Meet Your Merchant | Swedish seamstress follows heart to Tahoe
Special to the Sun
What: Eko Kreations
Location: Eko Kreations is sold at Bespoke in Truckee and Trunk Show in Tahoe City
Kristina Sullivan doesn’t consider herself a romantic; she doesn’t believe in knights in shining armor or “fairy dust.” The seamstress believes instead in following her heart. And after losing her mother to an autoimmune disease and her sister to cancer in the same year, Kristina’s heart was the source of strength to which she turned.
“My heart is my guidance,” Kristina said. “It’s a practice and it’s not always easy, but I trust it.”
Kristina’s heart led her to Australia and later to the United States, where she started her business, Eko Kreations. An eco friendly embroidered napkin and hand towel business, Kristina’s artwork has been the focus of her life’s new chapter.
Inspired by Nature
Kristina sells her napkins, hand towels and pillows at Bespoke in downtown Truckee and Trunk Show in Tahoe City. Eko Kreations also has a booth at Truckee Thursdays this summer.
The hemp and organic cotton make for durable products that are machine washable. The designs of Tahoe, California, pine trees and poppies appeal to the locals and the visitors who love Tahoe.
Kristina has a small studio in her house. As she works late into the night embroidering her simple, brightly colored designs onto towels, the seamstress is reminded of her childhood in Sweden.
In the small village of Stenungsund, Kristina grew up among the plants and animals on her grandmother’s farm. As farm eggs became chicks and ripe berries were made into jam, Kristina learned the art of baking, canning, gardening and sewing. The young girl spent each summer alongside her mother’s mother, a woman she described as “intuitive and heart felt.”
“I have been sewing all of my life,” Kristina said. “I made my own clothes and did needlework with my grandma.”
The quotes Kristina chooses for her pillows reflect her own life and resonate with her customers. “Home is Wherever I’m With You” comes not from the popular pop song, but from the feeling Kristina found when she first met her husband Chad.
After her mother’s death, Kristina left Sweden and began nearly a decade of traveling.
With plans to keep exploring and little intention of setting down roots, Kristina passed through Tahoe while on a road trip through the Golden State. In her Swedish accent Kristina describes walking into a friend’s home and seeing a tall man sewing costumes for Burning Man.
“I literally walked in the front door and it was pretty certain from that moment,” she said. “It just felt right. There wasn’t a question.”
Since meeting, the couple have hiked more than 3,000 miles together. Kristina said the months with Chad and time spent in nature are a big inspiration for Eko Kreations.
“I wanted to be creative after all of that hiking,” she said. “You have to get that inspiration from somewhere.”
Eko Kreations began as a business Kristina could take with her anywhere — a business that would allow more hiking and world traveling. But as she becomes more involved in the community in Truckee, the seamstress isn’t sure she wants to take flight anytime soon.
“I feel so at home here,” Kristina said of Tahoe and California. “I haven’t felt this at home in a long time.”
This summer, Eko Kreations will offer personalized anagrams on pillows, napkins and hand towels. She is also working on table runners for wedding tables. Every design is machine stitched by Kristina. The artist said she is open to stitching many different designs for her customers.
“It is a great wedding gift or wedding favor because people who love Tahoe, love Tahoe!” Kristina said.
Kristina and Chad recently moved into a home in Sierraville. The large house has enough space for Chad’s woodworking shop, Kristina’s sewing studio and a back yard garden. Kristina looks forward to bringing more of her Swedish roots of baking, gardening, canning and sewing to her home life in the United States as she grows her business and her family.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.