we’ve all got something to hide and if we’re lucky, something to steal. kristen pumphrey of pomme frites, our maker for today, refashions old books into safes to secret away valuables like your grandma’s diamond wedding set. what if granny gave her sparkler to your sister? no problem! you can drown your sorrows then hide the evidence in your pomme frites flask safe. check out a day in the life of this crafty problem solver (and candlemaker)…
please introduce yourself…
hello! my name is kristen and i’m the owner of a handmade house wares company called pommes frites. originally from virginia, i’ve been slowly making my way out west to long beach, with stops along the way in new york and austin.
i’m a southern california newbie – i’ve only lived here for three months! i currently run pommes frites as my full time job, but in the past i’ve worked at a craft magazine, blogged for various websites, and worked at a multitude of part time jobs.
what do you make or do?
as my slogan says, i make charming home decor – book safes, candles, magnets and more. i’m passionate about using repurposed items and eco-friendly packaging, all the while making items that are adorable and functional for your home.
my hollow books can hold your jewelry or cash, and some come supplied with flasks or ring pillows. i make soy wax candles shaped like owls, and also ones with delicious scents that are reminiscent of apothecary jars. i also make magnets using old maps, which is my take on the traditional souvenir location magnets.
where can we find your creations?
how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
i officially started pommes frites when i moved to austin in 2008 (although i had been blogging and crafting under that name when i lived brooklyn). since then, i have fluctuated between having pommes frites as my full time job and supplementing my income with part-time jobs (sometimes multiple ones at once).
i’m currently employed by pommes frites full time, although i do love the stability and social interaction that comes from having a job outside the home…i’m always open to new opportunities.
when you’re not making things, what do you do?
i love to cook, go for long walks with my italian greyhound, hike, camp, and explore my new home. i’m also addicted to tv, and love to give running commentary on my favorite shows with my boyfriend.
what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
sometimes i feel that i am cursed with the need to live a creative life. i’ve always been involved in the arts in different ways: acting, writing, dance, music. i know my passion is pursuing a creative life, but it’s not always the easiest. running a very small retail business for 8 months out of the year is hard work- and there’s definitely a lot of coupon cutting to make ends meet.
as office workers might bemoan not being able to live a creative life, i sometimes gripe about not knowing where (or when) my next paycheck will come from and fantasize about working in a cubicle.
i know, however, i’ll always have to live creatively. it’s not just a way of life – it’s the only way i know how to live!
if money wasn’t an issue, how would your life change with regards to your art?
i’d love to be able to travel around the country doing different indie craft shows. i envision myself in a re-furbished vw bus – my gear packed in the back of the bus that also doubles as cover at night. doing shows outside of your region can be limiting; the cost of transporting goods to different places is sometimes forbidding.
i participated in a show in washington d.c. this october, and it was such a blast to meet a whole new crew of people and customers i’d only interacted with over the internet– but it wouldn’t have been possible if i hadn’t shared a booth and used frequent flyer miles to get there.
i’d also have an awesome california craftsman to come home to, with a sweet garage for my studio space.
what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives?
make something unique, make it well, and take amazing pictures of it. use free tools when you can (twitter, facebook, blogging), and be your own best pr rep.
i love the old adage “shoot for the moon, at the very least, you’ll land among the stars.”