Green River Aprons— For six years now Green River Aprons has been stitching up the finest aprons around. Edith and Kathy’s approach is one of precision made possible by their talented eyes and hands as well as their impressive Swiss-made Bernina sewing machines. The finished products are made of beautiful 100% cotton cloth that features splendid artwork. Edith’s passion for sewing dates back many years. She fell in love with being a seamstress
while making quilts and other creations. Yes, they are both artists inother capacities. Edith has been commissioned to make gorgeous molded masks, and Kathy is drawn to creating specialized woodwork such as cabinets. Living in the woods of Vermont has suited them well and has inspired their handiwork.
Their story unfolds nine years ago, when they moved to Vermont from Maine to create a sanctuary for themselves during retirement. A few years into living in Vermont, Edith sewed up a gorgeous quilt as a fun project and found that she had lots of fabric left. Kathy, being the type that didn’t want anything to go to waste, threw around many ideas on what could be done with the leftover fabric including flags and napkins. In the end they settled on aprons for adults and children as well as napkins and placemats. As they began to produce the aprons, they figured they would float the idea to Linda, the former Wellness manager here at the Co-op. Upon seeing them, Linda knew that they “had a winner,” and she bought every last apron they had brought with them. When the artisans headed to Middlebury, Montpelier, and Burlington co-ops and natural food stores, they had the same positive responses. They always came home empty handed from their trips because the stores bought every single apron. Their work was rewarding but also made for long days and nights. In over five years they have sewn over 5,000 aprons.
Both Edith and Kathy share a love for textiles and they spend countless hours online and in stores searching for high quality fabrics at reasonable prices. They find lovely fabrics, often as much as $20 a yard; however, in order to make their pricing accessible they continue their searches. With patience and time they are able find attractive fabrics at sale prices, often at their favorite textile stores in Greenfield, MA, or online. But they do not sacrifice quality; they always use 100% cotton printed with beautiful artwork. It’s clear they have a vision for their product and they meticulously construct every last piece to perfection.
The process by which they create the aprons is careful and precise with a keen eye to detail. Kathy starts by ironing all the fabric, then cutting it to the right sizes with wooden templates that she has made. She then sews the inside and hands it off to Edith to assemble, who arranges the pieces within their pattern and sews them to completion, all the while ironing in between each step to ensure that the aprons come out perfectly. Each apron takes at least 2 hours, if not more, to create. With demand growing year by year, their initial goal to “stay busy but not crazy” was revisited. After five years of working at a dramatic pace, they decided to take a step back, and in 2016 stopped supplying all stores except your Brattleboro Food Co-op.
Moving forward, they do not plan to grow their business, but to create additional sewn products and further their production efficiencies. For instance, they are now sewing a coaster, placemat and napkin set made from all the extra material they saved from the thousands of aprons they made over the past five years. Essentially, every last piece of material is being used for their products. In this day and age that is a tall feat, and Edith and Kathy are very pleased to be offering such high quality products with nearly zero waste. Edith and Kathy are also in talks about a fashion show here at the Co-op. So keep your eyes peeled for an event announcement in 2018.
Visit the Co-op on Tuesday, December 12 from 11am to 1pm to meet Edith and Kathy!
Wild Blossom Designs— Cheryl Summa of Wild Blossom Designs has had a deep love of nature from her early years, and it is this affection that has fueled the inspiration for all of her artistic creations. The botanicals and flowers that she harvests on her hikes, as well as the beeswax that she seeks locally to use for her candle-making, drive her creative energy. She has been a student of the herbal world dating back to when her natural physician father exposed her to the healing power of herbs and botanicals. Since 1995 her main artistic outlet and business has been making candles, which she produces to sell at craft fairs, co-ops and locally-owned galleries. She loves her work and it has brought her much joy.
It all started in 1995 in Connecticut when tragically she lost her infant daughter. In response to this loss, she made her first candle in honor of her daughter, foraging for flowers, infusing them into beeswax and creating this special object which she lit in honor of her lost child. It was a symbolic moment. She realized that this could be her healing creative outlet, a source of income, and a way to be at home with her young son. Her passion was to infuse candles with botanicals and flowers and to use only locally sourced beeswax, but she knew that she needed to expand her product line if she was to support her family. With time and practice she learned the process of pouring 100% pure beeswax candles efficiently. Her perseverance paid off because not only could she continue her passion to infuse flowers into her candles, but she could make molded candles in the shape of bees, owls, frogs, flowers and more.
While she started Wild Blossom Designs in Connecticut in 1995, she later moved her business to Brattleboro for a short time. The Brattleboro Food Co-op has been one of her bigger accounts and one of the first to sell her products in Vermont. She remembers her studio in the Cotton Mill with fondness, however, she felt compelled to move to the Burlington, VT area to be closer to her son, who was attending the University of Vermont, and to the natural beauty of that area. While researching new studio spaces she found Shelburne Pond Studios, an old milk barn converted to house artists. The energy of the space was amazing and brought warmth and spark to her creative energy. At that time she began sourcing her beeswax locally whenever possible. She also solidified her yearning to have a pure Vermont product with wild harvested flowers and botanicals infused into 100% pure local beeswax.
Cheryl talked fondly of the artist Anthony Ward, with whom she studied flower arranging and whose book, Being with Flowers: Floral Art as Spiritual Practice, inspired and affirmed her craft. She loves to use flowers such as Borage, Sage, Queens Anne’s Lace, Violas, Butter Cups, Fiddleheads, Daisies, and many others, all of which are found on her land or in the wild. She finds a deep sense of satisfaction by preserving flowers and herbs in candles which light the cold dark winter months when everyone needs a reminder of the beauty and color of summer.
Cheryl makes all deliveries herself across Vermont and Massachusetts. Her products can be found in River Valley Co-op, the Brattleboro Food Co-op and many small galleries and stores around the two states. She hopes to build relationships with other co-ops in Northern Vermont and beyond, and she dreams of turning Wild Blossom Designs into a cooperative enterprise. She would love to help other women join a cooperative candle business where they could work from home and be with their children. It would bring her great joy and comfort to help other moms succeed professionally and have the full experience of motherhood.
Join us on Saturday,December 9 from 11am to 3pm to meet Cheryl!
(Snow date is Sunday, December 12, 11am to 3pm).
By Jon Megas-Russell