If this crafter has a large black pointed hat in her studio to wear in October, it's hidden. Yet what she can do year-round, not just at Halloween, is drive a stick.
Berea broom maker Cynthia Main hasn't had a customer who flies through the air on the crafter's creation. Neither has the broom maker herself. The movement collectors who often seek her work is for jumping: right over the double broom on one stick at a wedding, a custom in some cultures to wish good fortune for newly married couples.
Right now, Main said, "business is booming." Fifteen stores and galleries nationwide sell her brooms, which come in all sizes and decorated in colors, often red and blue. In her gallery at 414 Chestnut St., she can barely keep a week's inventory of handmade brooms in stock.
Main grew up in Raleigh. Her dad was in the Navy and her mother, an accountant, worked from home. Although her dad likes to restore houses, no one in her family, which includes two sisters, is a crafter or artist. Main's interest in creating started with drawing, then reading, and when she "was a little kid in the (19)80s," playing imaginative games she made up including her dolls. As she grew older, when not enjoying fantasy play, she ran track and competed in soccer.
At college, Main planned to be a shop teacher, "but I followed my curiosity and hitchhiked around the country, becoming a carpenter, a musician performing on the upright bass and building sets," then moved to Chicago for a while.
"I'm lucky I've been able to do so many things and keep hanging in there," Main said.
Her family thought her wide-ranging interests were "cool things to do," and eventually she landed in Missouri as a farmer growing organic sorghum -- ironically known as broom corn -- and began crafting brooms. When traveling to family members' homes in North Carolina, she'd pass through Berea. One time when Main stopped, she walked on North Broadway in Old Town and spotted brooms in the window at Gallery 123, the arts accelerator program sponsored by the city, and went in.
Broom maker Justin Burton told her about the Arts Accelerator Program, which helps young artists and crafters to become entrepreneurs, and encouraged her to apply. She did and was accepted. While Gallery 123 sold her work, she developed a following for her brooms, and when her internship ended in June, she looked at commercial real estate in the summer and about a month ago bought a fixer-upper building on Chestnut Street as a workshop, craft studio and soon-to-be gallery and home. She credits the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea for guiding her.
Right now, Main crafts just inside the front window in a space littered with broom sweepings. The leather dust pans she makes to accompany the brooms are on shelves in the entrance. Neither an art gallery or a home are in sight. However, she and Laura Wick, an arts promoter in Berea, will open a holiday gallery for area artists and crafters they've signed up to show their creations four days a week -- Thursday through Sundays, including evenings -- starting Friday, Nov. 22, and closing Monday, Dec. 23 (a boon to those who buy gifts at the last minute).
Because she's also a woodworker, Main uses that talent to carve spoons, cutting boards and other kitchen utensils. Brooms, however, are what she's known for and are her artistic love as well. Most of her customers live out of state and find her work on Instagram, or in the specialty shops that contacted her.
People who know her, as well as the crafter herself, might describe her as optimistic, earnest and appreciative, and Main says she's also "dedicated, caring and flexible." And, she smiles most of the time, others say they have noticed.
For fun, she hikes, works out, enjoys the outdoors, listens to audio books and also reads those published on paper. Her tastes are eclectic. Main is single but is currently reading John Gottman's "The Seven Principles that Make Marriage Work." And because the broom maker loves to eat, she cooks and experiments with the many new friends she's made in the 16 months she's been in Berea. In off hours, she watches television with them. As Main says, she's flexible so her friends choose the shows.
Although she usually wears dusty jeans and faded blouses with rolled-up sleeves in her studio, Main surprisingly says her favorite color is pink, "and if I could wear dresses every day, I would -- dressy ones." However, no mention of a black pointy hat to cap off her brooms.