Maker Spotlight: Dear Pony

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Today is the big day! Our final fair of 2015 kicks off today and we are so thrilled to be back in Seattle. Dear Pony will be joining us and we can’t wait to get these clothes on our bodies!

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Where did your business name come from?

A nostalgia for letter writing.  I imagine beautiful calligraphy on old paper taking forever to reach its destination and how treasured such correspondence once was.

Have you always been passionate about design?

I think so.  As a teenager I remember appreciating good architecture and I always made presents for friends and family that  turned not half bad!

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

I always sewed and altered clothing since I was provably 15,  I started this business around 2008.  Etsy was just getting going and I was excited to see all of  the handmade work, I knew I had to give it a shot.

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

I don’t   recall any major disasters.  Lots of little ones- I bounce back really quick.  I think being afraid of the disasters can paralyze ones work and debilitate the creation of new work.

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

My favourite moments are probably when an idea that has been manifesting  for sometime and I make time for it and it actually works!  As well when get to participate and interact  with other creatives and my customers.  I love my job.

DP renegadeHow does the city you live in influence your work?

I live in the mountains of Western Canada,  everyday I walk my dogs in the woods.  I value this natural environment and space around me more than I can express!  It clears my mind and lets me focus on my own voice (of creativity – I can’t sing to save my life)

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

I had previously  owned a couple other business, I learned that working hard pays off.

TellotDressWhat are some inspirations for your work?

Lately I’ve been very inspired by Japanese minimalism-   but suddenly I’m sensing a creeping in of neon geometric patterns-  we’ll see how that plays out.

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

Work hard,  try and make the best work possible.

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Check out Dear Pony at our fair today and Sunday and find them online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Merchant Leather

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Beautiful leather goods are making their way to our Seattle Holiday Fair tomorrow and Sunday! Merchant Leather is stopping in with some serious eye candy!Merchant_Leather_002

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

The name Merchant Leather comes from my love of reading classic fantasy novels. In many of my favorites there are strong characters that come out of a “Merchant Class” – a class of business people who make, sell and trade and have been accepted as nearly noble. They got that way by their own sweat and hard work – not because of how they were born or who they were born too.  I guess I’ve always loved the idea that you can rise above your station in life by simply working harder than everyone else.

Have you always been passionate about design?

I’ve always been passionate the design of physical objects. Digital design has never meant with me as much but the process of designing, shaping and creating something tangible and physical has always held me in awe.

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

I started working in leather because I wanted a wallet from a designer in Texas. He wanted $500 for it and at the time I couldn’t justify the price. So, I decided to try making it myself. Two years later I could make something close to what he was offering! Looking back now, I appreciate the design, work and craft he put into it and would happily pay the $500 (it would have been much cheaper in the long run!)

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

I think my designs are set apart from others for a number of reasons: I create functional pieces that still make a statement, I work in a modern–rustic aesthetic that I haven’t seen others try and I make what I like – I’ve been lucky enough that others do to but I’ve always made it everything for myself first. However, in the end, I think it’s my craftsmanship and attention to detail that really sets me apart. 

Everything I make is made completely by hand – no machines are used whatsoever. It means cutting, waxing, sewing, finishing everything by hand. There are very few people left anywhere that sew exclusively by hand – especially larger leather goods. I still do it because I love the connection that it give me to the leather and to the final product. I also love the how much working without the assistance of machines can relax and create an almost meditative state when you’re working.

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

Measure three times and cut once. It’s really hard to put a hide back together once you start cutting!

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

More than anything else I’ve sacrificed sleep to create Merchant Leather. Throughout the three year process I’ve continued to work a 60+ hour a week job, as well as stay married! and raise two young kids. Like other makers trying to get a start, Merchant Leather has been created through late night and earlier mornings.

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

One of my proudest moments has been having my wife carry a bag I’ve made everyday. I’ve always been proud of my work but it’s the enjoyment of others (and your most demanding critics) that give you the greatest joy.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I love living in Minneapolis. And like everyone here I’m incredibly influenced by the seasons. Thinking about designs that can thrive in the summer and survive the winter help you look at every project with a broad, yet practical eye.

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

I’ve spent my entire career in either sales or marketing and one thing you have to learn is how to sell. It doesn’t have to be in a sleazy, used cars salesman way, but you have to learn how to sell both yourself and your goods. There are shelves of amazing works from incredibly talented artists and designers rotting away because they never learned to talk about what they do and sell both it and themselves

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

Unlike most people I haven’t done it for freedom – my current job offers me plenty of freedom. I made and am making the leap because I love to be able to create something tangible. I want my kids to look at me and be proud of their father because he makes something that matters and that will last (even if it only matters to a very small group of people)

What are some inspirations for your work?

I find inspiration from a combination of classic leather working and mid-century modern design. I love finding the intersection that appeals to modern styles. I also find inspiration from people – I love to learn about their unique needs and wants in a bag or accessory. Understanding how they’ll use it and what it will mean to them shapes so much the final design.

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

My biggest suggestion is to find time. If you really care about it and want to succeed, find the time to do it. There are plenty of people out there who are better artists and more creative, but none of that matters without effort and dedication.

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Aren’t these bags beautiful? We can’t get enough! If you need one of these in your life, or if you’re the best gift-giver ever, then stop by the Seattle Fair this weekend at Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30! In the meantime, get to know Merchant Leather more online:

Website
Instagram

 

 

Maker Spotlight: Year Round Co.

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We’ve been loving Year Round Co. and their constant evolution in their design. It’s one thing to be great designers, but designers that change and grow is always such an exciting thing to see! Jacqui and Scott will be bringing their printed textiles to our first ever Seattle Holiday Fair this weekend. We see a lot of these pillows going home as gifts this season.
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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

People are always talking about how you should have life/work balance, but we really love what we do and don’t mind that those two things very much overlap each other. Our name, Year Round Co., is the perfect reflection of this idea . We also wanted it to reflect the products we make. Yes, each is handmade, but we want it to be something a part of your everyday life.

Have you always been passionate about design?

Yes, for both of us. We’ve always been drawn to create, craft, design since we were young, I think it was in our nature even before we had words for it. There is so much pleasure in thinking of an idea in your head and watching it take shape in real life. No matter how many changes take place!

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

I learned to sew when I was in grade school by my mother and aunt and Scott learned to screen print while we were in design school. We started making and selling our work in 2008 after we both had left our design jobs. We really missed working with our hands and weren’t getting the satisfaction we wanted working for others.

What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

We source high quality organic linen and cotton fabrics and use environmentally friendly inks and cleaning products for our goods. We also don’t make very many of any single item and we always have so many ideas and get excited about what we’re creating next, that we don’t carry very many things for a long period of time. Many of our screen prints are only editions of 15!

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

Nothing too major, at least we don’t think, but it’s also how you look at it in the end too. Every failure we’ve made we’ve learned from.

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

Spending time with friends is always hard, but it also makes that time with them more meaningful and well spent. We don’t regret the decision we made at all. We love the life we have and waking up each day to do our thing.

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

We’re coming up on 8 years working for ourselves and we’re pretty proud of that! The people we’ve connected with and the things we’ve produced make us happy which is exactly what we hoped for the day we left our employers.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

Living in the Pacific NW gives us great access to the outdoors and a large supportive community of creatives. We love spending our free time outdoors re-connecting with nature and clearing our heads. This is where our best ideas come. I think the fact that we get to travel so much for the work we do (thank you Renegade!), also plays into our work too.

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

We both graduated collage with graphic design degrees. We were lucky in that we went to school right at the time computer skills were gaining traction, but hands on skills were still being taught and valued. So we walked away with a ton of knowledge for both ends of the creative world; although we do like spending more time away from the computer than at it.

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

Flexibility and a real sense of pride in the work we wanted to create and share with others.

What are some inspirations for your work?

Nature, people watching, Scandinavian design, the unexpected, various print methods, patterns & colors from other cultures, everything.

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

Try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail at your ideas. Don’t limit yourself. Go through the ups and the downs. And explore.

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Don’t you just love every color and illustration decision they make? The combinations are just flawless! Join us this weekend in Seattle at Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30 and find Year Round Co. online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Lauren Winter

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Lauren Winter has been on our Favorites list for some time now, and we are so excited that her move to Portland was the serendipitous step that brought her to apply to our Seattle Holiday Fair! Boy, oh boy, is it going to be a fashionable weekend!

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

I see clothing design as another form of art or expression with the best canvas around – the human body. I learned how to sew by altering vintage clothing in college, and I slowly made my way from working with sewing patterns to designing my own.

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

A few years ago, I almost quit before I had began – I was designing clothes more as a hobby than as a business. I needed direction, so I applied to a handful of grad schools, almost enrolled in a couple of them, took some classes, and worked some odd jobs. It took about six months for me to realize how much I missed sewing and creating. I rebranded under my own name and jumped back into sewing, vowing to take it seriously, and I haven’t stopped since. The process has taught me a lot about myself and my limits. I believe some people place self-perceived limitations on themselves because they are afraid of how much they can accomplish – I am one of them. Now that I’ve pushed out of the box I created for myself, I’m more comfortable taking risks.

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

It might seem small, but the first time someone tries on a new design, whether it’s a friend helping out with fit or a model or myself, is always a favorite moment – a design’s transformation from a flat piece of fabric to a draped design to being worn.

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

To me, there is nothing more gratifying (or challenging) than being your own boss. When your name is on a project, there is no one else to point fingers at when something doesn’t succeed, and that can be a pretty strong motivator to do well and work hard.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Each design I make is inspired by origami and the playful nature of shapes, wraps, and folds. I also have a lot of love for traditional Japanese silhouettes, Japanese influence always finds its way into my work. My current inspiration includes Sonia Delaunay sketches and watercolors from Georgia O’Keeffe.

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

Anyone that runs their own business knows it’s hard work, but it can be easy to forget how important delegation can be. If you want your business to succeed, you can’t do everything yourself! Build a solid team that you can trust with both small and large tasks.

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If you like what you see here you won’t want to miss our Seattle Holiday Fair and Lauren Winter’s booth! Mark your calendars for last minute shopping this weekend and find Lauren Winter online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Hendley Hard Goods

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Seattle, we are coming for you in just one week and we can’t wait to meet new friends as well as see old pals! Gwen Gunheim of Hendley Hard Goods will be bringing these wooden beauties to Hangar 30 in Magnuson Park, and we can’t to see them up close!

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

Hendley is the name of the street I live on. So much of my work is about place, where an object comes from, it seemed fitting.

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Have you always been passionate about design?

Yes! I come from a family of artists so art, craft, and design was all around.

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

Years ago a house my great grandfather built burned down and I was fortunate enough to salvage some of the wood and in an attempt to bring it back to life, I taught myself woodcraft.

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What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

The life of the wood my work is made from and the life my pieces will have is at the forefront of  my work. Bringing a discarded thing back to life and creating something that will last a lifetime.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

My materials are found, so they come, primarily from my town, and surrounding towns.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

The desire to create deep connections. To connect one to the piece, where it came from and what it is and to connect people to each other. I like to imagine people, gathered around my work, to make or serve a meal, to share.

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

Just Work. Show up and pay attention!

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We can’t get over the grain on these boards! Mark your calendars for our Seattle Holiday Fair and check out Hendley’s Hard Goods online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Alex Steele

Alex Steele, Handpainted ShirtsOur LA Holiday Fair is going to be dangerous for our wallets. Too many incredible vendors are headed to Grand Park, one in particular being Oakland based artist, Alex Steele. Look out for these textiles, jewelry, and accessories this weekend!
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Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always been passionate about art and design. Making it, observing it, interacting with it.  If I am not producing creative work, I feel off-center, and when I find my drive of inspiration, I can’t stop! It feels like art is actually what I am made of.

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

I started working towards building a  brand of wearable and functional  art because I wanted to merge my interdisciplinary art  background into the craft world to make my art more attainable. I saw an outlet for creating art that is not meant to be untouchable, by individually hand painting designs on clothing. I have continued to make textile artwork that can be worn (painted clothing, collage apparel, Jewelry)  and design what can be used in the home (pillows that are  painted and collaged, concrete sculptures). I also can’t keep my hands or my mind from working with different mediums, and I found that working in the realm of craft fairs is the perfect place for me to exhibit the miscellaneous things I make and sell them (a reward for something I am going to be making anyway!)
Alex Steele, studio process
What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I think what makes my work stand out is the fact that each piece is not screen printed, or stenciled….I am hand painting everything in multiples, or in some cases there are one of a kinds. This is what I find most satisfying and special about what I do. Everything is going to be its own version.

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

Well, I think becoming unemployed was somewhat of a failure even though it was not to my fault. But, it turns out you can really make your dreams happen when you are left with your thoughts to realize what it is you would rather be doing with your life.

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

It’s hardly a sacrifice to be creating my business because I would be making what I am making regardless of earning money from it. But, I guess the sacrificing comes in the form of isolation in order to focus. Creating a business  is also very costly, but I would rather spend my money on funding my business future than other things.  And no, I don’t regret anything so far. Even participating in some craft fairs that were not well attended, because it is all experience that helps me grow.

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

I think it is when I see my work posted or written about, like this feature!

How does the city you live in influence your work?

Living in the Bay Area for a decade now has influenced my work in the form of colors, material, and production. I live in a city with an abundance of craft fairs and venues that support artists, with a public appreciation for the hand crafted.

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

I have experience in the construction and preparation of museum exhibits and dioramas, as well as in retail visual merchandising. Both have been extremely helpful in honing the craft and presentation of my work, including the display of my booth at craft fairs. 

Alex Steele, collage bag

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

I did it because if I am going to be working full time on anything, it’s going to be on my own dream.

What are some inspirations for your work?

I love African mud cloths, Egyptian art, Atelier Bingo, Miami (my hometown), nature, hardware stores, salvage yards, scraps of fabric or paper, architecture, Keith Haring, music, sex.

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

Most importantly, believe in yourself. Secondly, turn your influences into an inspiration and make it your own. And, just keep doing what it is you do, you’ll only get better.

Alex Steele, Pillows

What are you most excited to see this weekend at our LA Fair? Don’t forget to swing by Grand Park from 10-5 and be sure to say hello to Alex in person. In the meantime, stay up to date with Alex Steele online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Delusions of Grandeur

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One of our favorites, Keren Kemp of Delusions of Grandeur will be bringing her awesome jewelry to our LA Holiday Fair this weekend! Everyone, rejoice!

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

The name Delusions of Grandeur came out of a very specific conversation I had with my cousin and cousin-in-law in 2010 while wandering around a beautiful interiors shop on a fancy street in Los Angeles. At the time we were all “figuring out” our creative/career paths and declared we all had delusions of grandeur, but hadn’t yet found a focus for them. About 6 months later I started the business and the name felt like the perfect fit.

Have you always been passionate about design?

Yes, I’ve always been creating in some form or another. I was just recently reminded that when I was a kid I was making and selling earrings to my teachers in the 5th grade.

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

I studied jewelry/metal arts in college… Put it on the back burner for about 10 years. Became a graphic designer, worked at a bunch of not so interesting jobs, then got back to it. Crazy how the full-circle thing works!

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What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I find that there is a fine balance between over and under designing. I try to keep that in check by keeping things simple, quirky with a sense of sophistication. My process is pretty unconventional and I’m always experimenting with new techniques.

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

Oof, daily. The important thing is to keep learning from them and not getting discouraged. I think that’s the hardest part of running a small business.

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

Choosing not to have a steady income with benefits, carefree weekends, and payed vacation sometimes feels like a sacrifice but working for anyone else just isn’t my jam. I have never regretted going down this path, I love the freedom way too much!

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

I love spotting jewelry I’ve created on someone walking down the street, or in a random place. It always puts a smile on my face.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

Honestly, it doesn’t really. I tend to find more inspiration when I leave Los Angeles.

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

Over the years I’ve had all sorts of jobs and worn may hats. I’ve applied what seems to have worked for others and tried to stay away from what hasn’t.

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

It’s always seemed crazy to me to put every bit of your energy and talent into someone else’s dream. I’ve always been an all or nothing sort of person, so this really was the only option!

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What are some inspirations for your work?

The High Desert, freeway systems, and staring into space definitely influence but mostly I find inspiration from the most RANDOM mundane things.

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

Just do it, take the leap and don’t look back. The hardest part is getting started.

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Mark your calendars for our LA Fair this weekend, and check out Delusions of Grandeur online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: WKND LA

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Beautiful things are headed to Grand Park for our LA Holiday Fair this weekend! What specifically? Well, for starters, Cindy Hsu Zell of WKND LA will be bringing some serious style and we cannot wait to scoop some of these pieces up!

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

Back when I was working a full-time job, making art was something I only had time and energy to do on weekends. WKNDLA was named after my favorite time and place, the only time I had to work on my own pieces. In March of this year I decided that I needed to give my ideas a chance and gave myself permission to pursue them full-time! My name is a constant reminder of how I got started and where I come from.

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

I’ve been making things my entire life and it seemed really obvious now that this is the path I would end up on. In college though I wasn’t convinced that I could make a living making art and tried a lot of other fields before I realized there’s really nothing else I’d rather do. I ended up majoring in fine arts and animation at USC and interned at Anthropologie my senior year. When I left four years later I was a senior display coordinator at the Santa Monica store. I love playing with different materials and working there taught me useful skills that I can’t live without today such as woodworking and time management, and some other fun techniques I may never use again, such as weaving large baskets with garden hose (:

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What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I think a lot of the character of my work comes from the fact that I am obsessed with the materials I use and love to figure out how things are made. For my large-scale pieces I walk and spin all of the rope I use from thread that I paint and combine with other colors. My wooden beads are shaped individually on a stationary disc sander, and my brass shapes are bent, cut, and soldered by hand. I take a lot of pride in my process, and love the organic result that comes from everything having that touch of hand involved.

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

I think the things I’ve sacrificed the most are emotional. It can get really lonely running a business on my own, and I could literally go days without seeing anyone else if I don’t leave my studio to run errands or make plans to spend time with others. I also worry about money a lot more now and wish it wasn’t so important sometimes. I think these things will get easier as time goes on, but I don’t have a single regret and love doing what I do!

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

My proudest moment was seeing my wall hangings on the Anthropologie website and in the fall home catalog this year! It was truly surreal to see my life with the company come full circle in the best way possible after all these years!

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

Say no to the opportunities you don’t 100% believe in, it’s okay to turn people down if you know it’s not a good fit. Take notes on everything you make! Even if it’s a one-time custom piece for a client, you never know if they’ll want you to make it for them again. Be fair to yourself when pricing your items and remember that you need to make a profit at the wholesale level too.

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Boy oh boy, we will have a very hard time deciding which one of these pieces will be coming home with us. Clear this weekend for Renegade LA and find WKND LA online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Oru

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So thrilled to have Oru join us for our first ever Holiday Fair in Seattle! Agnieszka will be bringing her jewelry to Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30 for those looking for the perfect gift.Half+Moon+Four+Colors

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

The name ORU comes from the Japanese word for ‘to weave.’ The beads used in my work are made in Japan, and I weave them together by hand using traditional bead-weaving techniques. It feels appropriate to tie the name of my business back to source of this very specific material, and I was excited to find such a meaningful and impactful name.

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Have you always been passionate about design?

Always – especially with regard to color. As a kid, it started with meticulous attention to how I would decorate my room or dress myself, and eventually it developed into an interest in form and technique, which I explored through painting, drawing, and crafting throughout my teens. Embracing my academic side in college only showed me how much I needed art and design in my life, which was eventually the catalyst for me to study metal smithing.

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

I went to my first bead shop when I was 8, and I have been exploring jewelry every since. My choice (if you can call it that) to pursue this craft comes from a love for – bordering on obsession with – all things tiny, as well as for color and the idea of jewelry itself. I love the symbolism of jewelry, and how much it can express without words.

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

The combination of existing techniques, and the development of new techniques, are what really sets ORU designs apart. Combining traditional beadwork with metal smithing creates an interesting and unusual contrast. In the most recent collection, the woven beads are cast into metal form – and that feels completely new and different. In fact, one of the most frequent (and prized) compliments we receive is that ORU jewelry is truly original.

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

The day my first shop placed its first order – it felt like such a triumph and testament to the value of the design and company, and all the hours of work put into it.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

Portland is a city surrounded by trees. This connection to nature is essential to my spiritual well-being and directly influences the quality of my work. Portland is also full of people who really want to support the locally-made, US-made, and handmade movements. As a result, we have more independent shops per capita than any other city – which makes it possible for Portland to be filled to the brim with artists, designers, and creative entrepreneurs. It’s totally incredible, and I’m really grateful to be here. Recently, there have been a lot of changes in the physical and socio-economic landscape of Portland, and I hope that through all this change, this city will continue to be a haven for artists and makers.

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

Prior to founding ORU I worked in sales and customer service, which is the backbone of any company. I ran a raw-vegan food business for five years, building my understanding of general business practices and management. I also worked for an imported jewelry company as a Production Coordinator, through which I developed my knowledge of production, bookkeeping, and customer management. I draw on all of these skills in my current endeavor at ORU.

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

It was something I always wanted to do, and have always done on some level since I was a little girl. I was that kid on the Harbor Steps in Seattle selling hemp bracelets, or selling crystal jewelry to local shops as a teenager. When my sister and I were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, my sister would answer that she wanted to be a mom and have five kids. From the time I was 8 years old, my answer was consistently: “I want to have my own shop.” I didn’t make the mental leap that I could do this as a career until well after I had completed undergrad studies in unrelated fields, and it has taken some time to gather up the experience and additional skills to be where I am today. It also took a stroke of luck, which at the time didn’t feel like luck. I was laid off from my day job toward the end of the recession because business had been steadily declining. I was forced into a position of sink or swim – so I went for it and simply devoted myself to this company.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

ORU is inspired by minimalism, function, and a dose of whimsy. Objects that are simple and beautiful, with elegant clean lines and a hint of playfulness or edge, are what inspire me, and what I strive to create. I love looking at traditional techniques or forms and adapting them into wearable pieces. Street art and graffiti, along with worn industrial buildings and other relics, also provide a broader sense of inspiration, reminding me that everything is temporary and that beauty can be found anywhere. Finally, the materials themselves also inspire me. The broad variety of bead colors, or just a simple piece of square wire, can bring a hundred ideas into my mind. It’s the sorting, organizing, and final manifestation of those ideas that’s the challenge!

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

Generally speaking, the best thing I’ve ever learned is the importance of cultivating self-knowledge and honoring that by listening to my intuition.

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Love love love everything about Oru jewelry! Don’t miss out on these beaded beauties at our Seattle Fair! In the meantime stay up to date with Oru online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Grit & Grain

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We love coming across unique items during application season, so when Grit + Grain showed up on our screens, it was true love. Our Los Angeles Fair kicks off this weekend, and we are thrilled to have Taylor Kibby of Grit + Grain join us!

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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
The name was actually the happy result of a brainstorming powwow late one night with my father/mentor. We were talking about all the things I wanted people to feel and see when they find my work and I kept coming back to how much I wanted to break the boundary between art and utility. I want people to reach out and feel all the different textures that result from mixed media and feel comfortable taking a seemingly delicate piece and using it in the everyday bustle of life. Grit and Grain is all about the texture and strength that underlie each of my pieces.
Have you always been passionate about design?
I have always been really involved in the arts, though over the years that has meant anything from figure drawing to building furniture. My love for design comes from the fact that there is are endless amounts of techniques and ideas I have yet to tap into…that is very exciting for me!
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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I was working as a pastry cook and felt like I needed another creative outlet (plus I had the craziest hours at work and needed something to help wind down in the afternoon). I took up ceramics which had always been something I was interested in learning about; there is such an exciting mix of chance and skill in ceramics. The next logical step for me was stone carving because my father is a sculptor and it is something we have so much fun experimenting with together.
What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?
I think that what appeals to people in my designs, are that they are so simple in their geometry and execution, yet feel really sumptuous and seductive. That is a heady combination.
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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
I have failures everyday; that is just part of the learning curve. Sometimes I’ll have a fantastic idea and when I try and make it into reality, I realize the physics of it will never work. What I’ve learned is that it is okay to step back and take the time to really educate yourself before you jump feet first into a project.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
There are the normal trials of my passion (my business) not being my main job.  I wish I could truly dedicate myself 7 days a week to it.  I regret that I didn’t take more technical classes while I was at University.  I think if I had been exposed earlier to welding, design theories etc. I could have started Grit and Grain as soon as I was out of school!
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What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
I started Grit and Grain just about a year ago, and it is crazy how quickly time passes! But my proudest moment so far was my first official sale to the incredible design store Lawson Fenning.  They picked up a few of my calcite trays and I couldn’t believe one of my favorite places to shop was now carrying my work!
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Drive.  Los Angeles is such a hub of ambition and creativity that what could have been a hobby for me, ended up being my primary focus and my first business.  I’m grateful for the energy you find here.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I’m not sure I had any to be honest!  That’s the beauty of being  young entrepreneur… you dive in head first. I suppose having no fear is sometimes an incredibly valuable asset…
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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
It simply seemed like the best way to work towards being the person I aspire to be. I felt like being my own boss would push me to work harder, make time for more creative experiences in my life, and would ultimately make me happier.
 
What are some inspirations for your work?
I pull from all over, and with unprecedented access to amazing artists out there, it is easy to be inspired. I have a deep affinity with the Bauhaus movement and also a lot of Japanese craftsmen like Ruka Kikuchi.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
I think the only advice I would pass on is to take on each learning experience like it is the best adventure you’ll ever be on.  The failures are just as valuable as the success.

There is a lot of spontaneity in my work. Each piece of stone I cut for trivets and dishes are completely unique in shape and size and even the stone itself varies greatly from one piece to the next. I like this easy flow in combination with the modern brass and wood accents because I am a person that enjoys the unsettling combination of order and chaos.

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Can’t wait for this weekend! Los Angeles, here we come! You can find Grit + Grain grain in person at our fair, and online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Melissa Sonico

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After a chilly (albeit mild) Chicago weekend, we cannot wait to head to LA where the sun is shining and the skies are clear. First time Renegade Maker, Melissa Sonico will be selling her jewelry and accessories at Grand Park this weekend and we can’t wait to pick up some holiday gifts! Processed with VSCOcam with j5 preset

Have you always been passionate about design?

I’ve always had an interest in design across different platforms. Only recently have I ventured outside of the abstract to making something tangible.

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

I started designing and making necklaces a little over a year ago, mainly just for friends and family. It’s been a little under a year since I’ve been selling them. The switch was spurred on by my family and friends who really supported me.

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

It’s hard not to be influenced by other makers, but I think there’s plenty of room for everyone’s visions, and the fact that my designs are handmade and are infused with my own aesthetics (down to the colors, textures, shapes, and materials) makes each piece individual from each other, not to mention anyone else’s designs.

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

It was something I’d never had any exposure to before; but in this competitive business, I’ve found that I’m going to run into people who don’t want me to succeed for whatever reason. It was humbling and anxiety-inducing, but I got a lot of support and advice from people who have been in the industry a lot longer—they’ve been so helpful and inspiring. They taught me to develop thicker skin which is so, so important in any line of work.

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

I’ve been incredibly lucky to love doing what I do, so in that aspect I don’t really see myself having had any sacrifices or regrets.

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

The positive feedback and the love from all the other independent makers in this business really make the experience worthwhile. Any small bit of success is owed to my little community of creatives I’ve met and collaborated with.

How does the city you live in influence your work?

I’m not sure there’s a direct connection between the two, but I do name each necklace after street names in my town!

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

I really went in blind, taking photos on my iPhone, taking care of all parts of production from my little one-bedroom cottage while teaching college English, and hoping for the best. Again, I have to say I’m pretty lucky to have had the progress I’ve had so far.

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

Creating is something that I think is inherent to my happiness, and the appeal of doing for a living outweighed other job options.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

I’m inspired by color and texture and mixing different sorts of materials like metals and threads and clay. Neutral pairings and little pops of color and shine.

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

Advice is a tricky thing because one thing that works for someone might not work for someone else. It’s really a matter of following your instincts, but I do have a few friends I go to for help. I guess I’d say to accept help when it’s given.

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So thrilled that Our Holiday LA Fair is setting up at Grand Park this weekend! Keep your weekend clear for some serious shopping. In the meantime, check out Melissa Sonico online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Collin Garrity

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We can’t believe our Chicago Holiday Fair is already here! Just like that, it’s already December! Even though the year has flown by way too fast it’s always great fun to think back on all these moments we’ve shared with Makers and friends. Collin Garrity will be hanging out with us this weekend at Bridgeport Art Center, and we can’t wait to cherish all the inspiration that finds us.

IMG_2838 I grew up in a small german town that was 20 minutes from the Vitra Design Museum, and 30 minutes from Basel, but my interest in Design was a lot more raw- My friends and I would break into abandoned factories and make sculptures out of the old machinery. It wasn’t until Warren Wilson College in NC that I picked up woodworking. I started out building an electric guitar, a fell in love with the trade. After a couple years of building guitars in the school’s woodshop, I tackled furniture, then lighting, and as I became more and more experienced, I became interested in making simpler and simpler things. Much of my motivation in designing objects comes from wanting functional, simple, and beautiful objects. If i find myself using something ugly (like a flyswatter) I find myself thinking – this doesn’t have to be ugly. One of my newest designs- which I’ll have at Renegade’s Dec 5-6 show in Chicago is my oak and walnut folding-table. it’s a beautiful and sturdy table, and it also folds flat. So it’s easy to store, move and hide. I try stick to a useful minimalist throughout my work. Almost everything is useful- but they aren’t show pieces. they are beautiful objects that are meant to be used- or held.

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I mess up all the time. I do a lot of work on the lathe- which is unique to most machines because the wood itself spins as I carve away with chisels- and in my small woodshop – which has two small 4-pane windows, over half of the panes are missing  because of wood flying off the lathe. I’ve broken coffee mugs this way, and of course hurt myself, but when you are working you have to stay focus, – so when you mess up you either have to keep going, or (and this is one of the hardest things to learn) you have to recognize when you need to switch tasks or take a break. you can undo a day’s good work with a foolish mistake, so sometimes taking the afternoon off is the best work decision you can make. you just might need to get an early start for the rest of the week.

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Starting my business took a lot of sacrifices. – when I first started my own woodshop I found a building above a club in Savannah GA- it was loud and smoky and when I moved in it didn’t have any windows. several months into my lease, the club was shut down for having too much gunplay. and the reason I chose this building was that it was cheap- and I could work- and later live, there without needing a car- so I could work a part time job, and save money by not having a car, tv, internet, a smart phone, video games, furniture, or hobbies., This isn’t how most people start their business, but it allowed me to buy machines and wood – and to make a lot of product, so that eventually I started to turn a profit.

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My advice to people starting out- especially with woodworking, is that you dont need fancy machines or a beautiful shop- or a perfect branding package- those come in time, but The most important thing is Getting work done. Design amazing work and them make a lot of it. it sounds obvious, but a lot of people get into debt before they’ve started- and if you have to pay your own bills, there’s no other way.

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My proudest moment was one of my finest ones – collaborating with LEMAIRE the french fashion house.

While I was a senior in college, they contacted me- with a photo of one of my spinning tops photoshopped onto the wrist of a model.- saying they wanted to work with me. Once I decided it was not a joke, I realized that I could do woodworking- that it wasn’t just a hobby. I’ve worked on several pieces with them that have shown up during Fashion Week.

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It’s encouraging to remember collaborations like these when I get discouraged- and anyone who works for themselves will tell you that you get discouraged. it’s good to have to trick to staying inspired.

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One of the things that I often turn to are other makes- but not woodworkers- that gets overwhelming. sometimes it’s great to search the web for incredible designers using clay or yarn or metal- and delve into their collections. It helps me remember the limits of woodworking- and it helps me defy them.

but most of all I am inspired by my family and partner. One of the driving forces I have is the hope of going home to Germany for christmas- and this year I hope to bring my partner (she hasn’t yet been) so when I’m discouraged I remember that the longer I work today, the more realistic it will be to fly home for christmas and spend a few weeks there.

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And thinking about Christmas each year has helped me come up with a lot of my designs- the first chess set I made was a christmas gift for my dad. – and it’s true about several of my designs. When I’m home, each year we go to the Vitra design museum to the Colmar Christmas Markets- to the Basel Cafes – and I always come back to the states with a journal full of sketches and itching to get back into the woodshop.

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We are loving these Santa logs. Hope to see you this weekend for our Chicago Fair! Don’t miss out on Collin Garrity here:

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Maker Spotlight: Stak Ceramics

Stak Tempo Dock Renegade Craft FairIt was love at first sight when it came to Stak Ceramics. These functional ceramic pieces elevate simple vessels like a utensil crock into an ipad dock for easy recipe viewing. It’s these thoughtful details that make creators, Heather and Myles, so incredibly special, and we can’t wait to see all this new work at our Chicago Fair this weekend!
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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

Our business name Stak Ceramics, was inspired by the landscape and architecture of Pittsburgh Pa.  The city of Pittsburgh is surrounded by hilly neighborhoods with homes and buildings that appear to be “stacked”.  We wanted our business name to reflect the city where we live and work.

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Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always been interested in design and the way artists utilize space.  Whether it is paint on a canvas or glaze on a ceramic piece, the way people choose to design their work is fascinating.  Myles has had an interest in design for as long as he can remember.  He built furniture and lamps as a hobby in high school, and then moved on to study sculpture and industrial design in college.

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

I took a wheel throwing class during my last semester of college and was immediately hooked.  I moved on to take more classes after graduating, and eventually I rented my own ceramic studio in Pittsburgh.  Myles bought a used kiln online, with the intention of making ceramic sculpture and prototyping products.  We were introduced in 2011 by the owner of a local ceramic supply company and we started collaborating our ceramic work about a year later.

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

Most of our ceramic designs embrace technology and compliment the way people interact with electronic devices in their everyday life.  All of our forms and surface treatments are original designs created in our Pittsburgh studio.  We design, prototype, make all of our own plaster molds, formulate our own glazes and personally produce every piece we offer.  We take great pride in designing and producing original work.

Our ceramic products are meant to be highly functional.  We utilize traditional ceramic materials and processes to create products that embrace modern technology and complement today’s modern lifestyle.

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

We are constantly designing and developing products, most of which never make it past the prototype stage.  We could fill a room with all of the molds and prototyped pieces that have resulted in failed designs. However, each failed product provides insight into ways we can improve our process and future designs.  We approach design with an attitude that, if we are going to be successful, failures are a part of the process.

-If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.

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

There are a number of moments that we are very proud of and moments that we will never forget.  We both had jobs outside of Stak Ceramics for two years after creating our business.  The proudest moment for us is when we realized that we were able to move on from our previous jobs and commit to Stak Ceramics full time.  We are proud to be our own bosses!

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

We were fortunate enough to be able to transition into being our own bosses due to heightened demand for our products and an opportunity that a previous employer presented us.  It was a terrifying moment and decision to make but, one that has been extremely fulfilling and one we hope will allow us to be successful for a very long time.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Most of our inspiration comes from everyday life and new experiences.  Our work is informed by interacting with the environment we live in and by observing the way people interact with the objects they use on a daily basis.  We are also consistently trying new ceramic techniques or processes in an effort to discover what is possible and continue to improve the work we do.

 

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

We are always learning and asking for feedback from other makers.  The maker community is a wonderful group of diverse people from nearly every discipline you can imagine.  They are always willing to answer questions and provide constructive feedback.  If anything, we would suggest reaching out to other makers if you need information or tips.  It is always informative and you never know what may result from simply reaching out…

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Aren’t these just the perfect gifts? We can’t wait to see Stak Ceramics at our Chicago Holiday Fair, starting tomorrow! Get the scoop on all things Stak online here:

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Maker Spotlight: 1.61 Soft Goods

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Everything 1.61 Goods makes is on our wish lists! We can’t wait to meet Diana and Wes at our LA Holiday Fair and stock up on gifts!

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

1.61 represents the golden ratio. The number symbolizes our core focus of all products; the beauty in proportion with an emphasis on the utility and function of its purpose.

Have you always been passionate about design?

Yes, we both studied Product design at college. We like the aspect of problem solving through design.
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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

As we studied design at school, we always liked to make things with our hands. Wes started designing a line of bike bags on the side while having day job. Like a typical startup story, it started from a kitchen counter. Diana joined in her last year of college. We both admire traditional craftsmanship of leather goods and soft goods, but felt that there are lack of modern functionality in them. So we decided to design bags/accessories that fits our lifestyle with traditional craftsmanship quality.

What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

Instead of looking at the trends of fashion, we design based on problems. We identify what is lacking on the design, and improve or make new design from there.

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

Yes, with each failure we use it as an experience to gain from. We try to analyze what happened and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

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

Having own business means, there are no weekends. We know that we have unhealthy work hours. It is getting better as the company grows. We miss events and parties sometimes, but no regrets. After all, we truly enjoy making and designing.

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

Customers have come to us and told us that they always carry our products with them. One customer even wrote us an email, he got robbed at a convenience store  because he was showing off our product!

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How does the city you live in influence your work? 

Los Angeles doesn’t have a single identity or quality that defines it as a city, it has many different subcultures, and identities in different parts of the city and that flexibility influences our work. The fast paced vibe of Los Angeles is also very motivating; it seems like great new brands/companies are growing quickly out of this city.

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

Honestly, I don’t think anything you have experienced in your life will go waste. I feel that I have learned and gained great insights from all the past jobs and experienced I’ve had. Even the simple accounting task or office desk jobs have been valuable when it comes to owning your own business. Also working in different jobs outside of design helped us think about problem solving in different ways.

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

I think the freedom and responsibility of how successful you are is up to you and that made me want to be my own boss. I also love the fact that I could potentially live anywhere in the world and still make soft goods through my own brand.

What are some inspirations for your work?

Nature, and the ever-changing modern lifestyle. We are also inspired by material itself and how it will age.

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

Be organized. Take good pictures. Know what your core focus, don’t get carried away by trends or moods. Make time for yourself, if you don’t make a habit of stepping away from work (something we struggle with) it will takeover every aspect of your life.

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Don’t you just love all of 1.61’s color combinations and photos? We cannot wait to see all of these designs in person, and we hope to see ya’ll at our LA Fair coming up December 12+13! Meanwhile, find 1.61 online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Katie Levinson

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 We are loving Katie Levinson and her Levindottir collection. These sculptures will be making their way to our Chicago Holiday Fair and we can’t wait to add one of these art pieces to our homes.i'm trying

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

My business name is Levindottir.

My last name is Levinson and it was an ongoing family joke when I was younger that all of the girls should be called ‘Levindaughter’ instead of ‘Levinson’.  Using ‘dottir’ is an ode to that beautiful and magical country, Iceland, where the suffix hails from.

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Have you always been passionate about design?

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love arranging objects in space.

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

For years, my artwork has lived within a frame but, there is always some depth, some small-scale sculpture in there.  It seemed both natural and an immensely big step to start creating small free-standing sculptures.

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

I encounter some form of failure with almost each and every project.  It’s rare to get things right the first time.  I like to call these failures ‘drafts’.  Sometimes there’s not just ‘first drafts’ but ‘third’ and ‘fourth drafts’.  Each time you get a little more familiar with the material you are working with and hone your approach.

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

The first time I showcased my small sculptures was at a Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago.  The reaction and reception was so much more than I ever could have hoped for.  The end of the fair felt like the end of Christmas.

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

It’s living the dream.

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Aren’t these pieces great? We can’t wait to see more of what Katie has to offer at our Chicago Fair this weekend! Until then, check out more of Katie Levinson’s work online:

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