After graduating with a BS in International Studies from Queens University of Charlotte, Jennifer Sprouse’s worldly interests took a deviated turn to focus on herbalism and remedies from around the globe. As a dabbler in the arts and a nature enthusiast, she eventually found a way to combine her multitude of interests to start a traveling vendor business, Black Cat & Blossom. When not concocting new herbal creations and personal care items, she can be found doing floral design on the side and constantly pursuing new interests to expand her business base. While offering a plethora of gifts and unique items such as accessories, decor, and more, the heart of the Black Cat & Blossom is the handcrafted bath and body products and personal care items. Derived from the need for simpler and more natural ingredients, the products are all carefully created with inspiration from age-old remedies and “back to the earth” concepts with personal touches of innovation and fun. All personal care and bath and body items are handcrafted in Greenbrier County, WV and are currently sold at various festivals and events throughout West Virginia, Virginia, and beyond. Learn more about Jennifer with our WV Artist on Display Q&A:
How do you describe your palette?
The beauty of my palette is that it is ever-changing- it consists of new and rotating scents, both local and global ingredients, and an endless possibility of mixtures. The best part about creating my products is being able to draw upon nature to create a palette that befits the season.
What’s your greatest accomplishment?
I can’t say that any one particular accomplishment is my greatest, but rather, it is a culmination of all the little trials and feats that I have experienced. Some of the most humbling and greatest moments for me are when I have customers tell me how much they love my creations or how a particular product has really helped them.
What obstacles do you need to overcome to find your creative space/muse?
Much of my job consists of making sure that I am bringing safe and quality ingredients into my products with proven results, so a lot of time goes into preparation and reading. I am very much a tactile/kinesthetic learner, so sitting down inside to do the product research is my biggest obstacle when the weather is nice. I prefer to be outside exploring, enjoying the seasons, and gathering new ideas so I often find myself setting up a “mobile office” outdoors where I can tackle the administrative and research side of things while still being surrounded by my muse.
How do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from so many sources and isn’t just limited to listening to the wants and needs of the people around me. I can be watching a documentary and hear mention of an ancient remedy that I will immediately begin researching. I can be looking at a piece of art depicting the ocean and I’ll get the idea to make a sea mud mask. Once I was sitting outside on a crisp, pre-fall evening peeling apples for an apple pie with a vase of homegrown sunflowers in front of me and suddenly the inspiration for my autumn spice sugar scrub came to me. The sweetness and texture of the sugar, the warmth of the apple pie spices, and the surprising skin benefits of the sunflower oil all came together in the perfect combination that made one reminiscent of the treats and smells of that very time of year. More often than not, inspiration is not something I find, but something that finds me.
What advice do you have for other artists?
My advice to other artists is to not be afraid to be creative and to put forth your ideas and your products with confidence. The world is full of different people with various tastes, so not everyone will like everything you make. As long as you are making what you love and doing what you enjoy, your creativity will attract like-minded individuals that will also enjoy the art that you are bringing forth to the world
What is your favorite piece(s) of art/bath body product you’ve made and why?
Hands down, my favorite creation that I have made is my sunburn butter. I am prone to getting terrible sunburns, but fortunately, I have an all-natural product of my own creation to help me through my summer skin woes.
How can our readers purchase your pieces?
Readers may contact me for purchases via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by and visit the Black Cat & Blossom booth at various local events. A website will be available at a later date for pre-ordering and purchases.
What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
The easiest way to contact me is through e-mail at email@example.com or on the Facebook business page, Black Cat & Blossom (@blackcatandblossom)
– HashtagWV #103. July 2018
HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks. tiktok.com/@hashtagwv