#24: Meghan Throckmorton Collar
Meghan Throckmorton Collar likes to think small, and that's in no way a putdown: A creative crafter, designer and owner of the Rakun boutique on Santa Fe Drive, she's both the product of and a mover in her own immediate little world of local trade -- which is not only more personal, but also a rising economic trend in the urban marketplace. A founder of the loose alliance of Denver Independent Boutiques and involved as well in the Denver Handmade Alliance, Throckmorton Collar is a loud but gentle voice in the local entrepreneurial art movement. She steps on that soapbox for this 100CC questionnaire; continue reading for her homey point of view.
See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Kalina Ross
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
I'm a crafter and community builder, and I long for times past when communities formed around artisan crafters. I would love to go back to a time when a strong community and skilled artisans were critical to survival, and everyday life included chatting with bakers, milliners and weavers. Being part of the crowd stitching away at a quilting bee would teach me more than any fascinating famous person could. I believe in everyday people being creative every day, and I love that people are starting to see that a simpler life is critical to sustaining both our communities and the environment. I am drawn to folk arts both past and present, and I often daydream about a quiet apprenticeship with any number of master craftspeople. I mean, how cool would it be to learn to bake bread from a French boulanger or to hand-quilt from a pioneer grandma?
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
My world is intentionally very small, so most of the people who interest me are my colleagues and neighbors. I look to my immediate community first for inspiration, and I love what my snail's eye view discovers. Slowing down and looking closely opens up this Nathalie Sarraute sort of world, where flashes of quiet creativity really shine. Taking time to look closely uncovers the world of meaning beneath the surface of everyday interactions. I am so fascinated by anyone taking time each day to be quietly, humbly creative. Emi Knight of the Strawberry Runners has been a regular in my shop for ages, and it took forever for me to put her face to the band. She plays in the garden with my daughter and cat, quietly chats, and loses track of time. It's inspiring to see her life and art so close/intertwined. My dear friend, illustrator Sara Guindon, inspires me with her easygoing creativity, too. She isn't afraid to be subtle, and that makes her work so compelling.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
The craft and fashion communities in Denver are so full of amazing, creative and heartfelt people. Luckily, there are a lot of great opportunities for them to showcase their work, too. Sometimes, there are still events that exploit fashion and craft creatives, though, and this breaks my heart. I'd love Denver to continue to celebrate the authentic fashion shows and craft markets and eventually drown out the few exploitative shows. There should be a clear choice for which events help fashion and craft creatives grow and which are perhaps a poor choice of resources. I'd love to see Denver get to a point where there's just no question: Every craft market and every fashion show is a great experience for everyone. It's a goal that we are working toward with Denver Handmade Alliance by vetting craft markets, and I think Fashion Association Denver is working toward a similar goal, so I'm confident that my little daydream is just around the corner.
What's your day job?
I do so many things, it's hard to pin one down as my day job. I probably dedicate the most time to the least profitable of my pursuits, volunteering my resources to building opportunities for the craft and fashion communities though Denver Handmade Alliance, Denver Independent Boutiques and other organizations. I will drop whatever I am working on to offer some advice -- whether to a designer looking to grow or a shopper searching for more ways to buy local. Of course, that's when I'm not busy nurturing my always energetic three-year-old. She started preschool this year, and that's the first time she's spent much time away from me. She's always by my side, whether at a board meeting or in the shop. Of course, I'm in my shop every day, too, and I make jewelry and clothing that I sell in my shop and in boutiques around the country.
Sometimes, taking the time to work on my own projects feels so indulgent. There's always more community building or professional development projects to tackle first. Yet, of all the things I do, working on my own line is the only thing that makes any significant contribution to paying the bills. I also need to make time to create -- otherwise I'm up all night thinking about patterns and colors and hemlines. It's soothing and satisfying to make time to make things.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Keep building opportunities for creatives in the community. I long for a day when the average consumer chooses to support local businesses first. It would be so powerful to see small businesses get the same level of exposure and the same prime locations afforded to corporate chains. If artisan-made became the norm, it would become more convenient to buy local, too, as the selection would grow to meet demand, and shops could have more convenient hours and locations. All these microbusinesses, from baby-bib makers to small brewers to artisan bakers and candle-makers, are part of our community, so making them stronger makes everyone stronger. Supporting local businesses does so much more for the community than shopping at corporate chains. I believe it just takes a little push and a few more opportunities to make buying artisan-made shift from a luxury to just the way things are.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Denver is a great place for the arts! There are endless opportunities for creatives and so many warm, creative people open to collaboration and cross-promotion. Sometimes, there are so many opportunities, it can get a little overwhelming and confusing for artists to find their niche. The more Denver and organizations in Denver can do to help clarify and promote professional development opportunities for artists, the stronger our entire community will become.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
There are so many talented artists pouring their soul into their work in Colorado. So much is happening here that keen arts reporting becomes critical to the growth and survival of Colorado artists. In light of the context of this interview, I know my response to this question may sound cheesy, but I don't care because it's important that the people who keep the public informed of what's happening get recognized for their critical contribution. My favorite Colorado Creative is an eagle-eyed, warmhearted arts editor whose last name rhymes with Floyd. I love that arts reporting in Denver keeps up with the diverse and fast-paced creative community. I'm also excited that charismatic Chloe Veltman will be helping build awareness of Colorado's creative community as the newly appointed editor of CPR's Arts Bureau. It soothes my soul to know that Colorado artists have such enthusiastic and creative arts editors on their side.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
My year is going to start off right away with a handful of public divulgences about what makes me click. I have this interview, I am up for CBCA's Create Award, and I am speaking about "Childhood and Creativity" for Creative Mornings, too. While I'm nervous to talk so much about my quiet little world, I'm excited that the small scale of my life is interesting enough to get recognized, too. I'm very excited to carve out more time with my sewing machine this year. The list of projects I'm itching to get my hands on is getting a little out of hand, so I'm hoping to drop off the planet a bit now and then and just craft, sew and make. I'm excited to continue to build opportunities for creatives with both Denver Handmade Alliance and Create Denver, too. Even when my projects start collecting dust in the corner, I still find helping others find opportunities immensely satisfying. I plan to really make my shop even more warm and inviting, and welcome lots of new crafters and designers into my sort of modern take on the quilting bee.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?
I would love to see all the things that are already noticed within the community get even more recognition. The Colorado creative community is huge, but the community at large is even bigger. I'd like to see buzz-worthy arts openings jam packed with all sorts of people, and up-and-coming performance artists sell out as fast as Broncos games. I'm excited to see new faces and surprising collaborations, but, more than that, I'm excited to see crowds grow just a little more at each and every arts event. Megan Throckmorton Collar will speak at Creative Mornings at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, January 10. Go online for more information about Rakun and Denver Independent Boutiques.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.
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