This monthly blog from The Maker City features a look at some of the Knoxville area’s outstanding makers – artists, crafters and custom builders. This month’s blog introduces three area makers who excel at custom manufacturing.  ​

Name: Bailey Earith

Business: Bailey Fiber Art

Bailey Earith Business Bailey Fiber Art

How did you get started as a fabric artist?

I went to occupational therapy school, and we had to develop a proficiency in all the minor crafts and several of the major -- weaving, woodwork, ceramics. So I got to touch everything. Fabric is the first thing that we as humans touch. The minute we’re born we’re wrapped in a blanket. It’s got a very primal, comforting association and I just love to work with it. I can do anything with fabric that can be done with wood, paper, clay.  

What do you make, and how?

What don’t I make is a shorter list! I do mixed media fiber: primarily wall hangings, vessels and sculptures. I dye and paint my own fabric, then sew it on the machine and add beads and found objects by hand. I use recycled and re-purposed items as much as possible -- I never have an idea in my head and then go to the store and buy what I need. I love making do with what I have, figuring it out, and letting the materials guide me. That keeps the piece from being predictable.

Where are your products offered for sale?, and

Brief Bio:

A native of Milwaukee, Wis., Bailey Earith grew up in a creative family -- her father was a scientist, photographer and writer, and her mother sewed. She received a degree in occupational therapy from Mount Mary College. “Occupational therapy is historically based in art,” she says. “I was an occupational therapist for about 20 years, and was an artist and maker the whole time.” She moved to Knoxville 18 years ago because of her then-husband’s job, and officially launched Bailey Fiber Arts when she retired soon after the move. She has exhibited across the country, has pieces in collections around the world, and has been published extensively in magazines and books for her innovative studio work. “I’m a walking advertisement for my work because I’m usually wearing something I made.”

Name: Semhal Nasreddin

Business: Soulsky Brand

Semhal Nasreddin - Soulsky Brand

How did you get started as a fabric artist?

I’m a self-taught graphic designer. When I was living in Atlanta, an opportunity came to work at an ad agency in Tanzania -- my family was three hours away in Ethiopia and I also worked at an agency there. My exposure to the variety of nature, people, cuisine, cultures and landscapes -- especially in East Africa -- that just really opened up my mind, inspired me artistically, and made me want to channel all that energy into a clothing line.

My first step was a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo -- I got some support there from family and friends. Once that campaign was over, I decided to expand the line and bootstrap. I officially incorporated in 2015.

What do you make, and how?

Casual & athleisure wear. I started with T-shirts, and expanded to also offer joggers, sweatshirts, hoodies, and hats. My first collection was done with a screen printer in Florida that had been recommended to me by a clothing industry friend.

Where are your products offered for sale?, and . I intend to do markets in the future -- I moved here and three months later COVID took off!

Brief bio:

Semhal Nasreddin was born in Nigeria, West Africa. She came to the U.S. to study at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, then majored in radio/TV/film at Clark Atlanta University. A global citizen, she has lived in four different U.S. states and five other countries around the world, working in advertising and tech startups while freelancing design on the side. She moved to Knoxville from the Bay Area two years ago because she had stopped here on her way to visit her sister in Atlanta, liked what she saw, and decided to stay. “I checked it out and realized that I really love the city and thought it was a beautiful town with friendly people. Knowing everyone at 100Knoxville and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center has been great -- they’ve been such an amazing resource for me in so many ways.”

Name: Cathy Hawkins

Business: SweetPeaToad

Cathy Hawkins - SweetPeaToad

How did you get started as a babies’ and children’s clothing designer/maker?

When I first moved to the U.S., I was riding the bus because we mostly use public transportation in the Philippines. And I was watching this person knitting. This was way before YouTube; I asked, “what are you doing?” She said, “It’s called knitting.” We didn’t really knit in the Philippines because it’s hot! My mother-in-law taught me how to knit and crochet. I was just making the usual stuff -- dishrags, square things -- then I had babies. My children are my inspiration.They allowed me to put crazy hats on them and not move so I could take a picture.

What do you make and how?

Babies’ and children’s handmade clothing, accessories and toys. I’m making the summer season now, and in summer I begin making the winter season.

Where are your products offered for sale? I’m always at the Market Square Farmers’ Market, and during the holidays I do a lot of popups. This year I’ll be in the Dogwood Arts Festival and and

Brief bio:

Born in Digos, Philippines, Cathy Hawkins earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Cor Jesu College. She married and moved to the U.S. in 2001, first living in Reno, Nev. and then Dallas, Texas, where she started SweetPeaToad. When her husband Richard was offered a job as a pilot for Randy Boyd, the couple moved to Knoxville. They have two children, now in middle school and high school. When she’s not crafting her SweetPeaToad creations, Hawkins works the Help Desk at UT Medical Center.