Category Archives: Profiles

Beth Engelhardt, Old Town Soap Co.

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What began as a hobby making bath and body products as Christmas gifts turned into a business for Beth Engelhardt of the Old Town Soap Co. She sells handmade soaps, lotions, candles, body sprays, lip products, beard oils, bath bombs, lotion rollups and wax melts at her shop in China Grove and at various festivals such as Kaleidoscope in Kannapolis.

Old Town Soap Co. was a presence at every Kaleidoscope event last year. “It’s just an awesome event for everyone who makes handcrafted items to sell for people to enjoy,” Engelhardt said. “It’s always a fun, upbeat atmosphere, with music, food and fun!”

To create her line of handmade items, Engelhardt does extensive research to learn about the best butters, essential oils and other ingredients to use in each product. She’s formulated moisturizing soaps, a bar for teens and others with acne-prone skin, and even “You Dirty Dog,” a shampoo bar for dogs.

I love making things and being creative,” Engelhardt said. “I can get lost in Hobby Lobby for hours. When I tell my husband that’s where I’m headed, he always threatens to take my credit card.”

Check out Old Town Soap Co. on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/oldtownsoapco/ and their website at https://www.oldtownsoapco.com/, or drop by their shop at 113 S. Main St. in China Grove.

The Wandering Pygmy, Sam Kearns

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Artist Sam Kearns puts Kaleidoscope at the top of the list of festivals where she has sold her work. “It is my favorite festival because it is so art driven,” said Kearns, who sells her handcrafted dream catchers and original paintings under the name The Wandering Pygmy. “All of the vendors are real artists, and it’s nice to have a festival that promotes raw art like Kaleidoscope does.”

Although she holds two jobs and goes to school full-time, Kearns is serious about her art business. After painting for six years, she decided four years ago to add dream catchers to her lineup. “I wanted to do something more tactile,” she said. “Since then, I have become very passionate about dream catchers and see them as just as much of a creative outlet as painting.”

Whether painting or crafting a dream catcher, Kearns said finding the time to create can be a challenge. Wrapping the outside of the hoop and fashioning the weave in the center are both time-consuming tasks even for the smallest dream catcher.

As if work, school and art didn’t take up enough time, a busy Kearns also has a passion for nature and travel, and is planning a five-month trip to Alaska. She also loves camping, rock climbing and lounging in her hammock. “I am so fond of my hammock that I have a tattoo of it on my leg!” she noted.

Visit Kearns in person at the April 30 Kaleidoscope festival, or check out her work on Facebook and Etsy under The Wandering Pygmy.

Kaleidoscope Profile: Reflections of Kenya by Susannah Kelty

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After working as a Christian missionary in Kenya for 28 years, Susannah Kelty decided to resurrect the creative outlet she had used years earlier as a small fundraiser overseas.

Having retired back to the United States in 2011 to care for her elderly mother, Kelty revisited Reflections of Kenya, which had been born more than a decade earlier as an outlet for the photo note cards she and her photographer husband produced as a fundraiser to help the pastors in their area of northern Kenya. This time, she decided to pursue Reflections as a hobby to provide exposure for the work of Kenyan people who create handcrafted items to support themselves.

The products she now sells through Reflections of Kenya come from various sources and include: handmade jewelry; decorative home items such as placemats and cushion covers sewn from traditional Kenyan fabrics; blank note cards featuring images of people and scenery in Kenya; hand-decorated special occasion cards created from hand-crafted paper; and framed photos of Kenyan flowers, birds and wildlife.

The welcoming atmosphere of the Kannapolis Kaleidoscope festival has been perfect for Kelty as a hobbyist. “Reflections of Kenya is so small that it is definitely classified as a ‘side hobby,’” she said. “I enjoy the Kaleidoscope festival because it is intimate, friendly and varied.”

RomanDA Photography

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I am a photographer, well sometimes I think I’m more of a Digital Artist than photographer.  But, since all of my “art” comes from the photos I take, I will stick with photographer.

I love to shoot all kinds of things, but I think classic cars, sunsets/sunrises, and landscapes usually win out for me.

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