Full Name
Melissa Vansant
Speaker Bio
Jennifer and Melissa VanSant, having grown up with entrepreneurial parents, running a cottage industry business of making large fabric kites, sisters Jennifer and Melissa VanSant learned about all aspects of creating and selling a handmade product from a young age. As children they attended a Waldorf school, with a heavy focus on fine arts and creative expression. Jennifer went on to study education at Lesley College, and Melissa started and ran an organic coffee shop and vegetarian cafe. Both returned with their respective families to Great Barrington Massachusetts in order to live close to family, and decided to join forces and opened Off the Beaded Path, a bead and craft store in 2005. More than a decade ago their lifelong love of fibers and fiber craft led them into the world of needle felting. They began needle felting gnomes and their woodland friends. Customers in the store were constantly asking: “How do you make them?” “What is needle felting?” This prompted the sisters to begin teaching felting classes and producing their own felting kits to allow people to start creating their own villages of gnomes, and to take a stab at needle felting. They have spent the years since teaching workshops all over the country, have been invited to create art pieces for Vogue Knitting Live (in both Seattle, WA and New York, NY), and have made instructional videos with Interweave press. They have become regular contributors to Taproot Magazine with three issues featuring a felting project and article. Jennifer and Melissa are regular teachers both at Vogue Knitting Live in New York City and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival – two of the largest knitting/fiber shows in the country, offering workshops with the top teachers in the industry. Their business has continually grown and includes retail trade shows, wholesale kit sales, and endless creative opportunity to make their tiny, and not so tiny, wooly friends. Jennifer and Melissa take each step in this amazing business with gratitude that people far and wide are embracing their artwork and vision of this gentle, though sometimes scary place called, Going Gnome.
Melissa Vansant