I grew up on a delightful gentleman’s farm in the Wisconsin countryside. My parents had an eclectic taste in everything, and it still inspires me to this day. There was no shortage of antiques, animals or outdoor adventures to inspire my siblings and me. My creativity took root there at a young age when my parents noticed a solid dose of shyness suffocating me.
Thankfully, the scrumptious patchwork of art and nature is where my journey toward self-awareness, courage, confidence and my ultimate blossoming began. I thrived more outside of a school’s strict box of rules that tend to squelch one’s creativity. I found in my own world a certain fearlessness in exploring every whisper of my imagination, which has taken me on a passionate quest of sorts. Because of it, I learned early on to trust myself and to believe in my abilities. Ultimately, it gave me the nerve and grit to try everything and anything that intrigued me.
Like a starved tornado, I swerved from one art project to the next, nothing but my desire to satisfy my artistic cravings guiding me. I wanted to try everything: sewing, sculpture, painting, jewelry making, etc. I became a voracious reader and researcher to find materials that intrigued my senses and delighted my curiosity of creating.
Creating led me to my career as a designer, and over the last 27 years, I have designed home furnishings, apparel and everything in between. I was encouraged early on to become a designer, but I found the idea of it to be sort of a fairytale concept, as I had never met anyone with a career in art. While it was circuitous, I’m very content with the routes I took to become a designer.
After graduating from high school, I moved to Paris, France, then traveled the world modeling instead of going to college. In a few short years, modeling felt like a soulless career, doing nothing for my creative cravings besides affording me the ability to buy the materials I needed to keep making things.
Upon moving back to the United States, I settled in Chicago and met a lovely and equally creative gent named John Porter. After marrying, we decided to move to Wisconsin, buy a small farm and make beautiful things with our hands. We were wonderfully naïve and gleefully driven — the perfect mix for novice entrepreneurs. Little did we know our simple beginnings of making hand-painted home furnishings in an unheated chicken coop would become our passion and the driving force of our careers. Much has evolved over the years, but we continue to design beautiful wares that inspire and delight.
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
— philosopher Henri Bergson
There isn’t much we have not designed, and we learned early on that baby steps get you everywhere. The creative bug bit me hard … my yearning to design anything I could dream up … a need, not a want. On a daily basis, I (still) create; there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not painting or designing patterns or sinking my hands into some kind of creation.
I don’t always know what the things I am working on will become, and I rather like that. I find it incredibly freeing that my creations may end up as bedding or rugs or who knows what. I divide my days between creating small one-of-a-kind paintings that I sell via our website and designing new patterns for home furnishings and other goods.
I delight in drenched colors and layers of pattern, a mouthwatering kaleidoscopic mix that excites my senses and encourages further exploration of boundary pushing.
Evolving is everything to me. It means I’m traversing deeper into my creativity and allowing my imagination to thrive and soar.
I am not a rule-follower. I hate being told what to do or how to do it — that makes me crazy. I function the way I do because I find it the most stimulating and productive way to come up with new ideas. I tinker, I play, I resolve and in the end, if I’m giddy with the goods then they usually do well in the marketplace.
My studio is a tiny fanciful fairytale, the sort of thing I’ve always wanted, but haven’t had until now. My husband lovingly built it for me, knowing my proclivity for nature, fresh air and dreamy lighting. Living in California gifts me the freedom of open doors and windows year-round, save a few days here or there. So, while it’s a Lilliputian (100 square feet), I feel like I’m outside, creating in Eden, no other homes in sight, just meadows, mountains and me. I sip tea all day, allow a bit of music to float about and I create to my heart’s desire. I tend to keep only the supplies I need, the rest stored in our nearby garage. I prefer that my studio feels like a fanciful folly rather than a tidy little working space.
My most meaningful life lesson has been to fully understand that I can never stop evolving. I apply this to everything … my creativity, marriage, family, how and where I live. It’s as important as oxygen for me. It keeps me on my toes; it forces me to view day-to-day living in a fresh way. Everything is on the table as an option in this life, as long as I keep evolving, editing, and changing.
I’m a big believer that you make your own magic but I’m pretty sure my greatest creative accomplishment is that I not only believe this, but that I apply it daily.
I don’t have anything in my studio I don’t adore, but when I look at my antique silver jardinière chock full of my beautifully sullied paint brushes, it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished many of my dreams by evolving and embracing change daily.