Friday, October 18, 2013

Little Locals' Owner, Jessica Eliason (MamaTalk: Creativity)

I've gotten to know Jessica Eliason through her amazing shop in downtown Kalispell, Little Locals.  I wrote about buying my cloth diapers there previously when it was called Blooming Bellies.  Jessica is that rarest of business owners who goes completely out of her way to help people find answers to their questions.  I mean, seriously, when I was battling the case of the stinky ammonia diapers, she was on top of it with me, bending over backwards to help me figure it out.  She is an amazing source of information but she is also an incredibly kind and caring lady with a great capacity for creativity.  Her shop is full of beautiful apparel for kids, creative (and safe) toys, feeding gear, diapering gear, and everything else that you need for the modern kid and modern mom.  It's an awesome place to shop for yourself or to buy a baby shower gift!  The store is set up beautifully and Jessica's talent is obvious.  I hope she keeps on thriving and I hope that after you read her thoughts, you head on over and visit her store!

What are your primary outlets for creativity?  Tell us a little about your background and how you developed these creative skills.
Pre-children, my outlets were cooking, crafting, sewing, and writing.  And probably a lot of other "outlets" I funneled creativity into that don't really have a solid label.  After having one child, I did pretty well keeping most of those outlets alive and well.  During my second pregnancy, nausea subsided and creativity kicked in in full force.  I opened a maternity and children's boutique in a few weeks, fueled by my mid-pregnancy energy surge and a general excitement about creating a space where I could earn an income, have my children with me, and be creative.  It was months after giving birth (to the shop, and to my second daughter) when I realized that my dusty old fashion design degree was what made it possible to just whip up a boutique.  But once the "creating" became overshadowed by the everyday obligations of being a business owner, it became a real challenge to find opportunities (and TIME) to keep those juices flowing.  It comes in spurts now, and I am currently in a phase of reminding myself how important it is to KEEP BEING CREATIVE, for me. It's part of my life force, and I become a cranky mama when I can't find the space for that part of my being!

Do you think creativity is important as a mom?  Why or why not? 
Wow. Loaded question. Creativity is important as a mom because you certainly need to be creative to get through parenting alive and well!  But, finding time to be creative as a mom can be challenging depending on your organization skills (mine need polishing!) and how you tackle that creative urge.  You can craft with your kids, you can bake beautiful birthday cakes each year...but if your creative urge is to lock yourself in your craft room and sew, you can end up having to bottle that urge. So, yes, it's very important to be creative if you have an inner urge to do so, because it's what makes some of us feel whole and complete.  Finding time to be whole and complete as a mom is probably another blog post though!!

What is a time in your life when you felt most fulfilled creatively?
 I would have to go back to the shop again, citing that time of my life as the MOST CREATIVE and FULFILLED I've been in a very long time. I was building a life inside me, building a family, and building a space in my community inspired by my own upbringing and love for textiles and natural child rearing.

I was building a life inside me, building a family, and building a space in my community inspired by my own upbringing and love for textiles and natural child rearing.

How did time or energy for creativity change after you became a mom?
As the children increased, the energy decreased and the time for creativity seemed to dwindle. I became cranky! I found that it's all part of finding my center.  If creativity is important to me--is part of the definition of me--then I guess I better become more organized, more CREATIVE in finding the time to exercise that creativity.

Do you ever feel guilty about making time for creativity?  How do you cope with that?
I do not hold guilt over this, no.  I have frustrations, when the time feels nearly impossible to find, but guilt doesn't come into play for me.  My husband loves to ski, to bike.  Now that we are a family of four with a house, two jobs (one being a business I own and run), and a home-schooled child, we have to work a lot harder to find time to do those things that made us who we were before marriage, before kids.  So we might get frustrated and agitated, but I never push guilt on him when he needs to take off and go ski.  And - when I have the energy! -I lock myself in my sewing room, completely guilt free.

Have you ever felt pressured to express creativity in exactly the same way as some other mom (maybe a friend or a mom on Pinterest or a blog)?  In what way?  Have you found any ways to get past these pressures?  How?
Probably not, because art and expression have been a part of my life since day one.  I always feel like I am in good company when I meet other moms who have a flair for creating things--whether it's clay or fabric or cake!  Art has always been something that comes from inside for me. I can't make my insides match another mom's insides and that really isn't the point, is it?  Art is unique by nature.  Pinterest is great eye candy, but, truthfully, taking any more than an inspiration away from it can make you feel like a failure--and that really nixes creativity!

Have you found any ways to use your creative skills with your kids?
Truth telling time.  I really like to be independent in my creativity, so for me it's never expressed itself as sitting down with my girls for craft hour.  Eden is still too young, but is very happy with paper and crayons. In fact, she is very creative herself with story telling, drawings, facial expressions!  Clarise has taken to crafting on her own. She loves to cut fabrics and sew tooth fairy pillows, doll capes, you name it.  Any new type of crafting she can imagine, she tries her hand at.  I love that my own creative urges are separate from hers. Even when she would like to be a part of what I'm doing,  it's a separate activity that she continues in her own time as well.

Tell us what you love about the unique ways you express creativity.  
 Well that's something I've never really thought about - with not having enough time to be creative these days!  But I guess I would express how being creative has transformed as I've transformed, with age and experience and wisdom.  I am so very thankful that I was given the gift of creativity and that I have the ability to find a variety of ways to express myself creatively when the urge hits.  So even when I can't get into the sewing room, I can sit down with a pencil and paper or I can tear a display down at the shop and start fresh.  Some days, it might be something as lousy as a Facebook post that leaves me feeling expressed, and some days that has to be enough

What advice would you give to a mom who feels that since having kids, she has “lost herself”? 
Rant and rave about not having enough time for yourself until your husband thinks you're crazy and hormonal. Fear and survival mode will kick in for him and he'll offer to take the kids whenever you need so you can make time for you!  Kidding.  Hopefully, it doesn't have to go that route.  Usually when it does, it's because we've ignored ourselves for too long.  And really, that is no one's fault but our own.

I think it's important to remember that finding "me time" is something we have to pro-actively DO.  Carve time out: go to the gym and think, go to yoga, go to the library WITHOUT your kids (I know, who does THAT?!).  Go somewhere where you can be alone in your thoughts, whether that is your Church, your closest coffee shop, or a hiking trail.  Remember what you used to love and try new things.  Make yourself a priority and re-connect with you.  Ask your friends what they do, because some of us don't like to go it alone. Putting our heads together can bring really great ideas to the forefront.  And once you remember what it was that made you YOU or find something new that strikes a nerve, put it on the calendar.  And when it doesn't work out, LET IT GO.  And try again.

 When it doesn't work out, LET IT GO.  And try again.

Jessica says: I'm a mom and many other things. I own a downtown shop in Kalispell, MT (Little Locals) where I come to work as many days a week as I can, often late, with two kids in tow and hopefully enough snacks to make it through the day.  My husband has to help us get out the door sometimes, and sometimes he's already gone himself.  We have great dreams and are currently making the best of what we have. 

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