Betty Floored

Betty Floored

Dressmaker / Derby Girl

April 16, 2013

Organization:

Handmade Toledo and Oh Sew Betty!

Website:


Jessica Crossfield is a strong believer in the DIY ethic. If there's something she finds lacking in her community, she connects with the right people and makes it happen. Two of her pipe dreams became realities in recent years: The Glass City Rollers flat track roller derby team and Handmade Toledo, a hub for indie crafters and makers. We caught up with Jessica during a rather hectic time (she's currently preparing for Maker's Mart at Artomatic), but her answers reveal everything it takes to make it as a real artisan in Toledo.

www.handmadetoledo.com

www.bettyfloored.etsy.com

www.glasscityrollers.com

www.facebook.com/handmadetoledo

www.facebook.com/ohsewbetty

Tell us more about some of your past projects?

I have always loved creating art. I went to art school and for years had all the equipment at my fingertips. Then I graduated and no longer had access to things like a darkroom or a kiln. At that point in my life I realized that there were some forms of art that I had always been interested in, but never really worked with because they are not the type of art most art schools offer classes in. I decided I wanted to learn how to sew. I wanted to make art and then be able to use it.

Flash forward a few years and I began making dresses for myself. I have always loved those retro 50s vintage dresses, but could never find them that fit me just right.  It wasn't until enough of my friends (and even strangers) convinced me to open up an etsy shop and start making them for other people. Oh Sew Betty! was born and offers custom dresses for ladies of all shapes and sizes. My first sale ever on etsy was a custom dress for a girl in Australia. Crazy, right?!  In between making dresses, I would make other types of things like tote bags or kitschy pillows and ended up putting those on my etsy as well. Starting an etsy introduced me to a whole new community of crafters/makers that I would have otherwise never found out about.  I’m honored to have made dresses for girls to get married in, to wear to prom, for entire wedding parties, drag queens, and to just feel like they had something special that was made just for them.  Currently, I have made dresses for girls all over the country and world. And that is a pretty cool feeling to know that some saucy lady is rocking one of my frocks on the other side of the globe.

Actually having sales on etsy led me to start looking more at vending at indie craft shows.I had been to a couple as a customer in years past, but I hadn’t ever thought about being a vendor. I gathered enough guts to apply to several different shows and the craziest thing happened…I got in!  Vending at shows just opened up an even bigger crafty/DIY community to me. I was in love! So I just kept doing every show I heard good things about.

But the whole time I was thinking to myself, “Why doesn’t Toledo have something like this?” 

It took me a couple of years of thinking that. Then I started saying it. Out loud. I put it out into the universe. “Toledo needs an indie craft fair.” “Toledo needs a venue for handmade artisans to sell their wares.” Because let’s be honest, it is no secret that Toledo loves the arts and is very supportive of them. There are gallery openings, art walks, and art fairs happening all over the place in Toledo. But what about the artisans who don’t really fit into the “fine art” category?  

Some Toledo magic happened and a few people from the Uptown Association heard my plea.

I worked with their special events planning committee to help make the very first Maker’s Mart Indie Craft Fair happen at 1717 Adams Street on November 17, 2012. I was amazed at how into the idea everyone was. Even people who when they hear “craft show”, they think of old lady church crafts like dolls and doilies and stuff. But the idea in my head was so much more than that. More than people just setting up an 8 foot folding table with their crafts. We wanted to create a sense of culture, diversity, and community; a creative atmosphere and an event that people would not forget.

And. It. Worked.

The first Maker’s Mart featured almost 40 handmade vendors from Ohio and Michigan and a few local food vendors. I would say my favorite part was having all of my crafty friends from different cities like Detroit and Columbus (who have heard me talk about how awesome Toledo is nonstop for years now) visit and vend. They couldn’t say enough nice things about Toledo. The show itself, the people, the atmosphere, the everything.

I owe a lot to The Uptown Association. If it weren’t for them, I don’t believe the first Maker’s Mart would have been as successful.

Handmade Toledo was born out of the first Maker’s Mart. Essentially, it is a handmade community that will give Toledo makers, doers, and crafters a place to call home. Dedicated to a DIY way of life, we seek to create a thriving community of artisans who take pride in doing things themselves while supporting others in the local handmade economy. Handmade Toledo will be putting on events such as Maker’s Mart, other handmade pop up shops, skillshares, crafternoons and be a sort of hub of all things handmade in and around the Toledo area.

Right now we have a Facebook and our website will be live any day now. 

Before my adventures in crafting there was the conception of The Glass City Rollers in 2007. Which sort of happened in the same fashion as Maker’s Mart. There was a group of us that would go to roller derby bouts in Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus and we thought “Why doesn’t Toledo have a roller derby league?” So that group of us decided to learn everything that we could about roller derby. We started conversations and relationships with other leagues close by that could give us advice and help us learn the ropes. Roller derby is also very DIY. For the skater. By the skater. It’s also another super supportive community that has changed my life in a way.  If it weren’t for The Glass City Rollers, Betty Floored wouldn’t exist. And that is a weird thing to think about.

Flashing forward again, The Glass City Rollers are in their 4th home bouting season. We have two teams (The Glass City All stars and The Killer B’s) who have traveled all over the country to watch, play, or volunteer at bouts.

You can catch The Glass City Rollers two next home bouts at the Seagate Center on April, 13th and May 4th. www.glasscityrollers.com

Arts and crafts and roller derby. Sometimes I feel like I really lucked out on life. 

What current projects are you working on?

Maker’s Mart @ Artomatic419!

After the success of the first Maker’s Mart, a few people from The Arts Commission came to me and asked if I would be interested in putting on a Maker’s Mart at Artomatic419! That turned into being asked to be on the executive committee for planning Artomatic419!

I have worked with The Arts Commission for years on different events like teaching for The Young Artists at Work Program (YAAW), volunteering for art walks and super cool fundraisers (like The Mix), plus being a veteran of Artomatic; having had a helping hand in the planning and also displaying my work since the very first one in 2006. So naturally I replied with a million yeses.

Maker’s Mart @ Artomatic419! is on the second Saturday of Artomatic419!, April 20th, 2013 from 11a-11p. It will feature about 50 handmade vendors from all over the Midwest. It is free and open to the public.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Toledo is the most supportive city I’ve ever met. There is never a shortage of people that are willing to lend a helping hand or advice. Toledo offers so much as far as arts, advocacy, and a sense of community. We have a great arts commission, a beautiful riverfront downtown, creative communities (like Uptown, The Warehouse District, and the Old West End), and an award winning art museum. Local businesses pop up all over town. There is always something fun and exciting to do or be involved with. It is not hard to see that Toledo loves and supports the arts. We are a community that was built on doing things yourself, making and creating.    It really makes my little crafty heart go pitter patter. I am so proud to call Toledo my home!

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

I would have to say that my friends are the most inspiring people. I can’t think of any of my friends that aren’t making or doing something positive within their lives or the community. And they are never short of lending me advice or a helping hand with all of my crazy adventures and ideas. 

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

Toledo Provides.

 

Favorite place for local culture?

So many favorite places! Black Kite, pretty much anywhere on Adams Street, The Art Supply Depo, The Toledo Museum of Art and Glass Pavilion, The Old West End, Bleakhouse Coffee, Bozarts, late nights at The Glass City Café, a sunny summer Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market, lunch at Grumpy’s…should I keep going? 

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

All of the unoccupied buildings. And how willing most of the owners are to donating their space for a good cause or event. It all starts with asking. Just DO IT ALREADY! 

My favorite place to chill locally is . . .

My porch in the summertime.  

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum in the Old West End. 

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found

Crafting things for fun.

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people.

If you have an idea. Say it out loud. Even if you think it is crazy. Saying it out loud makes it real.  

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

Working with The Uptown Association and The Arts Commission. But I will spare telling you all the details again, scroll up. 

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

Gertie Hirsch 

My biggest vice is . . .

Coffee. Give it to me. All of it. 

I’d like to see a _________ in Toledo.

A street fair.

The last lyric that moved me was . . .

“You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

An old Husqvarna Viking sewing machine from Gloria. It is the workhorse in the sweatshop. 

My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

The first Maker’s Mart. Seeing everything coming to fruition; seeing the once empty unoccupied building filled with handmade love; seeing a line of people waiting to come in the doors; seeing and hearing how excited everyone was for the event. I couldn’t have asked for anything to be any better than that. 

I want my last meal to be…

Cheese. Seriously, I love cheese. 

 








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