A. Well, about four years ago I discovered felted bags. I’m the kind of person that sees something and thinks – “I could make that!” The next thing I know, I’m not only making it but selling it, or teaching it. Have you ever read the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? It’s like that. I started felting bags by knitting them and then shrinking and felting them in my washing machine. I then sold them in galleries in the area where I live in Maine. I needed a name, and the nursery rhyme “Yessir, yessir, three bags full!” kept running in my head. Since the bags were made of wool, it seemed like a natural. Later, when I started making fabric bags and selling them on Etsy, the name still seemed to work. I added the tagline “Because One Bag is Never Enough” since I am such a ‘bag lady’. I have a very loyal customer base, and this philosophy applies to other people, too.
Q. What a wonderful beginning to your creative journey on Etsy, Michele. Visitors to your shop will notice immediately the vibrant colors and really appreciate that you’ve included such a range of designs, colors and uses for your bags. When did you first realize how important color would become in your life?
A. One of my passions is pastel painting, and I’ve always loved working with bright color. I don’t have as much time to paint these days, so I channel my creativity into sourcing beautiful fabrics. Yarn is another passion, of course. Some of my customers like to match their knitting project to their bag. Looking for fabric online is one of my favorite things to do.
Q. Your interests are so creative and varied. Many readers would be interested in how you find time to keep up with them all and still create new items and maintain your Etsy shop?
A. Haha, my family would tell you that I am crazy! I do have a lot of interests. I used to bake cakes professionally. and still do that every once in a while. I love to grow my own vegetables, and I do try to fit in some knitting every day to maintain sanity. Singing and painting are harder to fit in, but I do my best. I’m a single mom to a very active 13 year old (the namesake of my Mia bags), and she keeps me on my toes. I work full time during the day as the PR Director for WoodenBoat magazine, writing advertising copy and promoting our annual WoodenBoat Show. Sewing happens at night and on weekends (and sometimes early in the morning and on my lunch hour since my office is only 2 miles from my house). I guess the answer is that I don’t sleep very much and I drink more coffee than I used to. And now I have a couple of wonderful women helping me with some aspects of the sewing, so I can focus more on fabric selection and design and marketing. Still, I do make most of the bags.
Q. It’s inspiring for us to learn how you fit the different creative activities into your daily life…and coffee. What is the one aspect you enjoy most, and would like to share with us, about living a creative life.
A. I am so lucky to live in an area of the world which abounds in natural beauty, so there is inspiration all around me. Summer in Maine is the quintessential season, but the other seasons have their individual perks too. The sky, the ocean, the light on the tops of the spruce trees at sunset, the sound of birds, the smell of the ocean – it’s all quite intoxicating. I am also surrounded by an extremely creative community, where many of my neighbors are glass blowers, potters, weavers, painters, musicians. There are many people to learn from and be inspired by.
Q. I agree! Maine is a wonderful place, and kind to the sensibilities of artistic endeavors. Are there any tips, events, or dreams for a creative business that you would like to include…or perhaps a yummy recipe?
A. What has made my business grow is my involvement in the community of knitters around the world, through blogs and Ravelry. I’ve met many talented knitters online through my bags and through sharing knitting projects. It’s just grown from there. The knitting community is very well connected online and through fiber festivals, and I just love being a part of that. Perhaps, if I end up doing Three Bags Full full-time I would expand to more exhibiting. Right now I’m busy keeping my website stocked, and supplying a couple of online yarn stores with bags: The Loopy Ewe, Fibre Space and Dirty Water Dyeworks, plus a local gallery. I’m not really able to travel, but I hope that will change as I grow.
Thank you, Michele, for taking the time and having the courage to share your thoughts, your creative life, and enthusiasm for knitting, color and fabric with us today. Your message of paying attention to the creative spark in all areas of your busy life is a great inspiration and example for all of us.
Please visit Michele's Etsy shop and look for her creations in the stores mentioned in the interview. You will also find Michele as dance2yarn and MicheleinMaine on Ravelry.com
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