Here at Modern Makers we’re constantly pinching ourselves at the calibre of the attendees of our first retreat (which takes place in October). Some we’ve known for ages, some we’ve been stalking on IG for a while, and others are new friends to us. To get to know everyone better, we asked our attendees to interview each other and we’ll share these interviews on the blog over the next couple of months.
I love that saying by Maya Angelou, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Well in a two-hour meet-and-greet with the delightful Alison Fanthorpe (aka @thebaronessdesigns) I feel pretty warm and fuzzy!
Tasked by the Modern Makers Retreat crew to interview a fellow ‘modern maker’ prior to the big getaway was right up my alley. As a former magazine editor always on the hunt for human-centred stories, my first thought was ‘Fun!’. Also, I’m an introvert but have a passion for neurodiversity, which means I crave to really understand what makes people tick and where they get their perspectives and energy from. So, something of an urban anthropologist, I was super-excited to meet Alison!
It was a rainy drive over to Kensington but spirits were high. I was punctual and so was The Baroness. She had a chai before her, and when I entered the café we had a standing embrace and a little squeal! Our meeting was definitely fun at first sight!
With a swift brekky order on my part and a latte en route, we fell nicely into conversation…
What I learned about Alison (aka The Baroness)
Firstly, that she’s Welsh and I had no clue! Being that I too have ties to that region of the world, chat quickly turned to the Brexit vote and transgressed into matters of immigration, xenophobia and multiculturalism. (Yep – we rather like multiculturalism. The Baroness and I were clearly a values match very early in the piece!)
She has a cheer squad of enabling women in her life (her tribe), that propel her through doubt and encourage her to seize opportunities.
It’s clear that there are some very valued crafty relationships in Alison’s life. Relationships that that sweep her up in a tornado of fun, crafty and strategic goodness, (yes, I’m speaking to you Jane @behind_littlepipdesigns and Jackie @JackieGillies!) to those that cheer for her to seize her potential as a designer and creator (the ever-making Roslyn from @sewdeliciousros and Alisa from @astitchinbetween).
Alison has deep respect for her funny, kind and caring crafty friends and her confidence as a modern maker has grown from their support. I love the practice of enabling others to be their best, so it was lovely to hear Alison speak so fondly of these relationships.
Inspiration? Sometimes it comes to you… sometimes you can help let it in.
Having spent a long time working for an iconic not-for-profit, Alison found herself in a position where she could resign, take stock and revaluate what she wanted from life. After quietly observing what she wanted to do next, her tribe of enablers gave her the support she needed to try designing patterns and selling her quilts. This is a move that Alison is now navigating with much excitement and after seeing a few of her patterns and makes, I can tell she has all it takes to make her mark as a designer and professional quilter.
Alison believes that in her experience, you can’t force a design, rather the design usually comes to you. She has taught me to be mindful of those moments and size some graph paper when inspiration strikes!
With no preferred fabric range or style, The Baroness prefers to see what strikes her as appealing for the given project at hand. As for her personal style? She’s warm, authentic and insightful.
We talked our way through multiple coffees and naturally meandered through all sorts of subjects; men who quilt, how culture plays a role in self-promotion (or self-deprecation), women who undervalue their art, how quilt making has evolved from its historical roots of repurposing scraps to where it is today, the environmental impact of the quilting and fashion industries – and fangirl syndrome!
What do we think of all these things? You’ll have to take us out for coffee to find out!
Did we click? You bet. It’s clear that Alison and I are a pair of spirited makers that care not for an audience, but for the feeling we get when making and cheering fellow makers on.
The Baroness is an absolute delight and those that have the good fortune of getting to know her will no doubt leave her company feeling full in heart and mind.