There are certain things that are like catnip to me. A great vegan dessert. A charismatic speaker. And most of all– a great blog. David Cheaney, of Cheltenham Road, writes such a blog, and in turn, showcases his lovely, vintage inspired wares. He makes me want to throw the casual dinner party of my dreams, complete with dreamy candles and fun signs, especially since party season is right around the bend. We talked to David about his brand and what it’s like to go from the corporate world to the independent maker world. Oh, and that blog? You’ll want to check it out because it’s all about his behind the scenes. So much fun!
please introduce yourself.
My name is David Cheaney. I’m originally from Ohio but have spent serious time in Manhattan and Northern California. These days I live in Los Angeles in a fixer upper house that I seem to be forever fixing up.
what do you make or do?
I make coasters, signs, candle holders, and pretty much anything else that pops into my head – all with a vintage vibe to them.
where can we find your creations?
You can, of course, find me on Etsy. And you can follow my (mis)adventures in crafting and business at my blog . If you’re in Los Angeles you can also find my stuff at Angelo HOME (downtown) , CoOp 28 (Los Feliz), Bar Keeper (Silver Lake and Mindful Nest (Burbank and Santa Monica).
how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
Cheltenham Road is now my full time job! I’d been in corporate land for about 20 years and I was seriously bored. Bonkers bored. I started making stuff “on-the-side” and after realizing how much I enjoyed it I became determined to make it a full-time operation. I immediately started squirreling away as much money as I could and trying to get all my ducks in a row (I figured I might need them later for food). In mid 2011 I decided I had a solid base of savings and a fairly reliable craft-based income stream and made the leap. My thinking was that while I might regret my decision I would absolutely regret sitting at that corporate desk for another 20 years. So I jumped.
when you’re not making things, what do you do?
To be honest, I always seem to be making things or planning on making things or feeling like a really should be making something. The self-owned business is great but it is also all-consuming. I think I made it to one movie this summer and my friends think I’m a hermit.
is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
I’m not sure it’s either a luxury or a necessity – I think it’s just how I’m wired. I grew up surrounded by creativity. My parents and my three sisters are all incredibly creative, collaborative people so, for me creativity was just always present and encouraged. I mean, my mom would give you craft projects to work on when you were home sick from school – it was just a constant.
what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
Everyone has been supportive and encouraging. I would say my biggest obstacle was myself. Self-doubt is a big stumbling block. I still go into the stores that carry my work and think, “my stuff can’t be here – all these other products are so real and I just made this in my garage.”
My biggest challenge though is structure and organization. In my fantasies of life-after-corporate-life I didn’t picture myself lying on the couch eating bon-bons and watching my “stories”, but I also never imagined how much work would have to be done and how much self-discipline would be required to get it all done. Setting goals, making plans, organizing the work is still a bit of a struggle for me.
did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
As I mentioned my family is amazingly creative and always have been. My dad is a skilled carpenter – still going strong at 91 making terrific woodwork projects – always challenging himself. My mom can and does make anything but she is a master with embroidery and needlework. My sisters take after my mom – if you want a creative idea or solution to a problem you go to them. That’s why I named my business Cheltenham Road – it’s the street I grew up on surrounded by all their creativity. I’m actually the late bloomer in the family. I kind of pretended I wasn’t knowledgeable about this stuff (it’s just so not cool for a 12 year old boy to not only know what a chenille pipe cleaner is, but also what you can make out of it).
where do you find inspiration?
It’s funny. I wasn’t aware of just how important home and family were to me until I started all of this. Almost everything I make seems to resonate with history and home. My parents were older (I was a whoops baby) and we’d go visit my grandparents and I LOVED looking at their old photos on the wall, and that translated to me collecting photos and ephemera at flea markets and swap meets, all of which I incorporate in my work. And I’ve moved around a fair bit so anything that resonates with “pride of place” appeals to me which is why I make my subway signs and HOME signs.
what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
I’m not sure I have inspiring advice. I’m grateful that I had the freedom to take my time entering into all of this, so my advice would be not to rush yourself. It took me a while to really figure out what I wanted to make. It took me a while to get that solid financial base under me that allowed me the freedom to be creative without worrying (too much) about being homeless or something. So be patient with yourself and be open to change. I never imagined I’d be making what I’m making,but I couldn’t be happier.