We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Bell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always loved being creative. When I was around 6 or 7, I remember my mom and grandmother spreading a quilt out on the living room floor, pinning it and quilting it by hand. I was always in awe of the things they could create. My mom has always loved sewing and quilting so I got to try that out when I was growing up. My grandmother also crocheted and I would sit next to her and watch her. She tried to teach me but I only had enough attention span to learn a single stitch and would crochet a long string which she would unravel and then have me do again. I picked it back up about 3 or 4 years ago and I sort of took off with it. I’ve tried as many different hobbies as I could get my hands on and storage space would allow. Jewelry making, sewing, quilting, painting. Everything was fun, but I couldn’t quite get to the level I felt really confident in. When I started crocheting again it just flowed. It’s relaxing and challenging at the same time. When I complete a project, especially once I got into amigurumi and stuffed animals, it’s so exciting to see the piece come together into something fun and cute. Seeing someone else enjoy it is what really makes my heart burst with joy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I make crocheted and hand crafted goods under Sweet Belle Makes. I started off with things like scarves and blankets, but really found joy in making crocheted animals and toys. Not only are the stuffed animals fun to make, as you start with a plain stitch and end up with a cute figure, but seeing other people enjoy them is the best part. I love seeing people smile about the cute colorful eyes or round little bellies. Cutesy things have always made me happy, so being able to make something that makes someone else happy feels like the ultimate joy. I still think I have quite a ways to go with my business, but I am proud of how much I’ve been able to achieve so far. It’s definitely not easy being a one woman shop but I have been able to learn so many new things because of it. When you run your own business you have to be the marketing team, photographer, finance person, creator, all of it. So it’s interesting to see what else you’re capable of. There are great resources out there to help someone piece it all together, so I want others to feel encouraged to do so as well. I think everyone can find their own support system and cheer team if you keep looking for it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Dallas has tons of amazing restaurants but I’ve always been a fan of small, local places. One of my favorite lunch places is Henk’s European Deli. I love German food, and they have a great bakery as well. I’m also a big fan of burgers and queso and Rodeo Goat as my favorites along with Texas beers. As far as drinks go, the best bartender around is definitely Gabe Sanchez. He’s at Midnight Rambler and he makes the best old fashioned, and really any other drink, you could ask for.
I’ll always recommend Good Local Markets for your farmer’s market needs, and that’s not just because I have a tent there. You can find all your grocery needs there from local farmers who really care about what they produce. You can grab breakfast, look around, get some jewelry and bath goods or start your own garden with the help of Bobby’s Best Plant Starts. You’ll also find my favorite cookies from Baker Baker Cookies and the best spices from Sandcastle Seasonings.
Of course I’d have to go to at least one yarn store and DMH Fiber & Yarn is Dallas’ local yarn store. If we’re making it a yarn day, we’d also have to visit McKinney Knittery (in McKinney) and West 7th Wool (in Fort Worth). All of the stores have beautiful hand dyed yarns from local artists and beyond. Of course, I could talk yarn all day but that wasn’t the question.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
All of my friends and family have been super supportive of my crocheting. From my mom, who is always encouraging my yarn addiction, to my aunt who always buys the things I make for gifts, to my best friends who field constant design questions and business ideas, to my instagram friends who are always cheering me on, to my husband who encouraged me to make this a more serious pursuit. There’s no one person I can acknowledge because everyone has played such a big role in my inspiration and support system. However, I do feel that my business really picked up when I started attending Good Local Markets. Everyone there, vendors and customers, have been so kind and welcoming. It’s such a great community of people who are hard working and passionate about their products and customers who are interested in supporting their community. I honestly look forward to market days the most of all days. It’s hard work getting everything together, getting up early and putting it all out but I’m never disappointed. Even on the slow days there’s always some interaction that brings a huge smile to my face.
Other: Tiktok: @sweetbellemakes