Abingdon: Meet the Locals [the Bullens pt.1]
Abingdon: Meet the Locals [the Bullens pt.1]
July 22, 2016

July, 2016
by Sarah Laughland

Sarah Laughland is a lifestyle & portrait photographer serving the DMV & Southwest Virginia. She’s a performer & creator who adores connecting with people through the art of visuals. She lives for supporting local, strong lattes, and good light. <3

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This blog post is entitled “pt.1” in hopes that I’ll get to speak more to this incredible family. It seems to me as though the Bullen Family truly does it all. I’ve never seen anything but resilience and dedication from these folks, and always with a smile on their faces. I was lucky enough to talk to one of the older daughters, Abigail Bullen, and their friend, Regina Dawson, who has begun selling with them this season. They set up shop together Tuesdays and Saturdays at the market, and what a colorful display it is!

To me, the definition of an “artist” encompasses anyone that allows the world they live in to engage them in a multitude of ways and then create from those experiences. Regina, Abigail, and the rest of her family use crafts ranging from greeting cards and art pieces to scarves, jewelry, adult & baby headbands, mug cozies, and photography to give back to the world. I’d say it’s working, and I’m grateful to know them.

I can also personally say that I wear one of Abigail’s cotton headbands almost every single day. One of the best purchases I’ve made this year. Enjoy getting a tiny glimpse into their world!


“Sarah: So, you said that most of these shots are taken from your backyard?

Regina: Well the bluebirds are all taken through my kitchen window. It’s the one window in the house that you have to keep clean. And the flowers are taken from my yard. Or if they’re orchids, my friend has an orchid collection and I take from their collection of orchids.

S: It’s the characters in these birds that are standing out so much to me. They’re hilarious.


R: Yeah, the pecker was through my dining room window. Birds are the only thing I take pictures of from inside. The rest is outdoors.

S: It’s like they’re yelling at each other.

R: Yeah, they have lots of personality.

S: Do you usually wait for them?

R: Because it’s from the kitchen, I just keep the camera on the countertop and, you know, you’re going to the kitchen to get a drink of water and there’s a bird. I don’t ever say, “oh, I’m going to take pictures now”, but I always have the camera handy.

S: When did you start taking photos?

R: Just, well, I just started selling this season. It’s the first time I’ve ever made cards and sold any, so I’m a beginner in that way. I started taking pictures when a high school teacher assigned a photo essay. It wasn’t a photography class, it was humanities, and she assigned a photo essay. And she liked my pictures. I took them of my nieces. I had two nieces who were preschool age and I took pictures of them hugging and praying, and just all different poses. I titled it “Sisterly Love”, and it was with my Dad’s colored polaroid. And my teacher said it was beautiful, but I’m sure she was referring to the poses and not the polaroid quality…there’s not much you can do with a polaroid. And yes, I still have that polaroid camera.

S: That’s fantastic. Do you have a studio at home or do you just find space?

R: No, I work at our dining room table.

S: These are so great. Do you make these ones as well?

R: No, Abigail makes these.

Abigail: I don’t do these all myself. These are actually a conglomeration of people. My great-grandma and my mother, and her mother, and my uncle Josiah does all the art here, this is my Aunt Amy’s, these are my sister Danielle’s. So, basically it’s a joint family effort in cards.

S: Do you all do it together?

A: No, we do it at our separate houses.


S: And how did you get started? What made you interested in starting to make headbands and things?

A: One of the farmers here, he had a girl interning with him and she wanted me…I was bringing pillow case dresses for young girls and selling those…and she wanted me to make headbands for her. So that’s how that started. I based it off one that she brought and they got a lot better over the years.

S: How many years have you been working on these?

A: These I’ve had maybe 4 years now.

S: And you’re only…?

A: 18.

S: 18. Started young, that’s fantastic. I used to just glue old scarves and things, I’d just glue them to shirts because I wanted to create these belts. But it was super glue and hot glue, so that doesn’t stay on when you put it in the dryer. I learned pretty quickly. So, where do you find the materials for these?


A: Um, a lot of these come from Jeannine’s Fabric shop just down the road. Some of them, it’s like as I go through, some come from Wal-Mart, some people give me…this was from a friend, her and her mom made her daughter a dress out of this. So she gave me leftovers from it because she knew that I’d use it. But, um, just random.

R: And that’s organic cotton.

A: Yeah, that stuff’s ordered online. I found a good place online that I could get good quality knit, better than you can find around here. Jeannine’s doesn’t have any knit because it’s a quilt shop. But yeah, Organic Cotton Plus, or something like that. I’ve ordered more and waiting for it to come in.

S: Is that what this one is?

A: Yes, that’s organic cotton.


S: I wear this thing every day and my brother just came to visit and I had to steal it off his head when he left…What does this idea of community mean to you and how does that impact your life?

A: A big part of the community, for us around here, is the large families. I’m one of 10, and we’re homeschooled on a farm, and so knowing other families…like the Moyers for instance, they have 6 kids, and they farm and homeschool. And having people to ask questions from, like we’re dealing with this now, how would you relate to that? We get together every Wednesday evening and play Frisbee with some friends who are also farm kids and homeschooled, and that’s really great for us. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know people at the market.

S: It’s very family-oriented, and embracing of that. All walks of life.

A: Oh yeah. What would you say to that, Regina? Your turn!

R: The market, I always shopped here, so I’m at home here somewhat from shopping here often. It’s different to get to know the vendors this way.


A: And the customers come back year after year after year. When we first started, my sister and I, we were selling baked goods at my family’s farm table over there. And these people who bought cookies from us still come back and talk to us about it. And that was 6 years ago, 5 years ago. They still remember us and we still know them, and that’s been really awesome to see people come back.

R: I was going to mention about the cards, they are recycled paper also. I order the paper and it’s recyclable. Josiah does his, he does a lot of digital art.

S: You have cards for all ages here.

A: Oh yeah.

R: And Grandma does a lot of the stamp cards. She’s a very amazing person.

S: And who does the artwork over here?

A: My sister Danielle does all the trees, and unicorns here, and Josiah did that one [mixed media].

R: She does that same sort of art on a tri-fold card.

S: Coffee sleeves, I love these! Who made these?

A: Lydia, yeah, she learned to cable-knit. She’s pretty cool.”

Pretty cool, indeed. Thanks for reading, and see you at the next market!


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