Get to Know Lichenology
It’s finally spring time in Seattle! With all the blooming flowers and trees, we thought we’d catch up with local business Lichenology owned by Kelsi Dunn. Kelsi gathers local lichen and wood to handcraft unique jewelry and other crafts. We talked to Kelsi about her business and what she loves about markets. Get inspired!
What is the origin story for your business?
I started Lichenology in 2011 while living in my home state of Colorado. My in-laws were in the process of selling the beloved family cabin which was set in a gorgeous property deep in the Rocky Mountains adorned with aspen groves, pine trees, and large lichen-covered boulders.
I looked for a tangible way to hold on to the memory of the property and began collecting small natural artifacts that, when placed together, reconstructed a story about the cabin and what it means to be nourished by a place.
I made necklaces, coasters and wall hangings for the family. The craft grew from there with commissions for friends and customers I served in my restaurant jobs. Then one day, I was encouraged to sell at a local farmer’s market and launch my business.
I’ve continued my art in this vein over the years, living in many places that provided renewed inspiration and connections to the land. Using found materials in art—especially something so self-expressive as jewelry—allows me to continually examine and celebrate my relationship to place and share that insight with others. I’ve been in the Seattle area since late 2015 and this practice has really helped me feel rooted in my new home.
What about your business are you most proud of?
I am a self-taught jewelry maker, so my one-of-a-kind process is the result of a lot of trial and error! I’m proud—or, more accurately, thrilled—that my unique craft speaks to others looking to celebrate their love of nature and the places they feel connected to. I’ve been honored to do custom orders for clients who wish to memorialize their own stories in materials that they themselves have gathered—I’m so grateful to be trusted to preserve these special memories.
What do you love about vending at markets and craft shows?
I love the stories that customers share with me. I am continually amazed at the connections I am able to make while talking about lichen and wood. It reaffirms my belief that attention paid to our natural world yields deeper connections with each other and ourselves. Plus, meeting fellow lichen nerds has its perks.
What has been your favorite market experience and why?
So many to choose from! Each market has its own flavor and unique audience—it’s always exciting to see who I‘m going to meet! One of my favorite markets last year was West Seattle Summer Fest. I live only a few minutes from the festival, so it was so fun to get to know my neighbors in a new way and celebrate summer with what felt like a giant block party!
What are your must-haves for markets?
A big ol’ ball of twine for hanging and wrangling display items. Lots of pens, because I always end up losing one (or five). And lots of water to help me through all the talking!
Any advice for people looking to start their own business or start selling at markets?
Don’t get bogged down with what you ‘should’ be doing—just get out there and feel it out! Your business is your expression and will come together in a way that is uniquely yours. Also, reach out to fellow vendors if you’re stuck on something! It’s a great community full of lovely, hardworking people who are excited to help!
Brag to us! What are you most excited about right now?
Lichenology was just written up in the February issue of Seattle Magazine, and I’ll be featured in a short segment by Seattle Refined this coming month! I’m flattered to have such great support after only a year in business in Seattle—it’s been a whirlwind and I can’t wait to keep going!