Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have lived in Utah all of my life. I have been married to my husband Jason for nine years and worked a dozen different jobs — waitressing, lifeguarding, being a real estate agent, designing interiors — trying to discover what it is I enjoy doing. Everything seemed to come together once I decided to stay home full-time to be a mother of my now 18 month old. Being home with my husband and son seemed to inspire me and bring my creativity to life. This was when Crafted by Kerstin was created. I never would have believed that one day I would have my own business and be in a position to do what I love while spending time with my family at home. I consider myself lucky because my “real life” has turned out better than I ever dreamed.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
The majority of my day consists of chasing after and caring for my toddler, which I love to do more than I ever could have imagined! Getting ready for the day, as far as actually doing my hair and putting on something other than stretch pants and a hoodie, has become a rarity — especially now that I am five months pregnant. My husband and I are involved in our church and both work from home. We love to spend time with extended family, play cards, garden and barbecue in the summer, and watch every Utah Jazz basketball game. We have accepted that now that we are practically in our 30s we are no longer cool, but we are happier than ever.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Just Keep Swimming. And yes, we did recently watch Finding Nemo. What can I say — I’m a product of my daily environment. This fits me perfectly, since at times I worry that I may never find success. To me, success is doing something I love that allows me to be creative while making something others find unique and valuable. Luckily, I never stopped swimming in the choppy waters.
Where does your inspiration come from?
The original idea and inspiration came from my son. I was trying to brainstorm ideas for a meaningful gift for my mother’s birthday. I wanted to give her something handmade that reminded her of her only grandchild because I knew she would love it. Remembering a Christmas card I made with silhouettes, I decided to do something similar but somehow improve upon it. Once I had the concept in my head, it became my mission to make the perfect gift.
Since then, I have tweaked and perfected my design, but the meaning and heart behind the pieces are the same. I love the Mother Theresa quote “Do small things with great love.” It is the thought behind each piece I make. I have been so fortunate to have shared personal experiences of love and loss with those I work with. I have had to learn to work through teary eyes. The memory of a loved one captured in my work is rewarding and helps me to keep life in perspective.
What does handmade mean to you?
To me handmade has always meant one of-a-kind and of sentimental importance.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
Although my son was the inspiration behind my first piece, my husband is the one who has always encouraged my artistic side. I know that my shop would not exist if Jason hadn’t pushed me to put myself out there and helped me to believe I could be successful. I am very blessed to have him in my life, and am happy that he is my constant support system.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I felt very confident in my artistic abilities when I was younger. My work always got a gold star at school, and teachers kept my art projects as examples for the following year’s students which helped me to feel talented. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to learn to trust the feedback of family and friends as well as recognize when I have a good idea and not minimize it.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I have been very fortunate to find a friend and mentor in Shannon Westmeyer. She would laugh at that title, but she really has inspired me with her beautiful jewelry as well as with her ideas and advice. Perhaps one day I will make the trip to Ohio and see her studio and how she does all the amazing things she does.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have very gifted parents who can both make amazing things with their hands. I have blankets and numerous dresses made by my mother, and my father has made beautiful stained glass window hangings, kinetic copper wind sculptures and has restored antique cars from the ground up. These are all family treasures and I value them because of the time and love has gone into them.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Thankfully this hasn’t really been an issue up to this point. It seems that my customers are always improving upon (and customizing) my existing designs. I have many pieces that were a suggestion or idea of someone else who had their own vision. This has helped to keep my designs fresh.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Hopefully in a bigger space, since I am losing my current workspace to our new arrival at the end of July. But truthfully, if things continued at the same pace, I would only continue to be grateful for those who are allowing me to do what I love from my own home. In my mind, it really is the dream I’ve been chasing. I look forward to what exciting things time may bring!