Baqette creates up-cycled leather goods in Cincinnati, Ohio. We interviewed owner, Quinn, to learn more about her background and her unique local business. Meet Baqette at our 2017 Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart on December 3rd!
Tell us about yourself & your local business.
My name is Quinn Mcilhargey-Nicholson. I am the owner, creator, maker, etc of Baqette. Baqette is currently located in Cincinnati, Ohio. I turn leather scraps from a furniture company into functional, affordable and simple pieces that age with you. Because 90% of my pieces are made with scrap leather, the items are upcycled from otherwise "dead" leather. My grandmother passed away in 2010, and with her passing, I inherited a 1960's Sears Kenmore sewing machine. It was made with all metal pieces and it extremely heavy. I fixed it up a bit and when I came across the leather scraps in 2011, this machine was heavy-duty enough to manage the leather and thus my sewing began.
What drew you to your craft?
I've always loved tactile art- ceramics, sculpture, collage, etc. I was always more inspired to make something that I could work through with my hands. My uncle owns the furniture company and after seeing all the scraps he had built up in his factory, I saw an opportunity. I took a few scraps back in 2011 and created a few pieces that are now the foundation of my collection. He does his best to not waste, and when I was able to create even more with that leather than anticipated, it brought new life to my craft and I found a bit of a purpose in their future. Knowing that my work is sustainable and is only adding value to something already made, keeps me inspired.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
So hard to choose! I love making custom pieces and usually tend to be most creative when making something for myself, because I can freely make exactly what I am thinking/wanting without thinking whether this person will like it or not. This summer I made a shoulder bag that I will be debuting a limited run of at the Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart this year!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
This is the hardest question for me to answer because I've never known! I've always felt called to be in some sort of leadership role, something creative, and I've always loved adding value to spaces or things through hospitality and beauty. I feel like if i can keep those things incorporated in my life, I'm on some sort of right track... hopefully!
What is your creative process?
I operate Baqette on top of a full-time job, so my creative process is not very fluid. To start a project, I need a chunk of time, a clean space and usually some coffee or a kombucha to keep me company. I've gotten pretty good at taking the workload and breaking it up into bite size pieces; so if I don't have time to complete a project, I can at least set myself up for success the next time. I've created mainstay pieces and have worked on perfecting those instead of offering tons of different styles which makes it easier to maintain on my end. Most of my creative ideas come when I've taken myself out of the day-to-day grind and start drawing styles I'd like to own myself. I also gain a lot of inspiration from other people and listening to what they're looking for. The Caro cardholder is named after my friend Carolyn who suggested I add a keyring to the cardholder as a carry-all to get out of the house. It is now one of my best selling items!
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
10 years ago, I was struggling through college and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be doing or which direction to move into. My advice is to avoid laziness at all costs and keep yourself busy. I would encourage myself to keep finding new opportunities to learn and meet new people. One of my favorite memories from college was being part of the gospel choir. I have no vocal talent, but being a part of this choir was so inspiring and life-giving to me. All that to say, if learning through a textbook is not your thing, find other ways to keep learning and experiencing life. The best is always yet to come and don't lose sight of that!
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
1. It's so important to know where your products are coming from and to whom/what your purchase is supporting.
2. It's hard not to look around and be discouraged when comparing yourself to all the talent around and all those people that may be 10 steps ahead. I feel like there is great discipline and a lot of character building when it comes to pursuing your craft and what inspires you, knowing there's probably someone better out there doing the same thing. Even so, we are still creating. What local artists/makers end up creating is usually an extension of themselves and if you are going to give this much time, talent and thought to your craft and pursuing it, what artists and makers need most is encouragement and support. Who has ever not benefited from that?! It's amazing to have so much access to well-made, hand-made items these days.
Why do you love doing what you do?
Baqette has evolved and grown with me at a pace that has always been manageable and also encouraging. I often made pieces just to see it created and loved by others before I started to make and sell to strangers, etc. I think I would be doing this no matter the circumstance, but at least now I can share it with others.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own businesses?
It might not take off right away and it might not start with something big. There are so many different factors that play into your success, which isn't always measured by the amount of money you make. I recommend trying new things, introducing yourself to fellow makers, reaching out to fellow artisans when you need help, and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Putting your business out there isn't always easy and magical, but don't be discouraged; just keep working at it! Good things take time.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
I like to spend as much time outside as possible. My husband is an outdoors man and makes outdoor activities like camping very accessible and easy! Other than hiking and camping, I explore Ohio mostly through dining experiences and local cuisine.
Meet Baqette at our Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart!