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Kickstarter Backer Feature: Clinton O'Dell

Clinton painting the walls of 370 Broadway.

A very wise customer suggested we share some of the reasons why a variety of the folks that have pledged to back our Kickstarter campaign  made that choice. As if it wasn't enough to get all weepy each time someone new makes a contribution, the answers we've received to our request have been kind and thoughtful just like each of you.

Today we'd like to introduce you to Clinton O'Dell . Clinton is a costume designer for the stage and is an Associate Professor of Theatrical Design at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Clinton volunteered so many hours to help us launch gather here back in January of 2011. And he's the reason Noah and Virginia met in the first place.

When did you discover gather here?

I discovered Gather Here almost as soon as it was conceived. I've known Virginia and Noah for several hundred years (ok, I've known Virginia for about 19 years, and Noah for about 15...) so I got to watch while they dreamed and schemed and worked like mad to bring the store into reality. Virginia has always been the smartest, most creative person I know but this little plot she and Noah hatched about creating a community of makers might be their most brilliant work ever. So far ;)

What is your craft and how does gather here support it?
I am a costume designer. As any costume designer knows, finding really beautiful, interesting fabrics is not easy outside of major urban areas, and GH has the most unique collection of textiles and fibers available in the Boston area. Plus, GH supports a ton of local artists and craftspeople who are all filled with talent and expertise and have unbelievably beautiful gifts to offer. I even got to have Lizzy House, whom I found through GH, do a workshop with my own students on pattern creation.

Curtains made from Birch organic cotton for Clinton and his partner Mike's home.

Have you backed a Kickstarter campaign before? What was it?
There is an independent singer and songwriter named Levi Kreis, and I've been a backer for a couple of his albums. Check him out, if you don't know who he is. He is a truly gifted musician and performer, and his voice is spectacular. It will make you melt.

There are thousands of Kickstarter campaigns that could use funding, why did you chose this one?
I believe in the same things that Gather Here believes in. I teach at a small liberal arts college. Which basically means that I spend a lot of time being a "jack of many trades," and I try really hard to master a few. I design things, I make things. I teach other people about designing and making things. When I am teaching a student about bridging the gap between the "dream" and the reality, I often see how mystified the student is at the onset, and it sometimes takes a big leap of faith to keep going. So many students feel like they should throw in the towel because they think, "This is too hard," or "I don't know what I'm doing." Some might say that my whole career revolves around helping folks respond to that little itty bitty imaginary voice saying "Make this thing!" and then helping them figure it out and cheering them on while they do.

Gather Here offers the very same kinds of lessons and inspiration and cheerleading that I try to provide my students. I think making things is the very best way of discovering who you are, what makes you tick, and what you're made of. There is nothing better than finishing a project and realizing that YOU made something, where once there was nothing.
Gather Here offers people a place to discover those things about themselves, alongside other people making the same discoveries. And the one of the best parts about Gather Here is that it offers that chance for kids, with things like Fashion Camp. That's an amazing opportunity and I wish more kids were able to discover themselves that way.

Is there a particular reward that you think makes this campaign unique?
I think the best part of GH and it's rewards is that the store (and this campaign) offer experience and knowledge in addition to fabulous products. Lots of campaigns offer various rewards for support, but when you can learn something, and then use that knowledge to MAKE something, that reward lasts a lot longer than any of the "things" you might get for supporting a campaign.

What would you tell someone who isn't sure about funding a Kickstarter Campaign?
DO IT! If you find something that you really believe in, if your heart tells you that a project is interesting and deserving of support, then you should do it. There's no risk; if the project is funded, your donation goes in. If not, you keep your money. As long as you believe that project is creative and thoughtful and might enrich a place or industry or even one person, then all your dollars, however few or many they may be, will be put to good use.

Knit bunny by Clinton's partner, Mike. Created in a gather here class while Clinton stitched the curtains.

The Kickstarter Campaign ends on January 15th. If you can and feel so inclined, please take a moment and back us. You contribution supplements the generous funding from the building owner and grants from the City of Cambridge. Don't underestimate the value of sweat equity, either. We've poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this DIY project and we think you'll be able to tell. We can't wait to make 1343 Cambridge Street our home and we hope you'll think of it as your second home, too.


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