Michelle Obama once said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” That statement couldn’t be truer, considering all the remarkable women that made their mark in history. Every year since 1911, we honor their achievements on International Women’s Day.

Fab femmes featured by Treetopia for International Women's Day including Amber Kemp-Gerstel, Twinkie Chan, Kitten Kay Sera, and Cortney Moore
(From left) Amber Kemp-Gerstel, Cortney Moore, Kitten Kay Sera, and Twinkie Chan

March 8 is the day we honor the social, cultural, economic, and political milestones brought about by outstanding females. The rally for gender equality also continues globally, urging us to stand up for women and celebrate them daily.

COVID-19 made 2020 a tough year for everyone. This didn’t stop strong and creative women from making strides in their respective crafts. At Treetopia, we had the privilege of working with some of them: Amber Kemp-Gerstel, Twinkie Chan, Kitten Kay Sera, and Cortney Moore. Despite challenges, these four prove there are always be-hue-tiful things worth celebrating. Get to know these colorful artists this International Women’s Day as they look back on their artistic journeys. 

How did you become an artist? 

Amber: Before tapping into my creative side, I was a clinical child psychologist.

I went to graduate school to get my PhD, so I never received any formal training in art. Everything I do is totally self-taught. My go-to medium for creating is definitely paper. 

I’ve always been a creative person. As a kid, I loved collecting stickers and pretty stationery, but I never thought my love of crafting could turn into a career. In 2012, I started my crafting blog Damask Love as a hobby. Over the course of two years, my blog grew, and I decided to leave my career as a psychologist to see if I could make a full-time job out of my crafting hobby.


Twinkie: I come from a very DIY-oriented family.

If we saw something we liked at a store, my mom would say, “Go home and make it!” Growing up, I dabbled in drawing, painting, sculpting, and decoupaging, but my favorite medium now is crochet. Crochet is so versatile, and you can create anything you can think of! My best friend’s grandmother taught us both to crochet when I was 10 years old.

I started crocheting funny scarves for myself around 2005, like salad scarves and bacon and egg scarves (as seen on Fuller House!), and I was surprised that others liked them so much. In 2009, I left my publishing job to pursue my crochet design full-time (I’m an English major who worked in book publishing for 10 years). I explored mass-production of my crochet pieces and found that it was not for me, so now I’m back to just me and only taking on projects that feel good and make me smile.


Kitten: I was born the youngest of five girls in a wild, loud, fun household in Houston, Texas.

We were a very musical family with a band and rehearsed in the living room. As a baby, I didn’t have a bottle in my hand. I had a microphone. Now, I enjoy a career in the entertainment world. Luckily, I get to create for a living! I am also “The Pink Lady of Hollywood”—a title I quite like. My life is always pink… wearing and living only in the color pink for 40 years! I was very inspired by Avant Garde pop performers like David Bowie, Boy George, and Annie Lennox. Then, I found my own style and made my life all-pink in 1980 and it changed my entire life.

I have gone from doing music exclusively to being featured in TV and film. So, besides being a recording artist, I also wear many pink hats! I have a YouTube channel where I create fun videos and I am also a character actress, TV personality, influencer, and dog mom!


I am always tickled pink because I get to do what I love! It was never an actual decision. It was just a way of life for me. Like, I never knew anything else. I also don’t let a “No” or a rejection upset me. “NO” just means “NEXT OPPORTUNITY.”


Cortney: It’s so funny—I actually don’t have much of an “artist” background.

I mean, I’ve always enjoyed pretty things. I made a lot of vision boards as a kid. I’d spend hours cutting out photos from magazines and making collages of my dream wedding, dream home, dream room, you name it. Pinterest before [actual] Pinterest. Ha-ha!

It wasn’t until I moved to L.A. and met my business partner and best friend, Jenna, that I started to learn about photography and how much we could really be creative with Instagram. We balance each other out in our jobs, for sure. I can see more of the “big picture” of every shoot—aesthetic, outfits, and color palette—and she knows how to capture it. As a person who really enjoys change, this is the one thing I’ve wanted to stick with, and we’ve been at it for five years now! 

In your opinion, what is the most significant way that creativity empowers women? What stood out in 2020 that best defines that and why? 

Amber: For me, a little creativity in each day is a necessity.

It’s my own personal form of self-care and I know this is definitely the case for lots of other busy moms like me! During 2020, this couldn’t have been truer! 2020 was a year like no other! We could have never expected such huge global changes that forced us into our homes. I know that for many people in my life, creativity was a much-needed avenue for self-care. 

Whether it was baking sourdough bread from scratch, opening up a sticker shop, or taking online knitting classes, 2020 provided the unexpected opportunity for women to explore creative passions and dive into new interests. I think 2020 [urged] women everywhere to tap into their creativity that may have been muted by the day-to-day tasks outside the home. 


Twinkie: Your creativity is a fabulous way to express yourself, especially if you are shy, hesitant, or unable to voice your thoughts verbally.

I like that your art can be your voice. While sharing your art can feel very vulnerable, it can also feel like a shield you can stand behind or a rock you can stand on.

In 2020, I got to participate in one of my biggest creative projects ever. I was part of a fiber arts-only art show called Intangible. It’s an interactive gallery space in Sweet Tooth Hotel, Dallas, TX. The show was all-women, and we each had a big space to create the fiber art installation of our dreams.


What I loved most about the show was how all the different artists used yarn in different ways to build entirely different worlds. One of my favorite takeaways was that if you feel that the world doesn’t have space for you or your art, you can always create your own space, whether it’s yarnbombing in your neighborhood or using Instagram as your personal gallery. There is always room for you!


Kitten: I think that in so many times in history, women have not had the freedom or power to tell their own story.

It seems that men have dictated women’s stories in the past. But now, we are seeing more women telling their own story through writing, directing, and producing, and that is extremely empowering! It was so great to see a major motion picture like Wonder Woman directed by a female. Creativity is also the way we let people know what we are about and who we are. It is the grandest form of expression for women everywhere.

I think the biggest accomplishment for women in 2020 was the election of Kamala Harris, which will inspire millions of young girls and women for years to come. “Her-story” was made. Also, in 2020, the world changed. It was devastating, but we relied on entertainment more than ever. Music, film, and books were the main focus—for me at least. I appreciate the arts so much. I also really hope to see more women directing, producing, and writing… and succeeding! I just hope I can be included in that club.  


Cortney: Creativity gives us an outlet to share our truth.

I think in the past few years, we’ve seen multiple stories come to light throughout the creativity of women. Not everyone writes their stories or their truths. Some paint them, some sing them, some dance them.

I think, especially in 2020 with the Black Lives Matter movement, I, as a white woman, have tried harder to listen to the truths I see through the creativity of Black Women sharing their stories, whether they are full of joy or full of tragedy. One person whose art and creativity has just been beyond inspirational to me this past year is that of artist and illustrator Melissa Koby. Her art is so incredibly powerful, and I now have a few pieces hanging in my home.

What message do you want to give aspiring creators this International Women’s Day?

International Women's Day quote by Amber Kemp-Gerstel

Stop comparing yourself to other people on the internet!


International Women's Day quote by Twinkie Chan

This is kind of an obvious message, but just be yourself. It’s something my mom always told me, and I would always roll my eyes, but it’s one of those truths you can’t deny. There is a lot of pressure on social media to portray a certain aesthetic or be a certain way or fit into some kind of box. I agree that for branding and marketing purposes, making your art and your brand digestible and cohesive is a smart move. However, take some time to figure out what your core style or message is, and always be true to that.


International Women's Day quote by Kitten Kay Sera

Have fun with what you are doing. I know it’s a cliche but if you love what you are creating it’s really not work… it’s FUN! And it is never too late to go for your dream. There is no expiration date on your foot. No dream is too big if you believe. Just remember, in the end, sometimes life is about risking everything for a dream that only you can see.  Oh, and very important: Try to be original. Once you find your own creative groove then the world will appreciate what you are doing, your originality and authenticity will shine through, and you will become unstoppable. I know this firsthand.


International Women's Day quote by Cortney Moore

Don’t psych yourself out of it by telling yourself you’re not good enough or that no one will care.

Top Picks

Let’s get to know what makes these creative artists tick!

Amber Kemp-Gerstel

Favorite Creativity Song

Hamilton

Favorite Girl Power Anthem

“I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross

Color That Represents You

Pink!

Cause You Support

In 2020, I was able to make a large donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. After the events of summer 2020, I used my voice and influence to help support a cause that improves the lives of young people who look like me.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is a premier legal organization in America. It mainly aims to fight for racial justice through litigation, advocacy, and public education. Find out more about the cause at naacpldf.org or make a donation.

Woman You Look Up to

Michelle Obama is at the top of my list of powerhouse women!

Favorite Creative Project in 2020

I loved the Craftivist print that I created for my digital stationery shop YayDay Paper Co.

Twinkie Chan

Favorite Creativity Song

I don’t really listen to music while I work (I watch bad reality television), HOWEVER, the Phantogram channel on Spotify always reminds me of working with my fellow female fiber artists at Sweet Tooth Hotel. We were all working in separate parts of the gallery, but [we could all hear] the Spotify channel. 

Favorite Girl Power Anthem

“Roar” by Katy Perry! I have no idea why that one popped into my head!

Color That Represents You

I would have said pink in the past, but it might be gold now—sometimes kitschy, other times gaudy, and if the mood is right: classic.

Cause You Support

I donate regularly to Food Runners, which is a local organization that picks up excess food from grocery stores, restaurants, tech companies, etc., and delivers it directly to neighborhood food programs. Their mission is to not only alleviate hunger but to also prevent food waste.

Food Runners provides enough food for over 20,000 meals every week in San Francisco. Visit foodrunners.org and find out how you can donate food, time, or money to the cause.

Woman You Look Up To

I will always look up to my mom. I think I wrote a college application essay about her. She puts 100% into everything she does.

Favorite Creative Project in 2020

I collaborated with my friend 100% Soft to turn his popular dumpster fire vinyl toy into a crocheted version. What I loved most was seeing everyone crochet their own and post photos of them.

Kitten Kay Sera

Your Favorite Creativity Song

I really enjoy “Don’t Steal My Sunshine.” It makes me happy and creative.

I also adore the song “Brown Eyed Girl” by Jackson Brown as it reminds me of my beautiful sister, Sandra, who sadly passed away. She was my hero and now she is my guardian angel. Sandra was very creative and a brilliant screenwriter. I have her scribbled handwritten scripts and would love to finish what she started.

Favorite Girl Power Anthem

“I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy—it was totally before its time. Helen was a pioneer for women everywhere. I also love “This Girl is On Fire” by Alicia Keys. Both such powerful songs!

Color That Represents You

The only color I want to represent me is… PINK! I am officially The Pinkest Person in The World and [I’m] very proud of that title. I earned it! I have only worn the color pink exclusively since the year 1980.

Cause You Support

I am definitely a supporter of the LGBTQ community. Having been my first faithful fan base, they are near and dear to my heart. They could see something in me and embraced my uniqueness and my music. I began performing at the gay nightclubs in Houston, Texas in the 1990s. 

There are several ways to support, represent, and advocate for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Communities. Check out this list of advocacy and support organizations. Get in touch with any of the groups to find out how you can participate in their campaigns.

Woman You Look Up To

My mom, for sure. She taught me to never give up on my dream and she’s my #1 supporter. She encouraged my belief in never quitting or having a backup plan. Because if you have a back-up plan, you will surely fall back on it. My mom gave me the courage to just be myself and because she is so funny and self-confident, I picked it all up.

Favorite Creative Project in 2020

Probably my photo series “PINKDEMIC: Portrait of a Quarantine Queen.” I set up my camera and did a self-portrait series. I just had to remain creative during the many months of being quarantined alone and that was a fun outlet for me during such a dark time in the world.

Cortney Moore

Favorite Creativity Song

Currently, the entire Folklore album by Taylor Swift. 

Favorite Girl Power Anthem

“Dancing on My Own” by Robyn. Forever and always. 

Color That Represents You

That changes! Currently, it’s a sage green! 

Cause You Support

The Black Lives Matter Movement and working towards racial equality in this country! 

The #BlackLivesMatter movement was founded by the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. Its main mission is “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” Support the cause by checking the resources on blacklivesmatter.com.

Woman You Look Up To

It’s probably cliche to say my mom, but I don’t care. She sacrificed so much to give us everything she could. 

Favorite Creative Project in 2020

Redesigning our living room and bedroom in our rental apartment!

Can you tell us more about your Treetopia Christmas tree decorating project? 

Amber: When it comes to crafting and DIY, I love to make things that feel clever and unique.

Since Treetopia offers such a huge range of colorful trees, I immediately knew I couldn’t use a traditional green tree

I loved how unique the red Christmas tree was and started thinking about how I could transform it into something fun.


Twinkie: My [black] Treetopia Christmas tree—or Halloween tree—was inspired by Audrey II from the Little Shop of Horrors.

We called ours Audrey III. I say “we,” because my best friend and roommate helped me a lot with execution. I wanted to create something really eye-popping and turn a corner of my living room into our own art installation.

Since I didn’t have the time to crochet any of the man-eating plant heads or leaves, so we went with paper mache. I loved how BIG we let it get. We didn’t confine the design to just the tree. It really felt like Audrey III was taking over our space, just like in the movie. And, I also really enjoyed working outside of my regular medium. It’s always nice to get an opportunity to stretch other creative muscles.


Kitten: I get so excited when I get to decorate my pink Christmas tree.

I couldn’t believe Treetopia had such a pink-tastic Christmas tree just for me! I like to get together with my closest friends to decorate. We sing Christmas carols and drink pink coco. And, it usually ends up looking pink-ture purrrfect because it’s decorated with love and laughs. 

I carefully chose the prettiest, all-pink ornaments. No expense was too great for my tree. I also used to work as a visual display artist for a major department store, and we had to decorate over 75 trees for the store, so I have lots of practice. Ha-ha! What I love most about my execution is the gorgeous pink color it illuminates in my pink palace. I am always dreaming of a pink Christmas! Luckily, with Treetopia, my dream has come true. 


Cortney: Oh, it was SO much fun! I had always wanted a pink Christmas tree.

And I decorated it with mostly teal ornaments, to really play on a “Palm Springs, California Christmas” vibe.

A little vintage, a little eclectic, and a lot of color! It was so much fun to think up a unique decor scheme for that project. 


We hope that these four ladies inspire you as much as they inspire us. Keep an eye out for all their upcoming projects. Happy International Women’s Day to all you strong, beautiful, and creative ladies worldwide!

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