For Marin-based Lisa Anderson Shaffer, the act of making is in her blood. Her grandmothers Zelma and Rose were dressmakers and taught her needlework and cross stitch and Rose’s sister was one of the first woman to attend the Pratt Institute for Fashion Design.
“I think other people knew I was an artist long before I did,” says Lisa.
Lisa majored in Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute, and then spent seven years as an Artist in Residence at the UCSF Cancer Center. She then went back to school to become a licensed psychotherapist and had a private practice. It was only after starting a family with her husband that Lisa began making things more consistently, and loving it completely before starting Zelma Rose in 2010.
“I finally understood that I need to be creative and need to do it every day because when I don’t, I’m not happy in a whole way. I love making. It’s as essential as breathing.”
Now, Lisa focuses her creative energy into making snappy hand-dyed pocket squares, classy bow ties, jewelry and more, all while keeping things as close to home as possible. She shops at Marin’s Dharma Trading Company for fabrics and dyes – “and then everything else, I really try to keep local even if it means there’s a middle man involved. It’s easier for me to feel like I have a relationship with people,” she says.
While she is a Martha Stewart Living American Made Finalist, there are things closer to home that are just as satisfying in the Zelma Rose world.
“I had a customer come up to me and say ‘I’m getting a tattoo of one of your necklaces.” The woman had one of Lisa’s clever cross stitched zodiac sign necklaces.
“To see a customer wear a design in a way that I had never even imagined makes me both astonished and really excited. I love the interaction with customers and the surprises that come along with that.”
Photos: Portrait (Sarah Deragon) and Bow Tie (Cristal Veronica Photography)