Breakfast with Lori
We’re off to Portland, Oregon, this week for “Breakfast” with Lori Wahl: apparel designer, blogger, and mother of two. Lori is also a friend of Bec Thomas‘s. (There sure is a lot of creative mo-jo in the northwest corner of the US! What do you guys have going on up there??)
CC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family headcount.
LW: I am a married, 38-year-old mother of two — Elsie, 6 years old, and Ewan, 2 years old. I am a freelance apparel designer working for various clients who need design and product development work. My sister and I own a children’s apparel company called Mister Judy. We are still trying to get it off the ground, but will not be able to devote a lot of time to it until all children (hers and mine) are in school. I also teach a couple of web-based classes at the University of Idaho for the Clothing, Textile, and Design degree program.
CC: Tell us about your design work and your other creative endeavors.
LW: The Mister Judy line is a lot of fun since both my sister and I like kids’ clothing with a retro vibe. We do a more subtle retro feel…and really look for good prints to use. I love to knit…and now with winter coming I have more projects planned. I sew as well….and then every once in a while I get the urge to redecorate a room…and out comes all the magazines and design books that I hoard.
[At left: Here is one of my Christmas projects…leg warmers for all the little dancers in my life.]
CC: What prompted you to start a blog? What keeps you going?
LW: I started my blog as a way to foster my creativity. I saw so many bloggers regularly doing crafty things and posting them that I thought a blog would help me to more creative things on a regular basis. Unfortunately I don’t always have a creative post, but when I do post something that I’ve made or seen, I receive great comments from my friends and readers. It’s my regular readers that keep me posting regularly. Early on I participated in some online craft exchanges. You had to have a blog to participate as a way to learn about one another. I have made some really great on line friends through blogging.
[Above right: I knitted these mitts last year.]
CC: Do you find that your blog keeps you “honest” creatively? Meaning that you have a place to state your intentions — and that you need to keep producing work in order to have something creative to blog about?
LW: Yes, the blog does keep me on track. If I announce that I’m going to do something, I will follow through. Sometimes not on the original timelines, but eventually I will finish the announced work and post it.
CC: Where do you do your creative work?
LW: I have a studio in the basement. I needed my own space for my freelance work, but also a place to leave a project-in-process out while it was in-process. For some reason, if I put a project away, it never sees the light of day again and therefore does not become complete.
CC: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
LW: I wish I did have a regularly scheduled block of time for creativity. I fault myself for that. It is my own time-management issue. It is an excellent idea to have a regularly scheduled time and gives you something to look forward to. But I do get inspired at odd times and want to jump into a project.
CC: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
LW: Motherhood has definitely reduced my creative time. There are no more days of staying in my pajamas drinking mimosas for breakfast and sewing all day long. I sort of have to cram it in where it fits. My 6-year-old is old enough to participate or to occupy herself while I’m working. My 2-year-old is not quite there yet, so I have to have an elaborate distraction strategy planned. OR I work while the 6-year-old is at school and the 2-year-old is napping OR at night…but by the time night rolls around, I usually tuck myself in on the couch for some knitting rather than heading to the basement for sewing. This goes back to the time-management point above. I feel like I am still creative, but my output has been greatly reduced after having children.
CC: What do you struggle with most?
LW: I struggle most with work/life/creativity balance. My spouse is unemployed and has been for the past year, so I need to work to pay the bills. He has been taking care of the kids when I am busy with freelance work and teaching, but he also needs time for job hunting/networking. The creativity gets shoved to the bottom of the list sometimes.
CC: Where do you find inspiration?
LW: Inspiration comes from many different places…from other people’s blogs, from my stash of vintage clothing, magazines, a trip to Anthropologie, or just general web surfing. When I was working full time, I bought a LOT of books, so I have an amazing design library to reference when I need an injection of creativity.
[Above right: A vintage scrapbook put together for my grandmother when she was a young girl. Her aunties that lived in Victoria, BC made it for her.]
CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs?
… and there are more that I check regularly.
CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
LW: My greatest indulgence is jewelry from Michal Negrin jewelry, home decor, fashion items…although I’m going to have to cut back for a bit.
CC: What are you reading right now?
LW: I’m partway through Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things.
CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
LW: Find creativity in places that you wouldn’t expect it. I may not get to sit down and make a new stuffed animal or new garment or even get those prints framed, but I can sit and build fairies with my daughter, Elsie. It is creative and imaginative and I get to spend time with Elsie….and then, of course, we come up with a long list of other items we need to create as accessories for our fairies.
[Above left: My vintage enamel pins…it kind of looks like an embroidery…]
CC: Thank you, Lori!