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Art & Life with Erika Kelly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Kelly.

Erika, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve always enjoyed sewing for myself and learned the basics with my mom growing up. After I graduated from college in 2008, I told myself it was time I did something for fun. I bought a refurbished sewing machine for $100 and starting watching every youtube video about sewing that I could. I continued to look for a “real job,” but that wasn’t happening easily thanks to the recession. I kept working in customer service jobs as a barista and server and continued to sew for fun after work. Etsy was just starting to become a big deal, and with some encouragement from my friends and family, I decided to open an Etsy shop selling waist aprons I was making. It’s slowly and organically grown from there. I eventually quit my day job, learned more about sourcing fabrics, creating new styles, how to build a website, and how to build a business. I’ve learned a lot over the years and continue to learn more every day!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I design and sew a variety of aprons and art smocks in organic fabrics like linen, hemp, and cotton. I really enjoy sewing and working with my hands in a creative way. It just feels really good. I hope to inspire people to be creative themselves in whatever capacity they find fulfilling. I also hope to inform others on the importance of using natural and organic fabrics whenever possible.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
I started considering the question of how the fabrics I was buying were manufactured early on. I had noticed that some fabrics were causing my eyes to burn when I ironed them, and some had a weird chemical smell. This led me to research how fabrics are grown, produced, and dyed all over the world. I was shocked to discover that non-organic conventional cotton is one of the dirtiest crops in the world. The chemicals and pesticides used on conventional textile producing crops cause cancer, respiratory issues, and many other health problems to farmers and factory workers in developing countries all over the world. On top of that, the runoff of these chemicals from cultivation in the fields to the dyes used to give them their color are severely impacting the health of our planet. All of this had led me to only use organic or sustainably made fabrics with low impact dyes. My hope is that more people will begin to support companies making products that are low impact on our planet and the people involved.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have photos and videos of my work on my website. I sell my work via my website to people all over the world https://www.portlandaproncompany.com/.

You can also show support by connecting with me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/portlandaproncompany/.

I also sell at a very cute boutique store in Portland, Oregon called Porch Light.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Briana Morrison Photography

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