A year after interviewing designer Krystal O’Mara for our January 2012 cover story, her mission of promoting sustainability and green living is still on track. However, she yearns to tackle more projects in order to continue to promote environmentally friendly lifestyles and educate the Amarillo community on green living in fresh, fun ways through her business, Remain Eco Designs.
Krystal recently moved out her shop on Van Buren Street, an old warehouse made of “beautiful bones” with high, south-facing windows absorbing the warmth of the winter morning. “I like the history [of the buildings] and that’s what I enjoy about what I do,” begins Krystal, who will be featured in the April issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. “A lot of the stuff I have is reminiscent of history. The bicycle rim for instance, that design has not changed much over the years. There’s a lot of credit that deserves to be had for that engineering, so it’s kind of cool to me. At least it’s not losing its purpose or losing a sentimental value that it holds.”
The building she rented is part of the Arts Pusher Project, an art leasing program and collaborative for artists which was established earlier this year. In April of last year, Krystal helped organize the first annual Earth Day Block Party. Vendors and local artists set up stations along the 700 block of Van Buren, with food donated by Bohemian Kitchen and Route 66 Amarillo. For the second annual Earth Day Block Party the weekend of April 20, Krystal hopes to incorporate more demonstrations on green efforts.
“It was really neat because it was geared around local creativity and we got the kids involved,” says Krystal, the mother of 5-and-a-half-year-old Tommy. “I think that’s really where it all starts because once kids start asking their parents questions, a lot of parents are engaged. I’m thankful Tommy comes home and asks me questions, peaking my curiosity.”
In addition to her commission work outside of Texas, from New York City to San Francisco to Canada, Krystal has found local projects to immerse herself in, such as Chalice Abbey, which is currently under construction. Since the spring of 2012, she has created a series of columns made from tin, a bike chandelier and wall sconces for the up-and-coming spirituality center which will house a fair trade store.
“I’m really thankful they brought me on,” she says. “Commission work has been more lucrative than anything else, and I enjoy commission because I am doing different things.”
Krystal and a group of locals are also gaining traction in their efforts to sustain and improve downtown by pushing community areas. “People are trying to work to make something happen,” she declares. “All of us have kids. It’s not just about creating something that only serves us as adults. We want community gardens down here. We want play spaces for our kids. I want to be able to live somewhere down here where I can bike to work.”
Krystal wants to break into new developments, hoping in the near future to teach others to be more resourceful and show them how to capitalize on local resources, encouraging them to reclaim what they would usually consider “waste.” Many women have contacted Krystal, urging her to head workshops for women and children wanting to get their hands dirty and be more self-sufficient.
“I get more requests from women wanting to know how to weld or use power tools. We really need to start bringing the ladies in here and giving them some gloves! It’s better than a punching bag,” she exclaims. “[Women] are just as capable of producing something that requires strength, but we have the same mindset [as men] and we have the same skill set in a lot of ways. It comes down to repetition and learning, and it’s no different from a woman learning how to crochet or sew.”
Although Krystal continues to primarily work with bike parts, fashioning chandeliers out of rims, pendant lights made of spokes and hubs, candle holders made of rusty gears, she also upcycles anything she comes across, her creative mind and eager eye coming full circle.
“I have gotten out of my element in the way of upcycling,” she admits. “It really comes down to, if it’s available to me, I want it to be reused; I want it to be resourceful, and I want it to be pretty, obviously. I want it to look like it was designed and I want my products to stir people’s curiosity.”
by Drew Belle Zerby
After graduating from LSU in 2009, Drew Belle worked as a page designer in north Louisiana until moving to Amarillo and joining AGN Media in late 2010. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and spout out useless movie trivia.