We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristen Cramer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristen, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
I decided early on to not yell or punish my daughter, instead I use an award based parenting approach. I stay calm. I explain things in excruciating detail. I hand out treats, screen time and fun outings as incentive to good behavior. I know that my daughter appreciates being spoken to with kindness even when things are hard and when she understands what I am asking for and why, she makes better and better decisions as she continues to grow. I was thrilled to read Michaeleen Doucleff’s new book Hunt, Gather, Parent about ancient cultures approaches to parenting in which parents remain calm and kids respond with cooperation. I think this instills a sense of responsibility in kids, gives them confidence and teaches them through example to use kindness instead of anger.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Usually ideas come to me on my morning run. It’s a great time to let my mind wander – I try to run places that are alone and natural – trails being ideal. There’s something about the refreshing cool of the morning, of the smells of leaves, the sound of birds that is grounding to me. I often use the time to consider all the aspects of either my pottery or the way I run my business. It’s there that ideas flood in and get shaped. I think them through over and over in different combinations until the idea just shines with the polish my mind has given it. And once I have a new idea – a new style of pottery I want to try, a new look for my shop, or a new direction for the merchandise – I am overtaken by a need to accomplish that goal. I make lists and draw plans and set all the pieces of the project in motion at once. That way I have no way of stopping once I get going. It can be overwhelming and demanding. But I love it and I understand that without lots of deep thought, planning and hard work, I would have no business, I would not make great art.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Here in the Santa Ynez Valley, it is tourist heaven. We are the wine country north of Santa Barbara and we are full of wineries, great restaurants, beautiful hotels, and charming towns. You can come and spend days drinking, eating, hiking, riding bikes and enjoying all the gorgeous scenery without making any plans at all – you’ll run into the good stuff no matter where you go. But one of the places I take guests that visit me is an odd one: Ostrich Land. Armed with a metal dustpan with a dog bowl bolted on to it and full of feed pellets, you walk out on to a wooden ostrich viewing deck. The birds are very big and resemble modern dinosaurs. Their huge lashy eyes glare at you and the sign in front of you reads “yes, we bite”. In seconds the pointy beaks come at you from all directions on slender feathered necks. They hit the dog bowl full of food with force and precision. It’s strangely breathtaking. And, yes, sometimes you get bit. Then, you can’t beat horse back riding through vineyards and into our wild backcountry with Vino Vaqueros, outfitters who give you gorgeous vistas of old California and end your ride with some local wine. As for wine, the picturesque town of Los Olivos is brimming with options like award winning Blair Fox Cellars and versatile and creative Robert Dafoe Wines. For lunch you can’t beat Industrial Eats or try the creative and outstanding bagel-wichs and cupcakes at Enjoy Bagel + Sweets. I also love to head north to Los Alamos where the Wild West lives on in the old Union Hotel and the laid back garden at Flatbread always has amazing pizzas and Sunday brunch options. Plus there’s a handful of antique shops I just love to hunt through. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband lives his life with a giddy, almost senseless, completely reckless sense of optimism. Having him around is not only fun and helps keep me smiling, but he also is constantly encouraging. When I decided to quit my normal life and start making ceramics, he jumped in the car with me and drove 200 miles to pick up craigslist equipment finds. When I told him I was considering opening a retail store, which is always expensive and takes time to recover your investment, he was all in. Every time I get a new bee in my bonnet, he helps me think it through and always says yes.
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