When you first meet Elsie Goodwin you will meet a woman who is well put together, incredibly collected, and (in spite of her petite frame) unwaveringly strong. She has a brilliant mind and a passion for figuring out how her work and creativity fit best into the world.
I have known Elsie for a couple of years now, mostly seeing her socially or through social media, but it was this most recent visit, where we actually had a chance to sit and talk, that blew me away! Elsie had changed, there was a light in her eyes, a fire in her spirit, she was still the same amazing and strong woman, but there was something else there... something more. Elsie recently discovered the art of macrame and with it she seems to have discovered the way in which she can connect her heart, her head, and her hands. Of course I had to know more...
While Drew and Bobby (Elsies husband) were off ordering coffee (at G&B a favorite LA coffee bar) Elsie and I had a chance to sit and talk. As we did so our conversation quickly grew deeper, moving from the day to day chatter of life and work, settling into the depths of creativity and the minutia of how and why we do things. Elsie spoke of her new venture and how it isn't just a creative project to keep her hands 'busy' but it is a way of connecting with other people. As a freelance artist who works from home, and as a mother with two young kids, Elsie is beginning to see her art as a way of bringing her self out into the world while bringing people together. She has started hosting parties, teach work shops, and she longs to move peoples imaginations; liberating their minds as she teaches them to work with their hands. Beautiful no?
The idea of connection through creativity is one that Drew and I are both incredibly drawn to and I know we aren't alone in that feeling. There seems to be a current, pulling us (the creative masses) out of our own bubbles, towards a greater collective purpose; and Elsie is pursuing that current with her entire being. It seems to me there is a collision of aspiration and inspiration and if we follow Elsies lead, the only out is through.
If that doesn't prick your curiosity about the magic of macrame (and creativity) I don't know what will! However, that is just my side of the story, let me turn it over to Elsie and she will tell you more-
First off, could you please tell us who you are, what you do, and where you are from?
My name is Elsie Goodwin, I am a Fiber Artist based in Chino Hills, Ca. I focus on Macrame, but I also Knit, crochet and weave.
What is your work ‘background’?
I spent 15 years as a buyer in the fashion industry. I was also a consultant for a year, which is how you and I met. I loved my career, I made some great relationships and made many wonderful memories.
How did you discover macramé?
I started to see it pop up around me in print and online. I said to myself, I KNOW I can do that. I found some free patterns online, a "how to" video on YouTube and picked up some yarn I had laying around. I wanted to practice before I invested in rope. So, my first piece was a 5 inch miniature plant hanger in a terrible red color. Nothing To write home about, but I totally got hooked, and I've done it nearly every day since.
Do you feel your background in merchandising helped you in your new career?
Yes, my background has helped me in many ways. The major one being having the confidence to put myself out there. I spend a lot of time emailing and calling companies that I aspire to work with. I don't always hear back, but when I do I am always proud that I was brave and just reached out. Also, the ability to edit and be decisive are definitely buyers traits.
What has been the biggest push to get you ‘out there’ in the freelance artist world?
My husband, Bobby. He is a constant in my life. Always cheering me on, pushing me, supporting my passions and challenging me in the best way.
Do you have a design/creative process?
Not really, but I wish I could say that I did. I just start to see things that inspire me in life, everywhere, not just in macrame, and my mind stores it. Then I sort out the supplies I need for a project, start cutting rope and hope it goes somewhere good. If not, you can always untie the knots. That's the beauty of Macrame.
What are you excited for in life (work or otherwise) at the moment?
I have wanted to be a yoga instructor for many years. The timing to get certified hasn't been right, but if all goes to plan, I'll be getting my certification in the spring. I want to work with local resorts and company retreats and be able to teach yoga in the morning and a macrame class in the afternoon.
I am also excited to see my family grow closer together. My daughters are 1 and 3 and they seem to love each other more and more as the days pass, it is such a cool thing to witness.
Where do you find the greatest amount of satisfaction in life?
Connecting with people, having great conversations about the big and little things in life. That and learning something new. I love challenging myself, picking up new skills and figuring out how to make it intertwine with my interest.
Hobbies outside of macramé?
I love to knit, crochet and weave. Also, if reading magazines is a hobby, then that too.
If you had to define yourself or your work in one word, what would it be?
Clean, strong or structured. You choose one, they all work for me.
What is one little luxury you can’t live without?
Aesop, maybe that is 5 or 6 things, but I'll sum it up and say Aesop. Total luxury.
How/when do you do your best work?
In the early afternoon. When my one year old is napping. I sit with a cup of coffee that always gets cold before I finish it because my hands are too busy to drink.
Best piece of advice you ever received or better yet, words you live by?
So cliche, but "just do it!" Just start. If the idea is there just figure out a way to make it happen. Work hard. Edit. Keep it clean and simple. Also, what would Bobby do? He has a great ability to pull back on things, never overdone. SometimesI get cloudy from the things that I see out there and I have to remind myself to just be me. I like things to be clean, strong and structured.
Has being a mother changed your perspective on life and creativity?
Where do I even begin? Short answer, yes!
Being a parent forces you to look in the mirror because kids are a direct reflection of their parents. So I am careful with my actions and I l also have very clear principles and expectations in the house.
As far as being a mom and my perspective changing on creativity, it goes back to JUST DO IT. I imagine having conversations on creativity with my daughters and saying, just do it, go for it. And often times you have to listen to the things that you tell your children.
Where can we see or purchase your work and what can we look forward to in 2016?
I am working on opening an Etsy store. It isn't as easy as it looks and I want to make sure that I do it right from the start. For now, if someone sees something they like on my instagram feed then they can message me and buy it.
I am looking forward to working with some great companies that I am in the talks with. Also bigger and better workshops and projects; Ceramic beads, dyed rope...all good things.
She isn't kidding you guys! The projects she is working on right now are beyond good. Be sure to check out her instagram and keep up to date for when that Etsy store opens (things are going to sell out fast I have no doubt).
I entitled this post Macrame Maven because I thought it clever. Upon further research I discovered that the word Maven refers to someone who is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. It comes from Hebrew, meaning "one who understands", based on an accumulation of knowledge... Elsie fits that title perfectly! She got curious, learned, practiced, developed a skill set and now wants to impart that knowledge on to others. It is such a gift to say the least.
Elsie, you are beyond inspiring, as a woman, an artist, a mother, and a human! I can't not wait to see what you create next. Thank you for taking the time to share.