Carrie Sierra Hawthorne



We had the honor to help stage and shoot Carrie's home a few months back. It's a home I've admired for a very long time, rich in color, texture, and heavy with local art. Plus she lives there. When we were teenagers growing up in the same town but connecting only peripherally,  I was struck by her innate sense of style and grace. I know her now as a woman who exudes sincerity and heart and also possesses a wicked sense of wit,  who is loyal to the core, and as real as they come.

We became close via her acquisition of Kitkitdizzi, the local retail store she co-owns in the heart of downtown Nevada City, a miner's camp turned counter culture refugee landing zone in California.  We started working together then and the idea of doing her house seemed like an obvious thing to do. So we painted it. And then we painted it again. Once to add color and once to take it away. Carrie's got impeccable taste so it was really just a matter of playing with what was there, turning out the lights, and letting the sun and the lens of Kat Alves work their alchemical magic.  

Here's how she answered our questions about herself and life here in the Gold Country:

How long have you lived in Nevada City?

I was born here in 1976. My parents moved up here from the San Francisco Bay Area in the early seventies to escape city life to homestead in the mountains. 

Describe your first memory of Nevada City, anything that stands out, or something that stirs nostalgia in you.

When I was 5 years old, my father was a bar manager at the National Hotel. I remember running around and playing in all of the old rooms. I knew all of the regulars and they would walk me up the street for ice cream. The old Victorian that my parents owned and that my father was restoring is still there, perched up on Court Street looking over downtown. Now I walk by it and see the stone stairs he built in front while dropping off my daughter at kindergarten in the same school building that I went to as a child.

Can you describe what this place means to you?

This town is home. I mean that in the deep sense. When I am away, I feel excited and inspired, but only in the way one can when they are lost and the next turn is unknown. My sense of self is completely wrapped up in the familiar landscape. My most important connections have been made here, as well as my deepest loss. 

What do you love most about this place?

I love access to the wild and natural. I like the lack of overwhelming stimuli. It leaves enough space to feel grounded without feeling completely disconnected from the rest of the world. I love the beauty and dysfunction of feeling a part of a community and the creative people who choose to live here. I believe that there are certain strengths one must develop to survive in a small town. There is perhaps more personal accountability. I feel safe among this community and the people who inhabit it. 

And what is it you do with yourself here?

I am a mother of two small children and a dog. I own a home in town. I co-own a shop on Broad Street called Kitkitdizzi with Kira, my best friend of 33 years. The shop provides me with a way to hold a place in my community and to work with some of the most creative and talented people I have ever known.

Is there anything specific to this place that inspires you creatively or professionally?

The landscape. Living among the mountains, trees, and water. The feeling of having wilderness at your back door. The history of the town, both as a historic gold mining town and as a place to escape for the nature-loving. Living in and among buildings that hold a lot of history. Feeling like there is room to carve out one's own vision.

How would you describe this community?

We all make our little communities of like-minded souls even among small populations. I feel surrounded by open, creative, and conscious people. It's only when voting time comes that I realize there is a large portion of this community to whom I cannot relate. Despite that disparity, I believe it takes a particular kind of person to choose this place and it's among these people that I feel safe and thankful to live and raise my family.

What is something that has changed the course of your life?

The birth of my children changed everything about my life from the inside out.

Who do you admire or look to for inspiration?

There are so many who do profound things. Many go unnoticed. I am inspired by true humanity wherever I see it. In my own home I surround myself with artwork made by people that I love dearly as a reminder of where I come from.

What is something people might not know about you?

I'm an open book.

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