How Do Your Eggplants Grow?
For Kimberly Nario, Richmond, Virginia craft extraordinaire, creativity runs in her family. She was taught to sew by her mother and grandmother; her great-grandmother was a jewelry designer, and her great-grandfather–well, what else could he have been but a goldsmith? Nario’s artistic bloodline has inspired all of her crafting endeavors, and she had dabbled in jewelry and accessory making. Currently, though, she focuses on sewing felt food décor and toys.
Nario is currently working on her Etsy shop, The Eggplant Garden, and she hopes to have it up and running by mid-July. In the meantime, she runs GallowLily’s Craft Gallery and Boutique, the shop located on the second floor of Marshall Street’s Gallery5. GallowLily’s is named after Lillian Madison, who was allegedly murdered by her cousin Thomas Cluverius in 1885 in Richmond, near Hollywood Cemetery. Gallery5 houses the gallows Cluverius died on for his crime. GallowLily’s sells eco-friendly and homemade accessories, books, art prints, and some of Kimberly Nario’s crafts.
Here's some of what Nario had to say about her crafty ways during a recent talk with Quail Bell:
I've been living in Richmond for almost five years. The crazy thing is I didn't start actually liking this place until about two or three years ago. Now there are lots of things I love! I love that I'm surrounded by museums and history. I love that Richmond is the home for so many awesome independent businesses.
One of my favorite things is when I stumble upon a little park somewhere. I feel like there are secret parks everywhere. I also really love the amount of music shows there are on a weekly basis. Even if I don't make it out to a lot of them, it's a wonderful thing that they are happening.
How’d you get the name for your brand and soon-to-be Etsy shop?
The name for my shop and brand came from one of my favorite places as a kid, the eggplant garden. When I started selling jewelry five years ago, I went through a few different names. I finally came up with The Eggplant Garden, and it felt right.
My granddad had an eggplant garden when I was a kid, and I remember thinking it was so magical. The memories of being in the eggplant garden with my granddad remind me of all the good things of my childhood. It just pulls at my heartstrings! Now I think it's really fitting that I'm making felt food as toys under this name.
In what ways are you artistic?
I think I began sewing around age six. I started by hand-sewing clothes for my Barbie dolls (mostly to cover up the bad tattoos I gave them with nail polish). In fourth grade, I made beaded jewelry and sold it to my friends at school. Now when I make clothes, it's always just for myself, but I'm hoping to change that soon!
While I have done a lot of jewelry and accessories in the past, I mostly stick to the felt food and things for the home. I think at the end of the day it's better for me to say that what I love is crafting. I feel like that encompasses everything I do regularly and all the things I make on the side. I also did a lot of performing arts in middle school and high school. I came to VCU [Virginia Commonwealth University] to do theatre, but I found that it didn't really excite me all that much. I stopped taking acting classes and replaced them with creative writing and costuming classes. Then, things started falling into place.
What type of reception do your creations get from your loved ones?
I'm so grateful to have had a lot of encouragement and inspiration from family and friends. Ever since I was a kid, my family has been incredibly supportive of my artistic endeavors.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I like to organize my craft supplies. Figuring out the perfect way to store everything is a never-ending battle for me. I also spend quite a bit of time at the river with my fiancé and our friends in a big green canoe. Currently, I have been combing through DIY websites for the best wedding tutorials. Honestly, I think a lot of my free time consists of me crafting with something on Netflix playing in the background.