March 1, 2018
by Lianna Norman
Claire DeVoe Rooney
Claire DeVoe is the creative force behind a local business by the name of DeVoe Design, and a two-time Maker with The Makery. To understand where her art comes from, and how DeVoe Design came to be, we asked DeVoe a few questions.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in a paradise called Naples, Florida.
I’ve definitely seen pictures where it looks like you run a farm! How many animals do you have?
Ha! A farm, not quite!!...More like a rescue sanctuary! We have 4 rescue animals living their best life at our home studio. One pigeon, one dog, and two cats! Pigeon Fred showed up at our back doorstep about 3 years ago now with a fractured wing and a hematoma behind her eye and a pretty gnarly open wound in her armpit. My husband and I decided to take her in as one of our own and nurse her back to good health and we did just that! Once the pigeon started laying eggs, Fred turned into a Fredricka. Fred is best friends with our dog, Elijah Moon-shadows Rooney! Eli is an Alaskan Shepard, Lab, Border collie, Pit bull mix, he is a lover and the best dog on the planet.
We have two adopted/rescue cats now! Kiska DeVoe Rooney; my cancer survivor, amputee (missing a few toes), ride or die, queen of the little spoon snuggler and then the newest member of our motley crew, Kashmire ‘Kash’ DeVoe Rooney!! Kash is also an amputee; he lives his life to the fullest on THREE legs! He actually just had his leg amputated in January 2018 (right before we adopted him) so this will be a new learning experience for us all and we are so stoked to be able to give him a better life!
Did you always see yourself as an Artist or was it something you grew into?
I literally have bins and bins and bins of my artwork dating all the way back to my pre-school years. I give all the credit to my incredible mother who has so carefully and selflessly preserved All of my drawings and paintings and creations. I am not kidding, EVERY SINGLE thing I ever brought home from school or camp, anything I made at home, my mother has held on to, organized and carefully preserved. It is incredible. As a little girl, I can recall sitting at my little wooden table in the living room of my parent’s house drawing sketches of handbags, swimsuits, clothes and even imaginary hotels like, "The Hawaiian Hut Cafe and Resort." So, I think it’s safe to say that I always saw myself as a designer and artist but I did not always believe in myself as a designer and artist.
What inspired you to create DeVoe Design?
My struggles and failure inspired me. After graduating from college with my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in 2013, I went on to apply to every kind of job under the sun, I was either under qualified or over qualified for every job I applied for, it was pretty frustrating and super lame. After being denied what I thought was my ‘dream job’ at the time, being the Artist in Residence at the UF Proton Therapy Institute, making art and sharing joy with cancer patients of all ages… that was the last straw for me. I wanted to be my own boss and never let anyone else on the face of this earth tell me that I was under qualified or over qualified to work for them. ‘The heat was on.’
Out of NOWHERE, God put it on my heart to call my grandmother (a master seamstress, quilter and maker of all things sewing) and ask her about her sewing machines. (Keep in mind, my grandmother uses her sewing machines daily, even hosted and organized sewing groups at her house and so I had zero expectation that she would immediately just GIVE them to me.) And while I’m at it, at this point in my life, I was just too cool for sewing, I did not like the idea of sewing, I never wanted to learn to sew, I thought it was boring and for grandmas and had no patience for it. So, this was so far out of left field for me to ask her, I never liked sewing, couldn't imagine sitting down in front of a machine and learning how to sew nor did I understand why this was on my heart but I recognized that I didn’t have to understand I just needed to be obedient in that moment, So I called her and I asked her if I could claim her sewing machines, “once she was done with them.” To my great surprise she packed everything sewing related up that day and set it outside her front door and said come and get it, that it was her honor to pass them down to me and she had no idea I was interested in sewing. I said, “Neither did I!” (Crying)
‘The Spark was ignited.’ The seed of DeVoe Design was planted on that Easter weekend of 2014. My grandmother’s incredible act of kindness led me to reach out to a former high school teacher, Mrs. Peggy Sadelfeld; after just a few sewing lessons with her I was hooked. I would drive six hours just for a sewing lesson from Mrs. Sadelfeld, who is a master in her trade. Mrs. Sadelfeld not only gave me the skill set I needed to make my dream a reality, she empowered me with grace, patience, perseverance, and faith, which is why my grandmother Barbara DeVoe and Mrs. Peggy Sadelfeld are of paramount importance to the birth of DeVoe Design. All of this inspired me to create DeVoe Design.
Has there been any one (or more) person/s who has pushed you or inspired you to do what you do?
Yes, pretty much my entire family and my husband. They are the coolest people you will ever meet in your lifetime. But if I need to be specific, my husband, Anthony Rooney, my ‘Nana’, Mary Ann Weber, my grandmother Barbara DeVoe, my grandfather, Dick DeVoe, my mom, Susan DeVoe, my dad, Don DeVoe, my mentor, Peggy Sadelfeld, and my life coach Bill Kramer.
When did you realize that DeVoe Design was something special?
When I started to believe in myself.
Where is your favorite place in the world, and why?
My favorite place in the world is the tiny fishing village of Rovinj, Croatia. It is my favorite place in the world because my husband and I got to explore the entire peninsula on mountain bikes (our landlords let us borrow their personal bikes.) We played soccer with the local Croatians wherever we walked and met so many kind and hospitable people. We were able to trade our artwork for local handmade goods and pretty much fell off the grid during our stay. They have some of the coolest art I have ever seen. We swam with the fish in the frigid Adriatic Sea and water colored with our tops off along the rocky coastline. That’s why.
What is number….4 on your Bucket List?
I honestly do not have a bucket list and don’t want to pretend like I do though I will say while my sister and her husband and first-born son were living in South Africa my family and I traveled there to visit them and surf along the South African coastline. One night at a restaurant I met a lady who wrote down a list of must see places while visiting South Africa and I will consider that my “bucket list” for this interview…. Number 3 on that list was to go explore the Province of South Africa called Mpumalanga, commonly known as “God’s Windows”. There is no number 4.