Welcome to Impressions, a new series for The Seed & Plate. Impressions gathers thoughts, stories and wishes from people who inspire us. Open-ended prompts unfold glimpses into moments of influence and treasured memories along an individual’s path.
Kristen Bach opened Treehouse Kid & Craft in 2010, and with it created a magical haven for children of all ages. Her whimsical, playful vision informs the space she created, the atmosphere of her photographs and her penchant for finding beauty in everyday.
Season: Set the scene, what marks this season for you?
At home, food always defines the season for our family. We try to grow or forage a lot of our own food or get it from the farmers market so eating what is seasonally and available is really where the inspiration for meal planning comes from. At the shop, holidays really define the season for us. In shop installations and preparation as well as at the craft table. We oftentimes look to upcoming holidays or the season to get inspiration for projects and class content. Seasons play a big role in how my days and months play out in all avenues of my life.
Food: Something that nourishes you this time of year or the view from your kitchen.
In our home, we have been making a lot of handmade pasta. My daughter is really into cooking and I love to enable the bug. Pasta is really fun to make with her and we can add a homemade sauce filled with seasonal veggies. It is a major comfort food around our house during the winter months and we are starting to lighten it up now that the days are getting warmer.
Career: Doubts, sacrifices, inspirations or victories that marked the trail of your success.
This is a big question. I always try to remain positive when looking at my business, no matter how stressful it may be. I started TREEHOUSE in 2010 (during the recession) after just having my daughter. I knew that by no means my days, weeks, months would be easy but I knew that it could only go up from there! Do I still have hard times? Yes, of course! But I am completely in love with this path that I chose and I feel that my community wholeheartedly benefits from TREEHOUSE. I feel grateful to offer jobs to my employees and creative offerings to children and families of Athens. The overall idea might be big for the size of Athens but we are constantly thinking of ways to make it work within our own community as well as on a national level. I think with hard times and failure inspires creative problem solving and change which is super positive and keeps our business fresh.
Community: A moment when community or sense of place and role lifted you up.
I can honestly say that just about every day there is something that happens in the shop that lifts me up. It might be someone who stops by the shop for the first time, a child who uses paint for the first time, or a child who you can see finds magic in our space. I also love witnessing acts of kindness, (who doesn't?). We have had families sponsor kids for summer camps, a school teacher who bought one of his students Christmas gifts because he knew that they would not be receiving any.....the list goes on. Those simple moments mean the world to me.....and also make me burst into tears every time! I know that not everyone can shop at a place like TREEHOUSE every day but what I really wanted to create was a space where my community feels comfortable to play, create, and visit.
Impact: A vision, small or large, for your impact on the people around you.
I really just try to be present and listen to those around me. I treat TREEHOUSE as 'our' space, it is an open playing space for growth, ideas, and creativity amongst my employees. This mentality extends to my community. We are constantly collaborating with members of the community and celebrating the talents that exist in Athens and beyond. I do have a long-standing dream to someday start a non-profit to bring creative activities and supplies to less privileged areas in our community and throughout the world.
Wisdom: What’s the one thing no one told you that you wished you’d known sooner?
The first few years of owning a small business were really hard on so many levels and days were filled with so much uncertainty and questions. I had no idea if I made a mistake by opening a business. I think all small businesses struggle in the first couple or few years, I wish I knew that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Interview by Erin Wilson
Photo by Paige French