Our very first Local Maker's post is about a very good friend, Beth Dryden. Beth lives in Woodstock, GA and makes an amazing line of leather goods and accessories. Beth will at the very first Maker's Mash at Reformation Brewery on June 16th from 5-8! (Details here.) She has a true gift for seeing raw materials and turning them into something wonderful. We're lucky to have her sharing about her work and process. I'll let you dive on in!
How did you get started making?
It's a long story really. In short, I used to make wallets out of paper in tape when I was little. I guess my love for accessories (wallets, handbags, etc) has always been in my soul but I wasn't reminded until many years later. In college, I was mesmerized by this minimalistic, accordion style business card holder made out of book binding materials that a friend had given me. But it wasn't until about 10 years after that, as a graphic designer wanting to give something to my clients with their business cards, did I start making my own holders. First out of fine papers using the Japanese stab binding technique and then, after happening upon some leather scraps, well... that's where things really changed for me. The raw edges, beautiful imperfections, markings, textures, & irregular shapes are what fuels the inspiration behind each piece that is made and it's also what keeps me interested in making more.
What does your average day look like?
First there is coffee & Jesus. Oh and letting my sweet Belle out for her morning duties. ;) Then, I take a look at where I am for the day... whether there are custom orders to be made, or wholesale orders to fill, social media to respond to, networking events to attend or admin work to be taken care of. Since I very recently took this business full time, I couldn't be more excited to start my day and it will most definitely vary which is great, because even though I am a fan of structure, I rarely like to do the exact same thing every day. I am most likely in front of my work table surrounded by piles of leather, tools and sometimes music... ready to create from my heart and soul. From there, I take the day as it comes.
What inspires you to keep making work?
I make ultimately for the freedom of creativity. Somewhere along the way, I realized my art spoke to others the same way it spoke to me further inspiring me to serve others through my art. Since each piece is one of a kind, I rarely get burnt out. If I do, I'll put what I am working on to the side and start on something else to keep creativity flowing. Also, getting new scraps, random pieces of leather will really inspire me. Even going out and buying new colors of thread is a boost to my creativity. Other times, when I already have all that, I'll take Belle for a walk spending time in nature. Or I'll meet friends or family for lunch to dine al fresco when possible. Fresh air and sunshine are food for my soul. So is taking time to actually rest. Finding balance in the day is imperative.
What is the hardest lesson you learned through your business?
That I don't know everything and that I can't do it all on my own. Whether you're an introvert, an independent or just stubborn... (me in a nutshell) you need people surrounding you who get it, who support you, who can teach you and who are willing to help make your passions a reality. Still gathering my tribe as we speak, but there are key people that rally me on and without that, this journey would be incredibly difficult.
What's the best part about doing what you do?
After chasing so many paths not meant for me, it's about finally recognizing my purpose and not feeling so empty all the time. Being able to make others happy through that purpose. Purpose of waking up each day ready to create with my hands. Purpose of hopefully being able to make a difference with some recent visions and initiatives that have been on my heart that I'm researching but have yet to share. Just purpose really. God given - no doubt.
What are you working on now?
Right this very moment, I am working on creating 4 point of purchase displays, filling them up with product so they can be photographed and then used to help further the wholesale side of business. Then it's off to make a ton of stuff for the Maker's Mash! More Father's Day gifts too since I'll be set up at the mash the day before.