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Crafts won't make millions, but crafters aren't complaining

October 23, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

It may not buy participants big houses and fancy cars, but making and selling their homemade crafts may be the most satisfying job several local women could imagine having.

Most agree crafting will never make them rich but selling their handpainted furniture, homemade dolls and other wares often brings in enough to keep these women in business.

"It's a lucrative hobby," said Daphne Smith, owner and operator of Brawley's Rue Dauphine, a small boutique of Smith's own crafts and the work of others.

While she now displays her things at her own store, Smith's entrance into the business of crafting began when she made a doll as a baby shower gift. Smith, who worked in banking, changed careers and made crafting her full-time job.


Smith had her own mail order catalog and then worked in wholesale distributing to market her goods before opening her shop.

It's a business Smith describes as "the best of both worlds."

As a mother of two, Smith found she could do her crafts and still be home with her children. Her daughters helped her with some of the crafts at home and now the eldest works with her in the store during the summer. Not only is the work enjoyable, she can use it to contribute to the family income, Smith said.

"And I'm doing what I love and I think that's the best thing about it," Smith said.

El Centro resident Margret Kear found selling her crafts was a good way to make some money and spend time with her kids.

Though her children are grown, Kear continues building, transforming and creating her artistic pieces.

"It's just fun. It's something I like to do," Kear said.

Many of Kear's materials started as something else. She turned wooden bowls into decorative flowers for a gate at her home. Embossed and stitched leather boot tops make colorful appliqués for a number of Kear's creations.

"I can see things out of junk and make them into something," Kear said.

Because Kear salvages many of her materials, she can keep costs down.

Frugality is part of why Kear began making things in the first place.

"I'd see things in magazines I wanted but couldn't afford," Kear said. With some ingenuity and imagination, Kear was able to re-create several things she couldn't buy.

The enjoyment these women get from making their creations is often more important than whatever money they earn.

"Not many (can make a living at crafting), but it's cheaper than a shrink," said Susie Gardner of Holtville.

Gardner wouldn't say how much her crafting earns her, but she did say the extra money allows her to travel to various craft shows in the West.

The money, though, isn't the important part.

"I do it even if I have to give it away," Gardner said.

Pauline Haggard of Brawley agrees.

"I love doing it," said Haggard from a seat in her small craft store, Glory Originals in Brawley.

The creative outlet it affords her and the interaction with her customers and other crafters keeps Haggard in a business she says many people are abandoning.

"More and more people are getting out of it because there's not much money in it," Haggard said.

For Haggard, though, her craft store, from which she sells her own and others' creations, keeps her busy doing what she enjoys. And because the store is right next to her home, the convenience can't be beat.

"It's been fun. It's what my life's about," Haggard said.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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