Shannon Hanley: Crafting a creative career with traditional techniques

Shannon Hanley: Crafting a creative career with traditional techniques

Shannon Hanley, 34

Owner, The Clever Kitty; ?editor-in-chief, ?“Modern Handmade Child”; ?; ?

If you ask Shannon Hanley why she’s so drawn to handcrafted items, she’ll tell you it’s like pondering why she’s 5-foot-4, or why her hair is brown: It’s simply a part of who she is.

The 34-year-old wife and mother has long embraced the handmade life – and has successfully melded her entrepreneurial spirit with her creative one.

Working through her enterprises The Clever Kitty and The Curly Kitty – and the online Etsy shops associated with both – she’s sold her carefully handcrafted, swirled wire jewelry and colorful felt accessories all over the world. What’s more, she’s striven to pass on her tips and tricks through the online publication, Modern Handmade Child, which she co-founded two years ago.

“Too often we end up just opting for whatever is quickest and most convenient, but I think it’s so important to take a step back from this fast-paced, mass-produced, high-tech world we live in,” said Hanley, who, in her spare bits of free time, makes clothing, toys and accessories for her family and friends. “When you see first hand where things come from and the work that goes into them, it makes you appreciate the finished product so much more.”

This was a passion engendered from a young age by her mother. She and her sister always had crayons, paint and Play-Doh around to experiment and create with, she said. Later, they were both encouraged to follow their creative dreams, as opposed to “practical desk jobs.”

Which, for the Iowa native, meant pursuing and earning a bachelor of fine arts in fiber arts from Kansas City Art Institute, and working for several years as a designer and garment cutter, all while selling her items at craft fairs and consignment shops.

Going forward, her goal is to introduce more products on her websites, and also to get her items into local shops and reintroduce them into craft fair circuits. She’d also like to expand the magazine, and maybe even get into writing and illustrating children’s books.

“No matter what medium or art form I am working in, there has always been an element of excitement about creating something with my own two hands,” she said, noting the “spark” that comes with each new idea.

And, although she’s shy by nature and never considered herself the leader type, she’s increasingly finding herself in that role.

“I’ve come to realize that what really makes a person a leader is having a vision, being determined to see that vision through, and inspiring others with your vision,” she said.

– Taryn Plumb

Shannon Hanley

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