You've made it to my website. Congratulations. As you can see, I make some stuff sometimes. I've always been told that I have too many interests. "A little bit good at a lot, and not a lot good at a little." And that's always stressed me the fuck out, man. Why can't I be a fashion designer, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a multimediaist, a musician,......*gasps for air*.... a bread baker, a dog mom, a poet, an activist........................ Well, the truth is.. it's really hard. It's hard to dedicate yourself to that many things and actually be good at them.
I started Beartown Design Studio a few years ago, right after graduating. I set up shop in a shared house in Hillsboro, West Virginia and "did my best." When my roommates went off to work at their Americorps jobs, I would sit in the dining room and build my empire. Right.
All I ever wanted to do was work for myself and make things for people who would love them and be inspired by them. In fashion school I saw how environmentally and socially damaging the fashion industry is and I was ashamed to have ever thought I wanted to be apart of that world. I knew that some way or another, however hard it was going to be, I was going to make clothing for people from sustainable fibers, local sources, and custom to each client.
But I live in West Virginia ......and I'm never not going to live in West Virginia. Do you know how hard it is to start a business like this in a place that is not traditionally emblematic of creative industries? There is no model to follow here, but the good news about that is, when you want to create something badass here, you make the rules.
A lot of people ask me why I stayed here instead of moving to the city. There really isn't one answer. I guess it's all of the things, the people, the music, and the places that I fell in love with over the years. Every year in the mountains hardens the glue on the hold it has on me. I admire the strength and tenacity of the people in my community and that the things that drive them and inspire them in their work are the same things that drive me in mine.
I taught myself graphic and web design as a means of survival. It was the only job in town when I needed one after I moved to Elkins, West Virginia in 2014. Having the ability to learn as I go along over the years has been insanely awesome and I'm constantly shocked that people ask me to work for them. Whether it's creating event posters and album art for my favorite musicians, dresses for my friends weddings, websites for community radio stations or arts organizations, or collaborating with friends on zines or blog series, I'm lucky as shit to do what I do.. and I hope to only do more of it.
One of the biggest reasons for creating this blog was to be able to show the place I live through my eyes... for anyone that gives a shit, of course. With so many negative images and stereotypes about Appalachia out there (I'm looking at you J.D. Vance), I thought it'd be nice to show a different perspective. It can be difficult, uncomfortable, and lonely here, and often it feels like the world forgot about us or only wants to parachute in to "Save the Hillbillies" and GTFO (I'll save that rant for another post), but there is so much more than that, and hopefully I can convey a small piece of it.
So stay tuned for some exciting projects.