Amelie Mancini

Studio Visit

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We have been avid fans of Amelie Mancini for a long time. Some of us were first introduced to her early baseball work, Left Field Cards, while for the rest, it was love at first sight during a recent Renegade Fair. During our last visit to New York, we had the opportunity to stop by Amelie’s studio in Ridgewood, Queens. The brightly colored paintings, rustic setting, and perfect light made for a picturesque afternoon. We took far too many photos, and made secret plans to move in without Amelie’s permission. Take a look at our visual journal and interview with Amelie!

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Son of a Sailor

Studio Visit

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Jessica and Billy Knopp work out of an adorable studio and retail space in Austin where each Son of a Sailor product is lovingly crafted by their team. A little while ago we had the opportunity to stop by their shop and see the inner workings of their small but hardworking company.

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Bryr Studio

Studio Visit

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photos by Hollin Brodeur for RCF

This past winter we had the opportunity to visit Bryr Studio’s workspace and storefront in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. Isobel, owner and designer behind the handmade clogs, kindly took time to show us around during their store renovation.

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Pine & Boon

Studio Visit

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Last summer we had the opportunity to visit the Pine & Boon studio in Seattle. Jess Marie Griffith is the designer behind these leather accessories, and it was so great spending time with her on a beautiful day.

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3rd Season

Studio Visit

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We were very fortunate to spend some time with Mabel and Alycia of 3rd Season and check out their amazing home studio in Southern California. Check out our photo journal of our visit and learn more about this amazing duo!

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In the Studio: Julia Canright

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Last summer on a perfect San Francisco day, we had the opportunity to meet Julia Canright and photograph her home studio. Julia Canright is a bag maker, block printer and SF native, and it was quite clear upon introduction that we really wanted to be her friends. Julia first showed at our San Francisco Fair in July, and we’re thrilled she’s joining us again this weekend!002-2015RCF-julia canright-studio visit-6613

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

My business name is just my name which is just a result of my inability to come up with a word or phrase to represent my line. I think it’s good in a way because it allows me some room to evolve and change because it’s just me! – not some other entity with its own limits.

009-2015RCF-julia canright-studio visit-6622 When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?
I did a lot of block printing and painting on paper in school and beyond and I’ve always really loved doing it. I got to a point where I wanted to use the prints I was making to create other things – ideally things that could be useful and practical like a bag. I really like the idea of taking something graphic and thoughtfully made and making it into something you could use everyday.
020-2015RCF-julia canright-studio visit-6643 Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
I think what I was most worried about when I started doing this was that I wouldn’t be very good at putting myself out there and selling myself. I’m a reserved person and the thought of approaching people and stores with my work was kind of terrifying. But its really like anything, it just takes practice and the more I do it the easier it gets! Also, in general, people are really nice and supportive – and the people who hate your stuff won’t go out of their way to tell you that.

034-2015RCF-julia canright-studio visit-6667 What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
I think my favorite part of creating my business besides actually just making things has been meeting and working with great people and stores in the Bay Area. Its inspiring to see really dedicated and creative people doing their thing.

005-2015RCF-julia canright-studio visit-6616 How does the city you live in influence your work?
I grew up in the Mission in San Francisco and the visual culture here is just so strong from murals to stickers on telephone poles to painted store awnings – it all just seeps in – and you just want to contribute to the landscape in whatever small way you can.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
From other creative people, I knew going into this that it would require a lot of commitment. Not just the time that you spend doing it, but the time and energy you spend thinking about it – and how that can take over. I think just knowing that helps you to be more aware when its happening.

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I’ve never really known what I wanted to do for a living – but I’ve always liked working. Its really satisfying to channel that worker bee energy into something that I love and really matters to me.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I get a lot of inspiration from old textile art that I find in books and online – east African, Russian and early American textile art is really amazing. I also get inspiration from the materials themselves – block printing works really well for certain things and that leads me in particular directions. I’ll also find a new paint brush in a new shape and create something from that.

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Wood carving – I did a little wood carving in high school and it was just so cool. I would love to do more.

035-2015RCF-julia canright-studio visit-6670 When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
I like to go up to Bernal or Glenn Park Canyon for walks with my little dog Charlie.

010-2015RCF-julia canright-studio visit-6624 What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?
My studio has been a work in progress for a while now. I think I’m finally at a point where I have all the tools I need and they all have their place so I can find them easily. My favorite part I think is just having a spot where I feel really productive and comfortable!
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Thank you again, Julia for giving us the opportunity to peek into your home studio. Browse the full set of photos on Flickr, and for those of you headed to our San Francisco Fair this weekend, be sure to find this gal and say hello. You should also check her stuff out online here:

Website
Instagram

Studio / Shop Visit: Ferme à Papier

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Last summer we had the chance to visit with Cat Seto, designer and shop owner of Ferme à Papier. Cat was kind enough to show us around her boutique/studio and give us the every day details of running a small business in San Francisco.

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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
Ferme à Papier is loosely translated as “Farm to Paper”. I took my first trip to Paris a little over 21/2 years ago and I was overwhelmed by the streets, history, chic hipster parisians and architecture. I also visited biodynamic farms in the countryside. When I returned I drew obsessively for three weeks. The collection has a dark, artisinal navy palette behind it and it portrays everyday joys like couples embracing or a pair of shoes.
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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?
I have a degree in painting and a master’s in writing. I have always been a proponent of hand written letters and I love that a card can capture a visual in a miniature frame.
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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Believe me I’ve had plenty but I strongly believe that without these my career would have never blossomed! I had major writer’s block when I first moved to San Francisco which prompted me to craft felt finger puppets in the night to feed my insomnia. Those felt puppets led to illustrating characters on cards which I debuted as a stationery collection. I couldn’t believe it but when I debuted this, Anthropologie was my first client!
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What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
Ferme à Papier was never intended as a business. I was burnt out and I took a trip to Paris and I just took everything in. I always remind myself that ideas need to start from a genuine place.
Where do you want your business to be in 2-5 years?
I hope that I am always able to freely create and share my dreams, travels and inspiration through the things that I make or illustrate. I would love for Ferme to branch out into different product categories as well.
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How does the city you live in influence your work?
San Francisco is a vibrant, creative community which I am so proud to be a part of. My studio is located in Russian Hill which has remained independent. We have an open studio where we work and sell goods to the public and it is this kind of daily exchange that makes me feel inspired to create.
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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I mentored with folks I admired. I stayed humble! I swept, dusted, cleaned bathrooms and filed…did anything to absorb knowledge about what the details behind a small business. Many of my colleagues did the same. In addition to a street MBA, I truly believe this has given me a more positive and industrious attitude.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I waited a long time before I started my business. It had to feel right…but once it did I worked harder than ever before. I had to make sure I had a solid collection, something unique to present, and some know-how of how to start a small biz.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Share information with your peers and learn from mentors. Stay humble! Sometimes having a reputation for being the hardest team player will get you further than your talent alone.
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What are some inspirations for your work?
Paris and Brooklyn and everything that spans between the two.
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
I would love to learn printmaking and textiles.
When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
I love running on the beach with my six year old son… This is the true joy of living in the city by the bay. You can be hard at work at your studio and then be outside by water in a few minutes.
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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
No regrets. I work around the clock, seven days a week, but this has been a conscious choice. I feel very lucky.
What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?
our studio is a hybrid shop and production studio. I love seeing customers walk in and share our cards with one another.
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What advice do you have for any potential business owners out there?
I believe that creative business owners learn their business savvy via what I call the “street MBA”. It’s not from the books per se, but from sharing information and talking to peers, mentors and joining groups.
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What would it take to make you feel successful?
Success for me is creative freedom. If I am able to support myself by being able to make or design creative goods AND share them with others I am pretty happy.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I wholesaled my goods to retailers and it was from this that I learned many of the details behind owning and running a shop.
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What are some of your favorite products/makers in the shop currently?
We carry products that curated to our Ferme aesthetic… Maison Scotch, PF Candles, Abacus Row are just a few of the lines we carry.

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WHOLESALE ETIQUETTE
As a buyer, when do you do most of your product research and ordering?
I purchase during the seasonal times that shows are occurring. For me this occurs about 3-4 times a year.
What time of year do you prefer to be contacted by prospective vendors looking to get into your shop?
I like to be contacted right before a show.
What are some tips you have to vendors out there wanting to get more wholesale orders?
Customer service is key. And there is an art to balancing out when to remind retailers to purchase and not bombarding them with too much. I love getting reminders but will tune out vendors who are too aggressive.
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What sets a vendor apart? When receiving an order, does a pretty package and presentation with a hand- written note make a big difference in remembering the vendor, or would you prefer straight to the point demeanor?
The quality of a product is always key. We are a small indie shop and we want to carry unique items. Equally important is the follow-through and customer service behind this. I love to know that the team is as solid as the product.
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Thank you, Cat, for taking the time to show us around your studio and shop. Can’t get enough of this amazing space? Check out the full set of photos on our Flickr. In the meantime, you can find Ferme à Papier online here:
Website
Instagram

In the Studio: BU-KIN, Erika Barratt, and Alyssa Leanne Hoppe

016-2015RCF-AH-EB-BB-studio visit-8042We have a three-part studio visit to share today, and it’s a real beauty! The ladies of BU-KIN, Erika Barratt Design, and Alyssa Leanne Hoppe (Bracken), all craft in the same workplace in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We first met Laura of BU-KIN and Erika at last year’s New York Holiday Fair – and as you can imagine, their shared booth was a woodland-inspired dream! And Alyssa shared her talents with us by hosting DIY workshops at our Brooklyn Fair. Laura and Erika Barratt will be joining us this weekend for our New York Fair, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store!

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

LAURA: It comes from my maiden name ” Buchen” and ode to my family and the creative upbringing that I had in Lancaster PA.

ERIKA: I use my name that I was born with. There was a lot of back and forth in the beginning trying to decide on a name for the business and nothing seemed right. What I do is so personal to me that it felt right to use my name and maintain the personal connection to each piece. My last name in particular is important to me because of my close relationship with my grandparents and their influence.

ALYSSA: My sister-in-law/best friend/buisness partner, Laura Christenson, came up with the name for our fresh flower jewelry business, Bracken. Bracken is a genus of large ferns. We have good memories of taking hikes, and exploring the west coast redwoods where a lot of these type of ferns live.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?

LAURA: I always had so many hobbies and crafts sewing, painting, knitting , perfume making…etc. But, when I moved to NY and had a tiny apartment I realized my crafts needed to get smaller! I was always interested in working with leather and I had a friend who had a baby boy and I wanted to make a special gift for her. I created my first baby shoe and I called it “The Timmy” . It really did start as a hobby or project and then it grew from there. Friends wanted booties, then their friends wanted booties and orders just kept coming in. I continued to experiment and learn the craft of shoe making and it just grew into BU-KIN.

ERIKA: I have always been a maker and was always drawn to textile seven at a young age. My grandmothers and mothers all sewed and my mother made all of our clothes and even painted on them. We had drawers and drawers of fabric that I would pull out and play with and make little outfits for all of my dolls and creatures. In college I was in the Fiber Art program at Arizona State. I fell completely in love with all aspects of fibers and from there I just haven’t stopped. I love the ability textiles have to tell a story and it has just always been the perfect medium for me.

ALYSSA: I started crafting and creating moments and spaces from a really young age. Studying graphic design and fine art in college and then working at Anthropologie designing window and interior spaces helped refined my craft and taught me a lot of new skills that helped jumpstart my career as a prop stylist and floral designer.

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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

LAURA: I have a day job as well as running BU-KIN. All of my free time or extra time goes into my business. When I first started and was making all of the shoes by myself I was working long hours at my job and every evening and weekend would be filled with shoe making. I wouldn’t say it is sacrifice … I think it is just how I am made. I always need to be making and creating and this is what is fulfilling to me. Sometimes it gets hard because I feel overwhelmed with managing two jobs but overall it is something really special and I am so proud of where it stands today.

ERIKA: I don’t really feel like I have sacrificed anything(maybe some sleep and sanity along the way at certain times ) or have any regrets. I have definitely have had to miss out on some fun things here and there if I have a deadline or a lot of work that I have to finish but it is really what I want to be doing and I feel grateful to be able to so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.

ALYSSA: Sacrificing your security of a full time job with another company is a really scaring thing, but I am so happy I took the leap. There are really tough times and really fruitful times and you just have to have faith that the hard work you are putting into your business with pay off in the end.

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What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

LAURA: I had a dream of selling in ABC carpet & home one day, it was my goal, something to work towards. When I was finally ready to start wholesaling they were my second account! I had to keep pinching myself, I still am so proud to be selling there.

ERIKA: I started collaborating with West Elm a few years ago and just finished designing my 3rd ornament collection for them for 2016. It has been so great to work with them and has taken me down this path of making ornaments that I have loved doing. And Renegade Craft Fair is always fun! 

ALYSSA: Ideating a concept and seeing it come to life in tangible form is always really exciting to me and makes me feel proud.

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Where do you want your business to be in 5 years?

LAURA: I would love for BU-KIN to branch out more and be able to expand my line of gifts for babies and children. Maybe also expand into handbags and accessories for women.

ERIKA: I would like to have a line of holiday décor and home products and a book of patterns & recipes.

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

LAURA: I was a a fashion designer before starting my line. I had experience in design, pattern making, construction and manufacturing. I was able to save so much money by doing a lot of the work myself. I make all my patterns and samples and tech packs. I am able to easily work with my Amish leather makers because I understand the making of the shoes. The business side… thats where I was lost! That took many long nights of research.

ERIKA: As far as the making part, I learned those skills growing up, in school and teaching myself. I had friends and family with their own businesses so I learned from them and the rest just a lot of late night Google searches. I have had a lot of different jobs prior to this that were all very different from one another. When you run your own business there are so many components and there are skills I learned in all of those jobs that help me on a day- to- day basis in some way, big or small.

ALYSSA: I am a learner, so knowing and enjoying the process of how to research and teach yourself has been really helpful.

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

LAURA: I was working at the same company for 10 years and I wanted to try something on my own. I realized that I had orders piling up and my evenings and weekends were filled with shoe making, all of this and I was really only giving it 10% of my time. I decided to quit my job and give BU-KIN 100% of my time and see where I could take it. I since now have taken another job full time but the year off that I had was so important in starting my business and learned so much and really was able to focus on and turn my hobby into a running, profitable business.

ERIKA: In some ways it kind of just happened and I sort of eased into it. I was working in Philadelphia at the Anthropologie Home Office and then my partner and I moved to New York. I started to do freelance work for Anthropologie while I figured out what was next and then that led to other projects and I started to really enjoy the flexibility of freelance life and being my own boss in that way. After doing that for a few years and some part time work mixed with freelancing I decided I wanted to build my own brand and business and just focus on that.

ALYSSA: I really wanted to have the flexibility to work on the different styles of work I do. I didn’t want to just do prop styling, or just do floral design. I also really enjoy being able to create my own schedule.

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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

LAURA: Don’t stop, Don’t give up when it gets hard. Keep going.

ERIKA: Just keep going even if you feel like you don’t know what you are doing! Also having a good support system of other makers is so helpful, especially when it comes to the business side of it.

ALYSSA: Never be afraid to reach out to other people in or out of your field for advice. It is so helpful to build a support group of like minded people.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

LAURA: I try to keep things classic, I am always looking at vintage shops and flea markets for interesting finds.

ERIKA: I have always been inspired by the past, the lost arts and anything with a story behind it. My favorite things to do are to go searching for things. Whether they are sea treasures on the beach, flea markets or old dusty barns. I get inspired by beautiful materials, I like to just collect and from there things just start to appear and take form.

ALYSSA: I try and seek inspiration that is completely opposite of the work I do because it helps me look at things differently to give me a new perspective.

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If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?

LAURA: I think I would like to get more into ceramics!

ERIKA: I would love to work with metal or wood sometime. It is so different than what I work with now and I always have so many ideas I would love to see come to life in that medium.

ALYSSA: I would love to learn how to weld!

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When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?

LAURA: Making things for myself! I love love love being in my studio and experimenting with different leathers, right now I am working on a leather fringe jacket! and I make quite a few leather bags for myself.

ERIKA: I like to bake, embroider, crochet and do pottery. I live right by Prospect Park and love to go there. I love to play music even though I don’t do it that often anymore. I have an accordion that I pull out only a few times of year – usually right before the holidays. Every year it is my New Years resolution to pick it back up again – maybe next year is the year!

ALYSSA: I really love being out in nature so anytime I have enough free time and can drive out of the city and get to the mountains, I try and do so.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

LAURA: I am inspired by the people I meet in the city. I am inspired by the streets and all the shops. It is always evolving, always new things to see.

ERIKA: The energy of the city is contagious. Although sometimes city living can be tough I really love living here. Being surrounded by so much energy really keeps me going and is really inspiring.

ALYSSA: New York is so saturated with incredibly talented creatives that it is really inspiring but I also try and seek inspiration outside of my city just to keep ideas fresh.

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What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?

LAURA: I love my studio space, it is my little haven, all of my favorite tools and and things are there. My studio is a place where I can create and have space to create. I also love the ladies that I share my studio with, it is so inspiring to see what they are working on and I love the community that we have. I also love the big windows!

ERIKA: The wall of windows and all the natural light! I had a studio for two years without windows and while it was nice and felt very cozy now that I have the light I don’t think I can go back! I also love the community of all the artists on our floor.

ALYSSA: I love the windows in our studio. They give so much natural light that is helpful when designing and shooting. Its also really inspiring sharing a space with Erika and Laura. Its like having coworkers again and it is so nice to have friends to bounce ideas off of.

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What do you enjoy most about your craft and entrepreneurship?

LAURA: The freedom, the right to choose you own path. To be able to really create something that is 100% what you want it to be.

ERIKA: What makes it worthwhile is being able to share these special moments with people, or seeing some happiness in someone when they receive something. Receiving a simple little note or message from someone saying how much they love something or how much something they received meant to them means the world and that makes every ounce of hard work completely worth it.

ALYSSA: I love that every day is different!

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What a gorgeous space! Clear your calendars because this weekend you should be spending all your time at our New York Holiday Fair. If you just can’t wait, you can find all the images from this Studio Visit in our Flickr album, and find all these gals online here:

BU-KIN@bukinbooties

Erika Barratt Design@erikabarratt

Alyssa Leane Hoppe | Bracken Floral@alyssaleanne @brackenfloral

In the Studio: Etta + Billie

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Today we’re sharing our Studio Visit with Alana Rivera of Etta + Billie! Etta + Billie is based in San Francisco and we are obsessed with their bath and body products. 001-RCF-EttaBillie-StudioVisit-9839

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

– I named my business after my maternal and paternal grandmothers, Grandma Billie and Grandma Etta. While coming up with a name for my business, their names kept popping into my head. I was able to spend a couple of weeks each summer with them while growing up and it was always my favorite part of the summer. It’s a wonderful way to both honor their memory and have a constant reminder of their love, support and tenacity.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?

– It all started when my mom gave me a book on soapmaking in 2006. I’d been working a job that I disliked but wasn’t willing to quit. Knowing that I wasn’t going to leave, she recommended focusing my attention away from the frustrations of the job and onto a hobby. She gifted me the soap book and after my first batch of soap, I was hooked.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

-Of course I’ve had failures! It’s all part of the growing process. I’ve learned that I should always triple check anything going to print and have another pair of eyes look it over too (I’ve had to trash a whole order of labels because of this issue, I almost always send things to my mom for proofing). And it’s important to slow down! Mistakes and stress increase as things move faster and faster. Taking a few moments to slow down and breathe always helps clarify things.

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What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

-Great question! I have a lot of little things I’m really proud of but two major moments stand out. One was becoming the first bath and body company to be certified as a green business in the city of San Francisco. And the second was signing the lease on my studio space. It felt so good!

How does the city you live in influence your work?

-The physical beauty of San Francisco is very inspiring to me. The hills, architecture, plants, parks, birds. The wealth of other really talented makers and the incredible food scene. There are so many ways to find inspiration here.

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

-The realization that I would never truly know what my business was capable of until I was able to commit to it full time. It was a pretty incredible transition.

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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

-Find your niche! Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You’ll just make yourself crazy.

What are some inspirations for your work?

-My biggest inspiration is food. The combinations I’ve discovered in local bakeries, restaurants and the creations of other makers like Ritual Coffee, T-We Tea and Craftsman and Wolves inspire me plus I get to do some serious taste testing research.

If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?

-Embroidery! It seems like a really relaxing way to be productive while watching Game of Thrones.

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When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?

-I love spending time in the kitchen, cooking and baking, especially when it’s with my friends or family. Sharing some Rose in Precita Park or in my besties back yard. Sipping coffee and eating donuts on the back patio of Dynamo Donuts. Basically anything that involves food and spending time with the people I love.

Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

I’ve sacrificed many things over the years like sleep, time, sanity, certainty, health insurance but I don’t regret any of it. All the sacrifices I’ve made have turned into moments to learn and grow.

008-RCF-EttaBillie-StudioVisit-9894Would you ever go on a reality competition show to win $10,000?  :p

Maybe. But if you’d asked about a game show, I’d say yes in a heart beat – especially if it was The Price is Right.

What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?

My favorite part is that it’s a special space dedicated to my business.

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Shop Visit: Summer Camp in Ojai

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We are so thrilled to be debuting a new interview series on our blog called Shop Visits! We will be spending time with some shop owners around the country and talking to them about their experiences and insight into the world of independent craft, wholesaling, and retail. Back in December we had the chance to take a little road trip up to Ojai and visit the perfectly styled and curated shop, Summer Camp. Rachel and Michael Graves re-vamped an old gas station in Ojai and turned it into a lovely shop featuring many of our favorite RCF makers. Rachel was kind enough to offer some insight into their business.

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What is the history of Summer Camp? Why did you choose this theme?

I was a girl scout and went to every camp every year so the name is near and dear to me. We both have a love for mid-century and the outdoors so its really combining all of our favorite things.

What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

I have worked in retail for 15 years and Mike and I have a combined framing experience of over 10 years.  

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

We had always dreamed of owning a shop but never thought we could make it happen. We really fell in love with Ojai and knew it was the right fit and the right time.

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What are some important factors that potential business owners should consider before taking that leap?

Starting a business can be risky so I would try to minimize risk, such as keeping a full time job and starting your own business part time. Try to keep costs down because they add up quickly..don’t try to have the perfect business right out of the gate. You can build your business slowly and keep your debt level low.

Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

We always try to stay positive but we did have a bit of natural disaster a few months after opening. The majority of our merchandise was damaged in a flood from a bad rainfall…we lost a lot of vintage items that we can’t replace but in the end we made the best of it. We had great support from our friends, the community, and our vendors. We were able to get items replaced quickly and back in business. As a shop owner you have to expect the unexpected and just know that it could always be worse!

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What has been your proudest moment since opening?

Knowing how many people we have reached since opening (thanks to Instagram) is pretty amazing….to be able to create something that people love is the reason we do it!

What would it take to make you feel successful?

I think success is a mind set and not so much a monetary marker so I have felt successful since day one. Just having the courage to open the shop and the positive feedback from the community has been more reward than any amount of money. Seeing a kid smiling in the shop or hearing stories of people who come to Ojai just to visit our shop is just the best!

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What changes do you want to make in your business in the next 5 years?

We are currently renovating a vintage trailer with Brody Travel Supply that will serve as a mobile shop…we want to bring Summer Camp on the road! We also will be expanding our online shop so we can reach more people.

What are some of your favorite products/makers in the shop currently? 

We love all our makers but some of our favorites are PF Candle Co, Small Adventure, Bernscott Pottery, Chaparrel Studio, Moon calendars by Margins Imprints and Secret Holiday Co.

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What advice do you have for any potential business owners out there? 

It’s a 24/7 job so be prepared…you will work harder than you ever thought but it will be so much more rewarding.

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WHOLESALE ETIQUETTE 

As a buyer, when do you do most of your product research and ordering?

We typically buy small but the holidays are our best season so we stock up in the fall…we also do a bit of ordering in March and April since summer is a high tourist season. But we are always looking for new makers so its a constant process.

What are some tips you have to vendors out there wanting to get more wholesale orders?

I love when a vendor sends me a personalized email or sends a sample to the store! I wish I could order from everyone who approaches us but unfortunately that isn’t realistic.

What sets a vendor apart? When receiving an order, does a pretty package and presentation with a hand written note make a big difference in remembering the vendor, or would you prefer straight to the point demeanor?

As much as love pretty packaging I prefer great communication with my vendors. I am friends with many of the people we order from and it helps us connect with the items which in turns helps the customers connect with the story behind the products.

Any important resources or tools you want to suggest to vendors out there?

Instagram is the best business tool I can imagine…it connects everyone and makes the world a smaller place 🙂

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Thank you Rachel and Michael for sharing your insights into Summer Camp! Want to see more photos of their beautiful shop? Take a look at our Shop Visit Flickr Album! Be sure to check out Summer Camp’s droolworthy Instagram, too!

If you’re a shopowner interested in collaborating on a Shop Visit, feel free to contact hollin@renegadecraft.com.

In the Studio: I’m Gorgeous Inside

014-2015RCF-I'm Gorgeous Inside-9973It was sometime last July when we had to chance to meet up with Hiroko of I’m Gorgeous Inside. Hiroko Watanabe’s home is part studio, part museum, part curiosity shop. We could’ve spent hours, days, in Hiroko’s home, but that may have made us rude guests. Every nook of her home has a unique vignette and its own special storyline. Hiroko is a creative director, vintage purveyor, and maker. She sells at vintage fairs around Southern California, consults for companies, and then quietly creates beautiful textile work at home. Here is our visual journal of our experience:
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Studio Visit: Gopi Shah Ceramics

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During our time in Austin we had the chance to visit Gopi Shah’s studio and get to know the California native who has quickly become a large part of the ceramic scene. From her popular hand dishes to her collaboration on Sister Coffee’s cheeky (or I should say, booby) tumblers, if you live in Austin, chances are you’ve seen Gopi’s work. We loved getting the opportunity to learn more about Gopi’s inspirations, process, and big dreams last month:
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Ceramics in generally has a really long process since there are so many steps that go into each piece. I buy my clay from Armadillo Clay, which is a local clay shop a few blocks away from me. I like using local clay, which will change the way my pottery looks whenever I move. Each bag of clay comes in a 25 pound bag. I usually have something I have in mind that I want to make with each bag of clay. For example, if I make the zodiac lanterns, I will cut up this 25 pound bag of clay into small cubes that are 0.75 pounds of clay each and smack them down into balls. Once all the balls are ready, I get situated on the wheel and begin throwing. A clay ball has many steps to becoming a piece – I center the piece of clay, create a quarter-sized indentation in the middle that my thumbs push down on to make the center of the piece, pull out the bottom, raise the sides, trim the bottom, push or pull on the sides to create a shape, smooth the top rim, and cut the piece off the wheel.
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Then I do it all over again until all the balls of clay have become pieces. Once the pieces have dried a bit, I can flip them over and trim the bottom so that it is smooth and stamp my logo on the piece. For the zodiac lanterns, I take each one, draw the constellation on the side, and hand punch the holes to the pattern of the stars. I then wait for them to dry a bit more and smooth out the holes with a sponge. In this stage, the clay is called greenware since it is still wet. Once the water has evaporated out, I can bisque fire it, where I take it up to around 1970 degrees Fahrenheit. Bisque ware is porous enough to absorb glaze, but is not brittle. Glazing requires knowledge of chemistry and compounds. I have experimented with different glazes and have a few I created on my own from various chemicals. I glaze each piece by either dipping them in the glaze or brushing a glaze directly onto the surface. There are so many ways to decorate pottery – scratching the surface into a pattern, brushing, sponging, using underglazes. Glaze cannot be on the bottom of your pots because the piece will stick to your kiln shelf once it is fired, so I have to sponge the bottom of each piece. I then load the kiln again with glazed pieces. I load a shelf in, put three stilts in the corners, put the glaze pieces between the stilts, and then put a shelf on top of the stilts until the kiln is full. I then fire this to around 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the glaze to melt onto the surface of the ceramic and become the beautiful colors everyone is accustomed to seeing on ceramic pieces. Usually this is when a piece would be done. However, with the zodiac lanterns, I use gold luster, which is an overglaze. I unload the kiln and brush on gold luster to each piece over the glaze. I then reload the kiln and fire it to around 1300 degrees Fahrenheit where it gets that beautiful gold sheen. See? I told you there are a lot of steps in ceramics…
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I started working with ceramics in high school. I had a great teacher who let students explore the constraints of clay, which allowed me to learn a ton. He was very influential in shaping my approach to ceramics and helped me learn a lot about various processes of clay. I actually still keep in touch with him to this day! 
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In 2014, I started my business but was very scared to not have a steady income. Up until then, I had worked 9-5’s that had 401Ks and health insurance. So, I ended up creating a 9-5 for myself with a bunch of part time jobs instead, which inevitably pushed my business to the back burner. In 2015, I gathered enough courage to really do ceramics full time. I thought I owed it to myself to try doing what I love full time. It’s been amazing so far. I am very appreciative that I am in a position where I can dedicate all hours to making my business a success. I’d encourage anyone in my position to really go for it, as it does require a ton of time!006-Gopi Shah Studio-RCF2015-2671016-Gopi Shah Studio-RCF2015-2692
Inspiration comes from a ton of different things. In California, I was really inspired by the beach since we lived in Santa Monica and did a lot of forms with barnacles and ocean foam texture. In Austin, my inspiration has come more from textiles and prints, which is shown on some of my newer work. It’s really exciting to travel and get inspired by different things. I keep a small journal where I end up drawing ideas when I get them. I remember I was on the bus one day and saw a bunch of wood with red, yellow, white, and blue ends and came up with a pitcher and cup set that I wanted to make. A lot of my forms also come from ceramics I want in my house, and then I end up making a few more to see how they are received. One of my favorite things I have made is my berry bowl or colander. It is really practical and the perfect size for washing berries.
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The hardest thing for me was believing in myself. Before I started my business, I worked at an environmental non-profit. When I met someone new, I labeled myself as an environmentalist before a ceramicist. It was hard to tell people that I was an “artist” because I didn’t feel like one. When I moved to Austin, I figured it was easier to start a new life where people did not know who I was and I could have the freedom to create this new persona. Slowly it started getting easier to say that I am a ceramicist. There are still so many days that I question what I am doing with my life. And then I remember I’m living my dream and become driven to make this dream a success.022-Gopi Shah Studio-RCF2015-2710
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 Also, I think it is best to make things that make you happy instead of making things that may be trendy. I made a bunch of different ceramic wares and have been experimenting with different forms to see what people like. Things I have made that I love are generally what sell more, probably because customers can see the love you have put into a certain item over another. 020-Gopi Shah Studio-RCF2015-2702
 Gopi has been a delight to have at our Fairs in Austin, and we cannot wait to see her evolving work continue to pop up in shops all around the country! Take a look at all the photos from this visit on our Flickr and check out Gopi Shah Ceramics, you won’t regret it.
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Studio Visit: Lemon bird Preserves, Recipes + GIVEAWAY

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We have a super awesome Studio Visit to share with you today – A couple of months ago we stopped by the Lemon Bird kitchen to say hello to our pal, Amy Deaver. Lemon Bird will be selling their jams and preserves at our LA Holiday Market on December 13+14 at the beautiful Grand Park in Downtown LA. We loved seeing where Amy and her team craft and package their delicious jams and preserves. Plus, we’ve got a couple great recipes and a giveaway coming your way, too!031-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9801

Lemon Bird Preserves is an artisan food company tucked away in the beautiful mountains of Wrightwood, California. Lemon Bird was formed when Amy traveled to the South of France on a family vacation and rediscovered a love of canning and jam making. Almost a decade later, and Lemon Bird remains one of the most creative jam companies around!

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Amy creates handcrafted jams and pickles using local, pesticide free fruit from family farms. The jams and pickles are made with all natural ingredients and feature the best seasonal produce from the Southern California region.

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Amy’s passion is transforming locally grown, farm fresh fruit into an artisan product while supporting local farmers.

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All of Lemon Bird’s jams and pickles are sourced with produce from local farms. The jams and pickles are 100% handmade in their Wrightwood kitchen. 002-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9716
Amy loves being able to pick up her fruit orders directly from the local farm, especially when the fruit is picked that day. All of the fruit used is processed and prepared by Amy and her jamming helpers.034-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9811

Amy crafts her jams in small batches in traditional French copper kettles (which we are in love with, by the way) and each batch typically takes 2-3 days.004-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9720

We can’t wait to stock up on stocking stuffers and holiday gifts from Lemon Bird at our LA Holiday Market! Stay up to date with them on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and INSTAGRAM and stop by the Lemon Bird booth and say hello!

COOKING WITH LEMON BIRD JAMS

Amy was kind enough to create two lovely recipes for us and we are so thrilled to share them with you! These appetizers are easy to create from scratch and perfect for your upcoming holiday parties! Or perhaps after seeing all these photos you’ll get hungry and make them now – we won’t judge.

 

Cheese Bites with Lemon Bird Padron Peppers

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This super easy recipe combines homemade candied walnuts, delicious cream cheese and cheddar, and more, plus Lemon Bird’s Pickled Padron Peppers012-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9740lemonbird collage2All this recipe requires is a little mixing of the cheese mixture, forming the cheese into bit-sized balls, refrigerating, and then when you’re ready, roll them into the pecan pieces.
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So easy, but oh, so good!014-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9751 017-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9757

Download the recipe card here: lemon bird cheese ball recipe

Corn Bread Bites with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Fig Jam

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Amy’s bite-sized corn bread bites combines all good things: goat cheese, prosciutto, and Lemon Bird fig jam! Need we say more??032-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9802033-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9803You can see the perfect way to layer each ingredient on top of one another for the ultimately cute holiday appetizer.
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Want to see larger photos of the process? Take a look at all the images from the Lemon Bird studio visit on our Flickr page.025-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9782 029-RCF-Lemonbird-StudioVisit-9794

Download the recipe card here: lemon bird corn bread bites recipe

LEMON BIRD INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Lemonbird Giveaway

Our makers are in the giving spirit this holiday season! Lemonbird Preserves is continuing our Renegade Giveaway tradition, offering up a gift box to one lucky winner on Instagram. This gift box will include all the Lemon Bird necessities you need to craft up these delicious appetizers:

1 jar Adriatic Fig & Walnut Jam
1 jar Padron Peppers
A tea towel

GIVEAWAY INSTRUCTIONS:

– Follow RENEGADE CRAFT and LEMON BIRD on Instagram.

– Re-gram the Giveaway Picture and tell us why you want the set (or perhaps who you might be gifting it to) using the hashtag #RenegadeGiveaway.

– The Giveaway will run from today, December 3rd – Tuesday November 9th (midnight PST). The winner will be announced on Wednesday from the #RenegadeGiveaway collection.

– Don’t forget! If your Instagram profile is set to private, we won’t be able to see your re-gram. So make sure your profile is set to public in order to qualify.

Good luck!

Studio Visit: Biken

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Last summer while we were in California for our Los Angeles Summer Market we had the opportunity to stop by the Biken studio to visit with Ken Sugimoto and learn more about his products and his craft.

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I have been an industrial designer for about 20 years. In this full-time job, I have been designing products for a lot of client companies, however, not for direct users. I have always wanted to make things that I wish existed and sell them directly to the customers. Meanwhile, I sometimes come up with product ideas when I am biking and thinking about bikes. Eventually I decided to try making bike accessories. 

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At first, I thought about making the products with materials like metals and plastics. But I really wanted a way to realize my ideas more directly and quickly, so I got a sewing machine. That was 3 years ago. I named my shop Biken, from Bike + my name “Ken”. After signing up for some shows like bike events, I participated in Chicago Renegade last December. That was Biken’s first Renegade.2014-RCF-Biken-9808

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I think one of the key features of Biken products is ingenuity. All the time I love thinking about the functions and the products that I wish for. I feel a strong attraction to functional products. I am always keeping in mind the idea of incorporating some features and innovations that are user-friendly into the simple design. Biken’s concept is to create products that can go from riding around town, to a cafe, or even to work2014-RCF-Biken-9825

Everything around me inspires me, not any paticular type of thing. I’m inspired even when I’m not riding.
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The materials are chosen carefully for that concept. To realize my idea, I always look for materials from various fields. For example, the rivets on the messenger bag are primarily automotive brake rivets. Besides, I sometimes make the parts for the products by myself if I can’t find them.2014-RCF-Biken-98812014-RCF-Biken-9855
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I am constantly thinking of the best ways to create the things that I myself would love to have and use. I’ll be happy if people who use Biken products feel the same way. 2014-RCF-Biken-9926

Thank you, Ken for hosting us at your studio and talking about your craft. You can see the full set of images in our new Studio Visits album on Flickr. Biken will be showcasing their bicycle accessories and clothing to our San Francisco November Market next weekend at the Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion. We can’t wait to see you all there!

Maker Spotlight and Studio Visit: Rebe and Specks & Keepings

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We have a treat for you today! We are featuring mother daughter duo Rebe by Debra Weiss and Specks & Keepings by Hillery Sproatt. Debra and Hillery will be bringing their textile artistry to our Chicago Summer Market this weekend in Wicker Park on Division St. and we can’t wait!
Debra Weiss has been working in fabric and textiles since the the 1970’s and has produced some of the most beautiful work we’ve ever seen, from clothing and accessories, to wall weavings, blankets, and more.
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A conversation between pattern, function and form; Debra Weiss wraps the body beautifully in unique yet flattering silhouettes. Everything is handcrafted by Debra herself in her home studio in Los Feliz, CA.
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We absolutely love the intricate details Debra adds into her artwork. From unusual seams and stitching in her dresses, to gorgeous colors and weaving in her textile art, we continue to remain in awe of her skilled hands.
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Debra’s daughter, Hillery continues in her mother’s footsteps, earning a BFA in fine art and creating art prints, drawings, embroidered dolls, and small tapestries in her Grand Rapids, MI home studio.
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Hillery’s work explores the integrity of textiles, pattern as image making, and the narrative of forms. Her tapestries are small soft drawings made with thread and her stitched dolls, which resemble folk dolls, seem to inhabit the landscapes of her drawings.
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Hillery offered us a sneak peek into her home studio and we love the rich tones and simplicity of her space.
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Hillery and Debra run an online shop called Specks & Keeping that specializes in handmade goods and features many of their creations.
During our travels to Renegade Craft Fair in LA we had the pleasure of visiting Debra’s home and studio and marveling at her incredible work over the years. It was such a wonderful experience being able to talk to these two talented women in their home space and learn more about their beginnings as artists and makers. We loved hearing the stories about where all of Debra’s furniture and decorations came from and how she got started in design. Her home was like a museum exploring the history of her craft, her children, and her family heirlooms.
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I started Rebe in 2000. But I have made things all my life. I received my degree in textile design in 1977, but it wasn’t until I watched Hillery’s art talent blossom as a teenager that  I felt it was time for me to begin a business. Rebe began as a wholesale business and I recently transitioned to strictly direct customer sales, which makes me very happy.
 
Hillery launched our online shop Specks & Keepings in 2011 so we could showcase our work along with the work of other artists we admire.
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I have a love of textiles and I start by finding beautiful fabrics from all over the world. The inspiration from these fabrics guides me towards what I then want to make. 

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I begin by sketching and then we create a pattern. There is always revising as well as problem solving, but this is also where the play happens. From there it becomes a functional or wearable product that we bring to market.
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I would encourage others to do what they love and to believe in what they do. 2014-RCF-Rebe Studio Visit-01642014-RCF-Rebe Studio Visit-0181
We hope you enjoyed a sneak peek into Debra and Hillery’s home studio as much as we did! Be sure to browse the Specks and Keepings website, follow Debra and Hillery on Instagram, and come to our Chicago Summer Market this weekend. We suggest you try on a few beautiful Rebe dresses and marvel at all the textile glory while you’re there!

Studio Visit: Alibi Interiors

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During a road trip up the coast of California, we had the pleasure of meeting with Chris and Paige of Alibi Interiors. Since Alibi Interiors started showcasing their wooden frames and boxes at our West Coast Renegade Craft Fairs, they’ve continued to produce stunning work and booth displays season after season. Alibi Interiors is based out of Santa Cruz, CA. Their workshop is a bright and open space, stocked full of salvaged wood and hundreds of frames ready to go to out to shops and new homes. We were thrilled to be able to talk to Chris and Paige more about their thriving business.

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Alibi Interiors was established in 2012.  It started as a hobby, but grew quickly once we had multiple businesses asking us for our reclaimed wood frames.  We dedicated more and more time to growing the business- moving into a warehouse, developing a website, signing up for craft fairs, establishing more wholesale accounts, etc. etc.  We soon realized we were making a living off this hobby and have felt blessed every since.

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We inspire each other.  Chris builds out a simple table and I’ll give feedback and together we’ll mold it into something else.  Our home by the sea and our lifestyle inspires us.  I’ll take a bath and think how convenient a wooden bathtub tray would be for my glass of wine and book.  The next day, Chris brings one home and we use it and refine it until we’re happy with the product.  I wanted a frame with depth and dimension so that I could display my collection of apothecary bottles and, voila!  Our shadowbox was born.  

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Reclaimed wood garden beds, book shelves, tables, planter boxes for our succulents, these products were all developed because we wanted them for our own home.  

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2014-RCF-AlibiInteriors-0081Our neighbor delivers fence boards to our home, where we pull nails out of and wire brush each board.  The boards are stacked and brought to our warehouse (2 miles away) where they are ripped down to the size needed, depending on whether we are making picture frames or planter boxes.  The routed boards are nailed together, first the inner frame, then the outer frame, and finally all stapled together.  Next, they’re taken to the finish / details station, where brass hangers are hammered into the wood, glass and backing are placed in the frame, a point driver is used to tab the back closed, and the final logo is branded in.

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Alibi Interiors wouldn’t be what it is without our business partner from Young America Creative, Brian Friel.  He is the architect and mastermind behind our booth designs.  The three of us create a fantastic trio- Chris and his wood working skills, Brian and his architectural and graphic design skills, and my interior design skills, all make up the dynamic trio we’ve become.
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Chris and I say every day to each other: “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”  Its pretty incredible that we’ve grown as much as we have in the two years we’ve been in business.  We feel blessed a thousand times over, and honestly owe a lot of our success to Renegade.  They’ve boosted our connections ten fold- THANK YOU TEAM RENEGADE!

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Some sage advice from Alibi Interiors: Keep your start up costs as minimal as possible.  Hire professionals to do what you’re no good at- it leaves room for you to do what you are good at.

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Thank you, Chris and Paige for letting us spend the day with you in your studio! And, congratulations on all those upcoming wholesale orders! If you want to learn more about Alibi Interiors, visit their website as well as follow them on instagram to stay up to date!


Studio Visit: Bird of Virtue

2014-RCF-BirdofVirtue-9618During our trip in San Francisco, we had the pleasure of meeting with Linnea of Bird of Virtue. We have always been a fan of Bird of Virtue’s jewelry and couldn’t wait to see where the pieces were created. Linnea’s studio is white and airy with pops of bright color. We loved the wall art she made out of her wood laser scraps. Bird of Virtue has been a part of many Renegade Craft Fairs, and we were thrilled to be able to talk to Linnea more about her business.

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I had been making/selling jewelry for 20 years, but because it was always part-time, it could never be anything huge because I wasn’t taking much of a risk. Bird of Virtue was born in 2012 + came out of a desire to make changes in my life. At that point, I had been working various corporate jobs for close to 15 years + realized my life needed a serious overhaul. So I quit my job, joined a maker studio in downtown San Francisco + launched Bird of Virtue.

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The name, stems from my affinity with British culture + their flippant term for a woman, a “bird,” and the “virtue” is symbolic of my desire to make positive changes in my own life. It’s not intended to be a proclamation that I’m virtuous, but rather, humbly admitting that I am working towards becoming a better person. The cornerstone pieces of Bird of Virtue are my Braille necklaces – which express these virtues I strive to live my life by. 

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I’m inspired by the patterns I see in the world – both naturally occurring + manmade forms alike + my process almost always starts by heading out into nature (the beach is one of my faves) with a sketchbook + pencil. I then translate those sketches into my computer so I can cut them on the laser. I still prefer to design in a tactile manner, rather than just on the computer – so I’ll cut various shapes/versions of the concept + then see how best they interact with one another to get the final version.

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Then, I decide my color palettes, which can take me forever. Jewelry is such a personal expression – I want to make sure I’ve perfectly mixed wearable shades that also compliment the design + material (wood). Finally, its a detailed process of hand-painting + gluing the thin layers of wood together.2014-RCF-BirdofVirtue-95602014-RCF-BirdofVirtue-9579 2014-RCF-BirdofVirtue-95922014-RCF-BirdofVirtue-9617

Be brave + never give up. I think in the long-run its about stamina + faith to make your voice heard.

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Thank you, Linnea for letting us spend the day with you in your studio! Plus, congratulations for the big Anthropologie order! We can’t wait to see Bird of Virtue pieces in their stores. If you want to learn more about Bird of Virtue, visit the etsy shop as well as follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date!

Maker Spotlight: Peg and Awl

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Today in our Maker Spotlight series we’re featuring Pennyslvania makers, Peg and Awl!  We’ve been fans of Peg and Awl for quite some time now, and are so excited to have them join us in Brooklyn for our Mini Market!

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If you’re not familiar with their work, Peg and Awl is a jack-of-all-trades team featuring husband and wife: Margaux and Walter Kent.  Peg and Awl began in 2010 – shortly after Walter returned from Iraq.  Living in an 1800s house in Philadelphia, Margaux and Walter foraged for vintage objects and materials to suite their home.  If they can’t find what they’re looking for – they build it.  Walter worked alongside his father as a cabinet maker and restorer of old homes.  The first thing Margaux asked Walter to make was a tub caddy, and since then, the motivation to resource and create housewares from vintage materials helped start Peg and Awl.

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Everything Peg and Awl produces starts out as something Margaux and Walter created to fit a need.  This explains the vast variety of objects they offer; from kitchen accessories to  dry goods, Peg and Awl creates something new out of the old.  Once the object is created, it is tested until it reaches their standards.  If they like it, they’ll produce more for the rest of the world.

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We are obsessed with their Dry Goods collection, particularly the waxed canvas weekender.  It’s a bag that suites everyone’s traveling needs.  Peg and Awl’s passion to revive the old, creating pieces from antique hardware and materials, is evident in every object they make.
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Margaux and Walter graciously offered us a sneak peek into their studio, and we couldn’t be more inspired by the detail and craft in their studio and home.
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We love these chalkboard tablets!  They are the perfect tool for keeping things organized in the home.
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Margaux and Walter live with their two boys, Søren and Silas, who are following in their parents’ crafting footsteps, plus 2 chickens, and one cat.

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We can’t wait to see what more incredibly crafted goods Peg and Awl will be bringing to our Mini Market in Brooklyn!

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Be sure to check out the Peg and Awl website as well as their Twitter and Instagram to see the picaresque setting where these objects are created.  See you all in Brooklyn on May 18!

In the Studio: A&K Woodworking & Design

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While in Austin we had the pleasure of stopping by the A&K Woodworking and Design studio.  Amanda and Khiem teamed up with The Maker Co-op at our Renegade Craft Fair: SXSW Edition this year.  We were so excited to talk to Amanda and Khiem in person and see where their incredible wood furniture and accessories were created.
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A&K was started in April 2013 after we moved from Boston, MA to Austin, TX. We both graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design where we studied woodworking and photography. We moved to Austin because it is a place full of opportunities for artists. The people who live in this beautiful city know the importance of supporting the arts and local businesses. We are inspired by the architecture around us and the mix of mid-century modern and Japanese design.
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Our pieces are handcrafted with great attention to detail. We believe in using oils and finishes that protect the wood while enhancing the natural beauty.  Quality is our focus, we strive to make pieces that will last life times.
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When it comes to our process it definitely varies a bit between custom furniture for clients and our own designs. In many cases we begin by creating our design, planning costs, taking a trip to the lumber yard, milling the wood, and finally hand-crafting the piece. A lot of time is spent planning the piece and its construction before beginning.

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Khiem is working for A&K full-time while Amanda is working for both A&K and has a small part-time job on the side. We currently sell smaller home goods such as cutting boards, mini lanterns, and coasters in addition to our larger furniture pieces.

AKWoodandDesign-5376A few tips and suggestions for potential makers would be to keep making! It’s important to continue practicing your craft. In addition to making, be sure to document your work! Having your work documented helps to show potential clients what you have been creating. Join groups! For us, joining The Maker Co-op here in Austin, TX, helped us to have a group of artists who are in the same boat as us. It is important to have people to turn to who will help you as you embark on your small business journey.

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Thank you, Amanda and Khiem, for letting the Renegade Craft Gang tour your amazing workshop!  Be sure to check out The Maker Co-op as well as A&K Woodworking and Design, plus their blog, facebook, twitter and instagram!

In the Studio: Fox + Brie

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During our trip to Austin for our Renegade Craft Fair: SXSW Edition, we had the opportunity to stop by and visit a few of our Makers.  Our first stop was the Fox & Brie studio in North Austin.  Jess Decelle, who has been a part of our Austin Markets in the past, graciously gave us a tour of her studio and talked about her beginnings and the inspiration for Fox & Brie.
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When putting together a collection, I try to offer a variety of different patterns that work well together but are still interesting enough to stand out individually. I’m always on the hunt for unique prints and eye-catching color combinations that lend a modern twist to the idea of the Southern gentleman.
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Every aspect of Fox & Brie is created in my home studio–sewing patterns, packaging, graphic design. From the first cut to the final stitch, each item is made with my own two hands, allowing me complete control over quality and construction.

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As a child, when asked by well-meaning adults what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered politely, “I just want to make neat things and go on lots of adventures.” It’s taken 27 years and two college degrees to realize that I just need to create useful, beautiful things for people to enjoy. I began Fox & Brie as a side project while working on my MA in Advertising. As an art director, most of my days were spent staring at a computer screen; so, I began to fill my nights with tangible projects and odd little creations. After graduation I behaved accordingly and worked as a designer for a short time, but missed the simple, tactile act of creating something with my own two hands. Finally realizing that my naive childhood wish was a possibility, I took a chance and started out on an adventure.

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I began working full-time as Fox & Brie in March 2012, constantly trying to improve my methods, seeking out unique vintage & dead-stock fabrics, and looking for new opportunities & sources of inspiration. It’s been an incredible experience, filled with long nights of work, a lot of trial & error, and an amazing sense of fulfillment that I never really expected to feel in my lifetime.

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Sometimes, it’s going to be the worst. You’re going to face exhaustion, self-doubt, failures, naysayers, and every other problem you didn’t even know existed. Some days you may look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What am I even doing here?”

Keep going. It means you’re on the right track.

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If you are so afraid of failure that you never take risks, the best you can hope for is mediocrity. Failure is essential to creativity. Embrace your mistakes as a chance to grow, learn what doesn’t work and then find out what does. Become an expert at your craft and continue to experiment with new techniques & designs. Each time you overcome an obstacle, you will grow stronger and more confident in your
abilities and in yourself. Yes, sometimes owning a creative business is the worst, but it is also the most rewarding, fulfilling, fantastic experience of my life and it has made me a better person in spite of myself.

Just keep going.

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Thank you, Jess for letting us spend the afternoon with you over at Fox & Brie!  Take a look at the Fox & Brie website, and visit her blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to keep updated with Fox & Brie!

 

 

 

 

 

In the Studio: Stowe Provisions

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Our final studio visit in Austin was  Stowe Provisions.  Mark Howard and Mark Stowe are the craftsmen behind the leather company.  We were welcomed in by their hospitality, southern charm, and of course, their sweet dog.
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We started SP [Stowe Provisions] in 2003 during SXSW.  I’d been dabbling at leatherwork for a while and Howie, who I’ve known since grade 2, was in town for SXSW and we just decided to form an actual business and pursue it more fully.  The aesthetic started out of a lack of options available in the retail market at the time.  In 2003 there weren’t really other people creating quality handmade leather goods for anyone but conservative ranchers and cowboys.   So I started making things that i wanted to wear, and people started buying them from me.    
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We pursued it as a business because we really enjoy the work, and the idea of being independent, self-sufficient… all those things that appeal to an entrepreneur and/or creative person.
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We start by selecting American veg-tanned hides in the appropriate size/weight/condition for the product in mind.  All pieces/shapes/etc are sized and cut out by hand.  From here every piece is a little bit different.  Most of our work is embossed in some way and that is usually the next step.  Stamps are pressed in with a shop-press or stamped in by striking with a hammer.  
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After embossing some pieces are dyed first, others painted.  All painting and dying is done by hand as well.  During this phase there is also a lot of “conditioning” the leather at various points before and after dying.  Oiling, sanding, physically softening.  Finally, hardware is attached and the product is tagged and packaged if pre-ordered.
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We took some time away from the business for most of 2009 to early 2013.  And the reason for the relaunch was actually very similar to the original beginning.  While there are A LOT more brands of handmade leather goods on the market currently, we struggle to find pieces that are interesting and show a level of thought and craftsmanship that set them apart and make them seem worth owning.
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The Renegade Gang was absolutely amazed by the quality and craftsmanship of the goods Stowe Provisions created.
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Stowe and Howie’s advice to makers out there?  Make work you believe in and get to know your market.  We couldn’t say it better.
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Thank you Stowe Provisions, for giving us the opportunity to tour your workshop and get to know you and your craft.  Learn more about Stowe Provisions and visit their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages.