Photo by Megan Tiernan
Local Collaborations, Our Darlings

Our Darlings: ByCary

This native Virginian is growing her roots in Cville. You may have spotted her Grow Your Own Roots collaboration with friend and former Cvillian, Kate Barton, on T’s, bag, bottles, and coasters around town. Her business, ByCary, produces sustainable goods inspired by nature. And you can now find her sustainable glass bottles at Darling! Read more about this local artisan, Our Darling.

Cary Oliva

Photo courtesy of Cary Oliva

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? If not the Charlottesville area, what brought you here?

I was born in Charlottesville but grew up about 2 hours east of here in the Northern Neck of VA. Having lived here two other times during my life, I knew that coming back here after many years would be a good thing and now that was almost 12 years ago!
Growing up in a small town, I craved being in a big city for a while and that helped fuel my love of art and design. However, it’s nice to have found a cool mixture of similar types in a small town now.

As a local artisan, describe what you do in town.

I create functional and sustainable art, anything from marble coasters or trivets to glass water bottles or eco-friendly tote bags. I also love alternative photography and have been playing with polaroids for many years. Right now, after doing an artist residency at Penland School of Crafts, I’m challenging myself with a daily Polaroid post to help inspire me and others. My goal with this is to learn more about my own process, what inspires me and others and to get images web-ready for an eventual real web presence! It’s always good to get feedback from people too and posting to Instagram has been a fun way to do that.

It’s story time. Talk about your collaboration with Darling Boutique.

I remember Linnea from the Cville Niche when she interviewed me for that online blog and then when she became a ByCary customer, too! After I heard about her new venture and collaboration with Megan, I thought, how cool, maybe Darling would want to carry some of my goods in the shop, helping promote and support local and… voila’!

Describe ByCary in 10 words or less.

Custom & affordable unique goods for everyday life. Live ByCaryously.

Where do you go to be creative?

I have a little studio in my house which is bright and cheery that I like to actually create in, but I also really find my best creative juices flowing when I’m out on a walk in the woods or by the water. There’s just something about getting out of the normal routine that helps me feel more inspired or free…and that’s when things start to percolate. And, I am always sure to bring my camera.

What aspects of life excite you, stir your affections, fuel your passions, inspire your art?

I am always inspired by nature… I try to reflect my love of it in my work and sometimes wish I could just spend more time in it on a daily basis. My passion for photography is driven by it and it helps me be more mindful and grateful which are important aspects of life. While I like my alone time, I also get really inspired being around other creative types and am always excited to collaborate on projects with others.

When and why did you become an artisan? / How did you get into this business?

It’s taken me a while, but I do refer to myself as an artist as that term to me means lots of different things, but mostly someone that creates with some skill. While I’ve worked hard to develop my skills, I also think it came to me more naturally. I remember always loving art and doodling from the day I could pick up a pencil… thank goodness they finally figured out I am left-handed! I started making and selling greeting cards with whimsical hand-drawn designs and have evolved my style throughout the years.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I am working hard on a collaboration actually with my friend, Kate Barton, expanding and developing the Grow Your Own Roots brand. If you haven’t seen the t-shirts around town, look for them at Bittersweet along with glass water bottles, coasters, and totes with the Charlottesville design at Whole Foods and other markets I do. I am also planning to develop some classes to teach people about my polaroid process or other instant photography techniques to help others find their creative voice and vision and just to have fun.

Where can someone find your products?

www.bycary.com (And, of course, at Darling!)

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The series Our Darlings will spotlight our local and global collaborations, featuring artisans and brands that we are bringing into the shop!

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