Cori Crooks is a seeker and teller, artfully documenting her unique take on life through a variety of media including prose, music, theater, visual art, and jewelry. Cori gained initial notoriety in 2004 through her art/life blog, “A Gag Reflex,” which followed the search for her paternity and established her as an off-beat, quirky talent with a devoted cult following of fans drawn to her edgy writing style. Her first book, a critically acclaimed mixed media art memoir entitled “Sweet Charlotte’s Seventh Mistake” was published by Seal Press in 2009, garnering such accolades as the Best Book List 2009/Tulsa World, Editor’s Pick/Curve Magazine, and Indie Press of the Month/Modern Times Bookstore, SF.
“Cori writes like Siouxsie screams!” says writer/filmmaker/musician, Patrick O’Neil. Her work reflects a hands on, in-the-street engagement with life, a constant thread though her diverse artistic background which has spanned writing and directing plays, recording/touring with indie rock bands, and studying Humanities at San Francisco State University.
Cori’s art work is born from thoughts about history, social class, and pop culture; blending the old and the new, exploring traditional crafts and techniques while giving them sassy modern twists. Her decorative miniature tile jewelry has been featured in group shows at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery, the California Museum, and is currently available through the the American Museum of Ceramic Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Catalina Island Museum, the Museum of Latin American Art, and in her online store.
Cori is now working her second book, “Cherryland”, a graphic coming-of-age novel. She lives and loves in the San Francisco Bay Area.
PM: When was your company founded and where are you based?
Cori: I founded “Cori Crooks, Artist & Writer” in 2003, about 3 months after my first son was born. I knew that I wanted to stay at home with him and relied on my artistic skills to try and do just that. I left my 9 to 5 job and embraced my old love of art and writing, this time with a purpose and a baby. My son is turning 13 this year and I’m still creating, writing, and selling! I am so fortunate that it has worked for me! I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
PM: How many are involved in your company?
Cori: My company is my family and me! I have three incredible kids now. I make costume miniature tile jewelry and they give me valuable critique, help me with mailings, and are my craft fair roadies! When I write or facilitate workshops, they listen to my ideas and cheer me on. (My husband is my editor.)
PM: What inspired you to start your company?
Cori: I have always been a writer and an artist- but never truly believed in myself enough to pursue a career. Having children was an amazing, life changing, experience. With them came this incredible confidence and tenacity that I didn’t realize I had. I created and published a full-color art memoir, Sweet Charlotte’s Seventh Mistake, (Seal Press), with a baby boy on each knee, and book toured with my daughter in my belly. I also began a successful costume jewelry business in between making sandwiches for lunch boxes and helping with homework. I wanted to be in their lives as much as possible, but I also wanted them to see their mommy pursuing her dream, which happened to include them!
Cori: I spent my 20s pursuing a career in music and learned a lot about the business side of the arts, the hard way. When I began making and selling handmade costume jewelry and writing books, I felt I had a good foundation laid, especially in the areas of self-promotion and branding, left over from my days as a Rock-n-Roller. (Pre-mom)
PM: Did you run into any problems or resistance while launching?
PM: How do you get the most out of your day?
Cori: I work from a studio in my home. I started working from home so that I would be able to take care of my children and manage the business during free moments. My kids are in school full-time now and I am relishing in the amount of work I can complete in a day! It’s fantastic not to have to make jewelry or write a chapter after putting the kids to sleep anymore!
PM: How is your family a part of your business choices?
Cori: I pick and choose craft fair events and museum showcases around the family schedule. I host writing workshops when it is most convenient for me to be away. Writing, on the other hand, requires quiet, which doesn’t happen much around here. I write while they are in school. All this demands me to be very patient and make a lot of lists. I’m juggling on a daily basis- but in all honesty, it’s really not that hard. If you love what you do enough, you can make it work. It’s true.
PM: What music inspires you?
Cori: Right now, I am obsessed with the band, “Girl Pool”! They are so spectacular!
PM: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
Cori: I’m addicted to making things. I love trying new crafts and art techniques. I love to travel and spend time with old friends. I am a beach lover too. Set me up in the sand with a cool ocean breeze, add some seal and whale sightings, and I am happy!
PM: What do you see in the future for your shop?
Cori: I am really happy with where I am now with my work. I would like to continue seeing my ideas come to life and hope my costume jewelry work will always have an audience. As for my writing, I have just finished outlining a screenplay and will spend these next months working on the dialog. It’s a fantastic time for me creatively. I have found my dream job thanks to my kids. There is no other option for me, it’s a creative life or BUST!
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