Brandy Houllahan, artist, crafter, and now northwest local, spent a great deal of her formative years with the brave and the bold in Louisiana, surrounded by strong personalities and women who commanded respect. The Cajun word for darling, she learned, was Cherie. But the name Cherie embodies more than just affection; a Cherie is a woman full of grace, dedication, and self-confidence. So when Brandy was searching for a name to call her jewelry business, she choose Cherie to represent the direction and vision of her craft.
I met Brandy, baby in arm, at the Fremont Street Market. The weather was still amiable, despite the chill of fall you could feel approaching in the wind. We talked about her children, how she originally started crafting as a way to help provide for her family while staying home with the kids. We talked about her jewelry, and her continued drive to master new skills, such as welding. But what stuck out the most to me was what Brandy said about the other crafters she had met in Seattle, particularly at the Fremont market: “We’ve become a real community here, a place where people care for each and watch out for each other.” The kindness of her neighbor crafters had help make possible Brandy’s success, and visa versa. It wasn’t about competition, it was about building a sense of community between people with similar passions and aspirations; it was about creating a place to belong.
There’s no a human on the planet, I would guess, that doesn’t aspire to belong. Be it in a family or at the office or with a group of great friends, we are all drawn towards the comfort and hope that is found only in community (take the new Facebook video for example). These local crafters, be they jewelers or knitters or painters or bakers, are building something powerful together. Not only are they sharing beauty through their art, and doing it sustainably, they are working together to build a better community, a better city. As Brandy would say, “Anyone can be a Cherie.”
To find out more about Cherie by Brandy, check out her website at www.cheriebybrandy.com