American Made Profile | October 7, 2015
Near Boston, the town of Worcester, Massachusetts, is in the heart of one of America’s most historic regions. Now, among the rolling hills and thick forest, the town boasts a new way for Americans to reconnect with their past…The Men’s Soap Shop.
A common theme with dreamers is being able to make a real difference while you do what you love. That dream is coming true for Stacie Bloomfield, who founded Gingiber, and functions as its owner and illustrator.
Located in Springdale, Arkansas, Gingiber makes a wide range of imaginative and attractive creations, including stationery, greeting cards, tea towels, and hand-made animal-inspired pillows. But look past the surface products, and you’ll see an American-made success story that started decades ago when a little girl was sitting with her family in the pews of a small, Midwestern church.
“It’s one of my earliest memories,” Bloomfield recalled. “I remember sitting there during the sermon. One of my favorite things to do was to draw on the program for the service.”
Fast forward. Several years later, Bloomfield took her love of illustration and art with her along every step of her life. No matter where she was or what she did, her art and her craft remained with her — almost like a plant growing beneath the surface of the earth, ready one day to spring out into the sunlight.
Bloomfield’s love of art and illustrating has been her lifelong craft. Through the years, she continued to nurture it and hone it with time.
Then a few years ago, an opportunity presented itself.
At the time, she managed a local restaurant that belonged to a large national coffee chain. Her days were filled with all of the normal trials and tribulations that came with operating a retail location day in and day out. And her schedule was filled to overflowing — with 50 to 60 hour work weeks.
Her husband, Nathan, was also hard at work. He was pursuing his dreams — including his doctorate in mathematics. And, the Bloomfield’s had welcomed their first child, a little girl, into the world, as well.
Yet, despite all the drains on Bloomfield’s time, her passion kept working its way up through the soil of everyday life.
“I usually found time to draw and illustrate later at night, after my daughter went to bed,” Bloomfield remembered.
Pictures of animals were her favorite subjects to create. About this time, a project at the house helped her talents take root and grow in a new way.
"One of the first things a few years ago that happened was I was looking for ideas for things to put on my daughter’s nursery room walls. And I was having a really hard time finding what I was looking for,” she said.
The answer? She just decided to create what she wanted. Something happened during that same time that convinced Bloomfield to share her talents outside the walls of her home. Back then, the Etsy online site was pretty new. As an experiment, Bloomfield made some of her illustrations available through the site. The reaction was encouraging. Very encouraging. In fact, Etsy quickly decided to do a spotlight feature on her so that more of its visitors could get to know this new talent. That’s when things really started to take off for her and for Gingiber. "We got so much attention from that. It was incredible,” she says.
The attention — and the orders — kept coming. And within three years Bloomfield was able to quit her job at the coffee shop and concentrate her attention full-time working on growing her Gingiber dream. Success has continued. And again, it’s because Bloomfield created it.
Two years ago, she was watching an interview with a business leader, the head of The Land of Nod — the children’s store division of Crate & Barrel. “During the interview, the person gave their email address,” Bloomfield recalled. “So I just decided to write to her.”
Bloomfield sent an email, attached her website and samples of her work. In her email, she expressed how she would really like to contribute her artwork to the Land of Nod line. The company wrote back — and agreed.
The result? Today, Bloomfield proudly supplies the company with cuddly illustrations created for their line of children’s bedding. Her business has also grown to the point of needing to hire two employees. Her sister works for the company, as well.
“She (my sister) works remotely from another town,” Bloomfield points out. “But she is so good to have on our team. She and I bring pretty different sets of skills to our work. So we really balance each other.” She also credits Nathan for his rock-solid support and much more. “He may not be an official employee of Gingiber,” she admits. “But there’s no way I could do this without him.”
“That’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” she smiles. “That we’re growing with the idea that you can create what you want. That’s one of the things that I want my kids to learn and to know; that you can use your creativity in the world around you. That’s what I’m so blessed to be able to do. My work, my life, my home are all so intertwined.”
LIKE A HUG FOR THE WORLD.
Bloomfield continues creating — and diversifying. In fact, Gingiber just gained new studio space in Springdale to make room for some local showroom space. Her dreams are also taking shape in places around the world — including 160 retailers around the globe, with more on the way in the future. Plus, Bloomfield hopes to even come out with her own line of fabric sometime within the next year.
In addition to the increased attention, expanded product offerings, and enhanced outlooks, Bloomfield feels an intense sense of purpose and fulfillment — sometimes in ways she couldn’t have anticipated.
A prime example is a children’s therapy office that bought some of her warm, cuddly animal pillows.
“The therapist told me that she got the pillows to use for her sessions with the kids.” Bloomfield elaborated, “She felt like the pillows were comforting to the kids. They would hold them during the therapy sessions and start talking.”
Our dreams can make a difference. It begins with taking small steps toward those dreams. Like the little girl from Arkansas who started drawing all those years ago in church; today, her drawings are comforting those who need it most.
“So it’s more than art,” Bloomfield pauses. “To know that what we’re doing here is touching lives, it’s just so gratifying.”
To learn more, see www.Gingiber.com
Credits // Author: Dave Danielson Photos Provided By: Gingiber