J.W. Hulme Co. | Leather Bags & Luggage

Meet Kelly English of Cheeriup

Kelly English
Kelly’s desire to provide her spunky, citymouse daughter a natural and enchanting outdoor play space led her to create a giant hut made of willow branches called a “Thicket”. Weaving together her art, design, and education backgrounds the Thicket is an expertly hand-crafted objet d’art that’s sturdy enough for years of heavy use. Cheeriup’s success has garnered accolades from The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, and Apartment Therapy. Recently Kelly has added the smaller and portable “Fledgling” to her product line that fits yards with a reduced footprint that can be also be brought indoors.

Tell us about Cheeriup.
I make willow playhouses that I call thickets. I actually harvest all the willow from around the entire state. It’s all wild material. Then I hand weave each one into playhouses, primarily for kids, but it’s pretty uncanny how most adults tend to get inside them too.

What inspires you?
What really inspires me with this work is the natural world and the element of play. Early childhood is such a magical moment that we all experience, and it ends up being a touchstone for us for our entire lives. Part of the joy of building these thickets is meeting people and watching them get tunneled back to this time of play and magic that’s really fleeting for most of us in the high tech world that we live in now.

Tell us about being a part of the maker community in Minneapolis/St Paul.
I think we have been thrust back into a new arts and crafts movement. The idea of craft and people making objects by hand and being involved at every stage of that process is really important right now. It’s exciting to be a part of that, and I definitely feel a kinship with the community here in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Describe your personal style.
It’s a mix of handmade, practical and simple. I have a minimalist style, I think, but if I could pare my life down to owning only objects, wearing only objects, that are handmade, that would be my dream.

What’s your favorite J.W. Hulme bag?
I love the Legacy Backpack, and the greens and [Seaside] blue is awesome. Color is life to me, and I love that color.

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