So a few weeks ago, I arrived at Erica's East Village apartment mid-morning, expecting to have a brief chat with her to find out more about her site and how it came about. I walked into a cloud of smoke coming out of the oven and Erica muttering something about her lack of a vent. She likes to cook almost as much as she likes to craft, and had prepared baked eggs with spinach and baby tomatoes topped by sliced avocado for our informal "chat." "I love cooking...using my hands to make things, that's what makes me happy," she told me. Lucky me.
Getting them out of the oven without a potholder? No problem. A vintage army jacket doubles as a potholder in Erica's world. She took off her jacket and used it to grab the steaming hot eggs, and without missing a beat, looked up from the oven and said with a wink "P.S. I made this...potholder."
Did you just say that for the interview? I always say 'P.S.' everything. One day during fashion week, I was back stage at Catherine Malandrino, and this girl said, 'P.S. I love your necklace,' and I said 'Thanks, P.S. I made this.' She asked if I had a jewelry line and I said, 'No but I have a craft club.' She happened to be from Alloy entertainment and she asked if I would do something like a TV show for them. Alloy is behind Gossip Girl right? Yeah. And I had no desire, as much as I'm very talkative, I didn't want to be on TV. But I said whatever, I'll try it out online, just for fun, and it got a lot of traffic and a great response.
So how did the site come about? You had a craft club? One day one of my really good friends emailed me. She works in fashion, and she was like 'Hey, I'm going to get this Rachel Roy necklace.' It was just this feather necklace--and it was really pretty--but it was $600. This was two and a half years ago. I told her that I loved it, but I wasn't going to let her spend $600 on it. I said, 'Why don't you come over and we'll make it.' So she and a few of my friends came over to make this necklace and I had so much fun showing my friends how to make stuff. Most of my friends work in fashion and love to shop but you know how people say, 'Pick your battles?' I say, 'Pick your purchases.' There are some things you don't have to splurge on. We had so much fun we did it again next month. Word caught on that I had this craft club and everyone wanted to get in on it. So I thought, 'Huh, maybe there's something here.'
How did you get to be so crafty? My mom's a great cook and she loves fashion. My dad is a doctor and he's good with his hands. My grandmother is a classical pianist, my aunt's a photographer, my other aunt knits and sews and macrames, so i guess DIY is in my DNA. There is a satisfaction that comes with making things: There's a beginning, middle and an end.
Before the site and the book, I spent years consulting for brands and styling. I worked with everyone from Teen Vogue to Anthropologie to Kate Spade creating sets for shoots.
How do you come up with ideas for projects? My whole mantra is: I see it, I like it, I make it. That goes for actual products I find that make me say, 'Oh my god, I need this in my life.' I found these sick reflectors at Modell's Sporting Goods the other day and, I thought, 'How sick would these be around shoes. They're so Giuseppe/Balenciaga.' And, it works the other way around, too, like I'll see something in a store or on a runway and think, 'I need to make this.'
[A commercial for Denny's new grilled cheese with mozzerella sticks inside comes on during the Today show (Erica watches every morning and refers to all the anchors as her friends) and we are momentarily distracted.]
You know when everything is that same golden brown color it's going to be good. There is nothing that can take the place of a simple grilled cheese.
Right, so, we were talking about your projects. Where do you find the supplies? Do you make everything here? [Opens giant folding chest] This is where the magic happens. I want to know how many people have a pom pom drawer and a cupcake wrapper drawer. [Sings] Welcome to my world of toys! I love Party City for supplies--I go to the one on 14th St., and it's just like, forget about it.
What's at Party City? What isn't at Party City? I was trolling the aisles yesterday telling myself, 'Erica you only came here for bouncy balls,' and meanwhile I came back with all these toy rings. P.S. I'm obsessed with toy rings right now and I can't stop buying them.
I could have kept chatting with Erica for hours. And she didn't let us out the door without the materials for her latest DIY project, a bag charm. Erica likes to say she's "crafting a career." Martha Stewart watch out.