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Kerry Bazinet Draws The Attention of Shoppers at the Windsor Farmers Market

Jan 20, 2016 01:53PM ● By Gabrielle Varela
At a farmers’ market in Windsor, Vermont, Kerry Bazinet is hard to miss—easily one of the youngest entrepreneurs there, all pink hair, piercings, and adorable awkwardness. It is exactly this bold, eclectic style that draws shoppers to her business, The Tragic Whale, known for its array of bright, fun hand-sewn bags and accessories.

If satire is only as powerful as its interpretation, then growing a small business from a whale who repeatedly expires in a children’s story is quite a creative statement. And that’s exactly how The Tragic Whale and Kerry Bazinet came to thrive.

In college, Kerry wrote satirical children’s stories about whales for her senior project. After graduating with a degree in English from Salem State College and in need of a creative outlet, she continued the stories on a blog while offering change purses, makeup bags and pencil cases through an online gift shop. The stories may have been temporary, but The Tragic Whale’s offerings, like the dude, abide. In 2011, the shop moved away from the blog into its own Etsy shop.

The Tragic Whale was born, perhaps inevitably, from Kerry’s long-standing sewing skills and impervious imagination. When she was just six years old, Kerry’s normally overly cautious mother handed her a needle and thread and let her teach herself to sew. After a few good pin pricks, her father sent her to learn under the direction of her grandmother, and Kerry applied her newfound skills to creating rabbits out of old socks and dolls from cut-up clothing. 

It seems the designer has always had an urge to create (or recreate) the world around her. Months later, visiting her at her home, her hair now a mermaid-like teal, I sit with Kerry among her collections of miscellany: action figures, cartoon characters, Legos, license plates, tape dispensers, old pennies, stamps cut off old letters, vintage postcards with visible postage dates, salt and pepper shakers, and more.

Gregarious and childlike, Kerry explains that the reason the rug is printed with a highway on it is because there is a box of cars hidden under the couch (which mostly come out only late at night after cocktails.) Her apartment is a portal to her imagination.

And she is fiercely protective of that imagination. Her interests in documentary films, nonfiction books, and pizza seem a bit straight-laced for someone who puts googly eyes on her refrigerator and most of her condiments. However, it is how she preserves her artistic style and raw creativity.

“If there is a voice in my head for a character, I don’t want it to be any other voice except the one I assign. Or if I read something and there is a certain writing style, I think it is really easy to adopt styles, which isn’t what I want to do. Straightforward things like history books or documentaries help to keep it mine, sort of untouched or uninfluenced. I usually work with a documentary on,” says Kerry of her creative processes.

The 27-year-old crafter turned bag designer is every bit as animated as her brand—playful, vibrant, and a bit peculiar but precise. Her bags are all handmade, double-lined, and machine washable. Kerry is a huge advocate for functionality and fun when it comes to fashion and everything else.

Kerry explains, “I started making them because I needed them. I would buy a bag, and then after two weeks it’s like, where did all these buttons go? How did I break off the handle? Why is there a big hole in it? And I had a really hard time finding the sizes that I wanted, so I decided I was going to make my own. I like working with my hands, so when I realized that I could make things that not only I could use but others could too, it was suggested to me that I start selling them.”

The Tragic Whale products can be found on Etsy or at the year-round Windsor Farmers' Market in Windsor, Vermont.

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