Sally “KickingAssAndTakingNames” Shelton

Meet Sally Shelton.

Think of her as the implementer, the do-er of WonderRoot Creative Reuse, the gets-sh*t-done person. She likes to keep things moving forward.  “I feel really comfortable with the visual stuff, like laying out the tables, making signs, things like that. I like organizing things and making them appealing. I can just see the goals in my head, and I want to do whatever it takes to get there.” And thank goodness, for that!

Let’s back up a little bit… Where exactly did this Sally lady come from anyway?  She lived in Brooklyn for a while and worked at a gourmet food store that sold beer, cheese, and chocolate. (I know, tough gig, right? But this “tough gig” fostered her awesome management skills.) Aside from learning all about cheese, she was the buyer for all the dry goods in the store: handmade chocolates, fancy chips and crackers, nice olive oils and jams, high-end beverages, cutesy foodie tools, things like that.  “It was a crazy fun job, and I really, truly enjoyed the work I think because my OCD got to run rampant. Facing product, organizing it so that it’s rotated properly to prevent spoilage, working on a budget—it was like constantly working on a puzzle of money and space. And who doesn’t love puzzles?!” Soon she visited another creative reuse store, East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland.  When she was at the Depot, all she could think was, “If I had one of these, it could be my own crafter’s junkyard. I could just sit and tinker and make stuff all day…or just sort things all day.” That’s a vision I think all of us in the group have, but none more so than Sally.  Here’s our favorite tinkering of Sally’s – our awesome banner! You’ve probably seen it (sans cat) when you’ve visited us at any of our pop up shops.

“My friends would say that I’m crafty. Let’s call it slapdash crafty. I’m kind of half into a handful of things: quilting, origami, costuming, general sewing. I looooooove papier-mache. That stuff is AWESOME. At one point, I wanted to make custom-designed piñatas and fill it with artisanal candy. This was when I was living in New York, a place where yahoos would pay for something like that. But the goal was to make piñatas all day.”

I asked Sally what she would be if she could be any art supply or craft item.  Here’s her delightfully adorable response: “Of all the things I love (small tins, buttons) I’d have to say I’d be a container full of googly eyes. There’s just something amazing about googly eyes. You can’t stop giggling at them or shaking them. You just have to interact with them in some way, putting them on random things, running your finger over the smooth plastic, making them make sound. They just brighten people up, and the more the merrier I say.”

When she’s not busy being cute and making spectacular banners for us, Sally keeps pretty darn busy.  The cheese-mongering thing takes up quite a bit of energy. Not only does she manage the daily cheese menu at the Brick Store Pub, but she also hosts the Beer & Cheese event each month at the Brick Store Pub. Other stuff you don’t see is also involved: staff trainings, field trips, writing and researching, making collaborations happen, and blog reading.  She also takes aerial classes (yeah…that thing where people hang from fabric high in the air.) She started on the trapeze, and worked on that for a couple of years, but now she’s into fabrics. “This is the light in my life. I can’t imagine NOT doing aerial arts, I’m so in love with it.”  

Let’s take a break and have Sally tell us her sweet story of how she fell in love with the idea of giving her passion to an endless cause, like an arts and environmental nonprofit such as ourselves.

“I was in Vermont sitting in on a cheese make, and it was the apprentice’s first time flying solo. It was pretty stressful, some things weren’t behaving as they had been, I was in the way, and the potential for disaster was always looming. Everything turned out great, and at the end of it she collapsed into a chair exasperated but smiling. “What’s with that big grin on your face?” the head cheesemaker asked. The apprentice replied, “I make cheese for a living!” So even after a particularly bad day at the office, she was still in love with her job. I thought how great it would be to feel that love with what I do and to hone a craft—especially in something that can feed a community. Also during this cheese make, we were generating a lot of trash. Every time we entered the make room, we had to wash our hands and dry them with paper towels, and we were entering the make room a lot (a make can last 5-8 hours, a lot of that time spent waiting for things to heat up). So I asked what they did with all the paper towels we were throwing away, and the head cheesemaker said they all go in the compost pile on the other side of the farm. And it blew me away, how EVERYTHING served another function and went back to the land. I came away from this trip knowing—to the core of my being, to make me happy—that I needed: to make something, to have it be important to my community, and that it was not only good for the environment, but bettering it.”

“A couple of weeks later, I took a trip to San Francisco in May 2010, and stopped by the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland. I had read about it in a travel book, of all un-hip places. Anyways, once I walked in and saw what it was about, all I knew was that I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay and help sort stuff, rummage through stuff, make something out of stuff, whatever could keep me there. My mind was blown, to put it lightly. When I returned to Atlanta, I was ready to make it happen.”

Sally is one of the most adorable, hardworking, passionate and giving individuals I know.   Look for her at our next workshop at the WonderRoot Community Center, at one of our pop-up shops or at the Brick Store in Decatur.  Find her and thank her.  Because without her, there is no way WonderRoot Creative Reuse would be as together as we are.

Plus she likes goats.


About Sydney

One of the 4 founders of WonderRoot Creative Reuse and DAMN proud of it!
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