Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Molly Goodall and my Etsy shop is Little Goodall. I am a designer who left design to be an artist, then had a baby who got me excited about design again! Originally from North Carolina, I earned my BFA in fashion design from Parsons School of Design in 1997, where I became focused on children’s wear. I worked as a toy designer until I decided it would be more fun to be an artist, so I quit my job in New York and moved to Texas. I live north of Dallas in a historic neighborhood with my husband Wayne, who is from London, and our 3-year-old son Carter.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I make paintings in watercolor and gouache. I am a stay-at-home mother. My husband and I like to poke around in all manner of flea markets and boot sales for interesting old things to give us ideas. He is a custom builder and I often help with the design work on the interiors of his houses. Otherwise I like to travel, hike, garden, cook, eat, read, and play.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Well Turned Out. I may not always be well turned out (especially not since becoming a mom), but as a perpetual hunter of style, I am constantly looking out for the person in the room with that little something extra. It’s about the shine on your shoes or the angle of your hat that speaks volumes about your personality and outlook on life. And I’m an optimist, so I like to think that in the end, things will turn out well.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Little Goodall was inspired by my son. There just isn’t really that much out there clothing-wise for boys, and what is available is often licensed characters. I find children to be very inspiring overall — they are imaginative, uninhibited, guileless, fickle, and over-the-top creative. They will tell you if something is uncomfortable, and if they love something, they will wear it every day until it falls apart. That’s exciting and challenging to me as a designer. Fabric, children’s books (I especially love the This is… series by the artist M. Sasek ), vintage patterns, and travel also get my creative juices flowing.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means small quantities, slow and careful production, and personal communication with buyers. Handmade means each item I ship needs to be the best I can make it.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My husband is outstandingly supportive and helpful — he helps in all manner of ways from building me a studio space to finding machines which help streamline my production processes. My parents have also enthusiastically supported my need to make things throughout my life. I don’t think there are many who would be happy when their 27-year-old daughter calls to let them know she will be moving back home to “paint” having just left her design job. My parents were thrilled.
Little Goodall has certainly been influenced by photographer Stephanie Piscitelli (Bellini Portraits), who brings my designs to life on children in her beautiful images. Her styling and unique use of light embody the classic essence of childhood and give me ideas for future pieces.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I think I have always known. Before I was old enough for school, my mother was in college studying painting. Her professor let her bring me to studio classes where I would sit under the work tables and draw. To this day, the smell of turpentine and kneaded erasers evoke comforting memories. I am an only child, and making things is a pretty powerful form of solo entertainment.
How would you describe your creative process?
Everything begins with fabric — I’ll find something with a great texture, or color, and then begin sketching to decide how I want to use it. I might make ten to fifteen little croquis, working out the silhouette and then the details. Once I’ve settled on an idea, I use a combination of pattern drafting and draping on a little child form to make my first sample. When I am happy with the sample, I correct the pattern, grade it into multiple sizes, and the new piece joins the collection.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I would love to see the studio/apartment of the photographer and author Dare Wright, probably best known for her book The Lonely Doll. I was obsessed with this book as a child — it’s illustrated with photographs of a doll and two bears looking extremely lifelike in interesting settings. I recently read a biography of Wright and discovered that she photographed these images and did most of her work in her tiny Manhattan apartment. Friends described it as a “stage set” which could be rearranged in a multitude of ways to achieve various effects. She designed and built much of the furniture herself, sewed the soft furnishings, painted trompe l’oeil finishes on the floors and canvas wall hangings, and turned her bathroom into a darkroom for developing photos. Wright also designed and made her own clothing, which was often worn by models in her photo shoots for Good Housekeeping. In the evening, the apartment became the setting for long and elaborate cocktail parties for friends. She lived in this thoroughly personal creative space most of her adult life.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My husband and I bought a ridiculously old landscape painting in gouache on our honeymoon in Como, Italy. Gouache is a form of opaque watercolor painted on paper, and this painting’s fragile paper was stretched over a rough wooden frame, like a canvas should be. Since it wasn’t under glass it wouldn’t have taken any pressure to tear through and destroy it; we had to build a special wooden box just to get it safely home. It is amazing to me that it has survived for so long, and I often wonder about its history, and how the artist who painted it would feel if he knew it was still around, and was currently hanging in Texas.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Oh, traveling to somewhere new and different is by far the best way to get out of a creative rut, but a museum or library will do just as well. Getting out of the workroom and creating a little distance between myself and whatever problem I am grappling with usually puts things in perspective. Sometimes a project just needs to be set aside while my subconscious works out what to do with it.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would like to be living in a house my husband and I build on a few acres by a lake, doing more design and less production. I would like to be able to travel often to find unique fabrics as well as explore the world with my husband and son. I hope to have a line of patterns for those who would like to sew my felt coats themselves, and I would like to find a way to make my work more affordable for a wider audience.