This week’s #WCW is Carolyn Kallenborn: an inspiring, motivating, and innovative design professor at UW’s School of Human Ecology who has helped The Marketplace grow immensely!
Carolyn’s interest in design began young; as a child in a family of 7 children, her mom made all their clothes. She began taking the initiative to make her own clothes, so she has been a designer for a long time! She went back to school older after her son was born with the intent of going into clothing design, but decided to focus more on textile design, because she loved the creative aspect of it.
Carolyn produces a myriad of artwork including textiles, set designs, pieces, and films. She creates art that pushes herself and that engages her audience; her work is interactive and has the intent of getting people to pause and think about why we are here.
Two pieces of Carolyn’s that excite and inspire the Marketplace most are her documentaries, Life of the Dead and Woven Lives, which about her experiences in Mexico and the lives of the people she has met there. She created Woven Lives, because after her trips to Mexico, she found herself talking about the people she met and their lives and she thought she could create art that captured their true voices. Her second film, Life of the Dead, discusses Day of the Dead and how death is celebrated. The two films are very different, the first being more tangible, but Carolyn found the second one to be more fun to film and enjoyed working to properly represent the holiday.
How We Connect with Carolyn
The Marketplace came to Carolyn after hearing about her documentaries and going to the event where she displayed Life of the Dead on various textiles in an interactive setting for over 150 people in Madison. From Carolyn’s work with artisans in Mexico, her knowledge of textiles and weaving, and the global artisans class she teaches, we knew she would be a great person to learn from and collaborate with! With her design and global artisan expertise, she has helped us create a better product by incorporating more storytelling from the artisans, developing better packaging, and having stronger displays!
Carolyn’s most important piece of advice for The Marketplace team and teams in general is to have an interdisciplinary group for optimal strength. In her class that creates the Threads Fashion Show, she has students with a retail background and she likes that they bring different perspectives than design students and make the program stronger. Her advice to The Marketplace is to make sure that we recruit designers and retail students to collaborate with business students and to be able to develop more! For those interested in developing their Spanish and maybe traveling to Spanish-speaking countries as she has, she says to not be shy, just jump in and talk, practice whenever possible and to not feel the need to always be right! Finally, for all passionate students, she suggests to get involved and find activities to actively participate in!
Near and Distant Future
Our upcoming collaboration with Carolyn is at the Threads Fashion Show, which is run and produced by her and her class she teaches in SOHE! We will be selling Marketplace products at the event on April 30th and are looking forward to working with her. Additionally, one of our beloved members, Erin Tenderholt, will be traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico as an intern through ours and Carolyn’s partnership with the Global Artisans Initiative. It is a long-term goal of Carolyn’s is to bring a class to Oaxaca, so hopefully more Marketplace members will be able to go in the future!