We had the good fortune of connecting with Jean Cate and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jean, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
Consciousness is creative. I believe that each person has a unique reality and lens of perception. I think we have the power to shape and change that reality and lens. I enjoy this phrase because it evokes feelings of curiosity, playfulness and power.
What should our readers know about your business?
I run the online shop Martha Mae: Art Supplies & Beautiful Things. It is named after my beloved dog and muse Martha Mae and specializes in art, art supplies, and beautiful useful things. I am interested in the pleasure of work and everyday practices and explore this through curating tools, art and creative supplies. What excites me most about the shop is the opportunity to connect and be in community with wonderful makers and appreciators of beautiful things. Martha Mae: Art Supplies & Beautiful Things began as a brick and mortar shop in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. I was emerging from an isolated period my life and I wanted to create a space of order, harmony and pleasantness to be present in and to share with other people. I thought about it like my Field of Dreams. The shop and community around it grew over the four years I was in the brick and mortar shop. In the Spring of 2020 I switched the shop all online with pickups due to COVID-19. The support the shop received through that Spring and Summer online was so meaningful and substantive, that when the lease came up in the Fall of 2020 I decided to lean into change and evolution and moved the shop all online. It has been such pleasure to continue to create, reimagine and connect online. I wouldn’t say that building the shop and business was easy. When I began I was in a period of pain. All options and paths available to me promised pain, so I operated under the idea of choosing my pain. Remain with familiar and known pain or choose a path that has pain but also has the opprotunity for growth, hope and change. I think of challenges as opportunities for growth. I find this approach helps me find more space, perspective and options in challenging situations. I also find the support and wisdom of friends, peers and mentors invaluable in navigating challenges. I have learned the power of connection and transformation through this shop.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would start with Lost Larson in Andersonville. They mill their grain in-house and make the most delicious and dreamy pastries and drinks (I love the lavender latte!) Then we would visit some of my favorite shops in the neighborhood: Five Elements Home, Foyer Shop, Ándale Market, Sailor, and Women & Children First (a fantastic independent feminist bookshop). Then we would place a pickup order and head down to Greer, a wonderful stationery shop in Lincoln Park. After picking up our stationery delights we would walk walk through Lincoln Park to the Lake Shore Path and then wrap up the day with dinner at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant Demera in Uptown.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to the friends, peers and mentors in my life that amaze, inspire, guide and support me. My gratitude is boundless. There are too many to list here, but I would like to highlight the ever wonderful Jeffly Molina and Chandra Greer.
All photos included – credit: Mandy Lancia