Maker: Rhonda of Giraffe and Me
Rhonda is rocking the maker scene. She can make anything, and she does. I really enjoyed learning about her history as she dabbled in all sorts of crafty endeavors. Meet Rhonda and check out her creations!
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Rhonda Espinosa-Reeves. I was born in Fountain Valley, CA -raised in Santa Ana, CA where I currently reside with my husband and chihuahua. *I had a one year stint in Brooklyn, NY for a year in ’99-’00.
What do you make or do?
My first large-scale mural occurred in Aug 2010 for The Crittendon School in Fullerton, CA-they were looking for a 50’s diner scene in their cafeteria. It was 14 feet wide by 9
feet high, it was odd shaped and a dozen feet in the air including the use of scaffolding. I started flipping, refurbishing and up-cycling furniture at the Long Beach Antique Market at Veterans Stadium in 2014. I participated in Patchwork Santa Ana, and Long Beach in Spring 2015, Winter 15 Santa Ana only where I featured my handmade handbags and accessories,
terrariums, cacti and succulents. I am currently focusing my attention on handmade clothing, children’s clothing, accessories and custom patterns for traditional cultural garments for example the Samoan and Tongan communities.
Where can we find your creations?
You can find my crafts on my WEBSITE https://giraffeand.me/
or in my ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/giraffeandme?ref=hdr_shop_menu
or on my BLOG: https://artisanadventure.com/blog/2015/07/25/jelly-of-my-jellies/
You can also follow me on INSTAGRAM: Giraffeand.me
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
My father knows I love Giraffes
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I quit my full time job in Sept 2014 after 11 years at the University of California, Irvine in order to focus on my handmade business so I could participate in Patchwork Show, and build my business. After a year hiatus I have returned to full time secular work, however my business has progressed by leaps and bounds, and I hope that one day giraffeand.me will be my full time job.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
I devote a significant amount of time learning new languages, such as Russian, Spanish, and currently French. I am involved in a worldwide volunteer educational work.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
Creativity is a necessity for me- it is my outlet for mental health, happiness and overall fitness.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
I sat down with another artist once who told me, “You wouldn’t want this to be a real job, I mean its fine as a hobby. It’s all fine and good until you have to pay rent.” I knew then that even if my creativity was not going to be my immediate livelihood, it was most certainly not just a hobby- creativity is my passion, not to be trifled or stifled. I would never want to hinder myself or others in their creative pursuits-and I will be the first to commend any attempt at fulfilling your passion. I say, “Be a force for good, and commendation-don’t be someone else’s
obstacle.” I feel like it’s been a long hard road to prove to myself that I am a creative and wonderful person- I like what I create, and I want to keep “making’ for life!
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
My husband believed in me, until I believed in myself. Love him. He is also my business manager.
Where do you find inspiration?
Nature, dreams, and positive people.
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
I am currently sewing A LOT! I am creating custom patterns for traditional cultural wear, currently in the Samoan and Tongan genre. Separately, I am starting a line of children’s clothing.
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
Customize EVERYTHING! I would use the finest fabrics. I would design my own fabric, and textiles. I would probably become a post-modern Willy Wonka (Original-Gene Wilder edition) of the “maker’ world. You would have to win a golden ticket to “make’ with me-LOL!
What would be your perfect day off?
A train ride with a few stops along the way: San Juan Capistrano, and the Surfliner to Encinitas and an Uber to Leaukadia. Mozy’s Café, Orchid Farms, and Pannikan coffee and tea and cinnamon cake.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Don’t sell yourself short, and put fear in the backseat-its there but don’t let it take the wheel.
Who are the makers that inspire you?
Patchwork Show has completely inspired me to work hard, be original, and buy local. I can’t thank Nicole Stevenson and Delilah Snell enough for their help in my participation in “Patchwork Show” and thus catapulting my creative career to new levels- leaps and bounds. I started following ChristineHaynes.com a Los Angeles based sewing teacher, author, and
pattern designer, and in the face of losing her partner- continues to “make.” And last but certainly not least, my good friend and fellow maker, Megan Snedeker, behance.net/megansnedeker Designer-Illustrator & Sign Painter- she is a shining light and whimsical collaborator.