Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Meet Catherine Cyko of Beautiful Bags Etc

We all love getting to know the people behind the work, what inspires them and what drives their business.  Today we hear from Catherine Cyko of Beautiful Bags Etc.

1. Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what drew you to your chosen craft?
I live in Aurora, second largest city in Illinois.  I'm married to my best friend who has a real job at the Post Office as an electronic technician.  We have three daughters and two teenage grand daughters.  I won't go as far back as 1954 but I will say that I grew up around craftsmen and I have always been drawn to textiles.  I can remember making doll clothes and puppets from old socks, cardboard and buttons at a very young age.  Both my mother and grandmother were sewers and my dad, who was a cabinet maker, always said, "it just runs in the blood".

2: Who taught you how to do your craft, and how long have you been creating?
I took sewing and tailoring classes all through school.  A girlfriend's father had a little upholstery shop so, of course, I wanted to see what it was all about.  He taught me most of the basics and then I was on my own to experiment and practice.  I started working on furniture and family and eventually it turned into a business.  Most people thought my husband did all the actual upholstery work because, in those days, it was not the sort of work women typically were involved in.  I just didn't see any reason why I couldn't run a business.  That was over 35 years ago!
Now that I've retired from the upholstery business I've redirected all this skill and in yards and yards and yards, into a new business.  I've taught myself how to make handbags, totes and purses.  My first creations weren't very impressive but I think they are coming along nicely within a very short time so I opened up my etsy shop last summer.

3: How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
I would consider my style to be artistically traditional.  I try to make function and aesthetics come together.  I really don't pay attention to trends and what other people are making.

4: Where do you seek inspiration from?
Oh gosh, that's easy.  all I have to do is walk in the door of my shop.  The question should actually be "how do you decide which "inspiration" do you work on today?"  I always have at least a dozen ideas rolling around in my head and four or five projects on the table.  Sometimes there's a hold up of some sort with one so I work on a different one.

5: What are you focused on right now?
I am trying to finish up the last of the upholstery jobs booked at the beginning of this year and balance that with all the demands of a new business.

6: What are your can't-live-without craft-room essentials?
First and foremost would be my industrial walking foot sewing machine then my work table which is quite large, various other sewing machines, fabrics and tools.

7: How do you combat creative blocks?
My dad taught me the technique of "walk away" which means if you are struggling with a project or ideas to simply take a break, do something else or maybe even just sleep on it.  It's amazing how the next day it all comes together, almost by itself it seems!  Works for me every time.

8: Why should people buy handmade?
Anne Lappe was quoted in O Magazine 2003 "Every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want".  We've been importing and buying so much "junk" from other countries for so long that most people don't even know what quality craftsmanship looks like any more.  I believe that is one of the reasons why my upholstery shop was so successful and I intend to maintain that high level of workmanship in my handbags.

9: Anything else you would like to share and where can we find you?
I think everyone has something special to offer.  If you have an idea or dream, just try it.  What's the worst that can happen? You might surprise yourself!

You can find Catherine Cyko and her wonderful creations at:
and here:
and here:
and one more:

Thank you for the opportunity to share.

I would like to thank Catherine Cyko for taking the time to write this wonderful interview and give us an insight into her world!
Clare Martin - DreamDifferently


  1. Great interview! Continued success, Catherine!!

  2. Absolutely wonderful. I am a fan of Catherine's blog, love keeping up with her latest.