Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Cramer.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It’s not easy to find the source of a river, not until you are swept up in it, caught in the current. If I had to point to the bend in the river of my life that got me here, to this point in my life, where I am an artist, a ceramicist and the owner of an all handmade gift store and art gallery, I would look to the moment I had the courage to go buy a potters wheel and a kiln on craigslist, and knowing nothing about either, I determined to spend all my free time figuring them out. Unraveling their riddles, unlocking the mystery of earth and fire.
At the time, I felt too happy and too unhappy all at the same time, which caused me to have to examine my life and make a change. I loved my new daughter and loved being a new mom but I suddenly disliked my job. I was working as a designer creating store displays, websites, florals, and interior design. But I didn’t feel I had anything I could point to and feel proud of. Nothing felt concrete or fully my vision. I worried about what I would explain to my daughter about who I am and what it is I spend my time doing. I looked at the flow of my life and saw that what had always made me happy was making art, something beautiful that could be held, used, and loved.
So I set up the studio, I started making pottery, without knowing how to. It took a year, a river of tears and sweat, 1000 broken pots, but I persevered and when I had finally made a beautiful set of pots I took them around to stores and started to sell them. By 2016 I had opened a little handmade shop featuring my work.
Today I am caught, the current is strong and it’s hard to untangle myself. I make pottery everyday for custom clients and for my shop. I love that if I can think up an idea, I can make it in clay. I love that I can include other small makers in my store and have a place that envelops my whole vision and aesthetic while supporting an artistic community.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In China there are ancient potteries where all the failed pots of generations of potters – hundreds of years of pots – are smashed into bits and piled up in enormous piles. I wish I had known about that from the beginning – that I might have created a big physical pile of all the bits of failure I’ve had, to have a lasting and visual reminder of how difficult making something great is. And of how it is a never-ending flow of mistakes that continue even after you know what you are doing. To be successful you have to be determined, have patience, and you must try many avenues before finding just one glimmer of goodness. Mistakes are not mistakes, but just part of life.
Today I don’t have to tell my daughter about who I am and what I do. She spends much time next to me in studio, making her own things, her own experiments and her own pottery. She learns that something she works hard at can fail. She learns she must persevere and try it again.
Please tell us about Global Eye Art Co.
My handmade shop has something for everyone – art, gifts, pillows, furniture, décor. I’d like people who come into my store to find something well-made by a small producer. From men’s tee shirts to candles, jewelry, tableware or linen clothes to big things like handcrafted tables, paintings, rugs and textiles. I want it to be a place where people feel as if they are finding something new and unique every time they come in and feel inspired themselves to make their worlds beautiful.
I am constantly experimenting in clay, but also other mediums – drawing and painting, printmaking, jewelry. I pour candles and make bath products. I make lighting fixtures and lamps. I always want there to be new fresh pieces that keep the space interesting for us all. I love the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk- German for “total work of art” – and I often try to make every bit of something from scratch. This year one of my special holiday gifts will be spices – homegrown peppers dried, flaked and blended for flavor and heat then packaged in a beautiful ceramic lidded jar. I grew gourds one year, dried them, then them carved out and painted them as bird feeders.
I also use my store and it’s beautiful garden in the town of Los Olivos for creative events that bring our community together. I’ve hosted love letter writing on antique typewriters, wheel throwing opportunities, wine tastings with inaccessible artisan wines, and DIY makers days.
My favorite part of my company is that it has brought all the little streams of my life together into one river and all of my skills now have a home.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Maybe I have other memories of being in the fragrant woods building forts with friends, or of riding my bike or swimming all summer, but I always smile when I think of myself at seven, alone in my room. I created my own world; I taped my drawings up around my window, I set up a desk with a register and receipts, I set up an easel with supplies. I sat there for days pretending to greet visitors coming to my window who browsed my drawings. I wrote out long descriptions of them on little cards as receipts and made change from my register. In between customers I made more drawings. It was something I could have never predicted would be practice for my future, but I loved it then and I love it now. I love making things, sharing things, and I even love organizing all the little bits of paper that come with running a business.
- Address: 2935 Grand Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441
- Website: www.geartco.com
- Phone: 805-259-6390
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @globaleyeart
Michael Robertson, Kristen Cramer