I am absolutely smitten with Anneliesse McKee. Her handcrafted wooden pieces are equally utilitarian and pure art. I'm especially loving that she too is from Kentucky. I could go on and on about how amazing each piece is, how incredibly beautiful the packaging is, (she mailed the pieces in the photographs to me in a wooden wine box filled with dried florals and feathers) or how wonderful story is. I however will let her tell you in her own words.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Anneliesse McKee
I live in Asheville, NC and have since 2009.
I hand carve wooden spoons, charcuterie boards, bowls and more from wood I have either cut myself in Waynesville, NC or from reclaimed lumber found. I've had my business for two years now. As far as availability I have my pieces on my own website spoonandhook.com as well as one of my best friends websites bomisch.com. Within town I sell at three different brick and mortars: Villagers, East Fork Pottery, as well as Atomic Furnishings. I am hoping by the end of this year to be opening my own brick and mortar in Asheville.
Why be a maker
I feel that being a maker is so much more than the product itself. It's a lifestyle choice. I live in west Asheville where I have the most beautiful little community of makers from bakers, photographers, painters, home builders, and Brewers. Everyone raises each other to be their best. If they're not using something that could benefit another maker, it isn't even a question that it will find its way to them. There is support and encouragement and growth continuously and for me that's a large part of it. I think in a world like what is happening today, it's incredibly important to be a part of something you truly stand behind and can make better. Supporting any one maker is much more than the product you walk away with. You're receiving a story that you get to continue on writing. I think if we could all live in a way where we surrounded ourselves by things that held meaning and quality then we would buy less, appreciate more and be able to do it in a successful way moving forward in a consumer driven country. I believe it's very similar to our food movement. People love to support their local farms and organic food and the things we surround ourselves with, put on our bodies, and keep around our space are just as important as what we are putting in our bodies.
What is the greatest challenge as a maker
I think my greatest challenge I have had within woodworking continuously feeling like I needed to create every second I was free. This past year was a large lesson in slowing down, stopping to smell the roses, and remembering the reasons why this became such a love to begin with. As far as largest rewards, I think it's when I get an email or letter from someone who tells me their story and how they now own a spoon or board and how it has become a part of their everyday life. I love that!!! I have so many of my grandmothers pieces and to think one day someone's going to possibly say "this piece is about 100 years old and made from a woman named Anneliesse Mckee". Just seems like I'm putting my fingerprint in this big world, even if it's my pinky ha.
What advice would you give to aspiring makers
If I had any advice I could give, I would tell anyone to simply stand behind whatever it is they're doing. I think so many people have such brilliant ideas but the idea of failing is too large to even try. But failing doesn't really exist in certain communities, especially not in Asheville. I would just say to always try. Maybe there's something else you find you love in the process? Maybe you find out how effortless and second nature it seems? Maybe you just find out that it wasn't everything you thought it would be? But that's okay! Just try!
What advice would you give to your former self
If I could give myself any piece of advice to former me, I think I would tell myself to own what I do and just make sure I'm doing it to my best. I did the Highpoint Market for my second year and I had to make 100 pieces in a month and I was so stressed and concerned with making wild and new that I put my core values on the back burner. I was making wooden eye ball spoons and then I realized it was just getting too weird. I would tell myself to just stick to what I know and do it to its best. I would maybe tell myself not to be so hard on myself. I think quick gratitude is a struggle for all and learning patience is easier said than done but this past year was a beautiful example of organically letting things lead me in the direction of my dreams and not to be impatient.