30 May 2011

A Portrait of The Artist: Raw & Repurposed

Today's guest in A Portrait of The Artist is Jessie Anderson runs her Raw & Repurposed store from North Carolina, USA. She believes she was given the talent to turn trash into treasure. She is creating lovely aromatherapy eye pillows, rustic frames and earth-friendly home decoration. Her items are eco, organic, upcycled, and repurposed. In her strive to make the world a better place she provides greener options for everyone.

In her own words: "Just like diamonds, my pieces are uncovered and refinished to be made beautiful. Some of my items are simply restored into a new look and some are complete transformations. I do use new materials for some of my items but they are always organic or have earth friendly properties. That is my PROMISE to myself and my customer."
Tell us a bit about your background. From your blog we have learned that you have grown up on a farm in the country and have had many different jobs. What is the weirdest job you’ve had?  
I am so thankful to have grown up on a farm and to have such nature loving parents. I contribute most of my interests, creativity and work ethic to the farm. When I first realized I was living a little differently, I was in high school. A private catholic school, and I had brought home a girlfriend to stay the night. We were upstairs talking about boys or music in my room and my mom called us to dinner. I sat down at the table and was ready to dig into the pan fried doves and gravy, when my friend let out a high pitch scream and said “What…..is……that!”. The whole table burst into laughter. Haha I still laugh telling the story. She didn’t eat the dove but she enjoyed the fresh corn on the cob and fried apples.

The first lesson I seemed to learn and take to heart was if you want something you have to work for it. I hated asking my parents for money so from age 11 or 12 on I was working to buy the things I wanted. I babysat a lot, became a camp counselor during high school summers, coffee barista several times over, retail sales associate, house cleaner and a lot of other random jobs but the weirdest job for me was Jimmy Johns Sub Delivery Girl! HAHA. Let me explain! I was scrambling to find a job after coming back to college from winter break and finding out that the coffee shop I worked at before break “no longer needed me”. I think they were mad I left town during busy Christmas season to be with my family. I worked for them again a year later so there were no hard feelings. But for a week I was driving all over town trying to find someone to hire me and because it was after Christmas during the beginning of the recession people just weren’t hiring.

I came across Jimmy Johns and saw the hiring sign in the window and just said to myself “it’s only temporary”. Haha. I delivered subs for 4 months and when it got warmer I would roll down the windows and blast music during the deliveries. Well I had a guy yell to me through his window “JIIIIMMYY JOOOHNSS….you looking good.. you can bring me my sub any day” HAHA. I quit soon after that. But I met some cool people there that I am still friends with today, and would eat at Jimmy Johns anytime because their subs really are good.

How did your recycling and upcycling begin and when in time did you decide to start your etsy shop? 
My mom is the main influence behind all my interests. I grew up recycling and reusing. We had a whole utility room full of plastic containers at one point. She sparked my interest in Interior Design in high school after I helped her make updates and redo a home she had purchased to rent out. She also loves thrift store shopping and is known for the phrase “I could make this into…”.

So after majoring in interior design in college and then sustainability coming into popularity while I was there I was learning more and more on how reuse what we already have. The summer of my junior year I ran my own design and organizing business and also began revamping thrift store items to decorate with on the job and also to sell.

Art classes in college also taught me to think outside the box and create art pieces with items that are laying around and that are free. In a college town, that means beer cans and bottles. Those art projects made me realize the amount of waste in a college town. Most of the waste is recyclable, but goes to landfills because there isn’t an immediate option for recycling offered. I began recycling in my apartment complex and carrying it all to the local recycle center every week after that.

When all three of those forces really combined, recycling, reusing, and repurposing, was after I graduated and moved to where I am living now. I began nesting in my home with my fiancĂ© and making our house a home. I was working as a furniture sales associate and saw a stack of discontinued fabric samples about to be dumped in the trash. I couldn’t believe it! So I snatched them right up and started collecting all the samples we were going to throw out.

Soon after leaving that job in October 2010 I began making eye pillows from the fabric swatches. Friends loved them and told me I should sell them. I knew of Etsy and had shopped there a time or two and decided to give it try. It became so addicting. I just kept creating and haven’t stopped! Ideas for new upcycled and repurposed items pop in my head all the time. I have to take a sketch book with me everywhere so I can jot down thoughts as they come to mind and so to not forget them.
Glass Jars with Chalk Label - Country Living Decor

You seem to be a free spirit. Can you share with us how this is helping you with the running of your business? 
I think if you are doing what you love and happy with the results you are a free spirit. I always keep an open mind which allows for learning and experiencing new ways of thinking. I never stop learning. Most times ideas for my new items come from learning a new earth friendly concept or organic way of life. I go at my own pace and I always play music when I’m working. Stress free work is the only way to work.

You have grown up close to nature on a farm, and you have learned early in life how to respect animals and the environment. This surely has given you balance in a variety of life situations. What is the knowledge from later life that you have added to all you already knew? 
Ultimately I do a lot of research on subjects I may know some but not enough about. Even after growing up on the farm I’m amazed at all I’ve forgtton. Could have been those extra years at school making up for those first outrageously fun years. But all of my organic eating and gardening is something I researched how to do properly and then combined it with my gardening practices I learned from home.

My mom saved a lot of cans, plastic containers, and jars but I rarely saw them being used. It drove me nuts! That is something I don’t like, clutter! I design or scheme up an idea for my pile of re-do’s and then I do it and send them off to local shops or list them on Etsy.
Spring Vintage Coastal Frame Set
You are interested in organic eating and homeopathic remedies, tell us more about what you eat and how you cure yourself? 
I can’t say I am completely organic but I try very hard. Everything from our meat to the butter we use I try and get organically or farm raised. We eat locally and since we are on a beach all types of fish are always in season. We just make sure we get organic fish or sea caught that day. It’s hard to swear off fish from the ocean, because even though it’s not farm raised it really isn’t organic. Think about all the boats, and oil, gasoline and chemicals they pump into our oceans. But we limit our intake and enjoy local seasonal fruits and veggies from the farmers market when our garden is not harvesting.

I recently have read an amazing book about healing food that tells you to use the whole part of a fruit or vegetable. So if your going to make a smoothie and use apple, use the seeds and core! Blend the whole thing. The seeds contain an amazing amount of enzymes and nutrients you body needs.

Healing holistically and homeopathically all depends on the problem at hand. I use a homeopathic kit I purchased with about 50 vials that heal various problems. Homeopathy is based on the idea that “Like cure Like”. So I always use this example: if you are suffering from Hay Fever you would be given a dose of homeopathic onion. I also use tinctures, essential oils, and salves.

My fiancĂ© gets swollen and torn muscles often from his many activities, I rub Arnica Salve on the inflamed area and he says it warms the spot and reduces the pain and inflammation within an hour. I have been rubbing Lavender essential oil all over before going outside because it keeps the mosquitoes away. Bugs can’t stand the smell of Lavender or Lemon Balm so if you have any of those handy just rub them on. I have healed several minor health problems on friends and family with my kit so I take it with me everywhere! As for me I seem to keep myself healthy enough to not have to use it… yet.

Lavender Flax Eye Pillow
Where do you see yourself creatively in 5 years? 
I would love to have my own workshop with a small retail front. I have had this vision for years and even presented it to a college professor as an end of the year project. She sorta laughed at the idea and gave me a C but I know how that goes… teacher thinks it’s crap and then you make it big! Haha. No plans to make it big, just want to have my own space to work and display my own creations.

What is your current favorite item by another etsy seller? 
I really enjoy Raven’s Roost which is a variety of organic breads, teas, herbal mixes, jams, and vintage items. I sent my best friend some of her bread as a get well present and she loved it! Also find myself browsing through Betsy & Bess quite often. They offer upcycled purses and accessories. (If you have missed it, read Betsy & Bess's A Portrait of The Artist here.)

Follow along with Jessie:
Etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/rawNrepuposed

You can check out other editions of A Portrait of The Artist here


  1. Very nice interview, great pictures and interesting story.

  2. what a wonderful energy this artist has ..loved the interveiw!!