The Women of Bee Tree Farm and Dairy

Today we’re diving deep into the lives of the women who run Bee Tree Farm and Dairy in Manor, Texas, just a few minutes from the heart of downtown Austin.

Jenna Kelly-Landes

After realizing her love for raising animals in her suburban backyard, Jenna moved to the country and founded Bee Tree Farm and Dairy. Throughout that grueling process, she’s gone from farming mentee to mentor.

Kathryn Ivey

Kathryn’s family has a history in agriculture. A few years ago, she realized her passion for working with goats, and since then she’s worked on several farms. At Bee Tree, she offers a helping hand during kidding season.

Filipa Rodrigues

Filipa moved to the US from Portugal as a photojournalist. While she still works in the industry, the rest of her time is spent working as herd manager at Bee Tree and on her own operation, Saudade Farms.

In 2008, Jenna was on a much different path than she is now. She was in graduate school, on her way to becoming a lobbyist. On a whim, Jenna bought a few chickens to care for in her backyard. That’s when everything changed.

The first egg laid coincided with Jenna’s growing desire to see what other animals she could raise. That weekend, she and her husband started the hunt for land to call their own. Eventually the couple found their new home on 15 acres of raw countryside, just outside of Austin city limits.

“I desperately wanted to raise a few goats. My first two goats were sisters from a local goat dairy—Pearl Snaps and Jolene. They had their first babies one year later, and I milked them on a wooden milk stand I bought off of Craigslist…

It was the experience of raising them and then milking them that caused an epiphany at a time I was already certain I didn’t want to live in high heels and at conferences: I wanted to build a life around these goats whose love for me, and mine for them, was powerful medicine. I had never felt so certain about anything. From that moment on I was determined to figure out how to make a living with goats.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes

Over the years, Jenna added more acreage and animal life to the farm. She read books and articles, teaching herself what she needed to know. From the beginning, she wasn’t afraid to ask farmers for help. Two women, Fran Sharp, who owns a raw milk goat dairy in a nearby town, and Amelia Sweethardt, owner of Pure Luck Farm and Dairy in Central Texas, were Jenna’s mentors—playing a crucial role in the development of Bee Tree Farm and Dairy.

Jenna’s herd continued to grow, as did the need for goat housing. That’s when the arduous and lengthy process of securing a construction loan and barn plan approval by the Texas Department of Health’s Milk Group began. It took 2 years before they could even break ground. Once the barn and dairy were completed, Jenna earned the licenses to sell cheese made from the milk of her own goats in 2016–8 years after purchasing the land.

“The building and licensing processes alone were enough to discourage most people, but I’m stubborn as hell and I was determined to be a professional goat dairy and cheese maker. I had no idea then that actually BEING a dairy farmer would be 10 times harder than the process to become one.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes
Yes, every goat is loved and known by name.

“We currently have 54 goats and we are milking 40 goats this season. We make fresh cheeses entirely from the milk of our own animals which means we only make farmstead cheese: we never buy milk from other farms for our cheese. Every cheese is 100% created from and on the farm. This is a distinction that I think most consumers don’t know much about and is important to understand.” -Jenna Kelly-Landes

The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt

Then came 2020, a year for the history books that has taken a toll on small businesses and the folks devoted to keeping the lights on. When many restaurants and shops shuttered around the world, farmers kept at it.

“The thing with a dairy is that the lights can’t be turned off, the employees can’t be sent home. On farms that rely on and revolve around animals, their immediate needs continue despite the state of the world. They would still be lining up at the dairy each morning to be milked and I needed to make sure I continued to find an outlet for their milk and way to pay for their food.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
Filipa wrangles sheep into a pen before milking.

In 2012, after experiencing instability when the recession hit Filipa’s home country, Portugal, she took her professional expertise in photojournalism to Texas. She continues to work as a freelancer with her skills in photography and cinematography. The rest of her time is devoted to farming.

Born and raised in the city, Filipa didn’t have any experience with agriculture. That is, until she began working with Jenna. She put in the hours of hard work and became herd manager at Bee Tree. Filipa now lives on the other side of the property, where she runs her own operation, Saudade Farms. There, she raises a few animals of her own and sells eggs to the community.

Filipa’s advice for beginning farmers:

  • Be ready for a lot of hard work, humbling and heartbreaking moments.
  • Always be patient and dedicated. Keep a clear mind on what your goals are.
  • Everything in farming takes time, a farm is not built overnight. There are a lot of setbacks and unforeseen situations that will make you question yourself, but also bring the opportunity to constantly think outside of the box.
  • You’re dealing with living beings and unpredictability is always there. But when you love it, you pour every single ounce of yourself into it. As cliché as it might sound, farming is truly a labor of love.
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
Kathryn bottle feeds one of her favorite kids.

Before joining the team at Bee Tree, Kathryn worked at a goat farm in Vermont. Agricultural work runs in her family.

“My grandparents on both sides are very connected to farming and animal husbandry. My grandmother raised dairy goats, so I’ve been running around with and loving on goats since I was young. She hand milked her goats everyday, twice a day, and sold their milk to a cheesemaker. She inspires me.”

-Kathryn Ivey

Kathryn was brought on to help during kidding season. Her tasks included helping with births, feeding expectant mothers, and bottle feeding the kids a few days after birth.

“It’s amazing to watch them grow. They eventually go from the bottle to the lambar bucket. They get excited to see me when I bring them their milk and start running around. It’s adorable. There’s something so calming about them. Some are affectionate, some are funny to just sit and watch.”

-Kathryn Ivey
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
Jenna and her twins enjoying the farm’s newest additions.

“I opened the dairy when my twins were almost 1 year old. The first 3 years of their life are truly a blur – and for that I have regrets. I birthed 3 babies in one year essentially: the twins and this dairy.

I do wish they could have been older before I started. But then, I don’t think I ever would have started the dairy because the work has been so intense. I will say that as they’ve gotten older, I have been so grateful to share the farm and the animals with them.

While I do not include them in milking or cheese making, they do participate in goat care and spend a lot of time with the baby goats. It’s made them brave and strong and tough and caring in a way that I think would have happened had we stayed in Austin.

I wish I were more present. I wish I weren’t always worrying about the business or my animals, but it also forces them to see that while I love them more than anything, they are a part of this entire farm – they are not the center of the universe. And I personally feel that’s a valuable lesson for them to understand.

Hard work can have major benefits, but you have put in the work.” -Jenna Kelly-Landes

What Jenna wants everyone to know about goats:

  • Goats have an incredibly well-organized and structured hierarchy.
  • I wish people knew how passionately goats live and how honest they are with their emotions.
  • Goats raised by humans love their owners deeply – and sometimes they also hate their owners too, depending on hormones.
  • Whatever a goat does, she does it 150% and it’s something I have admired about them from the beginning.
  • They are absolutely herd animals and must never live as an only goat.
  • They are fierce protectors of their herd and fierce lovers of their people.
  • They have evolved alongside people being one of the first livestock to be kept by humans for meat, fiber, and milk. I personally believe this is why humans today have such a deep unknowable connection to them: we have walked beside them forever.
  • Fran told me years ago that goats are simultaneously incredibly hardy and fragile: they are extremely prone to parasites and as long as that’s kept in check they tend to tolerate all sorts of temperature and condition extremes.
  • They thrive when living in their most natural habitat which is rocky terrain with a lot browse.
  • They prefer browsing to grazing because of their parasite issues: grass always has more parasite growth so they tend to look upwards to for food first for leaves and vines and all the scrubby things that sheep, horses and cows might overlook.

Jenna cuddles Legs, whose limbs were unable to straighten after birth,
but with a little extra love is now able to walk and play with the other goats.

“Professional farming requires a person to relinquish nearly all of their control over…everything. All of the factors so essential to the business operations or almost completely beyond the realm of our control: animal health, weather, feed prices – etc. Twenty-twenty hit me like a train, as it did for everyone.

I do feel that, being a farmer, I have learned to adapt to change in a way that I wouldn’t have in many other types of professions. Farmers must be prepared to pivot constantly and they must be prepared to endure unspeakable heartbreak, bear witness to unspeakable sights, sounds, and smells. This work is for those people who have no need to make money and whose hearts rely on the intangible bonds made and trust earned with beasts. If you don’t feel rich from those relationships, then this isn’t for you.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt

Follow Bee Tree Farm on instagram for live updates.

Austin Farmer Tiffany Washington

Tiffany Washington, also known by her farmer alter ego Nancy Farm Fancy, operates the only black owned farm within Austin’s city limits. She’s a food justice warrior, protecting her childhood home by planting a nutritional defense around her community.

The experiences of her past have greatly influenced her current path.

I enlisted in the US Navy straight out of high school. I come from a family of community activists and military servicemen. As an Intelligence Specialist I deployed onboard the USS George Washington in 2004 during OIF/OEF. My job was providing research and information to higher ranking personnel.

While faced with the hazards of combat, I was also subjected to the ugliness of sexual harassment and racial discrimination while fighting for my country. This lead me on a spiraling path of depression, self-doubt, and a battle with PTSD that I continue to push through today.

Finding farming after service has provided the safe space for my healing and self-care while handling the effects of trauma. In today’s atmosphere, my farm has become a beacon of hope within my community. It allows me to continue my public service work with purpose.

Farming is the most underrated public service in the United States! Every community deserves the benefits of sustainable food practices, especially those used on small scale farms such as mine. Urban farming is the road to increased local food consumption. A healthier food system will emerge from the sharing of small farm culture.” -Tiffany Washington

Tiffany racked up experience before digging deep into her own ventures.

  • She took an 18 week beginners course with Farmshare Austin.
  • She completed a year long program, Battleground to Breaking Ground, for veterans at Texas A&M.
  • She worked with a mentor, providing hands on training for 100 hours on her own property.

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttTiffany signed her first commercial land lease in September of 2018. She worked with a local property owner willing to let her farm a quarter acre of their land. This tiny plot and founding place of Dobbin-Kauv Garden Farm is located in the neighborhood where Tiffany grew up. Unfortunately, that area and the folks who call it home, are now facing gentrification at an alarming rate.

Through that lease and the cultivation of the land, Tiffany’s mission is:

“to highlight and preserve Black Farm Heritage in Austin, Texas by growing quality produce, using organic practices. We connect families and communities with local Food and Farmers.”

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttThe hectic life that surrounds a large family doesn’t prevent Tiffany from her public service. In fact, her kids inspire her to keep pushing, fighting for their neighborhood, and ensuring a place in society for small farms like hers.

I have 4 children ages 13, 7, 5, and 4. Three boys and one girl. My kids are sponges, so they want to learn everything. I think I work for them sometimes because they tell me what to do on the farm all the time!

Also I’m raising 3 black boys in a very scary racial climate. They are able to see what it means to make a difference amongst adversity—building a purpose beyond color.” -Tiffany Washington

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttAustin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in Carhartt

As a veteran who has turned to farming as way to further her own personal treatment, Tiffany has advice for anyone struggling with PTSD.

Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. For years I struggled because of pride and the traditional idea that women of color are so strong that they never break. I come from a line of black women who’ve faced atrocities. That thought breaks me some days.

I depend on my friends, family, and doctors to support my growth. It’s okay to be vulnerable. There is someone out there who loves and supports you.

If you want to farm, go outside and get started. Seek out groups and local farmers. Volunteer. Take agriculture classes, business classes, and pull your britches up because this lifestyle is real.” -Tiffany Washington

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttAs a small farmer, fighting the economic and cultural roadblocks that prevent many sustainable growers from prospering, Tiffany offers her advice to other food justice warriors.

  • “Don’t be afraid to face your fears: the fear of being too young, too old, or too few in number.
  • Go out there, seek the information, and get into action.
  • Everyone should grow food regardless of farming aspirations.
  • Start with a local Farmer. Call one up they’re probably in a phone book!” -Tiffany Washington

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttTiffany is seizing this moment to reach out to the community and tap into resources for the farm.

Crowdfunding is our current objective. It provides us the chance to have our community and neighbors involved in the journey and growth of the farm itself. I’m extremely classic, so I’m all about direct mailing letters and updates to our friends!

We hope to expand the farm to a full 2 acres in the next 5 years. This would include buying the entire property.

We hope to have a commercial kitchen to develop value adding products like baby food and freeze dried snacks. By connecting with resources and increasing sales, we will see consistent growth that could place us in a position to venture into Agritourism.” -Tiffany Washington

If you can, make a donation to Tiffany and her amazing vision. Today’s work and hustle will lay a foundation for future generations to thrive and support one another.

Celebrate Women in Construction Week With the Metal Workers of Austin Community College

It brings great excitement to honor the talented metal workers of Austin Community College. This past Saturday, I got to sit in on a Technical Welding Class and a Blacksmithing Class. As I walked from lab to lab, I was struck by the camaraderie between all participating—whether it was a student and a teacher, two long time professionals, or a group of aspiring welders cheering each other on. There is a bond stronger than metal. These workers are fused together by sisterhood in the trades.

As Women in Construction Week kicks off, it’s the perfect time to focus on the greatness builders bring to the world and the benefits a career in building can bring to your life. Amplifying the voice of women in construction is one of Crafted in Carhartt’s main missions. So I will now step back and let you hear from each one of these incredible craftspeople.

Dawn Raines

“I am a Senior Lab Assistant for the Welding Technology Department at the Riverside Campus. I have been working in the Department for 10 years. I maintain the shop, assist students and faculty with their classes, troubleshoot and repair issues with machines, order materials and supplies, and run the tool room.”

Dawn’s Accomplishments Include:

  • Bachelor Degree in Art with a minor in Psychology (2006)
  • Associate degree in Art Metals (2014)
  • Welder Certifications in SMAW and FCAW Welding processes (2014)
  • She has been a fabricator, worked in a finish shop where she worked her way up to Final Assembly, and continued her education and personal work along the way.

“It’s a truly rewarding craft. You get to see your projects come to life and learn skills that will empower and inspire a gainful career in a thriving industry…Welding has such a broad scope of possibilities…There is just so much available in the field.” – Dawn Raines

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Mallory Richter

“I am a student at Austin Community College. For the past five years I have worked in the custom car and motorcycle industry. At the moment I currently weld and do custom car upholstery at a shop in Johnson city. Mainly all classic cars and bikes.

I grew up around a welding shop, and one day the guys told me to come back and help them with something. They suited me up and told me to quickly slide the electrode over the metal like a match. The first time I half way struck an arc, I was sold.

Any women that are even slightly interested in welding, I would tell them to jump into it and take a class or learn from someone you know. I heard a lot of nerve racking things about welding and the ‘culture’ of it growing up, but I really wanted to try it. Welding has changed my life in so many ways and every change has been amazingly positive.” -Mallory Richter

Naomi Barron

“I am a student at ACC, in the last year of completing my Associates Degree in Architectural and Ornamental metals.

I came from a background in sculpting and art, and as I graduated high school I wanted to find a way to support myself financially but also have the opportunity to include factors of art into my career. Welding has a beautiful way of combining function and visual aesthetics into the creation of everyday structures. From viewing an entire gate, with scrolls and delicate flowers, down to the weld bead that constructed the forms, and the finish, everything requires attention to detail. The idea of timelessness and practicality in metalwork drew me into starting my education with ACC in the welding dept.

Welding extends beyond the infrastructure of our society, brute strength and an every day 9-5 for many people. Welding is an art and a science, and to be good at it you have to recognize this.

  • Dive in and do not fear the heat!
  • Starting in a classroom is a great way to get comfortable and familiar with tools and techniques.
  • Enter the field with passion and respect, and own everything you do.
  • Take pride in your practice and no one can discourage you from what you’re working toward.

Honestly there aren’t many things I would say I needed to know before jumping into welding. For me, as a hands on learner the experience has taught me what I need to know along the way. You can gain some understanding reading books on how the process works, but the crucial information comes from having your hood down and a torch in your hands.

The best thing about welding is the opportunity to engage yourself fully into your work. In both my technical classes and my art classes, once you pick up the torch you become engulfed in what’s in front of you. It takes your focus and attention to lay down consistent beads, to hammer or mold the metal into forms, to see how small components create a larger object. It’s like having a moment to meditate for me, the sounds of electrons jumping across the arc, the rhythmic beating of a hammer, it takes your whole body working together; it uses the 5 senses fully engaged. Feeling the flow of both physical and mental energy to transform materials.” -Noami Barron

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Brooke Williams

“I am a welding instructor here at Austin Community College…

I dropped out of traditional college in 2003 and was trying to figure out my next steps. My brother introduced me to welding at his home shop and then told me to go down to Austin Community College to learn the trade. It’s been my passion ever since I stuck that first arc.” -Brooke Williams

Brooke’s experience since then:

  • she’s been in the industry for 15 years
  • worked as a welder fabricator for 8 years
  • been a certified welding inspector for 12 years
  • she’s taught welding for 11 years
  • served as department chair for 7 years
  • and has owned her own metal fabrication company for 6 years

Brooke’s advice for beginners:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, make noise, be seen, and take up space.
  • Networking is one of the most important soft skills you can learn.
  • Embrace your mistakes because they’ll make you a better you.
  • It is a skill that takes years and decades of work and practice to learn and master. It is also such a large industry that you can spend your whole life learning new techniques, processes, and materials. It never stops evolving.

Amy Sherman

“I’m a currently a student studying metalsmithing. I have a BFA from Skidmore College with my focus in photography, photo silkscreen graphics, and painting. I took some sculpture and jewelry classes, but was always interested in metallurgy, metal sculpture and welding, and now more recently metalsmithing and blacksmithing.

The program ACC offers is fantastic, and a great alternative to traditional 4 year degrees. The welding certification gets you out making a great hourly wage in only 2 years. As an artist, there are also practical applications for the skills learned at ACC, from creating sculptures and showing/selling art, to creating decorative gates/finials, yard art, plant/mailbox hangers, bottle openers, coat hooks, etc. The possibilities are endless! There’s something deeply satisfying about making steel do your bidding, in what is traditionally a male dominated field, whether as a practical welder or a blacksmith.” -Amy Sherman

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Maren Scheie

  • In 1995, Maren joined the Army as a Metal Worker.
  • Eventually, she left active duty and moved back to Texas.
  • Since 2009, Maren has been in the reserves and has taught elementary school for 16 years.
  • In 2017, she was deployed to Kuwait.
  • Upon returning to the US, she reevaluated her career and decided to take welding classes.

“It is hard, but not the kind of hard that should stop anyone from starting to learn the skill. The way to become a good welder is lots of time practicing. It can also be frustrating because you think you are holding the electrode at the proper angle and it turns out you are way off. So you try again, again, again, and then suddenly you nail it.

The need for welders is rising, as the older folks retire, and all the kids are being told a 4 year degree is the way to go, trade schools are stigmatized. When I mention I’m in school for welding the response is very positive. That could be because I’m female and almost 50…not sure, but people are impressed. Because of the shortage of welders it’s a great field to get into. Jobs are waiting to be filled. And there’s something addicting about watching metal melt.” -Maren Scheie

Mary Jo Emerick

“I am a 40 year welder CWI, CWE, and a teacher. I learned to weld in Houston in 1976 started in structural steel SMAW, then after 2 years started Pipe welding GTAW, next I moved on to chamber welding  tantalum, titanium, and Niobium. Moved to Austin in 1981, in 1983 started working at the University of Texas at Applied Research Laboratory for the Navy Lab, and starting teaching welding 2010.” – Mary Jo Emerick

Advice from Mary Jo:

  • Welding is a job don’t take it personal.
  • Love what you are doing. There are so many areas you can go into.
  • Keep learning, the industry changes.
  • Fabrication involves math and seeing a part in three dimensions.
  • When metal making, if the end product is done right, it is a work of art.

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Erin Dooner

“I’m an interior designer/decorator, former lifestyle design shop owner, artist, student, and single mom. I’ve been doing interior design for over 15 years. I’ve always wanted to get into building and furniture design. I took a welding workshop a few years ago to explore more about welding for furniture design and fell in love it!  I wanted to be able to have the experience of building/welding to help me understand how to design better.

I wish I had started off taking more technical/vocation courses and dove into the craft. I can read about design all day but getting my hands dirty has been the best thing ever. 

ACC has been great. As an older woman and single mom re-imagining my career I’ve had nothing but support from the admin and teachers. I’ve never felt out of place and love the welding community here.

Welding can be for anyone. Any gender, any age, any experience level. You have to rely on your fellow workers to provide support and so all barriers kind of break down.” -Erin Dooner

Alexis Menedez

“I’m a second semester student. I work as a lab tech at the school.

Since I’ve started taking classes and telling people that, I’ve gotten mixed opinions. Most people look at me (a 5’5 120 lb woman) and express first shock and then admiration. But others look down on it because it’s a trade skill. I wish people didn’t look down on trades and I wish I knew how to change the negative and often condescending tones attached to people’s ideas of them.

Reason’s Alexis loves her trade:

  • The thrill of welding a bead that’s just right.
  • Feeling confident in my ability to build something. Welding makes me feel strong and confident.
  • Learning to weld is like nothing I’ve ever learned before and at first I felt entirely out of my element but now each new challenge just excites me.” -Alexis Menedez

Andrea Deleon

“I have been teaching small metals fabrication for 6 years at Creative Side Jewelry Academy. Even though I have basic skills in welding and fabricating, I take classes at ACC every now and then to make sure I hone my skills – there is always room for improvement. For the last few years, I have become a kind of ‘hired gun’ traveling around the country working for specific companies and artists that require my skills.

  • I graduated with a Studio Arts degree from the University of Texas; I learned how to make things using a multitude of mediums. Metals and sculpture was my emphasis.
  • Upon graduating I was a production glassblower working on glass lathes before transitioning to being a machinist (mostly working on a Bridgeport mill and Hardinge lathe) for a company that fixed electron microscopes. I was trained at the job.
  • I began teaching at the Jewelry Academy while working as a machinist and slowly transitioned into teaching more often since it felt so natural. Being an instructor allowed me the flexibility to pursue unique job opportunities and artist residencies as well as start an entrepreneurial endeavor making custom handmade knives.
  • I’ve worked as a museum fabricator and installer, art handler, scientific glassblower (very similar to welding and machining), and worked for artists nationwide and in Germany.

If anything I wish I could have told my former self not to worry so much about having a direct path; I really wish I would have known about all the opportunities I’ve been able to pursue due to my training and determination, but my career path has been anything but straight. It’s okay to put yourself out there and try things out.” -Andrea Deleon

Suzanne Baas

“I have been working in welding since 1998, when I got my first job doing ornamental ironwork after taking an intro class at ACC. Since then, I have worked for quite a few companies in Austin, started a shop of my own, and continued to take classes at ACC. This is a good time to mention that ACC has provided me with some truly amazing experiences and opportunities through the years. I got to study welding abroad in a sister-city program, as well as attend an extensive workshop in  Mexico with 20+ other blacksmiths from ACC. I have very warm feelings for the metals department, so when I was given the opportunity to teach there 3 years ago, I was very happy to try and do my best.

I became interested in welding when I was in college, studying liberal arts, but taking a broad range of studio art classes as well. I have a ton of metals classes on my transcript, but they were almost all working in non-ferrous metals on the small scale. I took one sculpture class where the instructor showed us stick welding, and I was dazzled. It was instantly something I wanted to do. I even dropped out of school, moved across the country, and tried to join up with this art group I idolized. I ended up back in school when my metal skills weren’t good enough to contribute to their projects.

What I wish I had known before starting my career is what I would like other women getting into welding to know:  it is best to have another facet or revenue stream besides welding or metalsmithing labor. A complimentary profession like welding inspection, CAD, design, architecture, construction, teaching, business or project management will really go a long way in opening doors as well as reducing stress when the unexpected happens.  I had to learn this the hard way when we had the financial crisis in 2008.

But, that being said, nothing would have deterred me from the path once I had found it. Nothing compares to the drama of molten steel, or the thrill of bending it to your will! Nothing compares to the magic of fusing metal together; with the formidable electric arc, or the punishing heat of gas or coal and your hammer. The power to build something new, making bonds that are stronger than the material it is made from, it is very gratifying. If you know your craft well, and execute your work with forethought and skill, you can count on your creations long outliving you.” -Suzanne Baas

Jessica Davila

“I’m a senior student in the ACC Code Welding program. So far I’ve had one official welding job which is a paid apprenticeship in pipe fitting/welding. This has allowed me to become a paid 6g certified welder.

I first became interested in welding in college. I had changed my major 4 times before I even thought about welding and was tired of sitting in a classroom behind a desk, so I tried out the Austin Community College welding program and I love it.

Jessica’s advice for aspiring welders:

  • Take up space and own it!
  • For women who want to join the trade, I say 100% do it and when you do, practice, practice, practice!
  • Get good! Anyone can say they’re a welder but the truth comes out then the hood goes down. 

Welding is not for the undetermined, and if you put in the time behind the hood and in the classroom reading blueprints it will pay off and set a good foundation for your career.” -Jessica Davila

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttA big thank you to all the women building the world around us. You are an inspiration and an integral part of the world’s growth and well-being.

To find out more about Austin Community College, click here.

Vision Farms

The Alpern family established Vision Farms in 1999 in El Paso, Texas. They expanded the original 12 acres to 160, and made the entire property organic. The Alperns produce  alfalfa, cotton, or wheat according to their rotation. Diversity of daily chores is a major plus for everyone involved. With an extensive plot of land and assortment of animals, responsibilities ebb and flow at different times.

The venture is a family affair. Laura Alpern, the matriach of the bunch, makes sure everything is in order at all times–from their Quarter Horse breeding program, to crop yields, to management. Her advice for new farmers :

“Keep really good records and cultivate your suppliers and friends. There will be an abundance of time when you will be leaning on them and vice versa. Do your homework before you start, and ask advice from every person that you can.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt“I grew up in New York City, and from the moment I spent a summer on a working cattle ranch at age 12, I knew it was the life I wanted. The work is hard, and goes on in the cold of winter and the blistering heat of El Paso summers, but the rewards are there. We have been so fortunate to have met the farmers around us. Everything thing is done with a hand shake and we have never been disappointed.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt
Farmer Laura Alpern

“I love the seasons. Each is beautiful in its own way from planting in the spring to weeding to harvest. Additionally foaling season is the best of all. Watching that foal take her first breathe and struggle to her first step is magical. I am so happy that my children could experience farm life style. Our daughter is now an equine veterinarian and is caring on her mother’s torch for horses.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt
-Veterinarian Alana Alpern, and Laura’s daughter

“There has never been a time in my life without an animal in it that needed to be cared for and tended to. I have my parents to thank for instilling this level of responsibility in my upbringing. I remember going out to the farm in my prom dress with my mother to make sure the mare who was about to foal was prepped for her new arrival. I want my own boys feel responsible to the environment beyond themselves, and having a relationship with the family farm is a great way to do that. ” -Veterinarian Alana Alpern

“My husband and I want our boys to respect animals, understand their language beyond the friendly, family dog and recognize dangerous situations.  Having fun with animals is important, but understanding a deeper layer of animal language will keep them safer.” -Veterinarian Alana Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

“El Paso is our chosen home. We toured the country to decide where we would like to live and El Paso won, hands down. We are a bi-lingual city so our children speak both English and Spanish. Much to many peoples surprise we are the safest city of our size in the US. I love the desert climate, and let’s not forget the most amazing Mexican food ever.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

Alana Alpern runs her practice, Blue Heron Equine, Inc., out of her truck that’s a moving hospital. She treats horses for western and eastern medicine and dogs and cats for exclusively eastern medicine.

“Know the true costs of becoming a veterinarian both financially and emotionally. Do this by spending time in more difficult moments under a mentor and doing your homework on the cost of education.” -Veterinarian Alana Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

Big Bend

We got the chance to tour West Texas during our travels down south. If you’re in the Marfa area, you can’t miss the opportunity to see Big Bend National Park. The area has the distinct characteristics, unique to the Chihuahuan Desert. Massive rock formations fill the wide open landscapes. The area’s geological history is rich and dates back to the dinosaurs. With its great beauty also comes great risk. The temperatures are known to soar well above 100 °F, so don’t forget to bring water.

Big Bend National Park / Crafted in CarharttBig Bend National Park / Crafted in Carhartt

Big Bend National Park / Crafted in CarharttBig Bend National Park / Crafted in CarharttBig Bend National Park / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch

Just outside the charming west Texan town, Marfa, the Aufdengarten family has run the Fletcher Ranch for many, many years. It’s been supported for generations by this tight-knit crew. Austin Aufdengarten joined the family officially almost exactly a year ago today. Now she shares in this rich legacy of hard work and tradition.

“Mitchell’s ancestors were some of the first to come to Texas when Texas was still part of Mexico, and they started ranching around Marfa in the late 1800’s. I love digging into his family history, and I’m proud that I am now a part of their story. They are some of the hardest working people I know, and they do everything they can for the wellbeing of the land and animals with which they have been entrusted. His family has ranched at the Fletcher for several generations, and I can’t imagine too much has changed. That amazing old house has to have SUCH an amazing story, but I’m still piecing it together. I love exploring while trying to imagine what life would have been like there 100 years ago.” -Austin Aufdengarten

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

“I have an unfathomable love for far west Texas that overcomes any gaps in my knowledge about what is now my livelihood. My roots run deep out here; my ancestors from both sides lived, farmed, worked, and loved west Texas. Being out in the crisp, west Texas air, surrounded by desert cacti, and watching the mountain landscape revolve around me is absolutely heavenly. There’s something to be said about looking at a landscape and knowing that 100-plus years ago, folks were surrounded by the exact same scenery. Knowing that our children will have the same view is, in a sense, a promise for our future. I’ve always been one for adventure and new experiences, and there was a stark moment of realization before we were married that by marrying this man, I would never leave west Texas; it only made me love him more.” -Austin Aufdengarten

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

Visiting Marfa

Crafted in Carhartt traveled to far west Texas to bring you the stories of some amazing women. Marfa was my home base that week. It’s a quiet little desert town, with a population just under 2,000 people. Marfa has many old tales to tell–during the 1800s it served as a watering stop. Now it’s a major stomping ground for art lovers. With such an aesthetic appeal, it’s easy to see why.

Marfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in CarharttMarfa, Texas / Crafted in Carhartt

Stay tuned, more stories to come.

Chore Day with Rachel and Jenny Boswell

Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Behind the Scenes / Crafted in Carhartt
Rachel and Jenny taught us how to plant trees earlier this week. We also did chores around the ranch while we were out. It’s amazing how fun work can be when you’re keeping toasty in Carhartt and hanging with friends. It’s the time of year for sandstone. You know, the trademark canvas-like material that’s sturdy and incredibly warm.

Rachel is wearing: Carhartt Women’s Sandstone New Hope Jacket, Hamilton Flannel Shirt II, & Original-Fit Canvas Crawford Dungaree & Jenny is wearing: Carhartt Weathered Wildwood Jacket, Hamilton Flannel Shirt II, & 1889 Slim-Fit Double-Front Denim Dungaree.

Dogs Are a Girl’s Best Friends

dogs are a girls best friend /  crafted in carhartt

dogs are a girls best friend /  crafted in carhartt

dogs are a girls best friend /  crafted in carhartt

dogs are a girls best friend /  crafted in carhartt

dogs are a girls best friend /  crafted in carhartt

I traveled all the way back to my hometown in Texas for this tutorial. Meet Lisa and Jenny Boswell, family friends who live on the most breathtaking ranch. I spent a lot of time on their property when I was growing up. We always had a blast hanging out, riding horses and four-wheelers, trying to catch frogs, painting our faces and going off on kayaking adventures, and so on. Among the many well-loved animals at their home, is a gang of the sweetest dogs around. There’s a lot to learn from a family who takes such good care of their four legged friends.

Here are a few pointers I picked up watching them work:

Make sure the dogs get plenty of exercise, as the Boswells call it “running the dogs.” It helps release pent up energy and prevents aggression. If you have a lot of land, take a four-wheeler or a mule out and have the dogs follow you around. They’ll have a blast and get in a really good workout.

Keep an eye on them during playtime. Of course a little rough housing is normal. Just make sure it doesn’t get too out of hand. You’re the chief mediator, after all.

Be in charge of mealtime. Feed each dog from a separate bowl, and even in a separate place if necessary. Let your dogs enjoy eating without the need to be territorial or feeling it has to protect its food.

Make sure you can handle the responsibility of being a multiple dog owner. Dogs really are a girl’s best friends and they deserve lot of love and attention. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Want to treat your pup? Snag this Carhartt dog bed

Bukola, MFA Applied Craft + Design Student

Bukola Paper Art BUKOLApaperART2
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt
DIY Momigami with Bukola / Crafted in Carhartt

Walking into Bukola’s studio space at the MFA Applied Craft + Design Program in Portland is like crossing the doormat into a treasured family room. Memories and swatches of inspiration dangle from the walls. Every bit of art is handcrafted with care and intent. You get the feeling that a story is begging to be unraveled. Many of the photographs displayed in Bukola’s workspace are of her family. It was clear to me that she draws much of her inspiration from them. Read from Bukola’s perspective how her path led her to this point:

“I come from a close and wonderful family. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria with my parents, Adeyinka and Kolawole Koiki, and I am the oldest of my mother’s four children. I was always the arty kid growing up, always in a corner drawing pictures or making things. My parents didn’t quite know what to make of me I think, and while it was highly unlikely the kid of middle class Nigerians would end up being an artist, I was suddenly given the opportunity to come to the USA and attend school here to pursue that path. While it must have been hard to send your teenager off across the world on her own, I think my parents must have been relieved frankly, that I would finally get an outlet for my interests. They and my siblings have been nothing but supportive and I get so much inspiration from them because they are all creative in their own right.

My mother has a tailoring business and can make sewing patterns from scratch in minutes. My father is land surveyor and I’m pretty sure I got my eye for detail from him. My immediate younger brother, Tunde has fulfilled his long held dream of becoming a sportscaster on both radio and TV and is a hilarious mimic. The brother after him, Yemi, is currently pursing writing, producing, and performing music as a rap artist. Last but not least, the baby of our family, Busola, is a lawyer whose aptitude for leadership and problem solving is inspiring and is currently pursuing work in international law. I was raised by wonderful parents who managed to provide us with an interesting upbringing and a fantastic education from the little they had. It is my goal in life to honor their sacrifices for my siblings and myself by living the best and most successful life I can.

I originally landed in Texas straight from Nigeria. That was some culture shock I tell you! I first attended community college in Houston, and then transferred to the University of North Texas in Denton to attend their challenging Communication Design Program. I graduated with a BFA in 2006, worked in advertising for a while, but like many people, got laid off with the economic downturn.

I took the opportunity to go back to Nigeria for three whole months and fell in love with the tactility of life there all over again. While the Western notion of fast fashion and disposable commodities is slowly creeping in, there are still a lot of things that people make by hand in Nigeria. While at home, I renewed my deep appreciation for Nigerian textiles such as our wax prints, hand woven strip cloth (Aso Oke) and our indigo dyed cloth (Adire). I enjoy the tactile subtleties of different types of cloth and the graphic designer in me is obsessed with the color and patterns of surface designs.

When I came back to the US, I immediately started taking classes in sewing and bookbinding. In between freelance gigs I also worked at a paper goods store where I learned a lot about handmade paper from around the world. Thus my love for my other passion paper was born. I came to the Applied Craft+Design program because frankly I was not happy being another person pushing pixels around in an office.”

What a story indeed. Bukola and her family have made sacrifice after sacrifice so she could chase her dreams. That’s what we all want, isn’t it? We’re all driven by something: be it textiles and paper, crafting with our hands, or fueling that creative fire that burns in our minds. Muster together the courage to take the steps that get you just a bit closer to your goals. Like Bukola, maybe you can find a path to self-discovery mirrored in your roots and heritage.

Take a look at the photos above to see Bukola lead us through Momigami. This Japanese technique of kneading paper to create a pliable sheet of paper that can be used to make paper clothing, book covers, textile art and much more. Depending on the characteristics of the original paper, you can get a range of lovely end textures: everything from a soft cloth like feel to textures akin to leather.

What you need: newspapers (the more illustrations, diagrams, or patterns—the better), olive oil, a plastic sheet to protect your work area, a small brush, and PVA Glue (that’s an archival glue used in bookbinding and paper projects you can find at your local craft store)

With your surface protected, pour some olive oil into a small bowl and scoop up enough to evenly coat your palms when you rub your hands together. Take your chosen sheet of paper and fold the four corners into the center, crumpling the dry sheet gently first into a loose ball and then slowly squeezing and wrinkly it carefully but firmly into a tighter ball.

To accelerate the distressing, you can use the slickness of the protective plastic to  “knead” the paper ball against your work surface. Unfold the sheet and repeat the wrinkling, crumpling and knead processor up to three or four minutes, stopping to coat your hand in more olive oil as needed. Open the sheet up and then rub it between your palms or flatten it out onto the work surface while rubbing the sheet down by applying pressure with your hands in an outward direction from the center of the sheet.

The crumpling, rubbing and stretching may be repeated as many times as you would like until you have achieved your preferred texture. Embrace any tears in the paper as opportunities for creativity. Individual sheets can be incorporated into textile art projects by machine sewing, hand stitching or using them in decoupage.

To create a large wall hanging piece instead, using a little brush, apply a thin layer of PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue to the edge of your paper and adhere them together in a pleasing configuration. You can hang your creation from a wooden dowel rod or explore other creative hanging solutions like use vintage pant hangers.

*Please note that the kneaded paper will still be oily for a long while after, so you should hang your finished piece out and away from the wall to avoid oil stains.

Bukola’s work wear: Carhartt Women’s Huron Shirt, Calumet V-Neck T-Shirt, Slim-Fit Nyona Jean, & Acrylic Watch Hat