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Our Collaboration with Carissa Potter

An exclusive interview with illustrator Carissa Potter on all things love and motherhood, as well as a few heart-melting moments that have shaped her journey.

The Inspiration Behind the Collab

We sat down with artist and mumma, Carissa Potter, to spotlight her work as an expression of love – unconditional, astonishing, inexplicable love. In this exclusive interview, Carissa shares her experiences with motherhood and the impact it’s had on her life, as well as a few heart-melting moments that have helped shape her journey.

The Origin Story
What sparked your artistic journey?
I started making greeting cards when I got fired from a job. I hoped the cards would help people have difficult and emotionally charged conversations. I wanted to help people feel better. Or maybe, I wanted to help myself. I have a hard time with boundaries. I made cards that I thought would carry me across the boundaries of time and space and distance from the people I loved or wanted to love. Being human is so complicated. I find meaning in the messiness of it all.

On Motherhood
What does motherhood mean to you?
They say that the origin of all love is the love we have for our children, but it was hard for me to imagine that being true before having a baby.All throughout my pregnancy with Margaret I thought I should be feeling more. I was frightened I would meet her and feel nothing. I have heard that happens to some people, and I didn’t want to judge myself for not having that love come naturally. But when she came, the flood of love and joy and fear, oh yes, fear, came too. I loved M. I loved her so much, right away. She completes me in so many ways. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. When she came out, there was a mystical logic that it was only her, that baby, the baby I was holding that was perfect for me. And I was hers. I would be what she needed. We would grow together.

How has motherhood changed you?
I was so worried that I wouldn’t love M when she arrived or that I would suffer from postpartum depression. It’s so strange the things that our minds focus on when the true threat lies elsewhere. When M was about 3 weeks old, we were told that she had “failure to thrive,” and shortly after that she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. I took for granted the idea that I would have a “healthy” baby. M is doing great now. She is healthy, and she is the perfect baby for me. But I could not have anticipated how hard things would be for us, medically.She takes around 250+ pills a week, two hours of breathing treatments a day and gets all her food from a g-tube. All of this is just to keep her going. When she was born, they likened this to “brushing one’s teeth.” For her, it is keeping her alive.At the same time, I am extremely lucky to have her and be alive in this place and time. I know this. But it is still really painful to know all the correct ways to hold your child down for medical interventions. The way you cross your legs around them in a chair holding them like a straight jacket while they scream—screams not of pain exactly, but of betrayal. How could someone who loves them do this to them? I tell myself that if I am lucky, someday she will forgive me. Someday she will have a daughter of her own if she wants. That she will live long enough to have the choice, because of the choices I have to make now.

What Have you learned from your own mother?
I will tell you a story that I think says something about who my mom is as a person and the kind of love she has to give:

When I was going through a deep depression, my mom came to be with me. After she left, I started discovering notes all over the house from her that said things like “I love you, Carissa.” They were in my sock drawer. They were in books that I borrowed from my friends. I would return them and then they would text me, hey Carissa, I found this note. I am still finding them, several years later.

On Illustration
"Mum You're All That"
We came up with the concept of “Mum of all traits” collaboratively at the studio, and for me it says so much about what it means to be a mother. Anyone can mother. Mothering so often is not how it looks in pictures, but it is about the one million different roles you play in any given day. I am always trying to keep up. Having this idea in your pocket is so moving to me. A reminder that you never have to be only one thing to be a mother. And that someone sees it all—how many different people you become in order to do the best job loving your child that you possibly can.

"Lift Each Other Up"
To me, this concept is about all of the people in my life who have helped us get through this ever-unfolding experience of being a parent. The friend who brought us dinner every night when M was first diagnosed and it felt so hard to put one foot in front of the other. The people I get to work with everyday who help me make a life that enables me to really be present with M. My mom, my sister, my dad who lives with us to help us with M. Margaret squeezed my hand so tightly the other night when I was putting her to bed. And I thought of all the people in my life who make it possible for me to really live inside of that moment. To stop time for a second and take it all in with every part of me, all of my senses. Lift Each Other Up is also a reminder that you can’t do it all, all of the time. It’s okay to let yourself be lifted by people who love you.

On Collaborating
What does it mean for you to work with MAISON de SABRÉ?
I am really excited about the idea that objects can provide comfort and emotional support. I want my objects to really do a lot. Maybe too much. Like a keychain that holds your hand. Or a phone case that feels good to touch and that reminds you that you’re going to be okay. That’s why I really wanted to work with Maison de Sabré. To put some care and love into your pocket. And the cases are so buttery soft and they feel so good to hold, they are just pure comfort. And a little bit of luxury too.

What piece of advice do you want to give Margaret and anyone else who finds comfort in your work?
Inspired by the brilliant Lisa Olivera: You are already enough.

The Outcome
Carissa's art hand-pressed onto our signature leather phone case. A daily reminder of all the conditional love in our lives.