} and also founded Evergreen Design Co., a 501c3 nonprofit organization focused on educating the community about, and providing, sustainable design. {They hosted the Trashion Fashion show in honor of Earth Day this year.} I knew Rachel’s would be the next brain to pick for an Indie Crafter Spotlight.

Poor & Pretty: Rachel, you have an insane amount of creativity. Where does it come from?
Rachel DeCavage: Ha! I have a very artistic family and they’re all wildly talented in different ways. I spent most of my childhood learning various trades, which helps me look at materials in different ways. My grandmother taught me how to roll paper beads when I was about 4 {the first craft I can remember doing}. I also learned how to hand sew and hook rugs from her. When I was 10, my dad taught me to how to screenprint tee shirts. Because of these different experiences, I almost never do things the conventional way; that’d be too easy. I also learned in college that a project is never really finished, and can always be improved upon. I enjoy finding ways to push myself creatively.

P&P: What led you to make the decision of going into business for yourself?
RD: Ever since I was — well, born! — I wanted to have my own store. I’m fairly certain every move I’ve made my whole life has been in preparation of being self-employed. It took a while, but when I was 26, I was working 100 hours a week, running the family print shop, pulling my hair out from stress. I thought, “Enough! If I’m gonna work this hard for someone, it might as well be for myself!” I quit the next day.

P&P: You braved a tough economy and opened up the sugarplum brick-and-mortar store this April. How did you do it?
RD: I can be creative with my resources. After several years of participating in fashion shows and indie art markets, I had enough of a following to really make a “go” of it. With all my saved designs, and turning a lot of material in my studio into finished product, I built a strong inventory. I used scrap wood and hardware to build the furnishings for the store, and I bartered for other stuff I didn’t have. I used my last paycheck from my previous job as the deposit on the space in Southington. And I have been hustling ever since.

P&P: Tell us more about sugarplum.
RD: I believe in designing and  producing eco-friendly objects and fashion with heart. Sugarplum is a brand that evokes a sense of fun and happiness. My hope in growing the brand is to employ a slew of talented artists who can be a part of the design process and build everything from scratch. I’d love to have a furniture shop, ceramics studio, and even a full printshop {letterpress, screenprinting, etching}. I want sugarplum to be a full lifestyle design company that utilizes the skills of artisans in many, many fields.

P&P: Okay, got it. You’re a big supporter of independent artists. Who’s currently vending at the sugarplum store?
RD: Right now I’ve got Kate Stephen Jewelry as my premier jewelry designer. What I like about her designs is that she utilizes found objects — such as shells and coral — in very artistic, hammered necklaces & rings. Mourning Glory by Emile Dube is a line of men’s and women’s tees that evoke darkness & rigidity while still feeling organic in nature. 24Peace is a local brand who buys art, prints it on apparel, and gives a portion back to charity. Donna Marlak is a paper designer who makes beautiful framed compositions from old greeting cards.

Poor & Pretty makes up the entire bath & body section of the store. I appreciate the playfulness of your sweets-themed products and the array of color available in the cupcake soaps. {I’m big into color.} What ties all of these artists together is sustainability; I want to carry products that are good for the planet in some way. Plus, everything needs to be handmade and designed by them.

P&P: Clearly, sustainability is a core focus of your businesses. Why is it so important to you?
RD: I firmly believe in the mantra “reduce reuse recycle,” and on a daily basis, I repeat to myself “waste not, want not.” Putting these ideals into business just makes sense. Here’s an example: My dad’s business, CT Shirt Man, spent over $1000 on plastic bags last year to package customer purchases in, which we all know inevitably end up in the trash. This year, I asked all of our employees to save the bags instead of tossing them. We used them to package orders, which saved us heaps of money, and saved the earth from 50% of the plastic we normally go through. It just doesn’t make sense to not practice sustainability. I, for one, do not want to live in a landfill. I opened sugarplum, my little 350 sq ft store, fully furnished it, stocked it with inventory, all with less than $1000 {and $700 of that was for the flooring I installed}.


P&P: If you saw someone litter, you’d…
RD: If I’m driving, I mutter cuss words. If they litter in front of me, I either make them pick it up or I pick it up and say, “Reeeal nice, jerkface.” I’m kind of a snot about it.

P&P: Back to sugarplum: how often can people expect to see new things in the shop?
RD: Every day! I have a personal goal of making 5 new designs a week. It’s a bit extreme, but I’m surprisingly adept at it. I can make something and say, “Okay, let’s try that in a different color, or a different medium,” and before I know it, I’ve got a bunch of new product in the shop.

P&P: Got any events coming up?
RD: Yes!  I’m vending at the CADC’s Pop Up Shop at NoRA Bakery in Middletown on Friday, the Hartford HodgePodge this Sunday, and at the Hamden Holiday Craftacular on December 1st. As for in-store events, I’m hosting a debut for Sugar Lips lip lotion collection on November 29th, and a DIY sugar scrub demonstration by Sami Jensen of Poor & Pretty on December 2nd. These events are a part of sugarplum’s 12 Days of Christmas, where I bring in local artists to do exhibit at sugarplum and host demonstrations at the shop.

Keep in the loop with sugarplum via Facebook and by joining the sugarplum mailing list.

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