Steppin Up

Steppin Up

Back in 2008 or 2009, I offered an Etsy class at my art studio and taught a small group of artists how to sell their work online.

IMG_9770In that class was Jeanne Nivard of Jeanne’s Bags and Carol Law Conklin of Amity Farm Batik. Both are incredible artists working with textiles and I’m happy to say that they’ve both become longtime Advokate clients and friends as well. Today I’m talking about my relationship with Carol.

So we launched that Etsy shop together back when, and have been meeting once a week ever since. It’s Carol who initiated the side-by-side visits and has brought me questions and things to do every week. She would come to my house and sit around my dinky $400 laptop at my dining room table while we worked. I have files on my computer dating back to 2010 that we still reference. I updated my computer, made myself a home office and we’d keep up our meetings.

IMG_0558.JPGAfter a few years I opened my first office in the Shirt Factory, and Carol would come see me there. It was then that I decided that I could offer this service to other people. I called them Amity meetings, named for her business, Amity Farm Batik. Offering consulting services and side-by-side work, something that I don’t believe that anyone else around here does, is something that I do because of Carol.

We update her website with her art shows and events, she dictates blog posts I type up and format, we photograph her batik, and make them into mirror images and long slices and upload them to a website that prints them onto fabric she has made into scarves and pillowcases and swatches for quilters. We enter art shows and do photo editing and erase the cat hair from her images of her beautiful batik. We send out her e-newsletter and set up social media accounts and upload things to FineArtAmerica and sometimes I answer questions about her iPhone. Lately we’ve been making her gorgeous batik into leggings, dresses and kimonos.

When I left the Shirt Factory, she’d come to the house again. And when I opened the downtown office, she’d meet me there. And now that I’m working somewhat from home so I can be close to my four-month-old daughter Ellie, she comes to my house again.

Carol has had 3,149 sales on Etsy.

IMG_9961Every week, Carol comes to the door and I say, “Would you like some tea?” and she says, “I would love some tea.” And we have our tea and sit down and I say, “What are we doing today?” and she brings out her folder with her notes. We’ve gone through quite a few folders in our years working together. We laugh, we visit, we work. In typing her blog posts up, I’ve learned much about her life, from her first horse to her farm (named Amity Farm of course!), to her husband Dick, to her old best cow. The stories are good. Carol is a connected person, wise and in tune with nature in a very real way. This shows in her artwork, of course.

A while back, she invited Henry and I to her home out in Washington County. It seemed like such a far drive, but I accepted the invitation. We brought a bag of apples for her llama, Vanilla, and her cow, Steppin Up. Henry was just a little guy. We picked blueberries and raspberries off the bushes, were treated to a batik demonstration and even got to try making batik ourselves! We brought a picnic and I helped Carol with her computer.

IMG_6033Since then, it has become a special summer tradition, to visit Carol’s home and see her cats, and bring apples for Vanilla and Steppin, and go inside her home and say hello to her husband Dick and see her studio. She has the most beautiful sunlight and view of the mountains which are in many of her batik. The flowers growing are beautiful. And it’s really the closest encounter we’ve had with farm animals. As a vegan, I’ve had many enlightening conversations with Carol about her experiences on a farm. It’s made me less of a militant sort of vegan, and I think that’s really beautiful knowledge that she’s given me; a much richer understanding of the animals and the small dairy farmer’s relationship with them.

il_570xN.872735469_61veHer cow, Steppin, has been with her for fifteen years. She kept her as a pet long after her milking years were over, and put in backbreaking labor to care for her and Vanilla, shoveling poop, carting hay and water around, fixing fences and all of the hard work that goes into caring for a large animal.

Carol said goodbye to Steppin on Monday. She would be coming to see me in an hour, but she’s having car trouble this week and has a family situation to deal with as well.

I’m writing about Carol today because I know that Steppin meant so much to her (and to Vanilla, Steppin’s best friend). I am thinking of Carol today and wishing I could give her a big hug.

We will miss seeing Steppin on our July visits, and in Carol’s beautiful Instagram photos.

She’s been a good cow to know.


Kate Austin-Avon

Kate E. Austin is known for her creative advocacy. She is a regular speaker on branding and social media with educational institutions and Chambers of Commerce. She owns and operates Advokate, LLC. Currently she serves on the boards of the Glens Falls Business Improvement District, is on the World Awareness Children’s Museum’s Advisory Council, and is involved in the Jackson Heights PTA. Originally from Killington, Vermont, she studied art at Hartwick College and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Art from Empire State College. She is a mother of three.