Happy Friday the 13th! I’m so stoked to bring you some “witchster” inspiration on the second-spookiest day of October. I had been thinking about doing this interview for my Women’s Work project for a while and it’s finally here! I met Heather Beatty Spring and Emily Neumann four years ago and started modeling for their Etsy shop soon after. They were pregnant at the same time (like the witch twins they are) and needed someone who wasn’t pregnant to model the fun vintage clothes they sell. Heather already had her older daughter, Lucy, who helped style my outfits on occasion. But once they had Polly and Scout (just four weeks apart from each other), it became apparent what magical mothers Emily and Heather are. They have creativity and love exploding out of them. Their girls are the cuuutest, and Heather and Emily are truly passionate and genuine women. I loved having the chance to talk to them about their own creativity, as well as the ways they have passed it on to their girls. Without further ado, meet Heather, and her daughters, Lucy and Polly, and Emily and her daughter, Scout!
Heather and Emily, I am so excited to have you on my blog! I can’t wait to chat about creativity, inspiration, and motherhood with you. First things first, how did the two of you meet and how did you decide to start an Etsy shop together?
EMILY: We met 10 years ago when I was dating her younger brother. We were home for thanksgiving. When I met Heather I felt like I knew her instantly. All of her secrets and magic and love stories and heartaches. And I knew myself better in that instant somehow too. It was love at first sight. We both had an intense love for all things crafted, handmade, homey, quilted, floral, embroidered. We had two separate shops for a while but it felt natural to combine our troves. It made everything more fun- from thrifting to photo shoots!
HEATHER: I was blown away with the luck of having this beautiful, well-rounded, artistic, hilarious and deeply connected human coming into my close circle and family. Still feel that way even though she and Joey are no longer married, the magic of this relationship sustains!
That connection is totally apparent when I see you guys, and in your work together. I was so lucky to have met you when you were both pregnant at the same time and needed a model for your Etsy shop! So, why vintage? Why is it important to you?
HEATHER: I just have always loved it. I look at my closet and seriously most of the pieces I have that are vintage came from when I was 17 or 18 and thrifting. There were Gunne Sax dresses for $3!
EMILY: It’s so timeless. A lot of it is locally made or handmade–and definitely made in America–and that’s so important to us. It’s thrifting, it’s secondhand, so it’s the most sustainable way to be interested in fashion. With our shop, it’s like curation. Especially when we have had a shop so long, you can be like, “Maybe we won’t renew that one.” And you really curate it down to exactly what you feel like is quality and like “this is incredible!”
Do you have a style or words that you think of when curating your shop? Or do you just go for what you personally like?
DARIN (Heather’s husband): You guys are witchsters!
HEATHER: Oh Darin’s new thing is witchsters! That is so not how I present myself though! I have actually studied Paganism and Wicca since I was 17 so I guess kind of…
EMILY: But it’s such a trend right now. Like I feel like 5 years ago when we were thrifting for Etsy it would be like “Look at this disgusting sweater, it’ll sell!” And it did! But I think what triumphs and actually stays timeless is that style and it’s because we love it the most. It’s the most us and the most meaningful so it sells the best. Hopefully, for anyone in their own business, it isn’t just driven by what’s popular, but what you really love and what makes you feel creative.
Do you feel that you have passed a love of vintage onto your daughters?
EMILY: I love vintage when it comes to baby clothes. I feel like it lasts longer, it’s classic. It’s never anything you are going to look back on in a picture of your kid and be like, “why did I put them in that?”It’s timeless and you can show your girls how to be sustainable. It’s okay to be mindful of your fashion and have style.
HEATHER: My girls love it, especially Lucy. It’s different than constantly buying from Forever21 and the fashion industry where things are made cheaply and thrown together. There’s a wheel of labor that goes into it. We pretty much buy everything secondhand that we can. Even cute little modern stuff for them I try to get at Goodwill.
EMILY: I feel like Scout is more drawn to vintage things because it’s bright floral prints and there are flutter sleeves. They’re not as drawn to the “I Woke Up Awesome” t-shirts. She doesn’t know what that says. Why would I put that on her?
HEATHER: It’s just to please grown-ups. But my girls totally wear dorky stuff all the time. Lucy likes to pick out her own outfits for school now so yesterday she picked out a long-sleeved shirt–and she swore she would be comfortable all day–and these vintage overalls that are fitted at the waist and kind of wide-legged and plaid. They are super cute but I’m just like, I wonder what the other kids think of her. She wore sneakers and socks with it and totally looked like a kid from 1979. She said the whole day she was never uncomfortable, although she had to have the teacher undo and do the zipper when she went to the bathroom. Anyway, I’m proud to have instilled a love of vintage in them, but it does seem natural.
EMILY: It is natural! They love nothing more than seeing a picture of you in the 70s or 80s and being like, “See look! That’s what you wore for Valentine’s Day! I want to wear that too.” They love it!
Totally, and it’s so important that you are not only passing a love of self-expression onto your girls, but also a sustainable, thoughtful way of doing so. I want to talk a little about what you do for yourselves creatively outside of your vintage shop. What inspires you?
EMILY: I’ll say that an easy(ish) way for me to stay inspired when I feel I have so little time in a day (although Scout has the most wonderful dad on earth who is extremely involved, I am still a single mother who pays all her own bills and rent and for food and gas, plus being a full time mom. I work two jobs and sometimes it’s hard to force myself to set time aside to ignite and re ignite those creative fires inside) is to pick up a poetry anthology or a collected works or something. That way, if I don’t have time to get very invested in an actual story or plot, I can pick it up and read a few poems here or there and feed my soul that way. A simple list of things that inspire me: Rain, women with green thumbs, blank walls, a freshly opened bottle of wine to share among other females, waking up in a tent, love, housewares, cinnamon tea, a morning run.
HEATHER: Life feels like a poem some days, woven with moments shining with art, inspiration, the senses. Other days we struggle to find that spark. But I’m lucky to teach too, these past two years, (although it takes tons of my time) because it keeps me reading and keeps me in the world of ideas, which is where my truest creativity has always been found. My inspirations: the sun, the moon, Stevie Nicks records on a fall morning dancing with daughters, twinkle lights, stacks of books, spells and histories and poems, succulents, French new wave films, running to pop music, purring cats, tarot cards, books in every room, animals and the natural world, Walt Whitman, Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Eliot and Yeats and Naomi Shihab Nye, disobedience and exuberance and rebellion, the redwoods and the desert and living on the road as long as possible.
We definitely have some of the same inspirations. So where do you personally channel your inspirations and creativity? What do you like to make and what is creativity to you?
EMILY: I’ll be honest, I make and break constant goals when it comes to actually producing creations like I once did: recording music, painting, sitting at the typewriter. But when I lay in bed at night and reflect, I go easy on myself and remember it’s also creative to map out where the chicken coop is going to go next spring, or that I made the pancakes look like jack o lanterns that morning. So creativity morphs as you become the mother. But I say go easy on yourself and relish the remnants of it you get to witness each day, or the new ways you’re learning to express yourself.
HEATHER: There are so many ways to feel productive and creative; luckily I feel that my life has been imbued with a fertile sense of creativity since I was little, making homemade books and illustrating and binding them, creating haunted castles in bedrooms, turning our yard into magical lands, and then dwelling there squarely! Although for me it’s always been scattered, scatter brained, and ragamuffinish. I love to decorate, make little things out of felt, throw parties and make banners and signs, make cards and other things out of paper, cook vegetarian meals, bake, and of course, read and write and take photos. But none of these are deeply ingrained in my soul, except reading and writing, none a true art form for me, but simple ways to express myself and my stories. That and documenting; I do write in my journal habitually, and take photos and create scrapbooks of our memories. Drawing sea creatures for the girls is as satisfying now as typing fragments of stories has always been. I also think traveling and camping and recording my experiences is extremely gratifying to my soul, something I’ve regularly shared through my blog; the trips we take anchor my memories and shape my years, and fill my up again and again.
I love your answers because there really are so many facets to “creativity”, and that’s why I wanted to talk to you guys–it seems like you are passing a strong sense of imagination and freedom to your kids. Now I would love to talk with the girls and ask the same questions! What does “making” mean?
SCOUT: I don’t know, yesterday I made something. I made a cake. It had peanut butter on it. I love to draw.
What is your favorite thing to draw?
SCOUT: I like to write my name!
POLLY: I don’t know. Babies!
LUCY: Say “What do you like to do!”
EMILY: What do you like to do?
LUCY: I like to draw.
SCOUT: Play with kitties!
HEATHER: Polly do you like to sing? What’s your favorite song?
SCOUT: I like playing dress-up!
HEATHER: And Polly and Lucy love that too, huh?
EMILY: If you could have any animal tail what would it be?
SCOUT: A tutu.
HEATHER: Lucy what would you have?
LUCY: A fox! I mean a pony!
Do you ever paint?
LUCY: Yeah! Ceramics! I painted a ceramic witch!
POLLY: Look how high my baby can jump!
LUCY: I can fly! Want to hear me play my piano? Oh no! A note broke. Oh dear.
Maybe it’s because you were standing on it.
LUCY: -Continues to play me a tune-
How do you encourage your kids to be creative and how do they make you feel creative?
HEATHER: It’s something, to me, that seems so obvious, but maybe it isn’t that obvious. Being willing to ignore a mess. Play-dough, paints, all this stuff that is super messy. Also, not feeling controlling of your kids and what they want to create.
EMILY: It’s harder than I thought it would be. Before I had kids, I thought your house should just be this creative space! I’m not a neat and tidy person, but it’s still hard. For instance, if she paints, I will just keep the paintbrushes in water overnight instead of cleaning them and putting them away because then the next day they are ready to go and I can encourage her to paint again. But I think children also inspire us to be creative in our daily routine because you are constantly like, “How can I be creative to distract them from this tantrum?” “How can I take advantage of the fact that it’s raining right now?”
HEATHER: So many things that you wouldn’t be appreciating in the past, necessarily–like the first rain of fall, you’re extra excited to go out and dance in the rain because you’re little kids are excited.
EMILY: You start to see things through their eyes. The first time they ever feel rain, the first time they ever feel a cat meow. It’s like your first time. But I also feel that children, though you’re always planning and worrying about snacks and bathroom breaks and extra sweaters, sunscreen, etc, kind of lend themselves to a creative lifestyle. Because what do most babies love above all? Being outside and listening to music. And as they grow, you incorporate those natural inclinations into hikes or experimenting with instruments, etc. so I find that most of the time, I’m surrounded by these things and I am grateful every day for that very specific gift I’ve received through having my daughter.
HEATHER: And you are always encouraging them to use their imaginations.
EMILY: Yes! If she asks me questions like, “How did that branch fall?” I will say, “How do you think it fell?” before giving her a scientific or correct answer. I ask her first because immediately she is challenging her own creativity and imagination. Maybe it’s a flaw, but I kind of like that there isn’t a right or wrong. Maybe what she says did happen! Magical, crazy things happen every day!
HEATHER: I think that’s awesome. It’s like the Miyazaki world, the mind of a child where magical things happen. That should be real. I try to encourage imaginative play by never interrupting. I read this quote that anything is anything so they can pick up a stick or a rock and it becomes a boat, or whatever! I give them little ideas, but they do it on their own.
EMILY: But that is what challenges your creativity. Sometimes you are like, I can’t believe I just pulled that out of my ass! But mostly, I think how they inspire me to be creative is there is kind of nothing more creative than making another person. What’s the most creative thing you can do?
HEATHER: You are creating new life. I remember thinking when I was pregnant, this is the most poetic experience I could ever imagine because you’re also one being for a long time. And then after they’re born, you’re so connected with your baby that you can kind of read their minds.
EMILY: When we were both breastfeeding I remember being like, I don’t know what it would be like to eat a meal that’s just mine! From the time you are pregnant all the way until you are done nursing, nothing is just yours.
How do you compare your parenting styles to others that you see?
EMILY: I just read a quote about how we are the only culture in the world that wonders whether or not we should comfort our crying babies. I feel like, with us, we try to recognize these emotionally developmental phases aren’t going to last long and you really need to be there for them.
HEATHER: We are trusting that by being there for them and by being as loving as we can and not considering that spoiling them, we are trusting that that is giving them the confidence to go through the rest of their lives.
EMILY: There is such a thing as spoiling, but that is more with things, physical items. But I don’t think there is such a thing as spoiling when it comes to nurturing or support.
HEATHER: Even understanding that they are angry or having a tantrum. That is okay for you to feel, but here are the ways that we deal with it. That’s really hard.
EMILY: I just feel like I’m less interested in the like, “They’ll be quiet if you just do this!”
HEATHER: Getting them to be a certain way that grown-ups want them to be. It’s really hard, because you do feel tempted.
EMILY: Especially for girls, I hear all the time “Be a nice girl.” Or “obey.”
HEATHER: There is a certain part of me that is so resistant to “obey,” because the things that we are going to value when they are grown up is being resistant to authority and questioning.
EMILY: I am not against using the word “no.” I have friends that are like, we never use the word “no” in our house. But I’m like, I have a daughter and the word “no” is very valuable.
I can’t agree more with you on teaching girls to say “no” and stand up for themselves. You both are raising such strong-willed girls, and I think it’s totally apparent in how engaged and excited they are about the world around them and their own interests. Last question! What is the best thing you have read, heard, or learned lately?
EMILY: I just started reading Beauty Sick by Renee Engeln, PhD. It’s about how damaging our culture’s obsession with appearance is for young girls. I already have such a fire in my belly about this issue, it’s making it worse but in a really inspiring way! (Plus, when you have a daughter, you can’t remind yourself and refuel enough on these topics). More abstract and less specific answers would be that I’ve learned about love in numbers and how you can’t stop the good, not forever anyway. Seeing the peaceful and powerful protests across this country, seeing the real change it’s all made (stopping the travel ban, knocking down harmful propositions for healthcare reform, etc).I’ve heard emotions and deep thinking being expressed by my three year old through the most poignant and perfect wording, I’ve heard her dreams as she’s sleeping beside me. I’ve heard the voices of women a little more in unison these days. And I’ve re heard old songs I used to love: Pink Bullets by the shins, making love out of nothing at all by air supply, the biggest lie by Elliott smith.
HEATHER: I am rereading a book called The Man Who Quit Money with my students for my class. Their reaction to this book is awesome so far. The students are so inspired; they admire his generosity, playfulness, and ability to explain his philosophies. My favorite quote so far is the note that Daniel Suelo leaves for others who happen upon his camp, “Feel free to camp here. What’s mine is yours. Eat any of my food. Read my books. Take them with you if you’d like.” This beautiful vision of a truly sharing world is inspiring me right now.
SCOUT: I love that I’m learning letters. And I really like when the pigs put on clothes in [the book] Olivia. And today I heard airplanes and helicopters. And I heard a tweet tweet sound like from a baby bird or squirrel pup.
LUCY: That a cylinder is a shape! I think cylinders are really cool shapes. I like that they are like a sphere, but they are TALL, and have two faces, and go down instead of just completely round.
POLLY: Daddy showed me a picture of a statue–the one that has a lion body and a human head. It was so cool!
LUCY: It was a sphinx!
Thank you Heather, Emily, Lucy, Polly, and Scout for chatting with me! You’re the perfect witches to have on Scarlett and Giselle for October.
Find Heather and Emily at: