Created by Rachel Stephen-Barnes, Cassidy's Crafty Closet features a collection of stuffies for kids of all ages. Named after Rachel's daughter, Cassidy, each stuffed animal is made by hand and inspired by the music of Phish.
Why we chose Cassidy's Crafty Closet
I met Rachel on Shakedown at Deer Creek when Phish played there in June 2022. Not only did I immediately love her adorable creations, I really liked her energy too. I'm always excited to meet other women building something they're passionate about, and it was fun to talk to Rachel about her enthusiasm for sewing and how she'd found a balance in life between work, family and creativity. I knew right away we needed her stuffies in our shop, so when she came to New York recently for Phish New Year's, I brought home a big bag of her little stuffed phriends from the Phanart show.
-Taylor Swope, founder Little Hippie
Created by Rachel Stephen-Barnes
Q&A with Rachel
When did you start sewing? Who taught you?
I was taught the basics of sewing through Home Economics classes, but everything I really know about sewing comes with time and practice through a lot of trial and error.
What was the first thing you made and why?
I decided to first start sewing some custom concert clothing for myself around 2012. The first thing I really decided to sew for myself was a little wrap skirt for a music festival, and it actually turned out pretty awesome with no pattern or experience. This encouraged me to keep creating more. Through sewing clothing for myself I was able to learn many important details (sometimes the hard way) about sewing different fabric types, machine maintenance, and various stitch types.
When did it occur to you to use your sewing skills to make things to sell?
In 2015 I had my twins very prematurely, at just 25 weeks. They continued to have some major health and lung issues for the few years of their lives, so during that time period I had to quit my job to care for them. For my own creative outlet I started sewing some clothing for my daughter. I realized it was something that I really enjoyed, but materials weren't cheap either. So to offset costs I started making a few extra items here and there to sell on Etsy.
What's your day job? Would you rather be working on Cassidy's Crafty Closet full time?
As my twins got healthier I eventually went back to work. I work accounts receivable currently, but I have held many office roles throughout my lifetime. As much as I would rather be sewing, my day job offers me the stability I desire currently with 3 young kids. It also really helps me to have a better understanding of how to run the business side of Cassidy's Crafty Closet. I am grateful to have found through my various job roles how to provide an amazing experience for my own customers. I put a lot of myself into the products I create, and I strive to make sure my business is run as professionally as possible while still being fun enough for Shakedown Street. That's me, that is who I am. I have always worked hard to play hard, and playing hard for me has always meant seeing my favorite music live.
How do you balance your professional responsibilities with family life and still find time and energy for a side project?
I wake up before most people do. I start my day between 4:30-5:00 every day. This is the only way to get stuff for myself done, wake up before the rest of my household does. :) I also keep a lot of lists, I have a written calendar that keeps everybody's schedules, & I don't sit down too much. I am also very blessed to have a day job that I work from home with a flexible schedule and my children are finally all in school. Honestly, some days can be really tough, but it is worth it and I wouldn't change a thing.
You have three young children. Are any of them interested in what you're making? Do they share your love of crafting?
My daughter Cassidy, who the business is named after, is very interested in what I make. She has already begun to learn a little bit about sewing and embroidery at age 7. However, she is an even better artist and can draw some amazing pictures! Dylan & Albert are not as interested in the sewing itself, but they do still enjoy getting personalized creations and stuffies made by Mom.
What do you hope your children learn from seeing you be a creative entrepreneur?
All I want is for my children to be happy in life. I followed in my own mother's footsteps to an extent, she definitely worked her butt off throughout life (still is). She works hard and plays hard in her own ways. She will never understand the jam scene or my intense love of music and the arts, but she loves me and wants me to be happy and okay in life. I hope that my children will also have the drive in life to do their best work possible and to find what makes them happy as well. I really don't care what they do, but I hope they find a good balance for their life with all the things they do and enjoy. I hope they don't get too frustrated along the way and see mistakes are needed to grow in life. And, I mostly hope they learn to find beauty in their everyday life through learning, growing, and loving daily.