Say hi! Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hello! My name is Madeleine Odendahl and I am the maker behind Remettage. I am an avid reader, an organizer, a compulsive maker, a constant learner, and an over-sharer. I have a tendency to get really obsessive (hello textiles, Jane Austen, sustainable production and capsule wardrobes, Outlander, pickles, Hamilton…) and my daily struggle is balancing all the things in which I’m interested!
What does being a creative mean to you?
To me, creativity is the intersection between the head and the heart – a place where you rein some things in (fear, stress, logic) and let others loose (passion, nerdiness, emotion). Sitting in that vulnerable space, opening up to expression in whatever form, can be simultaneously terrifying and reassuring.
In the last few years, being a creative has also become an exploration of my impact on the world. Weaving and knitting led to an interest in yarns and the spinning process, which led to learning about production methods and how harmful plastics/acrylics are on the environment…. Which led to learning more about textile and fashion production in general. In just three years, I’ve completely changed my habits as a consumer to be more sustainable and ethical (I know I know they’re buzzwords, but they are buzzwords for a reason!) and my mantra is “create more than you consume.”
Do you recall when you first realized you HAD to be creative?
I don’t think not being creative has ever been an option for me (forgive the double negative!) My mom created an environment where there was just an understanding that working with your hands was important - plus, boredom was never an option. “The world is full of such wonderful things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings,” she’d say. “Boredom is a luxury you don’t have,” she’d say. “There are always things to learn, always things to make, always things to think,” she’d say. And creating was the easiest way to not be bored. We had a craft area in the house and were encouraged to draw, paint, craft, and build. Combine that with a great-grandmother who knit and a grandmother who sewed, and I was constantly surrounded by people engaged in handiwork.
I think I was in high school, though, before I began to feel all the things touted to be benefits of being creative – the self-expression, the way it exercises a different part of your brain, the sense of being part of an artistic community. Creativity for me is integral, compulsive, and sometimes I feel like I don’t even have a choice in the matter. I just have to create.
What is your favorite work ritual?
Warping the loom, threading the sewing machine, or winding the ball of yarn. I tend to dread it beforehand, but once I actually sit down to the work, that process of beginning, of preparation… I can physically feel my heartbeat and brain calm down and focus. It’s my form of meditation. It’s also the reason behind my business name! Remettage is a French word that stopped being used colloquially about 100 years ago, but encapsulates in one word the process of threading the loom, or beginning the weaving process. The word is a constant reminder to me that starting is just as important as continuing.
How do you cope when you feel overwhelmed?
As someone who thrives on challenges and big projects, I’m always trying to recognize the line between healthy energy and overwhelmed. Making has become a huge part of that equation and slowly I’ve made a practice of it. I return to weaving regularly as a preventative measure - letting myself slow down, focus on the act of working with my hands, and find balance. This usually happens at night with a glass of red wine and a TV show (most likely a costume drama or Gilmore Girls reruns), which also helps with unwinding.
What three traits would you say are a must for someone going into business for themselves?
Tenacity, good instincts, and love (I mean LOVE) for what you’re doing
What is your definition of success? Do you feel that you are successful?
I think I’m still trying to figure out what my definition of success is – I would want it to be happy and healthy, but I still find myself struggling with what others deem success and how I might fall short. Some days I feel incredibly successful – I love my day job and my side hustle; I have a pretty stellar husband and the cutest dog; I am building a life that I love… and then other days I just feel beat. It’s a process.
What has been the best advice you have received?
Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. Learning to become aware of it, of yourself, of your impact on others – it’s the work of a lifetime and it’s the most valuable.
Who is a female (past, present or fictional) you find inspirational?
My mama – slowly but surely, she created the life she wanted to live and her journey is beautiful, for all the messy, hard things life threw at her. She is the bravest, truest person I know. I try to mirror the way she greets each day as a friendly mystery, finds potential in every challenge, and approaches each person with openness and respect – and how she somehow never uses a recipe, but everything is delicious. I’ve made no progress on that one.