How one Wildcat encourages artistic expression, with a twist
when you’re feeling the need to craft—because, let’s be honest, crafting is fun—and you want a drink to go along with it—because sometimes a cold one just hits the spot—you need to get yourself to the cool college town of Missoula, Montana, where Paisley Taylor ’01 opened CREATE art bar last October. There, you and your friends can stitch leather wallets, string beads to make bracelets, pour concrete coasters, or complete any number of done-in-an-evening projects, while imbibing specialty cocktails concocted by expert mixologists. It’s like a sip-and-paint party, only permanent.
And it’s catching on. A recent class titled Snarky Embroidery 101 sold out. Parents have discovered that children’s birthday parties are a lot more fun for everyone when there’s cold beer on tap. Date nights, girls’ nights out—Taylor said many Missoulians are finding reasons to pull up a stool at the bar. “We’re a college town with a rapidly growing population, so we have a wide variety of people and ages that visit CREATE. Montana is also a tourist destination and we’re located inside a new hotel, so we see people from all over.”
Taylor, who herself was drawn to Montana for its skiing and outdoor recreation opportunities, grew up in a remote old farmhouse in rural Duxbury in central Vermont. She described a picture-book New England childhood: creating art, making clothes, growing food, spinning yarn, and playing outside. Her father worked in historic preservation and architecture and her mother was an interior designer. “I used to go to work with her as a kid and flip through paint colors and fabric books,” she recalls.
Her artistic awakening continued when she came to Williston—she went by Elizabeth then, and her maiden name was Anderson—and took painting with Marcia Reed (see page 39). “Her class quickly became my favorite part of each day,” Taylor said.
After college at the University of Denver, where she studied psychology, she and her mother opened a fiber arts studio in Colorado. Convinced that she wanted to focus her career on art, she went back to the University of Denver for grad school, taking art classes and earning a master’s in education. She taught elementary school art until her first child was born in 2010, and then decided to stay home with her daughter, Hattie. Taylor’s craftiness, however, did not stay dormant, and she started making and selling children’s clothing while she remained home with her next two children, Wally, 5, and Georgie, 3. In 2015, she started dreaming up her current project. “I wrote a business plan, ran focus groups, and sought advice from anyone who would listen,” she said. “No one told me this was a horrible idea, so I keep going!”
CREATE is a family affair. Taylor’s husband, Chase, works in sales and marketing, and helps with the business. He also stays at home with the kids while Taylor runs evening programs, a newly flipped division of labor that is working fine, she said.
And with the recent social distancing requirements, CREATE has evolved, sending “take and make” kits and wines, ciders, and beer to customers, and hosting online classes with local delivery of supplies.
As she thinks back to her time at Williston, Taylor said she internalized an important lesson from Reed, one that remains with her to this day. “I remember learning that the process of creating was so much more important than the end result,” she said. “Letting go of my perfectionism and embracing the creative expression—this is the part I want my customers to experience, too. Yes, they usually walk away with a great product, but during the process they become very focused and learn new things about themselves and end up having a lot of fun.”