I met the talented Leah Staley through ceramicist (and previous STUDIO feature) Gopi Shah - I love that the maker world is full of these wonderful connections. We had a great chat in her charming studio about her work, how she got into jewelry making, and the significance of art in today's society. Yeah, we got a little existential there. Haha.
When Renegade Craft Fair paired me up to share a booth with Gopi Shah last spring, I gained a wonderfully kind and talented friend as well. Gopi is so warm and open, it felt like we were old friends right away. I was very excited to find out more about her beginnings as a ceramicist and see her in action in her studio in San Rafael. Her skill and artistry often made her work look effortless, though I now truly understand how much work really goes into each piece and her business as a whole.
A couple of years, a couple cities, and some significant life changes into what I still hesitate to call "running a business", it feels like a good time to do some reflecting. You see, I did actually think at one time or another that running a business and working for myself would always feel empowering, even glamorous. So when I find myself feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, a bit scared, and very scattered, that doesn't exactly feel congruent with this idea of having my own business. It's a challenge to feel confident about what I'm doing sometimes. Still, when I look back at the past couple of years and the things I've been able to accomplish amidst so many life changes, I start feeling good as hell. (I'm on a big Lizzo kick over here) I'm constantly learning so much, making new things, connecting with some wonderful people in this city, and growing more confident about my skills and being able to provide the highest quality pieces for my customers. All of these goings on tend to be within the confines of the studio though, so I thought I would share a little bit on here as well.
I met Samantha at one of those creatives meet ups...the kind that usually take a little extra convincing myself to go to but always turn out great. I'm sure some other (somewhat introverted) creatives out there know what I mean. Samantha was really easy to talk to and I was rather impressed with how long she had been working for herself. I knew right away I wanted to introduce STUDIO readers to her. We had just as easy and lovely of a conversation when I met her again at her sun-filled studio space in the Mission.
It's a lovely, sunny Friday afternoon in Berkeley and Panna Kovacs and I sit down in her bright and airy apartment/studio to chat over a glass of sparkling wine. I met Panna through a meet up put on by Urban Air Market and we've run into each other at a few craft shows, but I'm really excited to learn a little more about her as well as her business.
I'm standing behind a display of my work, eyes searching for potential customers to engage and finding none. I'm practicing my best power stance to urge my brain into feeling and exuding confidence. I remind myself not to let my face show the frustration and disappointment a slow show can make me feel.
Gorgeous fabrics, natural dyes, high quality construction, small scale production, environmental consciousness - these are the cornerstones of the San Francisco based clothing company called Piece x Piece. It's easy to see that founder, designer, and maker Elizabeth Brunner is truly passionate about her business. Recently, we had a very genuine and inspiring conversation about how she started her company, what drives her, and what's in store for Piece x Piece.
Comfortable and beautifully made basics for a cause - Somi Apparel supports women in Cambodia through the Harpswell Foundation.
Founder & Creative Director Alysia Vallas is as passionate about creating a product that you will fall in love with (I definitely have!) as she is about giving back. I recently spent a day with Alysia, getting to know her and her brand, as well as the wonderful manufacturers she works with. Here's a snippet of our day together:
Unfortunately, the one Fashion Business class I took in college was more "How to Predict Trends" than "How to Actually Start a Business". So when I decided to give my passion-that-could-be-a-business a real shot, I was quite overwhelmed with the process of making this thing legit in the eyes of the city of San Francisco. File this one form with this office, but this other form should be filed first with this other office, now go give someone over there a check, publish something in a newspaper, sign away your first born child. Okay, so that last part isn't true. But the information I was finding online was so incomplete and out of order, I couldn't really get a clear understanding of the process at all. Although I'm sure there are people out there who would think this is a breeze, I'm also sure there are others like me who find this whole process totally confounding. So to those of you, I'm here to say, "You're not alone! And you can do this!"
Julie and Ibrahima Wagne are vibrant, warm, and welcoming when I visit them in their Hayes Valley home. Their company, Petel, is motivated by their desire to uplift, sustain, and help foster the traditional craft of textile weaving in Ibrahima's hometown, Boghé. I am so inspired by their passion, drive, and kind hearts.
When I came across photos of Natacha Nay's beautiful, light, geometric necklaces and planters, I was instantly drawn in. Her energy is just as bright and beautiful, as I learned when she welcomed me into her sun-filled Berkeley studio. We had a lovely little chat while sipping tea from her handmade mugs, sitting in her handmade chairs.
A little whimsical and dainty, a little rock 'n' roll, all handcrafted with the utmost care and attention - that's CloeK Jewelry. I had such a great time chatting with Chloe in her home studio in San Francisco. As you read, you can imagine laughter after every other sentence and upbeat Sylvan Esso playing in the background, and that sets the scene perfectly for that bright sunny Sunday. This lady is such a talent and has so much to offer the world in her beautiful craft, her loving energy, and desire to lift others up along with her.
Meet Alexz Sandoval. She is the maker of Bird Trouble bags, accessories, and repurposed clothing. This girl is the embodiment of the motto behind her line: “Live wild. Live free.” I am glad I got to catch up with her during her time in the Bay Area, before she set off on yet another adventure. Alexz and I met years ago, through mutual friends in Chicago, so we start off with some catching up chit-chat.
It's a quiet, rainy winter morning in Chicago and I'm sitting with Riley Henderson, artist and furniture builder, in his studio, chatting over a cup of coffee. We've already started talking about the importance of supporting the handmade world before I remember to start recording (I guess I really needed the coffee that morning) and Riley flips the tables with a question for me to start out.
In early December, I sat down with brothers Matt and Jeff Austin at The Perch - a Chicago space that fosters a community of artists who uplift and support each other in many ways and forms including book publishing, symposium dinners, and educational programming. It was a quiet winter evening in Chicago, snow lightly falling outside, and there was a perfectly serene soundtrack of instrumental music accompanying our chat.