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!
Lauren Meyer of Zella + Kay leaves a lasting impression when you meet her. She is lovely through and through and this is beautifully displayed through her amazing felt florals. I got to chat with Lauren about her history with The DIME Store and what it looks like to live a life you love.
Let’s start out with a little bit of background: where did you grow up? Where are you living now? What does a typical day in your life look like?
I grew up in College Station, Texas, and am actually living here again now! In between, I went to graduate school for two years in Tallahassee, Florida and lived in Denton for three years, as well. I work full time in Student Activities at Texas A&M, advising student leaders. I’m also a second year PhD student in a Higher Education Administration program. So a typical day looks like a combination of work + school, then I come home and use my down time to make felt florals (usually while catching up on a little Netflix).
How did you become a maker?
I grew up crafting a ton and actually had a few attempts at an Etsy shop through college and grad school, before Zella + Kay. In the late spring of 2016, though, I was going through a particularly rough patch and decided I wanted to try to do something creative to get out of the rut. I had always loved visiting the Denton Community Market and I decided that I’d try to set up a booth. I pulled together a lot of things I had created before, including some crocheted items, felt flowers, and signs. The felt flowers really started to take off, and it’s history from there.
How did you come up with the name “Zella & Kay”?
Zella + Kay comes from my two grandmothers’ middle names - Mary Zella and Patsy Kay. Both women cared for their families through creating, whether sewing, quilting, smocking, cooking, baking, or so many other things they handmade. The business name is a way of paying homage to their legacies.
What was your journey to The DIME Store?
After I had participated in the Denton Community Market a few times, I mustered up the courage to apply to sell items in The DIME Store through the website. I had always loved visiting The DIME Store and was so impressed by all the talent represented there. A month or so went by without hearing anything and, during that time I got a new job at Texas A&M and prepared to leave Denton. I actually got the acceptance email from DIME when I was driving away! I panicked for a moment because I thought I might not be eligible to sell there because I no longer lived in Denton. Shelley was so kind, though, and let me know that they would love to have my blooms. I am so thankful for all that DIME has done for me - it was my first retailer, the first place I held a workshop, and home to some of my favorite people.
What is the difference between when you started as a Maker and now?
Oh gosh...so much! I was so nervous to put myself out there. The idea of being a maker seemed so appealing, but I was a little scared to launch something. Also, I was really scattered in my product line. I kind of threw up everything in the air to see what would stick. I’ve learned to hone my craft over the last three years and feel much more confident in what I’ve got to offer.
What/who has provided the most inspiration for you along the way?
I think I’ve been most inspired and encouraged by other makers. Before joining this community, I had no idea how supportive it would be. I’ve learned new methods from other felt florists (through collaborative courses), figured out how to manage my finances, cheered on others’ endeavors, and so much more. I feel really connected to makers all over the country and that has been so incredibly cool.
How would you describe the DIME community to someone who has no idea what it is?
I do this all the time, actually! Since I live in Bryan/College Station, people aren’t as aware of DIME. I love it so much that I tell people about it really often. In fact, Market 1023 (my home-base shop in Bryan) has curated a lot of their products from DIME makers.
When I tell others about DIME, I say that it’s a collective of some really legit artists and makers in Denton, Texas. It’s a cute little shop that’s home to a really supportive community that helped me get my start as a maker.
Now for some fun questions: If there was one movie that you think everyone should see at least once in their life, what movie would that be?
Oh, that’s tough. My childhood favorite was The Sound of Music and it still holds a really special place in my heart. I love watching it and singing along (usually poorly!).
What was the last gift you gave someone & why?
I LOVE giving gifts! It’s definitely my love language, along with words of affirmation. I put together a gift for our Graduate Assistants at work for GA Appreciation Week. I collected notes from our team members, along with words they though described each of them. I created gift baskets with signs that reflected all their descriptors, to remind them that they’re all those things and more.
Finally, if you could give “teenage Lauren” any advice, what would it be?
I’d tell “teenage Lauren” to keep pursuing all of her varied interests and that she doesn’t have to choose between them.
Growing up, I always thought that I needed to figure out my calling. I stressed so much over this. As an adult, though, I’ve cobbled together a life that I love. I’ve been able to live out my calling through so many different avenues. I can be a maker, a scholar, a marathon runner, a higher education professional, a mentor, and more. God has been so good to me through it all and His faithfulness is evident through it all.