March 2013


Women of the Week: Jelena Pticek and Karen Carrillo

What would you consider an empire?

If you ask Jelena Pticek, she and partner Karen Carrillo do not own an empire “in the material sense of the word.” This despite the fact that they collectively oversee multiple companies: Koocoo Carrillo, Poppyseed Creative Living, Freedom Clothing Collective and Freedom Reconstructed.

Koocoo Carrillo, run by Karen, is a clothing line featuring hand-crafted, limited-edition pieces; Poppyseed Creative Living, run by Jelena, is a “furniture ‘reinterpreting’ business,” using yard or antique sale finds; Freedom Clothing Collective, a joint project, is a co-op for local artists; and Freedom Reconstructed, also a collaborative venture, is a line of refurbished goods.

Before joining forces, both women originally worked corporate jobs. According to Karen, “it was depressing not to be able to illicit helpful change, or not having a say or, worst of all, seeing all the waste (garbage and time).”

Jelena, too, never felt at ease in the corporate world.  “I knew that the only way I would be able to correct this is if I changed something about it,“ Jelena explains.

Not surprisingly, both call their decision to quit and become entrepreneurs as the highlight of their careers. It would prove to be a great decision, both from a personal and work-related standpoint.

“We both often stop to admire the store and how far it’s come. The we-made-this bit is pretty thrilling, and everyday at least one customer tells us what a lovely store we have, and it never gets old!”

Not stopping at just running a successful independent business, Jelena and Karen are working to ensure their company is one with the proper social mores.

“We strive to be Locally and Environmentally focused,” says Jelena. “With Poppyseed Creative Living my goal was to appeal to the audience with strong environmental sense but also with the desire to surround themselves with items that are unique in their nature.”

By selling products that are refurbished or, at the very least, eco-friendly, Jelena and Karen can feel good about their company, knowing that they are making a difference. This is vital in a society that is becoming more and more eco-aware.

As Karen, the driving force behind the company’s environmental focus, explains, “Newcomers love to hear about how we are affecting change.”

This eco-friendly attitude extends across the company, from the products to the marketing. “Via marketing we often do small craft shows and we always use recycled or reused objects, either paper for printing business cards or flyers (which we keep to a minimum) or packaging, or displays, our toilet paper is even post consumer,” Karen says.

Clearly, the brains behind the Freedom Clothing Collective have created a company that will flourish in the coming seasons. Yet even as they work to save the world (and run a successful business), both women manage to balance their priorities and keep their heads on straight. The secret?

Although life will get chaotic, says Jelena, “It comes down to identifying priorities, making compromises with yourself and adjusting your own expectations.”

Weird Wichita Winners

Sometimes you just have to wonder what people are thinking, don’t you? Sometimes people do the nuttiest things and you just have to shake your head in amazement. What were they thinking?

There are two brothers in Wichita, Kansas, who recently won $75,000 in a lottery. They decided to celebrate by amassing what was probably a pretty big amount of marijuana and perhaps other celebratory substances.

According to the Wichita Eagle via Huffington Post, they ran into trouble when:

One of the brothers went to the kitchen to refuel the butane torches they planned to use to light their bongs. He emptied a couple of large cans of butane lighter fluid, leaking butane into the air. “The butane vapour reached the pilot light in the furnace, and as you might expect, ka-boom,” Wichita Police Sgt. Bruce Watts said at a press conference.

This bright bulb brother suffered second degree burns to his hands and face. Luckily for him, his girlfriend was able to drive him to the hospital. It’s not known how long they’d been dating, but she just dropped him off at the door and sped away. She hasn’t been seen since, which makes her somewhat smarter than her ex-boyfriend.

The other brother was arrested on drug charges after telling police he had meth and marijuana in the home. I wonder if they were twins or were just blessed with the same sized brains.

Watch this video to hear all the juicy details of this bizarre escapade.

Please don’t think I’m faulting these two sad brothers for celebrating. If I’d won $75,000 I’d be celebrating too. But I’m pretty sure I’d know to keep flammable gasses pretty far away from an open flame or pilot light. Good thing they didn’t have a gas stove with four gas pilot lights. That would have been a quadruple ka-boom.

Have you ever filled a lighter with lighter fluid? The smell of the gasses is unmistakable and it’s very strong. You can’t miss it. Unless you had a really stuffed up nose, you’d have to realize what was going on here and to me, it’s just a short step to realizing that those gases could go anywhere in the air.

For example, you would never fill your lighter right next to a burning cigarette in an ashtray, right? So wouldn’t you also realize that the gases might reach the flame on your furnace located nearby too? I’m no fire fighter, but that’s pretty basic knowledge I think. But it seems I’m mistaken, at least about these two brain-challenged brothers.

I wish I had a conclusion to this story to share with you, but since this stunt only happened a few days ago, there’s no word of if the brothers have learned their lesson. Nor is there any word about what happened to all of their celebratory substance or how much, if any, money they had left of their $75,000 winnings.

I hope they had enough left to get in a big stock of alcohol. It’s way safer.


©2013 Marcia Barhydt