By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — There’s an antique pulpit in the corner of the living room. The chair in the studio is ringed with a tutu. Beatles memorabilia and vintage trunks dot the scene. Fabric peeks out everywhere, and color drenches everything.
“I’m big on color,” said Shanna Henry. She’s the eclectic entrepreneur behind Red Banana Designs. Henry designs and makes vintage-style aprons made from vintage fabrics – but they’ve got attitude, and each one is unique.
“I always liked the vintage-style aprons,” said Henry. She points out, “You don’t have to wear them just to cook. They’re multipurpose. They’re sassy.” The aprons have a form-fitting cut that looks to accentuate the positive. Henry describes them as kitschy and flirty.
“I’ve always been into pin-ups. I always thought it was cool to embrace your sensuality without going too far,” said Henry. “I think it’s fun…. You can tap into that inner sexiness.”Henry haunts antique stores and garage sales to hunt down her vintage fabrics and buttons.
She dives into her ample stash to start creating her aprons. She usually develops about ten of them at a time, although each one is different. She embellishes each one with buttons she’s collected.
“I like that they have personality,” said Henry. “I like that people are into them.”
Along with the specialty aprons that Henry makes, she’s also creating floral hairpins and bottle-cap magnets which are going over well at the city market.
Henry indulges her creative side beyond textiles by painting with acrylics. She helped out with the Walking Man initiative in Anderson. Henry credits her dad for her arty genes, and her grandmother for her sewing side.
“My grandma is a seamstress. She gave me a sewing machine in middle school,” said Henry,Henry was born in Anderson. As a child she lived in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. At age 11, she came back to Anderson. In 2000, she headed out to Seattle.
“It’s gorgeous out there,” said Henry, now 33. Among other things, Henry learned to create foam art with the coffee she served up there as a barista. That’s also where Henry began creating and selling her aprons. They were a hit. “It was great there. People are really into having a one-of-a-kind item.”
Henry dubbed her enterprise Red Banana Design, the marriage of a childhood nickname, Shanna Banana, with her distinctive red hair. Now, Henry sells her handiwork at Anderson City Market as well as online. She may be bringing them to other local and online venues in the near future.
There may be ocean and mountains out in the northwest, and, who know knows, maybe an old boyfriend, but the pull of family is stronger than the tides. Henry came back to Anderson in 2008, where she went to work at Hoosier Park, and remains there today in casino operations.
“I love it. It’s fast-paced. There’s a good energy there. I love the people I work with there. It’s kind of awesome,” said Henry. As great as that is, Henry indulges in an eclectic blend of interests outside of her work day.
“I kayak the White River a lot,” said Henry. She also runs, and volunteers whenever opportunities come along. She almost climbed Mount Kilimanjaro this year, and still seems inclined to do it next year – as part of a fundraising experience in support of equal rights for children and their opportunities to go to school.
Henry is currently heading up a committee looking to bring a beer fest to Anderson next year.
The event is designed to be more of an educational experience, along the lines of a wine tasting, but with that youthful, fun edge to it. Henry’s part of an Anderson contingent that’s upping the amperage in the area with creativity and energy.
“It’s a revolution,” said Henry, with an easy smile. “A creative revolution is happening in Anderson.”
Look for Red Banana Designs at the Anderson City Market on Saturday mornings, check it out on Facebook, and visit the Etsy store at www.etsy.com/shop/RedBananaDesigns. Henry has a new website in the works.
Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.