Welcome back to another episode of I Can Make That: Conversations with Creatives!
I am incredibly eager to talk with today’s guest, because she’s mixing old with new and making some of the most unique creations I’ve ever seen, and I’m super ready to dive into her art. Her name is Tori Kendrew and she is the owner and handiperson behind the business: Old Friend Goods.
Old Friend Goods is a Massachusetts based handmade shop, which specializes in reworked and repurposed vintage quilts. Tori is taking quilts from yesteryear and turning them into functional and wearable art pieces, in the form of clothing and accessories.
Meet: Tori Kendrew!
Having her in my feed is so inspiring and I love what she creates….which is why I asked her to be on here today. I’m dying to learn more about her work – and also to share her with you, my listeners. So let’s get going!
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For those of you that are hearing impaired, I’ve been trying to find the best way to share our podcast with you as well! It is transcribed using an Ai platform — with lots of imperfections. I’m hoping in the future we work on accuracy. Always learning and growing, aren’t we? 🙂
EPISODE 017: TORI KENDREW TRANSCRIPT
Welcome to episode 17 of I can make that conversations with creatives everyone. I am incredibly eager to talk with today’s guest because she’s mixing old with new and making some of the most unique creations I’ve ever seen. And I am super ready to dove into her art. Her name is Tori Kendra and she is the owner and handy person behind the business. Old Friend Good Old Friend Goods is a massachusetts based handmade shop which specializes in reworked and repurposed vintage quotes. Tori is taking quotes from yesteryear and turning them into functional and wearable art pieces in the form of clothing and accessories. And having her in my feet is honestly so inspiring, and I love what she creates, which is why I asked her to be on here today. I’m dying to learn more about her work and also share her with you, my listeners. So let’s get going. Welcome to I can make that Tori. Hi, Katy. Thank you so much for having me on today. Yeah, I’m super duper excited to get into all of this. It’s awesome. I always find it really fascinating how many artists are also teachers. And before we talk about your business, let’s talk about your day job. What do you do for a career outside of Old Friend Goods? Yeah, teaching was actually a pretty recent career pivot. I was kind of going down this path and jobs were kind of coming up that just kind of fell into my lap. But it was leading me down a very marketing forward path. And I finally realized, like, that’s just not me. I like to make like, I like to actually make. And the marketing side of things just it just wasn’t resonating with me and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do at the end of the day. So I ended up starting to look for a new job last summer and just happened to find a teaching job. And so I’m teaching handwork right now, and that’s a Waldorf class. So the school that I work at is Waldorf inspired. So that’s a really important class in a Waldorf school. And you learn knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, all sorts of really awesome fiber techniques. And it was just really weird timing for me to find that job when I was feeling like I was missing that, making part of things. So I get to make with kids all day now, which is really exciting and really fun, is that I’m not too familiar with Waldorf schools. Is that a K through 12 or is that elementary based? What is that? Usually Waldorf does not go through high school, but the school that I’m teaching at is what is K through 12. I teach one through 12. So it’s a big range of abilities and ages, which also makes it really interesting and fun every day. So we get to do a lot of different things, especially with the high school kids. They they get really into it and it’s so rewarding to see them hone in on skills and really find what they’re passionate about, too So it’s been it’s been a really good change for me. It’s been really funny to see and I don’t know if you see it as much because you’re doing this specifically with them. But even I have a niece who’s in high school and she one’s been a teacher, had her crochet and I don’t remember any high schoolers at least when I was a kid, besides me wanting to do all of this stuff. But I feel like there’s been like this resurgence of fiber arts and yeah, I don’t know if it’s because Harry Styles wears crocheted. Like, I don’t know what it is. Well, could be. Yeah, I think, too, that’s just a piece that’s missing for so many kids, and it really calms them down and regulates a lot of them. And it’s just something that, you know, they might not ever be exposed to. At home or ever if it weren’t for having that sort of class at school. And some of the kids that you think like, oh my God, they just like, you know, it doesn’t seem like they would ever pick up on this. Like they’re the ones that really need it and really excel in it. So it’s definitely super useful and really great for most of the kids. Yeah, I can imagine. Yeah. I wish I would have been exposed to it. And I know same. I mean I was at home as a kid, but at school, like I just wasn’t ever even like something that, you know, you would have you would have thought so. Yeah, it’s really great. And I love learning how people got started in their creative world because most of us are picking up skills passed down from our parents or other family members and things. And just by natural progression is what’s your origin story? How did you get started in this whole world of sewing and creating? I was thinking about this question for a while because I can’t pinpoint a time. I just feel like I was always drawn to art and making and like growing up, my mom when I was little was like, You always had to be doing something with your hands. I always had like Silly Putty or I had like, you know, markers or I had something and there was just never a plan B. I just it was always. Art, and I feel really fortunate to have had a supportive family that helped me down that path, and then it just ended up being art school. And after that I feel super lucky as well to have had art related jobs because I feel like so many of my friends graduated from college and were like, I will never use this degree, you know? And I never had that thought in my mind because I was like, I’ll find something you know, there has to be something out there. And there was. And I just feel so lucky to have had that. okay. So you went to school specifically for it. What did you get a degree in? So my degree is in fibers. And to be super honest, I did not even know that was the thing in high school that you can major in. I had gone to a portfolio day at Mass Art when I was applying to schools and you know, you bring your portfolio and you spread it all out and show someone, you know, what you’re planning to submit. And I remember the girl that was looking at my work was like, Oh, so you want to major in fibers And I was like, I do. And she was like, Well, it looks like you do. And from there, I kind of just, started researching that a little bit more. And I was like, Yeah, that is exactly what I want to do. So thanks to her, it kind of got me rolling in that direction and it was amazing. It was exactly where I fit completely. And what does fiber cover is it? I mean, I think of it in fiber arts, like clothing and also, you know, knit and that kind of design. What what all does it encompass exactly? Yeah. So there was a fashion department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design as well. So that was more like the fashion side. That was the clothing and patterns and all that stuff. Fiber, I explained to people it was more like the 3-D side of that world, so it was more like sculpture and conceptual kind of stuff. So yeah, we did weaving. There is that sculptural knitting class. I did papermaking, which was really great. I did a lot of crochet for my own work in college. And yeah, it was just you could really explore the mediums, which was awesome. Gosh, I would have. I did not go to school for that. So I always kicked myself like, why didn’t I go to something I’m doing now? I know I still to this day I say I would have stayed for four more years if I could because it was just such an awesome environment and there were so many more classes that I definitely wanted to take. I could. There was a thing called a super senior, and it was when you stayed for more than four years and like we all joked about it. But honestly, that was probably like the best idea to do that. So yeah, it was an awesome school and I’m really glad that I ended up there. When you run your business out of your home, I’m sure like most of us do, and we have a creative side gig. And one of my biggest challenges is learning when to step away and actually find that like home life balance. Do you have what do you find most challenging with having a work life balance like this and having all of your stuff in your space? Honestly, with the job that I’m doing currently, I feel like I have the best work life balance that I’ve had in a really long time at this moment, which I feel really lucky to have. But yeah, it is it, it is a little bit tricky when your studio is across the hall from your bedroom and you can look at all of your stuff every day. It does make it tricky, but like I said, I feel like I do have a really great work life balance. My boyfriend is also an artist and also went to mass art and really understands like the need to create and the need to make, which I also feel super lucky to have because not everyone understands that way of thinking. So he is super supportive and lets me kind of do my thing and he does his thing and I just always have that want and that pull to make and I think that’s my outlet as well. So I want to do it. I want to spend time doing that a lot of the time. Is your house ever clean? That’s what I that’s the problem I have. I have a very creative husband, too. Yeah. Yeah. We say we’re too creative to clean because we’re always making something. Well, I have to say, we, my boyfriend, T.J., and I have talked about this many times, and I’m definitely the cleaner one. Not that he is messy, but I feel like you have to have some sort of balance to have the house stay clean because, yes, it can get very overwhelming very quickly. I try my best to keep my stuff in my in my studio, which I think really helps because if not, it would just it would be everywhere. But we we are lucky to have our both have our own spaces for making and that definitely helps with the with the craziness. Yeah, I’m sure I actually just moved my studio into an apartment, so I that is awesome. I used to take over my entire we didn’t have a dining room for my son’s entire life. So. And so it is nice to have a specified space for it, but I also miss having it in the next room over. I have to actually like leave to go up here and so something so. Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know if there is a happy balance between what I, there is I want. There totally is. And even growing up, like my mom was just the most supportive looking back and like, wow, I really lucked out with them in the mom department. But I always had a space like even growing up in my, you know, in my mom’s house. Like she always made sure I had a space to make and to keep my stuff out. And that’s just always been something that I have had, which I know isn’t the norm. And for a while before my boyfriend and I moved in together, I was living in an apartment where I did not have a space to make. And I feel like, like just my overall mental health really went downhill. And I didn’t realize how crucial that was to me as a person to have that that space just to go to. Sometimes I just go in my studio and I just like lay on the ground and it’s just like being surrounded by your stuff and like a space that you feel really comfortable and that I just. I need that, you know? Yeah. Obviously, I want to talk about your incredible business, so let’s hop into that. can you describe old friend goods to everyone and tell us where the name came from, too? Yeah. So, old friend goods. I repurpose vintage quilts. I purposefully left this pretty open ended because I don’t want to get stuck. I want to be able to make whatever I want to make whenever I want to make it. I want it to evolve and kind of change and not be known for just maybe one thing. So I’ve kept it pretty open ended for that reason. And I, I feel like it’s just, it makes it more fun that way for me. So the name I was kind of like throwing different names around when I was thinking about starting this business. And old friend came to mind just with like the repurposing and the vintage and friend is a family name on my mom’s side. So I was like, You know what? That is kind of perfect. So it just kind of stuck. And I thought I had a nice ring to it. So Old Friend Goods just kind of came from from that. I think naming your business is actually one of the hardest parts of starting a business. Yeah. And I have to say, like my, you know, previous background in some marketing jobs definitely helped with that and I think helps with just like Instagram and marketing yourself and all that. So I do enjoy that kind of stuff as well. Which, which helps for sure because I know some of that stuff. for people just it’s like such a chore. But I really feel like that’s a fun part of the job for me too. Well, I will say that your Instagram feed is beautiful, so I think you obviously know what you’re doing. Thank you so much. what first gave you the idea to create your line of items? Who looks at a quote and says, I’m going to chop this up and I’m going to make it into something else? Yeah, I know. I’m pretty. You crazy? I over the COVID time, I took a break from Instagram and kind of just shut off from all that because it was just a lot. It was a lot being home and being sucked into that. And I feel like that gave me kind of like, you know, just like a blank slate to kind of start with because I feel like you see so much stuff online and it’s just constant, you know, other people’s work. And I think like the blank slate just really gave me a chance to be like, okay, what do I want to do next? Like, what do I want to do next? And I don’t even remember where this came from, but I thrift all the time. My boyfriend and I had an antique booth for a while and we both really enjoy that. So the old quilts just were something that I was always drawn to because they were textile related and my great grandmother was in a quilting bee and we have a lot of her quilt still. So I just kind of was thinking about that and it all kind of started with I had a bunch of these like denim button down shirts. They have like the little pocket on the side. And I was like, okay, I can take that pocket off and I can replace it with a quilt pocket that will be super cute. So it all kind of started there and I made a bunch of those and sold those. And then I was like, But wait, now I have all these scraps, like, what am I going to do with the rest of the quilt? So it evolved from from there and, you know, just having new ideas as I go. Things are always new. New items are always coming up from there. I’m not going to lie. I make my pearl clutching activated. The first time I saw some of your stuff because my aunt is like, I know it goes into those. Totally. Obviously, I calm down because I know you’re giving them new life, but do you ever receive any backlash about cutting into your quilts? I personally I have not, which I feel very grateful for, but I know other people do. And you know, some quotes that I find, I even I’m like, I don’t think I can cut this. Like, it’s too great. I definitely look for they’re called cutter quilts. When I’m looking for quilts, which are quilts that maybe are fraying or there are they already have holes in them and somebody wouldn’t just use it as a quilt anymore. So I try to use that kind of quilt when I am cutting them up. But I also always try to remember that the quilt itself was made from feed sacks and clothing and things that were repurposed already. So in a way, I feel like using that quilt then to make something else now is kind of the life cycle of a textile, which I do like repurposing. Yeah, exactly. And it kind of just goes from there. So, yeah, I get it. I get both sides. I see both sides. But I hope that what I’m doing with them is honoring them in some way. And it looks like a lot of the items that you’re using to decorate them with our driftwood also. Yeah. So the items that I patch are all secondhand as well. So, you know, anything that I find at the thrift store that I think has more life left in it, I’ll add some quilt patches to that too, which is really fun and people seem to really like that too, so it’s cool to use the smaller pieces for those kind of projects. I saw, I think a couple of days ago or maybe yesterday you posted a video where you show your process of actually because you put patches on these of jeans. Yeah. And you actually you rip those seams on the side seam. Yeah. At the mine and then sew back. I was fascinated. I was like, That’s brilliant. I would have tried to like, shove it through my machine and oh, trust me, I have. And I was like, there has to be an easier way. Like, there just has to be, what am I missing? Like, I know there’s something out there, so. You know, I’m Googling late at night in bed and I found just like a really random blog posts way down, you know, three pages into the Google search of a girl saying, oh, you seem ripped aside. And I was like, duh. Right. So I was like, I have to share this. more people have to be wondering how that is done. So, yeah, brilliant. And now I’m thinking, man, I should have saved myself so much time on random things that I’m patching or fixing myself. I know because, like, it’s not. I feel like it doesn’t make sense in your brain to be like, that’s rip this too then so it back. But it like it helps and saves you so much time in the end, I’m sure. And it gets a lot cleaner when you’re top stitching rather than like. Maneuvering around. Exactly. Where do you source all these vintage quotes for repurposing? Are people giving them to you or are you just really good at Thrifting? I mean, like I said, I love to thrift. We go to a lot of estate sales and there’s a flea market that we go to every Sunday. So I’m always on the hunt, like always online, too. Like, there’s some really great stuff that I found just by searching online. But again, like, I’m always looking for quotes that have where to them already and not something that somebody would still use as a blanket. So I’m just always, always looking. It’s funny, I actually feel like and I don’t go thrifting that often because I’m really bad at it myself. But when we go, I feel like I see a lot more crocheted blankets than I do actual closet. Like, it’s like I feel like people hold on to those quilts tighter than they do the crocheted things for some reason. Yeah, I, I have to say I agree with that. I definitely see a lot. Like, if I go to savers, I see, like, crocheted blankets for days. And I don’t know why that is. I don’t know if, you know, people just think those are like dated maybe like the crochet blankets or or what it is. But I’ve seen some people do really cool things with the crocheted blankets, too, and make clothing out of those which I have haven’t gotten into. And I don’t know that I will, but I really appreciate the other things that I’m seeing out there. They’re super awesome. Well, yeah, you probably have to be a lot more careful with it because you cut one thing and. Yeah, exactly. All go. Right. You got to be quick. Yeah, I’ve seen someone, and it’s actually kind of in the same breath as your your quilts. They someone took a bunch of crocheted blankets like granny squares and cut it up and turn it into this, like, wall art piece. Like, it was really. Wow. Like art deco. But the man, the comments on that thread were just everyone was so mad that this person had it up. Yeah. Have you ever. Have you ever seen how many of these are just sitting around? I like. At least it’s getting new life. Totally. I know. You know, there’s going to be always people out there that don’t support you. And I feel like you just got to be like, sorry, but you got to focus on the people that do you know. Right. How many pieces on average can you create from one rescued quilt? It really depends. It depends on the size of the quilt itself. Depends on the condition of the quilt. Some quilts, you know, there might be a big section that’s just completely frayed or the fabric has disintegrated. But I would say on average, anywhere from 4 to 8, depending on if I’m making some coats from that, if I if I’m making smaller objects from that, I also keep all of the scraps. So like around Christmas time, I made some small stockings and I was able to use a lot of the scraps that I had saved for those because they were a smaller item, which is, I think, really great too, that I’m able to hopefully use as much of each quilt as possible. So what’s your what’s your inspiration process? When you look at something, how do you decide this one is going to be a jacket? This one’s going on a patch, this is going to turn into a cute basket. Like, what’s your do you just go through this whole moment of I’m only sewing knee patch. Is that jackets or do you kind of have a plan when you see something? It depends. I think it’s different every time sometimes. Yeah, I will look at a piece. I’m like, Oh yeah, that needs a patch or like that. It’s going to be a jacket. I think again, it depends on the condition of the quilt. If I can make a coat from that, if there’s a big enough piece to save from that, also for the patches I use pretty much exclusively grandmother’s garden patches. So those are those sexy flowers that you see. And anytime I get one of those quilts, I kind of set it aside for that purpose unless it’s, you know, it’s really great and has a lot of big pieces to use, then I’ll keep it for something else. But for the most part, those become the patches. Well, I’m obsessed with actually everything that you make, but those jackets, like the actual quilted jackets or the whole thing is. Yeah, those are just friggin fabulous. Thank you so much. do you do any. I know you sell online, but do you do any sort of in-person markets? I only ask you this right now because I’m prepping for two and my brain is literally focused on like, okay, do I have enough stuff to fill a bit, right? I know there’s so much work, but I mostly sell in person. I have, you know, a select few items online every now and then. But honestly, I feel like maintaining a website is a full time job in itself, and it’s just not something that I maybe just want to spend my time doing at this moment. And I get a lot of messages on Instagram asking, you know, if I have things listed or when they will be listed. So I have to get on that like I really have to. And I think that helps grow your business to just having your items available to people outside of where you live. But the in-person markets are just so great. It’s so great to interact with people that are buying your things and get feedback from people on your items. And there is a lot of work, but I think it’s really worth it to have those in-person interactions. Do you saw in any of the local shops in your area or are you mostly just do the pop up markets? I mostly just do pop ups. I did sell at a store for a little bit last year and hoping to sell again there this summer because that’s really fun too. It’s just it’s nice to be associated with a store and have your stuff just out there without you necessarily there too. So that was a really fun experience. But do you feel your like your market audiences, do you see that it’s more of like the Joneses and millennials that are buying from you? Or is it the older generation who loves, loves, quilting themselves? Like, what do you what do you see as your as your main base? Yeah, I think that’s an interesting question because I feel like when I’m creating the stuff, I’m thinking of a younger customer or, you know, my age too. But when I do sell in person, I always have people like, oh my God, my grandmother used to make these or, you know, like tying back to, you know, that kind of thing. And I think I think it’s a mix. I think both generations can appreciate what what it is and for different reasons. Yeah, I think the younger generation is cooler than when we were younger. Well, I think you’re younger than me, but when I was in my teens and twenties, I don’t think anyone was thrifting. I think, yeah, you know. Yeah. Doing whatever. So I’m fascinated that this new generation is really into this like vintage, like, totally. Yeah. It’s all coming back Yeah. Yeah. And that like nineties inspiration which I mean that was like me growing up, so the smiley faces and all that stuff I just really love deep down. So I try to incorporate all that and I think that definitely is like the younger the younger crowd too. Yeah, it’s fashion is fascinating to watch. Yeah, it totally is. Like everything comes back around always like my mom, you know, my whole life has been like I should have kept those so the right In middle school I tried to get my mom to buy me clogs because they were popular in the nineties and she didn’t want to do it because she wore clogs in the seventies and she hated them. Who would have thunk? You know, like you, you just don’t know. Even like the low rise, stuff. You were like, please just never come back again. Like, Yeah, it is back, it is back. And I heard micro minis are making their way and I just don’t know how I feel about this. Yeah. Some of the stuff you wonder why that wasn’t just a one hit wonder, but it all comes back around. It does. As long as they stop calling the nineties vintage, I mean. Oh my gosh. Got some stuff. But have you seen the American Girl doll? It’s like that. Like Punch in the Heart. Yeah, it was the nineties girl and it was like, you know, vintage or whatever they called it. They called it some crazy thing. And my cousins and I One Christmas, all about the American Girl Dolls. So we were like sending that meme around to all of us, and we were just, like, laughing so hard. We were like, That’s crazy with, like, the dial up Internet. And I think, yeah, those blowup couch chairs. Oh, my God. Really showing up places again, too. Yes. Yeah, I definitely had one of those. And the butterfly chairs and like. Yeah, oh yeah, yeah. No, it was it was pretty offensive. American Girl. It kind of took out a lot of people. They told me, I just need to know, do you have any big dreams or goals or plans for the future for old friend goods? Do you have anything on your bucket list that you’re trying to do? I really just want to keep it fun. I just really want to have fun. And I want to see, you know, where the universe decides to take this. I, I had a small business. Now I feel like in a past life. But shortly after I graduated from college, I was doing natural fabric dyeing. And I feel like I got super burnt out because it it became unfun. And I just going into this now, I always want to make sure that I am making things that I love and making things that make me happy. And I just really want to keep it that way. No, I. I totally get that. And you never want to pigeonhole yourself in is that. Yeah. You, you feel like you have to do. Exactly. Because then it becomes a job, you know? And I just want to keep it always just light and fun and happy. Yeah. And, and honestly, you talked about when you named your business, but you really did. You made it open, ended a, you know, in a couple of years you could be doing something completely different, but with the same vibe and totally would make sense Yeah. And that’s, you know, my hope for that too. Well, I am excited to see what it is that you do in any type of future endeavor, because I think what you make is brilliant and I really want I want to see it. And I am such a huge fan of spreading love to as many people and as many creative people as possible. And honestly, every time I ask this question to a guest on here, I end up having a bunch new people to follow. So looking forward to this one. Do you have a favorite person or a people that you’re following on social media right now that are in the craft or creative realm and what draws you to them? Yeah, I really I’m loving Thread and Sprout. She does like these really cool nature inspired dresses and they’re just really beautiful. She’s also super real. She has a crazy large following, but she’s really real. She always makes it a point to kind of point out like, she’s a person. You know, if you’re, like, messaging me about something like I’m a person that has a life and not a robot. And I think that’s just really refreshing that she’s so open about that, that, you know, she is producing all this stuff, but she’s still just, you know, one person. And I just think that’s really great. I think she’s really inspiring. But I also feel really lucky to have a lot of in-person, real life creative friends, too, that are so inspiring and make what I do really fun as well. So I just I don’t know if we can list them maybe in like the blog posts or something, but I have a lot of really talented friends too. And you’re afraid of leaving any of them out too? I am. Like, I get at it when I think about it. There’s just so many of them and we do a lot of the same pop ups and markets and it’s just really fun to have that in-person community too. I think it’s so interesting too, because creative people just like magnetized, other creative people and yeah, this like network without even realizing it’s happening, you totally do. And sometimes I have to remember, I am in such a bubble creating is just part of life for a lot of the people that I surround myself with. And I have to remember sometimes like, oh, that isn’t everyone’s world, but I feel just, super lucky to have that. Yeah. It really is a blessing, actually. Yeah. Tory, thank you so much for joining you today. I think your process and creations are seriously so fresh and different, and I’m really glad I came across you on Instagram. Me too. For everyone listening. Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of I Can Make That Conversations with creatives. And Tory, I’m going to give you the floor by having you take us out, by telling us how to find you online so everyone can be inspired just like I am, and they can support you and your incredible business. Yeah. Thank you so much for listening today. This was so fun. Find me at Old Friend Goods on Instagram and old friend goods dot com.