Maker: Molly Croteau of Eclectic Ox
Molly tried out quite a few things before she found the work that she loves and that (in my opinion) she is stellar at. Molly’s art ranges from housewares to jewelry, and all of it is easy to love. I want to hang that clock right on the wall so that I can stare at the beautiful wood grain all the time. Meet Molly of Eclectic Ox and enjoy the beauty of her creativity!
Please introduce yourself.
Hi. I’m Molly Croteau of Eclectic Ox. I grew up in La Crescenta, California, attended college in Idaho and Washington, and lived in San Francisco and the East Bay area for 15 years. Two years ago I moved to Costa Mesa, California and started my business. I have found work in organic farming, natural health, herbal medicine, and ecology, before landing where I am now.
What do you make or do?
I make sustainably sourced wood jewelry, home goods, and art. Specifically: earrings, gauges, necklaces, bracelets, jewelry boxes, coasters, clocks, trivets, wall art, doorbell covers, place card holders/holiday decor, and decorative wood screen room dividers.
Where can we find your creations?
Most of my creations can be found at www.EclecticOx.com, www.etsy.com/shop/eclecticox, a store called Dust in the downtown Arts District of Canton, Ohio and at various local makers markets around Southern California. I also post new projects and artwork to instagram.com/eclectic_ox/ and www.facebook.com/eclecticox that sometimes don’t make it to market and are sold by request only.
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
The name Eclectic Ox is sort of a description of who I am. Eclectic: derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. Ox: Chinese astrological symbol for 1973, meaning strength of character and unwavering determination.
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I opened Eclectic Ox on Etsy in November of 2015, after friends took an interest in buying wood bracelets I had created through experiments in steam bending wood. I had just finished a furniture builder apprenticeship at The California Workshop (TCW), continued working there as an independent contractor, and was beginning to expand on the techniques I learned by creating my own designs. I never intended to open my own shop, but it just kind of happened as my design ideas began to flow, and I finally had the skills and resources to follow through. Sometimes my day is entirely consumed by being a stay at home mom, I still do work as needed for TCW, and the rest of my time I’m working on my business.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
I spend time with my wonderful husband and I’m a mommy to our two amazing and busy kids, aged 4 and 8. We love music, bicycling, hiking, gardening, camping, and playing at the beach. I also enjoy working on landscape and interior design projects for our home.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
Both. I will always find something creative to do in my life because I am moved to do so, and when I am in the act of being creative, it sometimes feels amazingly luxurious.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
I have always known that I wanted to be an artist, but I never thought it was something attainable for me as a profession. I let lack of money, skill, and schooling hold me back mentally, even though I never stopped being creative.
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
My mother has always been a maker. She taught me to sew and embroider when I was very young, and she worked for a doll maker at one point during my childhood. Attending a drawing class with her and knowing that she made soap, canned food, sewed all my clothing, and various other things, made a huge impression on me and are some of my earliest memories.
Where do you find inspiration?
Islamic patterns, nature, Japanese art and craft, mid-century modern design, bicycles, and so much more.
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
Organizing my business, hiring help and making new designs that I’ve been waiting to get to.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Keep a notebook with you at all times for jotting down ideas, doodles, goals and plans. If you love to draw or design, download Sketch Up Make by Trimble. It’s free and there are tutorials to help you learn how to use it.
Here are a couple of quotes from one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho.
There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.