I am SUPER excited to have local Milwaukee artist, Kamryn Kay Boelk, from Permanent Baggage sharing some amazing stuff with us today. I stumbled across Kamryn Kay’s handmade bags last summer at a local Gallery Night and have been coveting them ever since. Besides being stylish and one-of-a-kind, all her bags are made with 98% repurposed or recycled materials.
Today, one lucky winner will snag an Eco Chic wristlet of their choice from her Etsy shop! Read on for more about what inspires Kamryn Kay and directions on how to enter!
a. Give us your one minute bio.
Born in the small town of Oakfield, WI, I was raised by a hard working farm family who instilled the importance of a good work ethic, value of a job well done, and encouraged my interest in art and learning. After attending the University of Wisconsin Fond du Lac and then graduating from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, I began my business, Permanent Baggage, a line of eco-friendly handbags and accessories.
b. What made you decide to start your own business and how did you get it going?
Permanent Baggage began as a public art project my senior year at MIAD. The intention was to create awareness about overconsumption and its effects on the environment by providing an eco-friendly alternative to plastic grocery bags. The idea was to create a whole bunch of reusable grocery sacks, heap them into a pile in the middle of a public park, and just give them away to people. Sadly, the project never really got off the ground. I quickly realized that creating a ” heaping pile” took a whole heap of time! But there was interest in my bags, and the mission behind it, so I continued to dabble in the venture.
Turning Permanent Baggage into a business has been a slow build. After school I worked a full-time job that wasn’t very fulfilling but paid the bills and allowed me to make my bags on the side. They evolved from reusable grocery sacks to haute eco-friendly handbags and I started getting into art shows and consignment boutiques. When the recession hit, I found myself unemployed so I made more bags, applied to more art shows, and set up an Etsy shop. After months of endless job applications and unsuccessful interviews, I was feeling pretty discouraged about finding “work”. Then one day I decided to give up trying to find a crutch job that would be there just in case I didn’t have the guts to see this through and I took the leap of faith. I met up with Mary Gordon – a fantastic local graphic designer who helped me with my branding, organized my mission statement, legally organized Permanent Baggage into an L.L.C., and set to work. I’m now in seven consignment locations, display at numerous fairs through out the year, have an online shop, and plans to grow!
c. Three things that inspire you:
1. Nature – I’m deeply inspired by and have a great respect for nature. I think because of the bags’ repurposed nature they inherently give props to the earth but I also try to sneak it in through their titles or embellishments.
2. The Artist Lifestyle – I’m driven by the desire to live an artist’s lifestyle – the freedom and joy of being able to do what you love.
3. Repurposed Materials – I’m always working with something new and exciting, whether a fantastic piece of vintage French lace, a gritty gray jumper from the 80’s, or cobalt blue leather scraps. Color, texture, and story are my great loves and the constant change of materials keeps my work fresh and interesting.
d. What’s in your tool kit?
My number one tool is my MacBook! Whether answering emails, listening to music, or editing photos, it’s next to me 90% of the time. I couldn’t live without my favorite coffee mug by Jessie Schroeder-Voss. And also my Omni-Grid and rotary cutter – nothing like a good precise cut.
e. What other DIY/crafty things do you do?
I made handmade paper boxes for Atomic Chocolates, a local chocolate artisan. I made molds to cast the paper pulp into so I could easily fold and assemble the boxes without doing a lot of cutting. The hand-molded dried paper was embellished with sewing stitches, lace, satin, bows, and a card. They were these perfect little packages. I really enjoyed making them and the delicious rewards.
Enter to Win!
To enter, simply check out the Permanent Baggage Etsy shop and then leave a comment here telling us which wristlet is your favorite. We’ll select a winner at random on Friday. Good luck!