Welcome to our newest tradition, Maker Monday! Our Store Manager, Marissa, gets to know a little bit more about the makers of The DIME Store. We believe in bridging the gap between our customer and the maker -- and this new project is a great way to learn about the person behind the product!
Caitlin Crawford of Austin Street Skincare has been a longtime friend and maker of The DIME Store. She is incredibly wise and full of integrity. This week we chat about her origin story and the myth of balance.
Where did you grow up? Where are you living now?
I grew up in the Dallas area (Mesquite) and moved to Denton to attend UNT in 2004. My husband, Clint, and I currently live in the Idiot's Hill area of Denton with our two girls, but our little family was originally established on Austin Street in 2008.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
A typical day in the life at the Crawford home is full of good things! That's what I tell myself during this particular season, ha. I am someone who is typically driven by accomplishment and productivity and have a low threshold for chaos, but with a 16 month old and 4 year old, I have had to make some serious adjustments to my attitude, expectations, and definition of "success." While they do keep me busy (and occasionally frantic), my girls have also helped me slow down quite a bit and move through the world at a different pace- one that I've grown to enjoy. We like to spend our mornings drinking chai tea and lingering over library books, going on walks to the park and playing in the backyard (we're currently raising Monarch caterpillars), running errands, and making trips to Ravelin Bakery for treats. Currently I work on Austin Street during naps, after bedtime, or while I'm at The DIME Store as a member of the co-op team.
Has making always been a theme in your life?
Making has always been a theme in my life, but I never imagined it would lead to a small business in natural skincare. As a child and student I loved art and was constantly drawing and painting, and I actually began my time at UNT as an art major. I've also always had an appreciation for the natural world and grew up catching and observing all manner of creatures, playing in the dirt, and studying plants and minerals. I consider Austin Street Skincare the overlap of these two passions- science and art.
How did you start Austin Street Skincare (where does the name come from)? Are you doing this full-time or part-time?
My husband and I lived on Austin Street for the better part of a decade- it's where we established our family, put down roots in our city, created our little business, and brought home our first child. The name is inspired by our time in that special neighborhood and the sense of community and connection we experienced there.
During our first few years on Austin Street I began to take a more considerate, holistic look at health and its many contributing factors, eventually coming to the conclusion that if the body is best nourished by good food, the skin is best nourished by good ingredients. My sensitive, blemish-prone, often reactive complexion needed a more mindful approach than the harsh cleansers I was buying at the grocery store. For me, healthy change meant several things: eating fresh, real foods, minimizing the chemical load in our home, and adopting a new skincare regimen by sourcing 100% natural, high-quality botanical ingredients I could pronounce, then using them to create gentle, effective personal care products made by my own hands. What started as a purely personal venture blossomed into a home business as demand and interest grew and our shop debuted at the Denton Community Market the fall of 2012. The DIME Store began carrying our product line shortly after!
Today, I manage Austin Street Skincare from our home studio part-time and devote the majority of my time and energy to my family.
So how do you balance being a creative, being a maker, a mom, a wife, and whatever other roles you play?
I DON'T! I think "balance" is a myth and became a lot more content when I stopped using the word. At least in my home and with my particular personality, it's just not possible. I have to make a conscious choice about what (usually who) is going to get my best, instead of half-heartedly multitasking my way through the day.
Shifting my achievement-oriented mindset to doing less, but doing it better, has brought both freedom and focus to my business. I may not have a huge social media presence or hundreds of wholesale accounts, but what I am able to accomplish with Austin Street I know is consistent with my business values- beautiful, pure, simple, and useful.
How would you encourage other makers who are in your same season of life?
Whatever you're doing in any particular moment, choose to give yourself to it completely. Our culture burdens women, and especially mothers, by linking success and capacity. Rushing to calculate formulas on a pricing spreadsheet or manage inventory while you have young children crawling up your legs begging for your attention is not a sustainable business practice or life-giving approach to parenting- I know because I've tried to make it work! I've found peace of mind by embracing the limitations of the particular season I'm in, both because I know it won't last forever AND there's joy to be found in it, and valuing excellence and simplicity over productivity.
How would you describe the DIME community to someone who has no idea what it is?
DIME has been an incubator for my little business and a constant source of creativity, inspiration, and encouragement. I would describe the DIME community as a collection of makers from a variety of disciplines coming together to offer the unexpected, quirky, lovely, and thoughtful.
Where do you draw inspiration?
The tradition of early American herbal apothecaries, the beauty of raw natural ingredients (at the moment I'm drawn to powdered hibiscus flower), quiet moments of self-care, the alchemy of plant essences and extracts, and the simple joy brought by a well-made thing.
What are some of your favorites things about Denton? Places to go?
I've been in Denton 15 years now and while I'm enjoying some of the nicer, newer places (Alamo Drafthouse!), I just love that scruffy Denton charm. It's been a sweet surprise that the artsy little college town I arrived in as a freshman is also the place I'm now raising my young family- it feels like Denton and I have grown up together. We love Recycled Books, Boca 31, Ravelin Bakery, The Pickled Carrot, Clear Creek Heritage Center, Emily Fowler Library, North Lakes Park, and of course The DIME Store!