Before COVID-19 abruptly paused the music scene, Tristen Rolling was working in marketing for Winter Circle Productions in New Orleans. She never planned to start an art business until her family and friends suggested it. That led to the creation of Swamp Sprouts.
The focal point of Rolling’s business is a mushroom design that usually features eyes. She even has a mushroom tattoo.
“Mushrooms grow out of decaying matter, so it’s like something good coming out of the bad,” Rolling said.
The name Swamp Sprouts comes from nature and Louisiana. When others hear the word “swamp,” they often associate it with the swampy areas of Louisiana. Rolling chose “Sprouts” because she wanted the two words to start with the same letter, and she Googled nature-associated words.
Ironically, Swamp Sprouts has blossomed into something beautiful during a global pandemic. Rolling started selling her art pieces in April on Etsy. In six months, giveaways and collaborations with other Instagram artists helped her accumulate more than 15,000 followers, and she upgraded from Etsy to a website with her own domain, SwampSprouts.com.
Rolling first began selling her painted mushrooms on tree cookies she purchased from Michael’s craft store. When her business grew, she realized she needed a different resource.
Her grandfather has always been a crafty man who lives in a woodsy area where decaying and broken trees end up in his yard. He offered to help by taking the fallen trees and cutting them into tree cookies.
Since founding Swamp Sprouts, Rolling has tried to keep her brand as sustainable as possible. Along with natural wood slices, she used reused packaging. She now uses EcoEnclose for continuous sustainability. The brand’s packaging includes all recycled or recyclable materials.
“I want to make sure my footprint is small,” she said.
Taran Cornejo, who worked with Rolling at Winter Circle Productions, said she loves the fact Rolling is making the effort to be sustainable.
“I personally connect more with brands that make it clear what they support and how they are doing their part,” Cornejo said.
With pricing as low as $5, Rolling said she promised herself when she created her brand to keep the prices affordable. They average between $20 to $50.
Her Instagram account features her artwork and a statement reminding followers to be active in their communities. She recently posted a mushroom with the statement “Please vote” to encourage others to vote in the 2020 election.
Rolling has also introduced prints and stickers. They feature a mushroom design with sayings such as, “Stand up for what’s right” and “Grow through what you go through.”
Each month, Rolling chooses a local organization to donate profits from print sales. She once collaborated with another artist and half the profits were donated to an organization supporting trans communities in Louisiana.
“I wanted my brand to reflect who I am as a person,” Rolling said.
Cornejo said she thinks it is important for all people with a platform, like Rolling, to use their voice for change if they care about the future.
Since gaining more followers, Rolling has added a variety of art pieces to her collection. While trying to be sustainable, Rolling said she finds things at antique and thrift stores, such as flat pieces, like coasters and unique glassware, ashtrays, jars, and teacups, to paint on.
She recently experimented with “flash finds,” a process where she goes to antique and thrift stores searching for pieces her followers might enjoy. She posts the blank piece on her Instagram story along with a price. Her followers can message her and pitch their idea for a custom piece if they are interested in purchasing the find.
As the fall season approached, Rolling launched a Halloween-themed collection. She is planning to add glitter to upcoming pieces and wants to extend her color palette. She also hopes to add more seasonal pieces.