1998 was a good summer. My cousin, Kristin and I spent a few months at a time at my Grandmother's cabin in Port Alexander, learning the ways of the greatest explorer I've ever known. Following along in her foot steps as she taught us how to split wood, tow logs in the skiff from beaches outside the bay, fish for halibut, dodge humpback whales, bake, swim in the mountain lakes, and so much more. Between all the Alaska Bush life skills cultivated, we also learned from other women in the community. Women I was surrounded with for much of my younger life. Their husbands would be out fishing and these women would lead by example to be strong, independent, smart, fun, and caring. Women who built a museum, took on an abandoned lighthouse, made recipe books, excavated and brought life back to an abandoned graveyard, crafted, and essentially built a strong community through their love and dedication.
One woman, who lived on her fishing boat, came ashore to teach us beading. We spent six hours in the town hall learning a basic stitch to create a little beaded pouch big enough to fit a quarter. For me it was a learning experience, but for Kristin it became a passion. Fast forward 15+ years and her brand, Wildwood Designs came to life. Beading earrings and designing them from her environment, for the strong, brave, and free spirited women of today.
Often times, these memories and dreams we have in our childhood become our modern day goals. In the last few years both of us have grown to create our own brand and it has been really fun watching both our paths occasionally cross. Meandering through life, I wouldn't have it any other way. This summer will be big for both of us as I open up a brick and mortar shop in downtown Juneau, she'll be able to help me stock it with her beaded beauties and I'm so excited!
This photoshoot was a fun collaboration between the two of us, and you're likely to see more as our journey continues. This was a bonus shoot for us because my OTHER cousin, Emily from Ketchikan, was behind the lens! Cousin time is the best when we're getting creative :)
Side Note: Looking back I see the trend. Women built Alaska and it shows. At the turn of the century, when gold was on everyone's agenda, the men would do anything and everything to get their hands on it. While the women would hang back and focus on building schools, becoming early entrepreneurs by creating general stores, laundry facilities, bakeries, and more. All across Alaska the cities that we live in were forged by women who had a dream to make this rugged, and sometimes unforgiving place, a home. And, still to this day, it's in our blood to continue bettering our communities.
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