Baristanet Profile: Maya Stein

Maya Stein

The latest installment of our Baristanet Profile series, where we get to know the people in our neighborhood:

Name: Maya Stein

Where do you live? Nutley, NJ

When did you move there? Early fall of 2012.

Where did you grow up? Oh gosh, all over the place. I was born in Nova Scotia, lived in Israel until I was 7, Virginia until the age of 9, Central California until age 11, and then rural New Hampshire until I went to college outside of Boston. I usually say New England is the place I grew up, but I also spent 16 years in San Francisco before coming to New Jersey, and I think I did a lot of growing up there, too.

How do you make a living? I co-own The Creativity Caravan with Amy Tingle, whose is also my spouse. We offer workshops, events, and other experiences for all ages designed to spark, engage, and nurture creative expression. Our classes are often a blend of visual art and creative writing – I have a writing and editing background, while my visual art skills are a little, um, experimental, but I think in general our focus is on making creative experiences playful and gently, subtly transformative. Running a business with your significant other offers unique opportunities and challenges, and I I never really tire of our work, though I sometimes not-so-jokingly say that I don’t know where our marriage ends and our business begins (and vice versa.)

Coffee, tea or … ? My new obsession, Bulletproof Coffee (drip coffee blended with a tablespoon of unsalted butter) with a shake or two of cinnamon.

What’s your idea of a perfect Saturday? It totally depends on the weather. Rain means staying home and puttering, reading, baking (banana bread with chocolate chips)…basically anything that doesn’t require a change in geography or putting on a coat. I am a big fan of not planning things to a T, so a perfect rainy Saturday would be entirely absent of plans or a schedule. If it’s nice out, I’d love to go on a bike ride on a quiet back road (a little tough to do around these parts), followed by lunch outside (the roast beef-and-pickled beet sandwiches from Red Eye Cafe), followed by a nap in the sunshine, then a festive dinner with friends. With a glass (or two) of Prosecco or a good Pinot Noir. And my new/old favorite card game, canasta.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? I’m a sucker for BBQ pulled chicken, so I will happily make a beeline to Ruthie’s BBQ anytime. But I’ve also just discovered Simit Bakery right down the street from our studio, and my new favorite lunch is a cup of their red lentil soup and a warmed up potato roll. A perfect winter meal.

What’s on your nightstand? “At Home” by Bill Bryson. A few books I have clearly intended to read but haven’t yet. A small diorama I made inside a little cardboard jewelry box. A jar of confetti that Amy gave me at the tail end of last year, so I could always have the makings of a celebration nearby.

What are you listening to? To be honest, my favorite sounds are either silence or this lovely gentle hum of industry I hear when people get settled into our classes and find themselves immersed in their making. Right now, I am hearing the hair dryers inside Classic Man, the barber shop next door to our studio. It’s surprisingly meditative.

What are your current addictions? Spider Solitaire, Fire Cider (best to ward off winter ills), tiny book-making, trying to find the perfect couch for our studio, and doing some research about the creative reuse movement spreading around the country, which is all about reclaiming, recycling, and reusing materials – often for artistic projects – for the purpose of diminishing waste and consumption. I’d love to do a small-scale version of this in the back room of our new studio space.

Talent you would most like to have. Playing the drums. Like, you know, with rhythm.

What’s the worst-kept secret about Montclair? One of the things that I’m actually quite delighted by here is how quickly people can know who you are. That can be a challenge when you want to fall back on a certain anonymity, but as a business owner, being known and visible is especially important. I’ve been really touched by how welcoming and receptive this community has been to our work, so that we haven’t had to stay a secret for very long.

What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? That I wrote a few really outstanding poems.


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