Jessica Dunlap of Rose & Duke has lived on both coasts of the United States, but it seems the sunshine of central Texas is what’s kicked her crafty business in to high gear. Warmed by the Texas heat and supported by the friendly crafting community of Austin, she’s stitching up fun, cute and hip items for tiny tots. She’ll be selling her kid creations at Bazaar Bizarre, and shared her thoughts on the event and the Austin crafting community.
What is the name of your business?
Rose & Duke
How long have you been in business?
What kinds of goods do you make/sell?
Hand embroidered, appliqued, and printed clothing for babies and children. I’m also starting a new line of clothing that is sewn from vintage hand embroidered linens.
How did you get started in the indie crafting business?
When I was pregnant with my son I was making a lot of hand embroidered clothing for him as well as for gifts, and I got the idea to start selling them. I knew that I was going to try to stay home with my son as long as possible, so this seemed like a good way to have some income at the same time.
What other shows have you participated in?
Stitch Austin last year, and various street markets back in Brooklyn, from where I moved to Austin.
What drew you to apply for the Bazaar Bizarre show?
I love Craft and Make magazines, and I wanted to be part of the amazing faire.
Have you lived in other cities and worked as an independent craft business person? If so, how did that experience compare to living/working in Austin as an independent craft person?
I have lived in NYC (where I’m from) as well as Portland, Oregon for five years, and San Francisco for a year. It’s definitely easier living in Austin than NYC on a crafter’s income, that’s for sure. I can always find a good community of crafters anywhere I have lived, though. The internet really makes a huge difference, because through blogs it’s pretty easy to get in touch with people whose work you admire.
How does living in Austin influence your work?
The low cost of living here means that I can work on Rose & Duke full time without having to stress too much. Also, there are so many fantastic thrift stores and vintage clothing stores in Austin. It’s really easy to go out and get inspiration for designs.
The constantly glowing sun in that amazing big Texas sky also really influences my work, because I’m in a good mood every day. I’m pretty sure that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and when I can step out and see blue skies and giant white marshmallow clouds, I have no problem walking back in and picking up a sewing machine or needle and thread, and making happy looking outfits for children to enjoy wearing.
How would you describe the Austin craft scene? What do you think makes the Austin craft scene unique?
One of my best friends here has been on the Austin indie craft scene for a while now. Jenifer Nakatsu Arnston and I met when I lived here about ten years ago and have stayed close since then. She’s turned me on to a lot of great local resources like the Babes in Biz group. She’s also filled me in on the local craft shows and venues for trying to sell my work. I’m not sure what makes the Austin craft scene unique, but I have made friends with other local women who sell their work, and there does seem to be a sense of commraderie here, rather than of strict competition.
What do you think Maker Faire Austin visitors can expect from Bazaar Bizarre this year?
Hopefully a great time, and some fantastic unique items to keep or save for Christmas gifts! I’ve seen the vendor list and I’m going to have really do my best not to spend all my earnings.
What kind of “Austin flavor” do you think Maker Faire visitors will take away from Maker Faire Austin this year?
I bet there will be jalapenos and Arnold Palmers at the food stand! Austin is a city that is filled with artists and musicians, and I’m sure this will be apparent at the Maker Faire. There is a lot of talent in this town.
What do you hope you get out of participating in Bazaar Bizarre and Maker Faire Austin?
I want to represent the Austin craft scene and show the visitors what a creative megaforce we have here.
Rose & Duke: Growing a Business in the Texas Sunshine