Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christina Lannan

Owner, Madder Root
Old Town, Maine

I usually tell people I am from Maine within the first five minutes of meeting. Even after spending over a decade in California, I consider myself a Mainer and think back often to my childhood home in Augusta and the surrounding area. The people, woods, ocean, and mountains have strongly influenced the way I live my life and view the world. I am frugal, still wear Bean Boots, and salute the lobster.

During a visit to the Common Ground Fair, an annual harvest celebration organized by the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, I first encountered the work of Christina Lannan. The fair has been promoting sustainable agriculture and local artisans since the 1970's and attracts over 55,000 attendees over its three day run to the small isolated town of Freedom. Christina's company, Madder Root creates organic kitchen linens locally made just up I-95 in Old Town. Her designs of Maine marine life, flora and fauna, and the understated objects of farm life take me back to times in my aunt's kitchen on the coast or trudging through the snowy woods.

I was not able to catch up with Christina in Maine but still wanted to tell the story of a talented woman making a creative food related business work in the state where she was raised. The photos for this post are thanks to Michael York and Madder Root. Her products are for sale on Etsy.

What is your role at Madder Root

Owner- which means I design, sew, print, and take out the trash.

Where did you find inspiration to start your company and why in Maine?

My grandmother had these great linen tea towels with calendars on them that I loved to use baking. When they wore out I had the idea to create replacements. My family is from Maine and when my husband and I settled down and started a family we knew it had to be here.

Where do you find design inspiration?

A lot of my inspiration comes from the time I spend outside. I am always sketching new designs.

Did you/do you have a mentor?

One of my best friends is also a printmaker and a huge inspiration for me. Every time we get together for tea I come home excited to try something new.

Any advice for working mothers?

Try to make time for the other things in life. This is something I struggle with. Working from home I can see the laundry when I'm working and the unanswered emails when I am trying to be just "mum" I'm getting better at separating the two but I still find myself having to leave the house to get away from work.

Describe your personal style?

Easy going. I love items with a history and character so I'm drawn to vintage and antique finds but I want to use things. There is no point in having a beautiful quilt that never sees the light of day or a vintage cookie cutter that doesn't get to cut cookies anymore.

Best most recent meal?

Hmmmmm how about best part of a meal. I love that we are in Brussel sprout season. We eat them a couple of times a week. Simply sauteed with a little butter and then tossed with some local extra dark maple syrup and a dash of hot chili pepper.

Strongest childhood food memory?

My mum and I have always made bread together. I got my love for baking from her. I remember loaf pans of bread rising beside the wood stove in the winter and that first taste of warm bread from the oven being magical.



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