Art on the Rivers is coming to Frontier Park in historic Saint Charles on August 27. While we’re really excited to be hosting this event in conjunction with the Greenway Network and Race for the Rivers, it’s out makers, artists, and crafters that make the whole thing possible for us. Shows like this give us the opportunity to talk to the public about our individual makers stories, and also to show that there are artists living and working in the community and making a living from making things by hand. We’re thrilled to be working with each of these exciting artists, and look forward to introducing them all to you!
Today, we caught up with Beqi of Beqi Clothing to chat about her work, being a maker, inspiration, and goals. Join us as we meet our makers!
Tell us about your first “Maker Moment”
I made things since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but I started making them for a living when I turned 30. The first thing I sold was a skirt, and the minute the money came into my Paypal account I felt a rush of personal gratification that something I had designed had been good enough for someone to spend their hard earned money on it. 16 years later, every single order still feels like that.
Where does your making happen?
All over. The actual sewing happens in my studio, but the jewelrymaking happens literally everywhere. Libraries, coffee houses, on the bleachers while my son learns tennis, etc. If I can haul it in a bag, I can work.
What inspires you?
Everything that’s both beautiful and tough inspires me. Street fashion, roots music, wildflowers, thrift stores, rough minerals, tattooed girls, whiskey bottles, trees that grow in the winter. I love the paradox of hardy things still being ornamental.
Because I have trouble delegating authority. 😉
Are there any materials that you have used in your products that you think may be unexpected?
Stones I’ve actually picked up myself from campsites. The occasional miniature toy. Creepy Victorian porcelain doll parts. If I can use it, I do.
What personality trait do you possess that you think helps you the most as a professional crafter?
ADHD and a caffeine addiction.
What do you think differentiates crafting from other types of business?
It’s much more rewarding and less cutthroat. We have a real community of very good, very friendly artists who all get along. We’ve raised funds for fellow crafters who have had tragedies happen, and we support each other and share ideas and resources. Far from being in competition with one another, we want to rise as a group. I’ve never ever been in a business like this.
What do you enjoy most about selling your handmade goods?
Having people come up to me and tell me they bought something from me 5, 10 years ago, and they still wear it, and they feel beautiful in it and get compliments on it. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful, and I’m glad to have a hand in that.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years? 10?
Basically the same, but in more stores and maybe with an assistant to do the paperwork. When my son is in college, I’d like to start a craft outreach for girls and boys who might not have the same access to art that I was lucky to have. Art saved my life, in a very non-hyperbolic sense. I’d love to give that gift to the next generation.
You can see more of Beqi’s amazing work in her online shop at http://beqiclothing.com or stop by and talk her in person at Art on the Rivers on August 27!