| Carsen Smithwick

Maker Monday 2023 Recap

As we wrap up 2023 and begin to welcome 2024, I just wanted to take a moment to recap this year and talk about the Maker Monday blogs I’ve had the pleasure to write. It’s been such a rewarding experience being able to interview and learn about our makers on a deeper level than just their products. From fresh-pressed juices, dog collars, jewelry, ceramics, bath & body, caricatures, and paintings I’ve been able to have a closer look at the lives of our diverse creator community.
Since June 2023, I have interviewed 20 makers who all have their own story to tell, with the most unique maker being Keith “Cartoonman” Douglas. If you’ve been to some of the Local Pop Up markets, you’ve probably seen Cartoonman set up outside or inside Local Supply ready to draw caricatures of anyone who passes by. Cartoonman grew up in New Orleans where he got his start as an artist creating Zulu coconuts for a Zulu King, and professionally learned to create art at Xavier. Keith states that “all life’s an art lesson for me,” while living in New Orleans surrounded by parades, musicians, and New Orleans style architecture that he was able to draw.  After moving to Baton Rouge, he was eventually coined Cartoonman because of his caricature portfolio of over 300,000 people! As an actual jack of all trades, Keith has contributed to art exhibits, created shirts for businesses such as Booze Burdz, drawn people for televisions, and is currently working on his own book where he plays with editorials about the political climate. His interview will always stand out to me as the most unique and entertaining, accurately reflecting him as a person!
Ashley of GrinningJupiter Jammery also sticks out to me as one of the most down-to-earth person to interview. Ashley’s canning journey started when her parents bought land in Ethel that grew peaches and wild blackberries, and contained two beautiful gardens. She had always wanted to work for herself, and canning gave her that opportunity. Ashley also emphasized the importance of needing an outlet outside of work in order to live your best life. Herbalism, traveling, and gardening keeps Ashley grounded, and states that “it is important to remember to have a personal relationship with the world around you” because of how fast paced and disconnected the world has become. This interview sticks out because it is an important reminder that everyone should have experiences to learn from and to fill your cup. Burnout is real, y’all! Take time for yourself, slow down, and do something you enjoy.
An interview I was most excited about was Plantérature’s, because books + plants = heaven! They are a tent that I always make sure I stop at during Local Pop Up markets. The vibes are great, the products are high quality, and Melissa and Shawn are amazing people. This husband and wife duo turned their love for plants and books into a business that allows them to share these passions. One of their goals with Plantérature is to help customers get excited about plants and books by helping them on their plant and/or reading journey. Their products are always reasonably priced to avoid cost being a barrier in someone’s journey. They also specialize in “hard to kill” and pet-safe plants to further help those starting their plant journey. An important aspect of being a plant parent is remembering that failure is inevitable every now and then. Like most hobbies, all it takes is a little patience and a lot of research. Even the most experienced plant parent is still having to learn something new! My favorite product of theirs is their new “Pick-Up Line” books, which are their version of the “Blind Date with a Book” idea, but something that is uniquely theirs. They explained that good books no longer start with “Once Upon a Time,” but rather a book that immediately grabs the reader to set the tone of the book. The duo decided the best way to intrigue a buyer was to make that hook the ONLY thing they know about the book. They were definitely right about that, because I find myself trying to guess what the book is or what it is about all the time! I just love that Shawn and Melissa just wanted to share their passions with their community, and they have been doing just that!
Gabby FruFru’s interview was probably one of my favorites. Gabby is so passionate about what she does and staying true to her individualism. Gabby FruFru lets her personality shine through her work and business name, with her inspiration coming from connecting to her inner child and creating designs that are bright, colorful, and beautiful. In the interview, Gabby expressed that everyone deserves to have their own time to breathe by enjoying life outside of work. She also expressed that she wants everyone to know their individualism is your greatest, most powerful gift. Everyone should wallow in their individualism, utilize it, and celebrate it. Gabby is such an inspiration to me, and I’m so glad I got the chance to share her story through my blogs.
The last interview that stands out to me was Ashtin’s of Made to Paint. As an individual I already adored, I was excited to reach out and learn more about her life as Ashtin and as Made to Paint. Ashtin’s drive to create came from her love of people and painting, as well as needing a way to cope with grief. Ashtin stated that painting “is what I am made to do now - and to some extent - for the rest of my life.” Because of this, her business’s name “Made to Paint” came naturally. A fun fact of hers that I never would’ve known without interviewing her is that she is hard-of-hearing. She spent seven years in and out of surgeries trying to prevent any further deafness, but her doctors predicted she would lose the rest of her hearing by the time she was 21 years old. Fortunately, at 19 years old after praying, God restored her hearing and she hasn’t depended on hearing aids since. I’m so glad I was able to meet such a sweet person! She even painted my fur babies on an ornament for me 🫶
Even though those were just a few of the makers I’ve been able to write about, every one that I have interviewed so far holds a place in my heart, and I will be forever grateful for the community that LPU has been able to form. You can still find all of my blogs on our website to read about the other makers that shared their life with me, and keep an eye out for even more in 2024!

Visit our midcity

Gift Shop