I made sandwiches for my kids today, like I have every. Single. Day. For the past school year. I spread some triple berry jam over the peanut butter, smooshed the pieces of bread together and called it a day. I wonder how they can possibly eat the same sandwich every single day. And then I checked out some of the unique flavors of Preservation Society’s delicious jam, and realized I could probably eat pb&j everyday too if I had some of their amazing jams to spread on it. Preserving the memories and flavors of each season, Kristin and Chandra produce a plethora of jams and pickles. They’ve been able to use their business as an outlet for creativity and a place to share their life journey with others.
please introduce yourself! What do you make or do? And where can we find your creations?
Kvt: My name is kristin vanderlip taylor, and together with my sister-in-law, I make jam, marmalade, pickles, and preserves. Our tiny company is called Preservation Society, and we are based in Los Angeles, where I have lived my whole life. We use seasonal, local, mostly-organic ingredients ~ fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices ~ to create adventurous blends with roots in familiar favorites like Strawberry Jam with Lemon Thyme, Jalapeño-Lime Jelly, and Peach Chai Preserves. Our seasonally-changing line-up can be found at www.preservation-society.com, at local indie events like Patchwork, and artisanal shops like Romancing the Bean in Burbank and The Cheese Store in Silverlake.
CM: Chandra McLaughlin, born Thanksgiving day in San Francisco, and grew up traveling. I have lived in Texas, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, London, Portugal, and traveled in Western Europe extensively as a child. I live in Mid-City Los Angeles now with my wonderful husband, two gorgeous daughters (3 and 4 years old), and one fish. I work full-time as a paralegal as well as make things.
I am partners with my sister-in-law Kristin Taylor, we started a small-batch handmade jam and pickle company in 2011.
how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
kvt: We’ve been in business about two and a half years now, and though we love it, we both still have full time jobs. I am an art teacher for LAUSD, which definitely allows for my creativity to thrive, not only through my instruction, but also in curriculum design, professional development, and my own projects. Making jam and pickles is a definite contrast to teaching 500 students a day!
CM: I started this particular aspect of my creative live shortly after my second daughter was born. We found out that she was deaf when she was about 4 weeks old, then I was laid-off. I spent that first year at home, navigating our way through learning about her hearing loss.
Around that time Kristin had been making some great stuff, and I was intrigued by canning. I was inspired to try a pink-grapefruit blueberry jam recipe. (I discuss it on my blog if you want to read more)I was hooked on jamming and pickling immediately. I realized I could put all of my favorite flavors together and the ideas just started flowing. Kristin & I agreed to become partners and formed Preservation Society, we took one little step at a time. Kristin carries the lion’s share of the business at the moment, that’s the joy of having a partner, you can support each other and the business can thrive.
Later, I found out that making things and sharing what you make is a very effective way of working through grief and processing change. It brought me a lot of joy and satisfaction to share my jams and pickles during a difficult period adjusting to having a child with hearing loss. I see my discovery of the joy of preserves as one of the gifts my children gave me.
when you’re not making things, what do you do?
kvt: When I’m not teaching or making jams and pickles, I love to knit, read, garden, camp, and spend time with friends and family.
CM: I work full time, raise my kids, love my husband, sometimes clean my house and occasionally sleep.
is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
kvt: Creativity is absolutely a necessity for me. I have so many ideas for things but never enough time. I love to have projects lined up so there’s always something else for me to work on.
CM: Creativity is an attribute that all people have, I think. I hope my creativity comes out in everything I do. I started out as an actress, I used to make a lot of jewelry, now it’s jam, marmalade, and edibles. Creativity is neither a necessity or a luxury it just is, and it will find an outlet, whether it’s in my nightly dinner preparation, the way I plant my garden, get dressed, plan my daughter’s birthday parties, or experiment with a new jam or pickle recipe. It’s about staying open to inspiration everywhere, listening to my intuitive voice and being willing to take action on it.
did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
kvt: My parents have always been super-supportive of my creative side. My mom has always been crafty, and my dad loves to build and fix things, so they completely understand my need to create.
where do you find inspiration?
CM: I am inspired by the different cultures and flavors I remember from my eclectic upbringing, as much as by the cultures of my neighborhood. Each of my recipes has a story of it’s own. I lived in England as a child and was brought up on Scottish-style marmalade so that is the kind I prefer to eat and prefer to make. My mom used to make crepes with strawberries for me as a special breakfast so my strawberry jam has nutmeg, like her crepes, and is sweetened with maple sugar.
what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
kvt: Who knows? As long as we are still having fun and people still love our products, we will continue to make them. We just have to stay open to the possibilities and follow our hearts.
if money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
CM: I would do more of it, time spent making money would be spent making other things.
what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
CM: Try it out, say yes, and be honest.