At first glance, Tricia Gillespie’s creations look like very high-quality bags. Gillespie brings a diverse assortment of purses, tote bags, zipper pouches, and much more to the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market with her small business, Inspired Country Store.
While it’s true that the construction and quality of the pieces are immaculate, the pieces in this special booth have a world of depth and history to them also.
Gillespie sources and reclaims historical textiles and reworks them into functional, wearable pieces.
With original materials ranging from antique grain sacks, mail sacks, and military bags, to vintage denim, and antique maritime sales, each handcrafted creation comes with a rich texture and story from the original object before it.
“I am really inspired by older products,” Gillespie says. “The work, the time, the creativity that went into them. Old textiles just have a different texture, feel, and life to them that you just don’t get usually.”
Due to the unique nature of each original textile, no two pieces are alike, and Gillespie never follows a pattern.
Each construction is designed to be used daily, Gillespie says. With thoughtful details such as functional pockets, efficient closures, adjustments and straps, she says she test drives each piece to ensure that it is comfortable, durable and simple to wear.
Gillespie’s creations were originally born from the inspiration to transform feed sacks from her own upbringing.
“I was finding them in attic spaces and wondering why they were hidden. They were so beautiful” she says. “I wanted to make them into something that could still be used because that was the original purpose of those things, to be reused.
“I wanted them to continue on their original path of being reused, from there it just continued to grow into, ‘What else is cool and old?’”
Though brand new to the market roster this season, guests seem to gravitate to the Inspired Country Store booth in droves.
“People tell me that they feel like my shop is living,” Gillespie says. “Whether the original fabric was on their back, or on someone’s hip, or on a travel up a mountain, you know that it had to be hit against a rock or thrown up in a feed loft, to be so soft and pliable. It’s just a different texture than if you just rolled the fabric off a bolt.”
Gillespie encourages market guests to explore her products with their full senses, calling her booth a “touch-y shop.”
She says, “It’s great that they can touch everything and feel, this isn’t brand new. This has been loved and worn and had its own adventure.”
Gillespie says her range for material sourcing spans the globe. From local estate sales to the historical caches on the East Coast, even reaching internationally for antique discoveries in France and Chile, she says she’s constantly keeping her eyes out for the item that will become her next piece.
“There is no wholesale market for my supplies,” she says. “You have to be a good hunter; you have to scavenge.”
Gillespie says she loves to provide shoppers with the historical context of each one-of-a-kind creation in her booth.
“I have reference books in my booth so people can see what the textile looked like and how it’s faded and changed over the years,” she says.
“Some of these are depression era. The ink was meant to fade so the items could be made into a blanket, or tea towels, or any kind of clothing to help your dollar go further.”
Gillespie says her pieces are unisex and that her customer base ranges in age from 16 to 80 years old: “People from every walk of life find something that pulls them in and says, ‘This one is me.’”
Gillespie says her pieces are created with a certain lifestyle in mind.
“I want people to live,” she says. “I want them to enjoy their life. I want them to throw their bag in the backseat on a rainy Washington day and not worry about it. I want it to get dirty. I want it to go on an adventure. It’s about using these quality things that are already in this world and letting them live again.”
Inspired Country Store is at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. through October. Visit your community market at Sequim Civic Center Plaza at North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street.
Emma Jane Garcia is the director of the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.
Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market
Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 30
Location: Sequim Civic Center Plaza and Centennial Place, downtown Sequim
More info: email@example.com
On the web: sequimmarket.com