Want to see the best of arts and industry come to life in Ravenswood? To celebrate our namesake corridor and source of artistic, industrial, and entrepreneurial endeavors?
Come to the 12th annual Ravenswood ArtWalk next weekend. The mission:
It is our mission to generate community investment in the artistic, industrial and historic importance of Ravenswood and to raise awareness for the unique hub of creative practices that exists here. Artists will have the opportunity to show their work in one of the many amazing industrial buildings that line Ravenswood between Addison and Lawrence, or will be placed in the Big Tent or within their own.
We’ll be at RAW hanging out and collecting neighborly ideas and stories. Beyond soaking in the artistic energy, we recommend stopping by Neighborly and Begyle Brewing's RAW Detour: a mini oasis of food trucks and local craft beer.
Kandy Christensen is the neighbor, designer, DIYer, and wanderer behind Meandering Design–– a design house that creates sustainable, eclectic, and stylish clothing and accessories –– and wants you to as well. After the Possibility Potluck in August, we sat down for a glass of wine to talk about her adventures and ambitions. Read more to learn about her DIY design shop and advice for passionate new business owners.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what brings you to Chicago and Ravenswood.
I grew up in the ‘burbs. I moved to Chicago about 12 years ago. In fact my first apartment was in Ukranian Village just down the street from where my grandparents lived when they first got married. I’d say my roots are in Chicago and I love this city. I worked for in Iraq for a year as a human rights project director and while I missed my family and friends, I missed the city like a person. I moved from Ukranian Village to Wicker Park and when Wicker Park became too popular (there was a huge rent hike and it lost its neighborhood vibe) I headed north to Lincoln Square. I love my new neighborhood especially since it is so bikeable and because there are so many artisans, makers and independent stores.
We were so happy to see you made it out to the Possibility Potluck. What was the highlight of your evening?
The Possibility Potluck was amazing. It was wonderful to get to meet people and businesses within the community. There was a real sense of caring and commitment from all of the people who were there.
Did the Possibility Potluck spark any new ideas for you or plant the seeds of collaboration with any neighbors you met that evening?
It made me realize that I am in the right place.
Right now, you run Meandering Design. Tell us in a nutshell what Meandering Design is.
Meandering Design is a design house with a focus on sustainability and DIY. We make clothing and accessories out of upcycled and vintage materials, but that is only one part of it. We teach people how to mend and reuse clothing through sewing lessons and Dabble classes. We also have started teaching interior design classes that give people tips and ideas on how to use what they already have. We provide a list of resources for local makers, independent and vintage stores. We are going to start offering interior design consultations to help people revamp their living space using what they have and give them DIY and local suggestions for the things they may need.
We are big fans of meandering too. Your tagline is “Wander in Style.” What inspired your name?
'Wander in Style' was actually inspired by a trip I took to Madrid. I was wandering through the old city and got lost in the medieval alleyways and byways. I thoroughly enjoyed being lost because I kept stumbling upon all of these delightful finds. In this day and age with gps enabled phones and our over planned lives we often don’t take the time to get lost and wander. I find that when I do take the time to explore I am much more in the moment and not worried about where I am heading to. Plus if I am out and about I may as well look chic as I wander!
Where do you like to wander in the area?
I love to ride my bike along Ravenswood and peek in the windows of all the cool spaces and dream of my future space. I’ve taken classes at Lillstreet and Story Studio. I adore the Lincoln Square farmers market. I did a ‘beer and bike’ ride with Team Pete and we started at Brew Camp. I could have sat all day andlistened to Whit talk about beer! Koval donated whiskey to the Possibility Potluck and now I am going to have to do a tour there. I kind of have DIY ADD and Ravenswood is actually a little dangerous because anything I could possibly want to learn how to do is just a short bike ride away.
You mentioned that one of Meandering Design’s goals is to open a craft co-working space. (An exciting prospect!) Tell us more about your vision.
I was unemployed for awhile and I was doing a lot of sewing and I felt kind of lonely. The irony of this is that I am an introvert, so I had to be really lonely if I wanted to find a place to sew with other people. There are a ton of fabulous co-working spaces in the city, but not really a place where I could drop in with my sewing machine and make some noise! I want to open up a co-working space that has an area for quiet crafting and meetings and also a space where makers can get a little noisy. I want to build a resource library and also a lending tool library. I really want to get an old printing press. The space would also be available for makers to host classes and we would have a pop up shop for makers to sell their wares.
On your website, you say: “Right now it is just an idea, but I know that with the help of our community that we will make it happen.” We agree. If you had to ask for help to bring Meandering Design closer to it’s co-working reality, what support do you need from your neighbors?
I think right now I need help building a network, especially a network of people I can call on to help share Meandering Design’s vision in support of a Kickstarter campaign. One of the neighbors I met at the Possibility Potluck said I could probably call on the neighborhood to donate and lend tools, which is a brilliant idea. (Mood board below)
As you look to make your dream a reality, I’m reminded of our conversation about “leaning in” and how to build communities of strong, self-starting women. In your journey of “leaning in,” what is one lesson that you’d offer to other local women starting something?
Just take that first step. Initially when I started Meandering Design I was simply making things to sell. I chose the name Meandering Design though because I dreamed of being a design house. When I realized that I wanted to teach sewing it wasn’t as if I had a certificate for it. I finally just took the leap and started teaching and I had an overwhelmingly positive response. Same with teaching interior design. I don’t have a degree, but I do have a lifetime of passion for design and years of reading and researching about design. If I would have waited for someone to tap me on the shoulder with their wand and tell me I now had the authority to do what wanted, well, I’d still be waiting. One other thing I would add is that you need to recognize that building a business takes time and that you cannot compare yourself to other people’s success because chances are they’ve been at it for awhile.
The League of Awesome Possibilities is all about celebrating what we think is awesome and possible in the places we live. What’s awesome about our neighborhood? And what do you hope for its future?
I feel like the people in our neighborhood are smart, driven, intelligent, passionate, creative, artistic, collaborative and inspiring. Being surrounded by so much awesomeness is bolstering to my fledgling business. I have also found that people are incredibly supportive and willing to share ideas. I think that type of attitude is what makes our community special.
Looking back at the pictures of the weekend we are reminded of what a special opportunity we had to set the table for dynamic community conversation. Since that weekend, the possibilities and energy around our neighborhood and the Lawrence corridor has grown. The seeds planted at the possibility potluck have resulted in stories of new relationships, sketches of new business ideas, viewings of activated properties, discussions with friends at Neighborland and The Storefront, and meetings planned with other community organizations and Alderman Pawar. We are excited for the many vibrant conversations and (im)possible things that have happened. Read our summary and the day after recap in the Patch to get a flavor of the weekend.
Let’s continue our conversation:
• Share ideas on Neighborland: www.neighborland.com/ravenswood
• Keep in touch about neighborhood & business needs: email@example.com
• Share stories from the event & ideas for creative collaboration: firstname.lastname@example.org