Hartford — When she and her husband bought their home on Preston Street in Hartford four years ago, Kaysle Stewart wanted to have her ordinary stoop to pop with color.
The Brown Skin Girl Flower Pots are an amazing expression of herself.”
Stewart took to Pinterest and saw artists who made clay flower pot people, which she liked a lot but not the prices.
“I was like, ‘I’m not paying $95 for that,’ ” Stewart said, noting she also wanted flower pot people that stood out more than what was on offer. “I wanted color. They had the pots, but they’re just plain. I wanted bling.”
So her husband, Travis Stewart, perhaps Hartford’s best-known backyard farmer, made a suggestion that reflects the family’s DIY ethos.
“Travis said, ‘You know you can make your own,’ ” Kaysle said, adding that she quickly made a sojourn to a craft store and bought $100 of supplies.
Thus began Brown Skin Girl Flower Pots, a side business that Kaysle started — with a nudge from Travis — a year ago. Unbeknownst to Kaysle, Travis posted on a Hartford Facebook forum that the flower pot girls were for sale.
“Someone reached out and asked, ‘How much are you selling them for?’ ” Kaysle said. “I was like, ‘Give me a minute?’ ”
She said she then asked Travis if he put the flower pot girls up for sale on social media.
“He was like, ‘Yes, you paid so much to create them, so now we have to sell them,’ ” she said.
Brown Skin Girl Flower Pots are actually composed of six flower pots — two larger ones that are attached to one another at the bottoms to form the head and body, and four smaller ones that are the hands and feet when attached with rope to the body.
Kaysle makes them in three different sizes: small, medium and large, which go for $25, $35 and $45, respectively.
Kaysle and Travis both paint cartoonish faces on the heads, while Kaysle paints the bodies, often with pastels as well as vibrant reds and blues. When she’s done painting, Kaysle then decorates the pots with bling wraps on the heads, bodies and hands.
It takes Kaysle about an hour and a half to two hours to finish one flower pot girl.
“I do have patience,” said Kaysle, who works with individuals with disabilities in her full-time job.
And while she doesn’t have formal training, she is creative, having designed and made her flower girl’s dress for the Stewarts’ 2016 wedding. Kaysle made elaborate piñatas for her daughter Akila’s birthday and her niece’s birthday.
She mostly sells Brown Skin Girl Flower Pots on social media and at pop-up markets, like the one coming up in Hamden on Sunday at the Salvation Army Thrift Store parking lot, 1359 Dixwell Avenue, from 2 to 6 p.m., as well as Kamora’s Cultural Center’s Saturday bazaars that are held throughout the summer.
The response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People say, ‘Oh my goodness, they’re beautiful. How can I get one?’” Kaysle said.
“I thought they were really cute,” Kamora Herrington, founder of Kamora’s Cultural Center, said. “[Kaysle] is a beautiful human being, who is talented and is reaching her potential right now as an artist and a woman. As a woman, she is stepping into her amazing power and it’s showing up in all kinds of things. The Brown Skin Girl Flower Pots are an amazing expression of herself.”
Kaysle hasn’t kept track of how many she’s sold — she’ll often make a custom one on request — but she estimates she’s made more than 35 flower pot girls. Though Travis made one Brown Skin Flower Pot Boy at the request of one client.
“Occasionally we do take custom orders, people will ask, ‘Can I get a red in a medium or a small,’” Kaysle said.
One Brown Skin Girl Flower Pot Girl that Kaysle showed off in her home Friday was painted in Pan-African colors of red, green and gold, which came at the request of a customer.
The overall venture is a work in progress, Kaysle said, as some people have asked for Brown Skin Girl and Brown Skin Boy flower pots painted in their favorite football jerseys.
There’s no set schedule for when she makes the flower pot girls, just when it strikes her fancy.
“If I have nothing to do, I will just come and I will just paint them,” she said overlooking the makeshift studio in the front breezeway of her home. “Whenever I get a break, I will just do it. Or if someone asks for a specific color, I’ll just do it.
Travis has the backyard for farming, while she has the front of the home for Brown Skin Girl Flower Pots.
Their creativity is something their kids inherited. Akila, 15, was the driving force behind Travis’ backyard farming and helps tend to the gardens. Nathaniel, 9, makes homemade Beyblades — spinning tops that battle one another — out of Lego bricks.
“We’re very crafty, we’re very active,” Kaysle said.
Brown Skin Girl Flower Pots can be ordered online by request through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Brown-Skin-Girl-Flower-Pots-101848139223567 or Pinterest at brown_skingirlflowerpots.
Ted Glanzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.