Obsidian Monarch

Maker Spotlight

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For all you bicycling fiends out there, Obsidian Monarch is taking San Francisco by storm this weekend! Obsidian Monarch is owned & operated by Oakland, CA. artist Billy Sprague. In August of 2014 Sprague received his grandfather’s leather tools as an heirloom. Being around alot of leather work and crafts as a child and wanting to embrace his Mexican heritage and family traditions, Sprague began exploring leather working. Being an artist himself and using inherited tools as  inspiration, he began months of dedication  learning the skills of leather tooling, pattern & mold making  and saddle making. Head down to Fort Mason Center for the perfect present for your beloved bike.

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Fawn + Cub

Maker Spotlight

Fawn and Cub by Becky Carter Mingle lookbook for diaper bags

Fawn + Cub is heading to our San Francisco Holiday Fair this weekend and we cannot wait! Becky Carter Mingle, Owner and Designer of Fawn + Cub lives in the foothills of Northern California with her husband Jorden and two son’s Oliver Sage & Arlo Phoenix. She started Fawn + Cub because there was a need for functional baby products that still had personality. With her Native American background lending to her love of southwestern Navajo-style textiles, as well as her passion for sustainability blending the two materials was a given. She has created products that allow you to change in style, while keeping the environment in mind.

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Canoe Goods

Maker Spotlight

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It’s a beautiful Monday and it’s all thanks to Canoe Goods! These outstanding leather goods will be at our Austin Fair November 28+29! Shop Small Saturday is a definite must this year! Founded in 2009, Natalie Davis was inspired by vintage workwear, well-worn boots, and Outlaw country music. The Canoe line explores pattern through tooled, carved, burned, and hand dyed leather accessories, from jewelry to home wares. Canoe goods are crafted with a sartorial eye and workhorse materials to last a lifetime, made proudly in the USA.

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Starling Brood

Maker Spotlight

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We’re ending our day with some serene images by Starling Brood. The story of Starling Brood goes back to 2010, when Mihaeko began working with singer Björk to design a series of new musical instruments for Björk’s Biophilia. Mihaeko found a deep affinity with the project seeking to explore nature through art. Having designed and hand-built unique wooden harps that would tour the world, Mihaeko finally turned her attention toward more intimate explorations. She left her home in Brooklyn for a cabin in the mountains of Vermont. We’re thrilled that Mihaeko will be heading back to New York and joining us for our Holiday Fair tomorrow and Sunday!

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Kristina Micotti

Maker Spotlight

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If you’ve been to our San Francisco Fair before but haven’t met Kristina Micotti, make sure you put that at the top of your list. Not only is she always a delight to talk to, but she can paint you a custom pet portrait over the weekend! Some of us here at RCF have taken advantage of that awesome service. We hope you’re able to see Kristina’s work in person November 21+22!

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Luez Design and Play

Maker Spotlight

Balancing Birds Wall Art

Luez Design and Play truly offers the cutest kids’ toys and decorations. Laura Rodriguez is the designer behind this collection of aesthetically pleasing children’s goods. We can’t wait to see little tots going nuts at our New York Fair this weekend!

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Zelma Rose

Maker Spotlight

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We’ve always been big fans of Zelma Rose. Artist and designer, Lisa Anderson Shaffer has truly crafted a one of a kind jewelry and accessory line that has us drooling. Zelma Rose will be showcasing at our San Francisco Holiday Fair and we just cannot wait!

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Cecil and Merl

Maker Spotlight

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We’re celebrating the holidays with bitter crafter extraordinaires, Cecil and Merl. They will have the perfect holiday gift options for you at our New York Fair this weekend!

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Ashware Studio

In The Studio

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Last year we had the chance to visit the Ashware Studio up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. When we got there, Megumi hard at work wrapping and packaging her ceramics. The surprise part of our trip was that ceramicists, Michiko Shimada and Beetle & Flor also share the same space. Talk about a triple bonus! After getting a good look around we had the chance to speak with Megumi about her art and living in Brooklyn.

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Veronica Rufrano

Maker Spotlight

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We don’t know about you, but when we come across a well designed mug, we flip. When we first set eyes on Veronica Rufrano’s ceramics at last summer’s San Francisco Fair it was love at first sight. Thank goodness Veronica is joining us again for our Holiday Fair!

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purlBknit

Maker Spotlight

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We’re so happy it’s Friday and most importantly we are only 1 week away from our New York Holiday Fair! To celebrate we’re featuring a new Maker with serious style, Purl B Knit.

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Raville

Maker Spotlight

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How adorable are these mini figurines from Raville? Since we can’t decide which is cutest, we may just have to buy multiples at our New York Fair next week. Raville is Junghwa Park’s brand new collection of ceramics and illustrations and we cannot wait to see more.

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Forest and Found

Maker Spotlight

Hand Turned Pots

We’ve been big fans of Forest and Found for a while now. Their booth displays are always stunning at our London Fair and we can’t wait to see them again this weekend!

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Salt and Pipper

Maker Spotlight

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It’s always a pleasure seeing this husband and wife creative duo at our San Francisco Fair. Their display is always top notch and both Pips and Josh are a delight to interact with. Our San Francisco Holiday Fair is coming up in just a couple of weeks and Salt and Pipper is one of our top picks for great giftables this season!

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JOLN

Maker Spotlight

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Everyone could use a good jacket, and right now we’re swooning over this anorak by JOLN. Not only is this jacket just about perfect, but Joln also makes amazing men’s AND women’s wear. You can snag all of these at our New York Holiday Fair (and a few more upcoming Fairs) next weekend!

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Proper Assembly

Maker Spotlight

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Who doesn’t love a well-designed bag? If that person is out there, we don’t want to meet them. Becky started Proper Assembly with one of her closest friends, Nate- who also is their brilliant photographer, website designer, and general marketing guru.  Proper Assembly is making their way to our New York Fair and boy we cannot wait to meet these bags (and their Makers) in person!

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Mind the Cork

Maker Spotlight

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We’ve got a sweet little Maker Spotlight today featuring the beautiful design wares of Mind the Cork. Mind the Cork was founded in 2013 by designer Jenny Espirito Santo, who’s inspired by the natural value of materials and the sense of history and heritage they embody. These pieces elevate the humble cork into one of a kind statement pieces for your home, and we can’t wait to make our living spaces look awesome!

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

My business name has a few influences. Anyone who lives or has been to London (or heard of!) will recognise the term “mind the gap”. When I was growing up, I often heard adults saying, “oh, mind the cork” when serving wine at the dinner table.

My aim was to make people consider cork as a high end sustainable material that is great to use in design and as a leather alternative too; so the idea behind it was to “mind”, to “consider”, to “be aware” of something. I liked that play on words and meaning.

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Elizabeth Benotti

Maker Spotlight

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New York truly has some of the best ceramic artists around, and Elizabeth Benotti is no exception! Her pieces will be available at our New York Holiday Fair in just a couple of weeks!

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Adam J. Kurtz

Maker Spotlight

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We needed some sunshine this Monday morning and nothing makes us smile like Adam J. Kurtz. These perfect giftable items will be at the AdamJK booth all weekend long at our New York Holiday Fair. Rejoice!

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Maker Spotlight: Jenny Sibthorp

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Jenny Sibthorp for the win! We’re loving these illustrated textiles and goods from this UK designer and we can’t wait for you all to buy them up at our London Fair coming up in just 1 week!

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

I was living in London and craving an outlet to be a bit more creative and feel more satisfied. I took up upholstery courses, and realized that I wanted to find a way of making a living by using my hands. I left London for the countryside, and started working out how I could turn my dreams into reality.

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

I’m still getting over a Design*Sponge feature at the beginning of this year. I submitted an entry to their Before & After for an old French nursing chair I’d reupholstered using some of my fabric, forgot about it and then nearly fell off my chair when Grace emailed me with some questions about a month later. When it went live the response was just incredible!!

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I’m hugely influenced by where I live, but its’ not a city these days. I live in the countryside and my studio is an old farm building round the corner from my house. It’s basic, but beautiful and rustic. I sometimes can’t quite believe how lucky I am to have it. There’s a resident bat and through the summer I have lambs outside my back door (see my plethora of instagram posts @jennysibthorp!)

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

It was a now or never kind of decision. I just figured that at the time I didn’t have any responsibilities in terms of children or having a mortgage etc and I really didn’t want to be working in an unsatisfactory office job forever. A really great friend just kept on saying to me ‘what’s the worst that could happen’ and he was so right, you just don’t know until you try it.

 

What are some inspirations for your work?

I’m inspired largely by my beautiful surroundings, bright colours, old photographs; but everything is inspiring, its just learning to hone these inspirations into something that makes sense. But just sometimes, I just want to remember something important to me by putting it into a print – Eggs was born shortly after my chicken Widdy went ‘Missing Presumed Dead’. A lot of my prints can be a little bit tongue-in-cheek like that.

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

My favourite one is just chat to anyone and everyone about what you’re up to, you just don’t know who they might be and its amazing how easy it is when its something that really matters to you and that you feel passionate about. It’s really easy when you’re self employed to work every single hour possible and only take a break to eat and sleep, but this is a really important one, try to be disciplined and let yourself take off time every week, be that a few hours or a whole day. It’s amazing what a difference this will make to your energy levels and efficiency.

Jenny Sibthorp Sweet Peas Wash Bag

Jenny Sibthorp’s patterns and colors are as addictive as the cheeriness they emanate. Only one week until our London Holiday Fair, in the meantime find Jenny Sibthorp online here:

Website

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Maker Spotlight: Faden

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Today felt like a necessary day for cozy knits and chunky wools. Faden has these plus stunning wood-clustered necklaces! We suggest you start setting aside some money now, because two weeks from tomorrow our New York Holiday Fair hits Manhattan and it’s going to be epic! Meet Frankie Faden and learn all about her craft:
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Have you always been passionate about design?

I come from a family of makers and was encouraged to make from a young age. My sister, who is also a maker and artist, is my biggest support and inspiration. I think its important to feel connected to your community and environment and that physically making objects, preforming and perfecting a craft, can ground you in a way, not only in space, but also to an earned sense of value in the world.

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

I used to sew a lot, but when I was in university, I had a very long commute. So I taught myself to knit so that I could make in transit. I started making jewelry recently as a way to expand past knitwear (which is also my other day job). I’ve recently been interested in natural dye processes and incorporating that into my work.

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

I am attracted to clean, minimal aesthetics and am interested in helping to create simple wardrobe and home additions that will add to your life and last throughout the years. Some of the items that I make come in multiples, but items like the rugs are each truly unique and are built organically with no set pattern, so in buying one you know that you are the only person who has that design.

How does the city you live in influence your work?

I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest and moved to Brooklyn 6 years. Where I am from and where I am now have great influences on what I make and how I make it. Growing up in Oregon gave me an appreciation for craft and process and the time and space to create. Being in Brooklyn gives me the energy of the city and the opportunity for a diverse range of inspirations. I find it a constant challenge to live slowly in a fast place, but its that contrast that drives me to make. It requires an extra bit of intention.

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I worked in non-profit for a number of years when I was younger and that definitely taught me how to accomplish a lot with a small budget and a lot of effort. Then through working in the fashion industry, I realized that I love working with my hands, and how much I need as a person, to make, not just design.

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

I think I’ve always been my own boss – even when working for someone else. Right now I also have full time day job, I do live in NYC – it’s quite expensive. But I can’t help it, I’m not satisfied by the singularity most jobs offer – so I spend most of the rest of my time creating a work place that matches my interests and challenges me.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

I am inspired by simple shapes and forms, by sculpture and architecture, foliage and cacti, and by nature’s color palette. If you want to follow along, check out my pinterest @studiofaden

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

I’m not sure if I’m far enough along to be handing out advice – but I’ll tell you, I have been doing this a long while and although it’s not always been the breadwinner, it’s always made me happy.

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Can’t get enough? We can’t either. Keep November 14+15 open for our New York Fair, and find all things Faden online here:

Maker Spotlight: Siamese Social Club

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What a perfect Maker Spotlight for National Cat Day! Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club will be bringing her minimalist amazing cat wares to our San Francisco Fair on November 21+22. If only she would bring her adorable siamese with her!

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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
My cat, who is part siamese, is the inspiration behind my business and the name Siamese Social Club. Like many siamese cats, he sometimes acts more like a dog than a cat, and I’ve always joked about starting a “social” group for him to meet other cats, since he doesn’t quite fit in at the dog park.
Have you always been passionate about design?
In retrospect, yes, I have always been passionate about design without even realizing it. As a child, I would obsess over the floor plans of my dream home and pillage magazines for furniture and decoration ideas. At the time, I had no idea that this would lead to my current interest in interior design and product design.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
About five years ago, I got into the DIY blog movement and was eager to try as many new techniques as I could learn. I taught myself how to crochet, knit, embroider, sew and took classes in spinning and weaving. I started using these newly acquired techniques to solve one problem that had always bothered me: finding a cat bed that actually looked good in my house. Once I made that connection between fiber arts and cats, I knew I had finally found my niche.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
My designs not only incorporate a minimal aesthetic, which I find to be somewhat unique among cat products, they take into consideration the actual behavior of cats. My ultimate goal is to make highly functional pieces of art, something that will actually be enjoyed by the cat and owner alike.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
The original cat bed design that I spent over a year creating turned out to be a complete failure. Not a single cat would sleep in it, even though it looked perfectly cozy to me. I learned then that I really needed to test out my basic designs on the cats first before focusing on the details.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Before starting my business, one of my favorite pastimes was taking long walks and exploring new parts of San Francisco. Now, I can’t even remember when I’ve had the time to take a leisurely walk without a list of things to complete along the way. But since I’m spending my time working on something I really love and feel inspired to continue doing, I don’t miss those moments at all.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
Launching my website has, so far, been my proudest moment. It really felt like my business had finally gone from an idea to a reality.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?
I find San Francisco such an inspirational place to live. From the muted, pastel color palette of the buildings on overcast days, to the entrepreneurial spirit that envelopes the city, to it’s plethora of public art and galleries, I can’t imagine ever having started my business anywhere else.
 
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I actually studied animal behavior and evolution through grad school, so my science background has surprisingly come in handy during the early stages of my business. There are many parallels between the scientific and artistic process, from background research to experimentation to writing funding proposals, I still feel very much like a scientist working in a more creative field.

 

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
Starting my own business was something I always wanted to do, and something I had been thinking of and planning for a long time. So once I had the idea, the products and the name figured out, I knew it was finally time to start making things happen.

ssc_products_5What are some inspirations for your work?

Meeting and interacting with cats, reading design blogs, visiting art galleries, and being surrounded by other makers creating beautiful things.

 
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Don’t be afraid to learn new things and try techniques that are unfamiliar to you. You never know how they might influence your work or lead to a brilliant idea.
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We could stare at these photos all day! Thank you Kristen for sharing your work, and he sure to check out these feline-friendly goods at our San Francisco Fair! You can find Siamese Social Club online here:
Website
Instagram

Maker Spotlight: *iA Playhouse

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We always get excited when Makers come out with innovative, interesting, and aesthetically pleasing kids’ stuff. Which is why *iA Playhouse scores a 10 in our books! Gift-giving just got a whole lot easier, so make sure you stop by our San Francisco Holiday Fair November 21+22 and meet Chloé Leguay, the designer behind these playful goods.iA 53
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

The name *iA came from the 3 simple elements of this construction game. “i” is a stick, the asterix dot of the i is the star shape connector and A is the fabric triangle. The essence of *iA is included in his name! With stars, sticks and triangles you build any shapes you want. With *iA you build any shapes you want. Pyramid, igloo, boat, giant ball, doll house, teepee, space ship…

*iA would be in french a fast way to say “il y a” meaning “There is”

*iA un bateau (There is a boat)

*iA un teepee (There is a teepee)

*iA de la joie ! (There is joy!)…

Have you always been passionate about design?

Yes, as a movie set decorator, sculptor and model maker I always been interested in craft and design.

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

Since I can remember. Treehouse, fort, craving the sand, best hiding place, diving in caves… As a mom I spend so much time playing that I believe games need to be awesome for both kids and parents. I started *iA since I moved to San Francisco, 1 years and half ago, from Paris, France.

What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

It is both a construction game and a playhouse.

It is both for kids and adults.

It is both, flexible and stable.

It’s essential. With only 3 different elements to assemble, you expand world large enough to play in and around.

Colorful triangles create any patchwork you imagine.

IT’S AWESOME!!

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

Communication and marketing, designer common sense, I guess.

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

I’m selling my dream house (ruin) on a french river desert island to begin it, then I might regret it strongly 😉

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

My daughter eyes when she build her own creation with *iA

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

San Francisco is like a city made of playhouses. Dream place for kids. Best inspiration.

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

Set design

Graphic design

Sculpture

Model Making

Being a Mom

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

Knowing that I have an amazing product and no one is going to do it better than I will!

What are some inspirations for your work?

Patchwork and diamond, fashion and math, craft and architecture

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

Make things you’re proud of!

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We love love love *iA Playhouse and think you should, too! Stop by their booth at our San Francisco Fair and find them online here:

Website

 Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Julie Robinson

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We’re crazy for Julie Robinson! Julie is the designer behind these knotted fabric necklaces and addicted to every piece. You’ll definitely want to pick one up at our New York Holiday Fair coming up in just a few weeks!

_A0A3895 Have you always been passionate about design?

Totally! I was (am) just a passionate person in general. Anything that needed to be made or imagined, I wanted to be a part of.

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

I used to aspire to be an animator, but I always spent more time thinking about what my characters wore than what they did. I took a bunch of youth art classes one summer and ended up taking a fashion illustration class after my first choice (digital illustration) was cancelled. I started to realize that fashion was a way better fit for me than animation.

I got my mom to start teaching me how to sew so I could make my own cosplay costumes but soon I wanted to make ALL of my clothes.

I went to Parsons for fashion design and have been working as a designer ever since.

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What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I consider myself a fashion designer who makes jewelry and I think that makes my approach a little different. My jewelry doesn’t really sparkle or shine, but it still makes a really bold statement.

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

My boss at the design firm I work at has been really supportive of me. As soon as I told her about Renegade and what I was making we started talking about what my goals were.

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

I grew up with my mother working from home writing databases and I’ve been a freelancer most of my professional life, so it’s not a new concept for me.

I like having a thing that is mine to shape. I think it makes me better at my day job and my day job makes me better at this.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Japanese dying techniques, nautical knots, robots, and my Girl Gang

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

Set tangible goals, make lots of lists, stop procrastinating.

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Can’t wait to see more of Julie’s work? We understand. Check out Julie Robinson online here:

Maker Spotlight: Christabel Balfour

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Christabel Balfour is one talented lady. Her designs in weaving and paper cuttings are some of our favorites around, and we are so thrilled to have these goods showcased at our London Holiday FairChristabel Balfour 002

Have you always been passionate about design?

I come from a background in contemporary art, and studied sculpture at art school. It’s only been recently that I have focused more on design, but looking back I can see it influenced a lot of my work. I have always been interested in the structure of things, and the practical aspects of making.

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

I took up tapestry weaving around two years ago. At art school I made woven sculptures and installations, and only tried tapestry after I graduated. It started as an experiment and soon became a full on obsession! I taught myself from scratch using books and the internet, and make all my weavings on frame looms that I build myself.

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What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I think what is different about my work is the balance between minimalist design and intricate detail. Although at first glance they might seem simple, upon closer inspection you can see the amount of work that goes into each piece.  Often there are subtle colour changes or finely balanced compositions which encourage you to keep looking. I want to create pieces which draw you in.

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

I haven’t had any failures I would call “major” just yet (knock on wood) but I have struggled quite a bit with pricing my work. I’ve definitely put work up for sale or online and later realised I wasn’t actually making any money because my work is so time-consuming to make. Learning to value my time and skills has been the toughest thing to do.

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

My proudest moment was the solo show of my weavings that I held in May. It was called “Simple Cities” and showcased my work from the last year. It was a bit of a nightmare getting everything finished in time, but so rewarding to see it come together.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I’m very influenced by the contrasts of London. You have all these old buildings right next to new skyscrapers, along with so many green spaces and pockets of nature. The Thames is my favourite place in the city- my studio is right beside the river and I walk along it on my way to work. The tranquillity of the water in the middle of the busy city is something I’m always trying to capture in my designs.

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

I was fortunate to work as an administrative intern for a designer/maker  for about 18 months before I left to start my own business. So I learnt everything about running a creative business- manufacturing, shipping, website sales, wholesale, promotion, social media, the list goes on. It was a great introduction to the challenges and joys of working for yourself.

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

I’ve always wanted to be self-employed and it got to the stage where it was “now-or-never”. Plus you can’t be an intern forever…

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What are some inspirations for your work?

There are so many other weavers that I look up to- Sheila Hicks, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mimi Jung, to name a few. I’m also very inspired by architecture, particularly the Japanese architects Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban. But a lot of my inspirations I just find online, mostly through Instagram which has an amazing creative community.

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

Don’t underprice yourself! If you’ve worked hard to make something beautiful you deserve to be paid properly for it. Also it’s really worth seeking out creative communities of people working in similar fields to you- I’ve had so much helpful advice and useful tips from friends or fellow designers online.

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Londoners, put some time aside for this Holiday Fair because you won’t want to miss Christabel Balfour. If you can see more of her work online here:
Website
Webshop
Instagram

 

Maker Spotlight: Dorotea Ceramics

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We’re kicking off our New York Maker Spotlights with some beautiful vessels by Dorotea Ceramics. Carolina Silva is the artist behind Dorotea and will be bringing her pieces to our New York Holiday Fair November 14+15. We are so excited!IMG_2011

Where did your business name come from?

Dorotea is my daughter’s name. Is there an interesting history behind? When I was brainstorming for names and could not decide on any, it was my mother’s suggestion.

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

As an artist I was working with clay, making large-scale sculptures. After my daughter was born I was more limited in time and space but still wanted to work with clay so very instinctively it derived to tableware and functional or decorative objects that incorporate hand drawing and are one of a kind but were smaller in scale.

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

My background as an artist. Not having been taught as a ceramist allows me a lot of freedom and openness towards the possibilities of what can be made and how and I am more interested in the uniqueness of the object than in the perfection of a craft.

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Have you had any major failures?

If after putting a lot of time and effort in a piece it breaks it always feels like failure but I have also learned to understand that its fragility is also part of the nature and beauty of the medium.

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

I cannot dedicate so much time to my artwork now, it is hard for me to find the balance and it is getting harder and harder to separate one from the other, it is all mingling in the studio but I am embracing that.

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

It is always when people come to the studio and appreciate the work. Having that interaction is very beautiful.

How does the city you live in influence your work?

The Pacific Northwest is a place where seasons are very defined and I love that. The changes of colors, smells, light and vegetation that happen throughout the year are very inspiring. I pay attention to all the little details, flowers and patterns found in nature here.

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

I knew I wanted to work following my free spirit and that it would be hard in many ways, especially being a one person run business. I can be in the studio making things forever but the administrative part of the business is proving to be harder for me, though I try to keep learning!

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

My need to be creative.

What are some inspirations for your work?

The Arts and Crafts movement in the early 20th Century.

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

To fully enjoy making what you make and listen to your own creative drive rather than to what is dictated by the moment.

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We love Carolina’s work and can’t wait for you to as well (you know, if you don’t already). Mark your calendars for our New York Fair! In the meantime, you can find Dorotea online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Loela

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It’s always a good Monday when you get to look at pretty clothes and jewelry! Loela is prepping for our London Holiday Fair and we are twiddling our thumbs, counting down the days to bask in the amazingness!

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

I really struggled with the name! I came across Loela and liked the spelling!

Have you always been passionate about design?

Definitely, I loved art as a kid and then went on the do a BTEC in art and design at college which was great for trying out lots of different disciplines, I gravitated to graphic design and fashion and although I decided to do a fashion degree i’m still heavily influenced by graphic design in my work.

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

When the recession hit I lost my job in London as a merchandiser and decided to try out selling on a fashion market based in Manchester while I looked for another job. I was hugely inspired by the other designer makers that were doing their own thing in Manchester and fell in love with the feeling of being your own boss and the creative freedom you have working for yourself. The fashion market really gave me the confidence i’d lacked before to put myself out there, and things followed on from there.

What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I think the great thing about being is a designer maker is being able to offer a product which is 100% your own creative vision, without having to worry too much about other factors which come into play when you work for someone else. I think thats a fantastic thing to be able to do and I feel so lucky that I have the chance to do it.

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

I don’t think any major failures but i’ve had plenty of  learning curves! Particularly working out how much work I can handle on my own and when its time to find help with production etc. I was lucky enough to have a concession in Topshop for six months which was such a great opportunity and really hard work, I learnt so much about how that side of thing works, like hiring staff, keeping on top of stock and pricing things correctly.

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

My social life isn’t what it used to be!

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

Getting the Topshop concession was just so exciting and confidence boosting, I couldn’t quite believe it when I first saw my dresses out on the shop floor.  It wasn’t something i’d ever imagined happening when I first started selling on the fashion market.

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

I did degree in fashion design at uni which included a 6 month placement with a small independent business in London called the Jacksons, I got to see every aspect of the business from production to selling at trade shows to running the shop. I didn’t know it at the time but I think little bits of advice about running your own business came back to me when I started working for myself. Apart from one bit of advice on a particularly stressful day which was ‘never start your own business Laura!’

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

The secure feeling of taking your future into your own hands.

What are some inspirations for your work?

It might sound a bit basic but colour is and the thing that constantly gets me excited about designing. I recently visited Marrakesh which was full of  beautiful geometric designs and colour combinations, my version of heaven!

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

I think its really important to keep active on social media, although i’m not the greatest example of that! And i’ve learnt not to be timid about taking opportunities.

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So many good things are heading to London! Mark your calendars, everyone! Our London Holiday Fair is coming up on November 7 + 8. Find Loela online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Catherine McGinniss

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Catherine McGinniss is a truly awesome artist. We can’t wait to have her paper, illustrated goods, and housewares at our London Fair in just a couple of weeks!
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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

I spent ages thinking about names for my business and in the end I went with my name – as I am a freelance illustrator who creates and makes products I think it is nice to have the connection of knowing the name behind the image or item, it just makes it more personal.

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Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always been passionate about art and design.  My Dad was an architect and when I was a kid I loved watching him at his drawing board drawing these really straight lines freehand that suddenly became buildings.  Reflecting back it probably influenced me a lot -seeing and understanding that a drawing is more than pen and paper it can become anything and everything….!  Now I spend any spare time visiting galleries and watching the world on youtube!

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

I create all my products by hand, mostly I screen-print or letterpress print my products both of these processes allow me to make the products myself, this means I don’t have to use other company’s to manufacture which ultimately means full control of the products I make, then I can be sure that they have the look and feel that I want them to have. This also means that you learn the hard way how to do this but it often gives you other ideas of things to make.  

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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 anybody who starts any sort of business sacrifices something mostly time and often sanity, I am very lucky that what I do is very much what I like and want to do so I don’t really feel like all the time and effort that goes into creating is a sacrifice as I love what I do.

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

My favourite moments are the small things, like when I get good feedback from someone on my Etsy store or moments like this where I am writing a Q&A for Renegade spotlight as it really encourages you and gives you a real boost and makes you feel excited about what you do.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I am influenced by all the places that I have lived in.  I grew up in the Essex countryside, farms, fields, woods, somewhat isolated but great for imagination and real freedom for a kid.  Then living in London with the excitement of city life all noise and bustle and architecture, history and culture.  Now I live by the sea with salty air, candy floss, sticks of rock, giant cedar trees and a room for me to draw and imagine in.

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

I studied illustration at university and then went on to have a variety of jobs, some I enjoyed some I did not!  – but I learned something from all of them and mostly I just carried on making, doing, drawing and creating.

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

It’s mostly a sense of needing to do something that makes me happy and to create and make things that please me and I can’t find elsewhere.

What are some inspirations for your work?

Inspiration is everywhere

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

Carry on making, doing, drawing, sticking and most of all just enjoy it. It’s worth it.

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We can’t wait to see all of Catherine McGinniss’ work at our London Fair on November 7 + 8! Want to keep up to date with Catherine? You can find her online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Pikku Potin

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There’s a lot to love when it comes to Pikku Potin. These makers are heading to our London Fair in just a couple weeks to show off their nordic inspired homewares and accessories. And boy, we cannot wait!

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

‘Pikku Potin’ is an adaptation of the Finnish words for ‘little pot’ – Anna is half Finnish, and we were looking for a name that referenced the nordic influence of our designs. We also wanted our name to be unique to make it easy for people to find us online! The copper plant hangers are based on a traditional Finnish decoration, called himmeli, which was a starting point for other homewares of a similar nordic simplicity.

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

We met whilst working as architects, and we were both looking for a more direct creative outlet for our design ideas. We found architecture a very long and slow-moving process. By designing and making our own products (on a much smaller scale) we are able to be completely involved in all stages of the design process, and have the satisfaction of creating a real, tangible product in the space of a few hours rather than a few years! We are both keen on interior design and homewares in general and Anna had just bought a flat and was doing it up, so homewares seemed like a natural area for us to explore. Initially we were just trying to make things we wanted for our own homes but couldn’t find anywhere else, and that’s since become the way we approach the design of all of our products.

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

We design and hand make all of our products which allows us freedom to work with clients and collaborators on an individual basis, and respond to individual requests. Our architectural background provides an influence in the geometry of our designs, attention to detail and interest in materiality, as well as our market stall set-up.

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

We had no prior knowledge of business so we’ve definitely had to learn from our mistakes, particularly in terms of valuing our own time and getting the price point of our products right. We want to keep our products as accessible and affordable as possible, without compromising the quality, so it’s a careful balance.

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

Probably when one of our favourite shops approached us to stock our products rather then us contacting them first. We were only starting out and wouldn’t have had the confidence to approach them so it made us begin to feel that anything is possible!We’ve also felt really proud when other designers have contacted us to use our products when styling shoots and events.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

London has a fantastic creative community, and there are a lot of opportunities for selling at markets, which has been invaluable to us in terms of getting direct feedback from shoppers, and for meeting other designer-makers. We have to credit where we are today to a very receptive London audience who value handmade products and small businesses! We have learnt so much from other stall-holders we’ve met, and there is a great supportive network out there, which is handy when you are starting up. Getting to know other creatives has also led to rewarding collaborations, stretching us as designers and also giving us opportunities outside of our normal area.

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

Architecture gave us attention to detail and the confidence to design. Everything else we are learning along the way!

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Our main design inspiration is Nordic simplicity; we also draw a lot of inspiration from the plants themselves and from the raw materials we use. We really like to mix natural materials and forms with clean geometric lines.

Another great source of inspiration for us is collaboration. We are also currently working with a fellow small business, Blue Guy Pottery, on a limited edition collection to be launched at Renegade! We also recently collaborated with start-up gallery Scene to create a planted installation as part of their exhibition, and we also came up with a new product for them. We really enjoyed inputting to the exhibition design as it enabled us to draw on our past in spatial design, linking it directly with our products. We are always on the lookout for future collaborations!
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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Speak to people! We’ve all dealt with the same problems and pitfalls, so talk to your neighbours at markets, and support each other through social media, you’ll learn a lot and get loads of inspiration!

It’s also important to remember that while it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the increasing amount of competition in the small creative business realm, there’s room for everyone as no-one has the exact same approach and values as you. So keep going as your product will be someone’s idea of perfect!

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photo by Garry Maclennan

Can’t wait for our London Fair? You can find Pikku Potin online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Sarah K. Benning

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Ahhh! There is so much to love when it comes to Sarah K. Benning’s work. Not only is her attention to detail spot on, but her embroidery work and color captures so much sunshine and cheer. Our London Fair is so lucky to have Sarah K. Benning!
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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

I am Sarah K. Benning and I make contemporary embroidery, so my business name is pretty straightforward.  Sometimes I wish I had gone in a different direction, and chosen a different name for my business, but when I first opened my Etsy shop I had no idea how much it would take off and what it would turn into!  Most of the time I like that my actual name is the same as my business name. I think it’s good to remind my customers and my followers that there is, in fact, a real person behind the products and social media accounts.

Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always been passionate about bing an artist.  I grew up surrounded by artists and creative professionals, so it always seemed like that was a real possibility.  I attended an arts high school, and later received my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, so I’m not sure I’m qualified to be anything else.

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

Despite having taken many classes in the Fiber department at SAIC, I didn’t start embroidering until after school. I opened my Etsy shop in 2013 selling hand-stitched greeting cards.  My shop quickly grew to include embroidery hoop art and I have never looked back.  I am constantly pushing myself to hone my skills and further develop my unique voice.  My current body of works consists of hand-stitched pieces depicting house plants, oceans, and moons.

What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

Since I am self-taught in embroidery, I don’t use a lot of traditional stitches or techniques.  I approach my pieces more like illustrations since each piece starts as a drawing and is then painstakingly filled in with thread.  I try to keep my embroideries fresh and contemporary in terms of technique and subject matter and try to avoid falling into predictable patterns. I don’t like to get too comfortable in my work, because then it feels like I am a one person factory turning out the same things over and over again.  What’s the point of being a self-employed artist if you can’t allow yourself a little creative freedom? (I always keep my fingers crossed that my followers and supporters will be just as excited about new work as I am!)

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

Of course, I’ve had many major and minor failures over the past 2.5 years.  It’s important to view these failures as learning opportunities, rather than catastrophes.  There is a lot of pressure to always be perfect.  Social media and branding adds to this pressure and can magnify the inevitable failures. As anyone who has ever used Instagram or Pinterest knows, every independent maker/artist/designer/stylist/etc. is effortlessly living the perfect, natural-light-filled bohemian dream (ha!).  But, as I have learned, it’s not always that easy.  I have had to work really hard to create a separation between my business and my personal life.  I highly encourage other small business owners to do the same.  Cut yourself a break, because you are only one person (at least in my case) trying to manage every aspect of your business from product development to packaging and shipping and everything in between.

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

There have been plenty of sacrifices along the way.  First and foremost is probably sleep.  Especially in the early days, when my business was first picking up and I was still working a full-time day job, I was constantly working 16 hour days and barely finding time for things like food and sleep (not to mention a social life!)  But I definitely don’t regret any of it, it’s been an amazing experience to build a career for myself by doing what I love.

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

The proudest moment since I started Sarah K. Benning : Contemporary Embroidery was the day I was finally able to quit my day job.  It was a year and a half in the making, but it was so gratifying (and only a little scary) to leave corporate security and take the plunge into full-time self-employment.

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How does the city you live in influence your work? 

Right now, I am transitioning between living and working in Upstate New York to living and working in Menorca, Spain.  Besides the obvious challenges of moving my business to another continent and learning a new language, Menorca has been an incredibly inspiring place.  The landscape and plant life are amazing and, even though I have only been here for a month, the change of scenery has already impacted my work.
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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

Because of my fine arts background, I started out with a lot of confidence in my technical abilities.    The business side of things, on the other hand,  has definitely been more of a trial by fire.  I continue to learn as I go and do my best to learn from my mistakes. DSC_0577

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

Exhaustion.  I reached a point where I had to choose between continuing my day job or committing to my business,  because physically and mentally I couldn’t do both anymore.  It was an easy decision.
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What are some inspirations for your work?

Lately, I’ve been deeply inspired by the plant life and landscape of Menorca.  I know I already mentioned it, but it is such a beautiful island and most of the time I can’t believe I live here.  I also look at a lot of Mid Century Modern design and more contemporary process-based art practices.  I love Tara Donovan’s work.  I love how she builds her incredible installations one little piece at a time.
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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Have faith in yourself and what you are doing.  Chances are, if you are really pumped about what you are making, other people will be too. Also, be open to constructive criticism, but stick to your instincts.  Working

Don’t miss out on our London Fair coming up November 7+8 at the Old Truman Brewery! You can find Sarah K. Benning online here:

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Maker Spotlight: The City Works

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Happy Monday, folks! We’re thrilled to begin our Maker Spotlights this week for our London Holiday Fair! First up is the incredible London team behind The City Works. Sylvia Moritz and Rowan Ottesen are the design duo behind The City Works and we’re thrilled you all get to know more about these two and their work!The City Works — Renegade Blog Post — London Notebooks

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

The City Works has a dual meaning. Firstly, we believe cities ‘work’. They’re interesting places where creativity thrives and millions of stories are told. Secondly, just like an iron works or a wood works, the city is the ‘clay’ that we work with by moulding landmarks & architectural styles in interesting ways.

Have you always been passionate about design?

From as far back as we remember, we’ve always had an undying passion for making, and seeing complicated ideas become reality. We both studied design at Camberwell College of Art, which is where we met.

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

Sylvia began making fine art etchings after graduation and wanted to make an affordable version of her detailed city style. We combined this style with our fondness of printed matter to make products for anyone who loves to live the city life.

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

So far, we’ve been lucky to go from strength to strength. Long may it continue.

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

We both left behind stable full-time design jobs with a regular income to launch The City Works. It started out as only a temporary thing, but so much happened so fast that now we both run it full time together. No regrets!

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

Working on bespoke commissions for the Barbican Centre and National Gallery were two very proud moments for us. We were so young and for such great institutions to notice our style and trust in it was very reassuring.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

That’s a very relevant question! Obviously the place that we’re in shapes our designs completely. Every collection we release is based on a new, interesting city. We currently live in London, which has allowed us to absorb everything about it and make a range of products. In the future we will be moving to a new city, and making a new collection about it.

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

We’re both very strict in our beliefs of how things should look and how they should be made. When we were working in a corporate design atmosphere, we serviced the uninspiring visions of others, which simply didn’t fulfill our own creative spirits.

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

We’re a little new to the industry to be imparting knowledge on people who are probably much wiser than us! But, we would say we’ve learnt the importance of finding a brand ethos and having confidence in it. We’ve found that making our work unique in multiple aspects helps us stand out from the crowd.

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We have an attention to detail that is present in every aspect of our business, from design, to manufacture, customer service to packaging. We use only the finest materials and most trusted techniques, which is why we proudly hand print our entire greetings card range in-house, as well as hand-sew our notebooks.

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We can’t wait to stock up on all things The City Works on November 7+8 at our London Fair! In the mean time, check them out online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Louise Dean

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Happy Friday, everyone! We’re busily getting the final touches ready for our final Fair of the season in our hometown, but that doesn’t mean we can’t gawk over some beautiful textiles and illustrations! Louise Dean Design will be helping us celebrate the last days of Summer at our Chicago Fair this weekend – we can’t wait!

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

I had just gotten married when I started my business and I thought it would be a nice way to keep my family name alive.. There are nothing but girls on my father’s side. My Dad runs a small business with the name Dean in too and he has been some of the inspiration to start to work for myself. Seeing the whole rollercoaster of having  a business while a grew up meant I knew what I was getting myself into. It’s also an ode to him and all his hard work. He is  a great example of someone who works hard, which motivates me.

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

I launched my company in March 2014. I have always been painting or drawing. But while taking a graphic design class in the UK before college my tutor said that I should move into textile to express myself. Ever since, I have been doing textile design. After I graduated from Loughborough University in England with a degree in  Multi Media Textile Design, I was recruited by a Fashion Label to be a designer for them. I worked there for 5 years and decided it was time to follow my dreams and start my new company.

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

Absolutely, who doesn’t  have something that goes wrong on occasion. I’ve learned that I should probably say no sometimes because I can’t do everything. The first year is the hardest. The key is just keep going because for one disappointment there are always a handful of great ones such as being selected for Renegade!

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

My last job was all consuming and I really wanted more of a work/life balance. I might have been able to get further faster if I skipped vacations or spent less time with my friends or husband but you only live once and I don’t want to regret a thing. Having said all that i’m writing this “after hours”- there’s not one hard and fast rule though… right?

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

My favourite moment is always seeing my paintings in their final products and having people get excited about buying them. Everything in 100% made in the USA. I try to keep my production as close to where I live as possible and put thought into what the impact of my products will have on the environment. I try to use environmentally sustainable methods of printing and recycled paper options wherever possible and i’m pretty proud of that!

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I moved to Oklahoma City from Columbus Ohio just before starting my company. I love to paint and although the weather is a bit crazy sometimes, I love to take everything outside and work on painting some of the plants that I grow. I also get inspiration from my wanderings around Oklahoma and the western states. It was strange at first to live in a place so dry after coming from Ohio and before that England but after a few months I started to see the incredible beauty in the different landscapes out west. I have travelled all over the state and also made many trips to Texas and New Mexico while living here. The change in climate for me inspired me to produce my newest collection of succulent inspired artwork. It’s about the only thing I can keep alive in the heat.

I also have to say that the people in Oklahoma have been some of the nicest, kindest, open-hearted people I have ever met. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start my own company. People will give you opportunities here that would have been so hard to get in some of the bigger cities. I wouldn’t have come so far without the many local shops that carry my product or all the other amazing small business owners ready to give time and advice, because they know what it’s like to start something.

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

My degree in Textile Design in England  gave me a great foundation of knowledge. As part of my course I took a year working at various companies in London and Copenhagen. There I had to learn how to dye fabrics, screen print and even embroider and design samples for the fashion world. Through this experience, I was recruited by a fashion label and moved to the USA.

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

My husband, Rob, encouraged me to take this leap. He got a job in Oklahoma City so I knew I had to do something new. It ended up being  a now or never leap that I could not have done without him. It was always something I had in the back of my mind but it’s hard to leave a stable, full time paid position to follow your dreams, especially when you are stepping into the unknown. I am so happy I took the leap.

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

If you are working from home, find a local network of people and business owners you can meet with regularly. Getting out and about in the city/place you live is really important and being able to bounce ideas off people is great too.

Don’t worry too much about what people say/think, see where your creativity takes you and always have a pen and paper handy!

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What are some inspirations for your work?

I love to travel and photograph plants, nature, and animals on my way around the world.

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My business over all reflects my passion for making beautiful things that fill peoples home with color and interest. Everything is made in limited production runs and we design it to stand the test of time.

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Photos by Ely Fair Photography

We can’t wait to spend some time with these Summery prints and textiles out our Chicago Fair. Be sure to check out Louise Dean Design online here:

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Maker Spotlight: O’Douds

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We fell in love with O’Douds Apothecary as soon as we saw their goods in Austin. Now the boys behind O’Douds are making their way to our hometown and we can’t wait to see them again in Chicago!

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

O’Douds is a family name. When my family immigrated to America our name was switched from “O’Dowds” to “Douds”, so I decided this would be a great opportunity to pay respects to my family, who courageously moved to this country.

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

I actually sort of stumbled into it! Back when O’Douds started, I had been learning a lot about the benefits of natural products (or rather the harms of chemicals), so when I started using Pomade, I figured I would make my own. After a whole lot of trail and error, I got a recipe I was proud of. Being someone who is obsessed with design and marketing, I took the branding seriously, even though I didn’t expect it to turn into anything more than a hobby. And to my surprise, people really appreciated all of the hard work that went into the pomade, and pretty quickly O’Douds started to grow.

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

I wouldn’t say that I had any failures. Starting a business has its ups and downs, but from everything bad that has happened, I have learned a lot, so I would say it has all been worth it. The biggest thing I have learned is to be a perfectionist. I have a tendency to want to move onto to the next big thing very quickly, which is great when I am creating new products, but I’ve had to learn to slow down and focus on making what we’ve got the best that it can be. We recently rebranded and while there were a lot of products I wanted to release, we decided to really spend a lot of time refining what we have, and I couldn’t be more proud of how everything turned out.

Have you sacrificed anything to create your business?

If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets? I would say the only big thing I have sacrificed is my anxiety. I get really worried, I make small problems into big problems in my mind, and I am not naturally a positive person. So figuring out how to deal with that, and how to stay positive has been a journey. But no, I definitely don’t regret it, it has all made me a better person, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

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

My favorite moments have been the times I’ve spent with other makers and all of the friends I have made. For the San Francisco Renegade over a year ago, I was able to work with Karl from Anvil Handcrafted, and while that started as a “partnership” he is now a great friend, and without this company I would have never met him.

How does the city you live in influence your work?

Well that is an interested question because we actually just relocated from Houston to Brooklyn. We’ve only been here for a month, so I can’t say it has influenced us that much, but starting a small business in Texas is pretty great. There is huge community of makers and just seeing their hard work always pushed me to take O’Douds to bigger places.

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

I had a pretty great setup, and I am extremely thankful for that. I was a manager at a restaurant, and they let me cut down from five days a week to three days a week, to one day a week and then suddenly I had my hands completely full with O’Douds.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Oh man, there are so many great brands out there doing good work, just seeing them work so hard inspires me to do the same. Karl from Anvil handcrafted, Christian from 1924US, all of the guys at Manready Mercantile, Rob from Morris Motley and whole lot more, I could type up way too big of a list, haha!

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

Be innovative and work hard. There are a lot of small companies out there, and it can be hard to set yourself apart, but find something that makes you unique, and really push that.

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If you ever need a gift for your man, or if you just love sweetly scented goods and apothecary products, be sure to check out O’Douds at our Chicago Fair. You’re going to love them. In the meantime, browse their beautiful work online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: INDIGO & SNOW

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We can’t believe our Chicago Fair is just around the corner! We’re counting down the days and are thrilled to be featuring INDIGO & SNOW! These beautiful textiles will be making their way to Division Street this weekend!

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

The first time I ever worked with indigo there was a huge snowstorm that day. At the time I was dyeing with a dear friend of mine, artist Liza Sylvestre, I was coordinating our plan via email and I remember writing p.s. INDIGO & SNOW that would be a good name for our label. It resonates with me because I like that SNOW references a geographical landscape where this work is being created.

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

I began experimenting with hand-printing textiles nearly 15 years ago and began dyeing textiles full-time in 2013. I do what I do because it feels magical. When I am dyeing textiles, I go into a flow zone and it feels like my highest state of being. The state of being you want to have in a yoga class, but at times your brain remains too distracted to surrender to that place–where you know you are channeling energy that is way bigger than you, where you feel so connected to an intense life force energy. I go into that state of being when I work with textiles. I know in my core, it is my highest state of being, my calling, my gift.

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

I don’t choose to use the word “failure” it feels too loaded. I have made a lot of mistakes and continually face challenges as I navigate this process. For me the most important insights gained are learning to trust the universe and the timing of things. I often think I know what’s best when I have a goal or career expectation of how something is going to play out. When it doesn’t go according to my plan I will feel a sense of “failure” or disappointment in that moment. But the passage of time allows me the perspective to evaluate and more often than not I am so grateful that the events unfolded as they did.

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

My proudest moment was when the NYT’s online magazine, T Magazine featured INDIGO & SNOW shortly after launching my first hand-dyed collection. It felt surreal. My favorite moment is when I remove the binding and see how designs and patterns unfold — it feels magical.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

Minneapolis is a very supportive place to be a maker. It’s a very accessible city and there are a lot of resources here for artists. I am thankful to live in a city with a nationally renowned textile center that exhibits amazing textile artists and has a phenomenal textile library.

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

When I was in college my dream was to open a restaurant that featured local, organic, seasonal cuisine. This was nearly twenty years ago when there were only a handful of places like this in the country. I moved to the verdant hills of the Kickapoo Valley in Wisconsin to start my cafe. I learned how to write a business plan and pitched my financing proposals to both banks and individual investors and I received a certificate in small business development, this experience began my path as a creative entrepreneur. Ultimately, I decided I didn’t want to live in a small rural community; I missed living in an urban setting and moved back to Minneapolis. More recently I worked as an Arts Administrator at a non-profit and that experience gave me the confidence to say hey! I have the skills to do this for myself.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Landscape. Recently I have become really inspired by John O’Donohue, the Irish poet and philosopher. I am working on a series of landscape pieces that are a tribute to him. I highly recommend listening to the On Being podcast, “The Inner Landscape of Beauty.”

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

I could tell you all the obvious things, learn how to price your work effectively, be really organized, network etc. But honestly developing an effective tool to deal with self-doubt will serve you well and allow you to not waste your energy on thoughts that are not serving you, and quite frankly are not helpful. For a long time I was my own worst enemy. I was plagued with a lot of self-doubt around whether I could financially make this dream sustainable. I had the opportunity to travel to Japan before having kids and enjoyed visiting temples. One temple stands out for me, it was a gilded temple on an island that shown so brightly in the sunlight. I choose to see my brain as this temple and I visualize the temple doors. I am very guarded about what comes into my temple. I consciously choose to nurture my brain with thoughts that are healthy and supportive. When I see toxic thoughts coming I don’t allow them passage into the temple. It’s almost as if there’s a banner that drops down that reads: “NOT HELPFUL”. Everything is visual for me, and this has been an effective tool.

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We can’t wait to buy up Indigo and Snow products this weekend at our Chicago Fair! If you can’t wait till Saturday, you can find Indigo and Snow online here:

Website

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Maker Spotlight: SJ Lights

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SJ Lights has been on our mind since we saw the applications. These beautiful lights will be at Renegade Brooklyn this weekend! Samantha Jacober’s lights are made from naturally occurring wood formations, snags and detritus from lightning strikes.  How cool is that?

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

I moved from New York to Los Angeles and started spending much of my time outdoors hiking, camping and exploring my new surroundings. I grew up in the musty forests of Pennsylvania where when a tree falls it decays and is covered in moss. Now in the mountains of California, I was fascinated by the very dry environments where time seemed to stand still. Severe drought conditions causing high levels of tree mortality through out the state. The California Pine lying in beautifully kept formations along the switchback trails, a preserved death, a petrified corpse — I became obsessed with the forms, bringing little pieces home and mounting them in progressions on my walls. I considered the struggle for life that produced the high twists and deep crevices in each piece and how my perception of them shifted depending on the direction of the light.

I’ve also always been scared of the dark.

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

I haven’t taken a long trip in a while. But I will soon.

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

I’ve had a lot. A friend of mine, Ms Hailey Benton Gates said, “the correction must be less intense than the error.” A delicate tweak is often the best way to fix what’s perceived as a big problem. I’ve come to realize that a major failure usually requires a very minor adjustment in order to make it a success.

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

Making my first sculpture. It was extremely rewarding to see what was in my head become a physical reality. I also love the art shows and the craft fairs. It’s a chance to get out of the studio/my head and share my work with others. Oh and seeing my work in spaces other than my own studio is wonderful.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

The city makes me want to raise environmental awareness through my sculptures. I hope to show that there is a less ridged and beautiful way of being beyond the cities that most of us live in.

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

I think working in film production made me take on the “just figure it out” mentality.

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

I would like to move out of the city and into the wilderness as soon as possible, so I can live in what inspires me most.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Rachel Sussman

Andy Goldsworthy

All For The Mountain

Thomas Wildfred

Elena Stonaker

James Turrell

Elsa Hansen

Andrew Zuchero

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

Don’t be a mean boss to yourself.

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We can’t wait to light up our homes with Samantha’s gorgeous fixtures. Our Renegade Craft Fair weekend kicks off tomorrow starting with our Wholesale Market and our Summer Fair starting Saturday. Hope to see you all there! Check out SJ Lights online here:

Website

Instagram

 

Maker Spotlight: Miakoda

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Today we are thrilled to be featuring NY Maker, Miakoda created by Julia and Laura Ahrens. We cannot wait to see these goods in person at our Brooklyn Fair this weekend at Brooklyn Expo Center!

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

Miakoda is a Native American word meaning “power of the moon”—the moon is so powerful and connects all walks of life. When my sister, the co-owner of Miakoda, discovered this word we felt it was perfect for our company name!

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

I’ve been huge into crafting ever since I was a little kid. Knitting, crocheting, and beading were always my crafts of choice. I went to school for fashion design. I graduated from Parsons in 2012. Previous to graduating I started doing yoga and went vegan. I became more conscious of the impact I was having in the world, to the people, to the animals, and to our planet. I no longer felt that I could support and stand behind the unethical practices that many big fashion companies use in order to produce their designs. In order to have options for clothing that were vegan, eco friendly, and cruelty free, I decided to start my own company. That’s how Miakoda was born.

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

So far we haven’t had any major failures—thank goodness!

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

My proudest moments are definitely some of the small things—like when I get a repeat customer—or when I get 3 orders from the same person in a month. It excites me that they love my products so much! Working with Alicia Silverstone and collaborating on a blog post/giveaway with her was also one of my highlights since starting Miakoda.

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

I sacrificed the security of a traditional job and life—but I wouldn’t trade the path I’m on for anything.

How does the city you live in influence your work?

I’m constantly inspired by my environment. I live on Long Island, right outside of NYC. My Fall 2015 collection is actually inspired by my drive to yoga. There’s a small stretch of highway called Loop Parkway on the way to the beach. There are little sections of this highway that go over the ocean. While I was designing this collection last winter I was very inspired by the areas of ocean covered in snow that starkly contrasted the intercepting highway roads.

I like to imagine the girl or boy wearing my clothing in an environment. How would he/she feel and what would he/she be wearing? Finding spaces and neighborhoods that are unique and visually interesting around wear I live is always my jumping off place.

 

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

I worked in the fashion industry as an intern and freelancer prior to graduating from school. My experience designing for big name companies and seeing how their design process and business model works was so valuable to me.

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

When starting Miakoda I was so concerned with creating ethical and eco friendly options that I never really thought of the challenges of being my own boss. I was more interested in getting these options out there for myself and others to wear. But being my own boss is a lot of fun—a lot of work and challenging, but always fun!

tabi multiWhat are some inspirations for your work?

As I previously mentioned, my environment continuously inspires me. My next collection is inspired by snowy long island beach highways and my previous collection was inspired by the rocky beaches of Eastern Long Island. I’m also constantly inspired by the people, animals, and planet around me. I do this work in order to have a softer impact on our environment—taking walks, talking with my employed artisans, and visiting animal sanctuaries reminds me why what I do is important.

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

Never forget why you started making. When your craft becomes a chore, switch things up—find other people to help you—try something new! It’s so important to stay passionate about what you’re doing.

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Such amazing goods! Don’t miss out on our Brooklyn Fair this weekend at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint. In the meantime, you can find Miakoda online here:

Website

Instagram

 

 

Maker Spotlight: Julie Moon

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Happy Thursday, ya’ll! We’re thrilled featuring ceramic jewelry designer, Julie Moon! These pieces are making their way to our Brooklyn Fair in just a week – so your weekend plans are already set, you’re welcome!

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

My business is an extension of my art practice which is something that feels personal…and why, at least for now, I’m using Julie Moon as my company name. (If you want to get specific, my parents loved “The Sound of Music” and Julie Andrews, so I was named after her…we share the same birthday.)
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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
When I began art school, (over 15 years ago..,) I was leaving a job in fashion to study fibre and textile art.  But, while I  was in school I took a few ceramics courses and fell in love with the sensuality and the versatility of working with clay.  Eventually, working in this medium had led me to develop this line of  jewelry.  I’ve always been interested in making different types of objects, whether they are sculptural, decorative, wearable or utilitarian, they have always been focused on surface and decoration.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Nothing too major. Years ago, I did an outdoor art fair where my display wasn’t secured and so I lost most of my work to the wind! Aside from the disappointment and embarrassment, it turned out to be a positive experience because I realized how important it was for me to pay attention to my presentation, not only in a visually pleasing way, but a practical one.  (i.e.; when in doubt, use cinder blocks.)
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What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
When I first moved to Philadelphia, I was invited by a few fine folks at Anthropologie, to help design a modest grouping of items for the home.  Seeing my designs translated in this way was a very cool experience, it was a thrill to see my ideas accessible to such a large audience.
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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Stability is the biggest thing I have given up…which in turn, makes me work longer so that I can hopefully bank those hours when I need to.   But I have no regrets.  I can’t imagine giving up my practice.  I’m really lucky to have found something that I love to do.  For me, the work itself is often meditative and an opportunity to reflect.  It’s therapeutic…even when it drives me crazy.
Glazing Memphis earstudHow does the city you live in influence your work? 
I moved to Philadelphia from Toronto four years ago to be involved with The Clay Studio, which is “hands down” one of the strongest ceramic arts center’s in the country.  As a result, my life is consumed by the community I am apart of.   It’s incredibly inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by so many talented artists from around the country, working within the field.  
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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
After I finished art school in Toronto, I was a Production Assistant for Xenia Taler who at the time, manufactured handmade art tiles.  Her process and product line has evolved since, but I learned so much from her and her partner Steven about manufacturing ceramics.  The experience of working for her was a revelation to me in terms of the amount of time and effort I could spend on my own work, (especially in regards to the glazing and finishing process.)  Seeing how much work went into painting a 4”x4” tile, somehow gave me the permission to spend as much time if not more on my own work.   
Marbled samplesWhat made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I consider myself lucky that my interests in fashion, in making/craft and design all jive with what I’m doing with this line of jewelry.  It’s hasn’t been a leap, but a slow evolution from a limited edition number of wearable art pieces, to a streamlined, grouping of selected designs.  I love working in the studio and feel grateful that I am able to spend my days working on my own projects.  I enjoy working late and getting up late. I can’t tell you how tickled I am that most days, I don’t have to set an alarm!
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What are some inspirations for your work?
I tend to reference and filter work I am inspired by in my own work.  I look at a lot of 2-dimensional work, usually images or designs with a strong sense of color and bold /graphic (if not,)  seemingly flat lines and shapes.  I’ve always interested in textiles. ( i.e.:  Persian and Moroccan rugs have been my online obsession for the past few years and an amazing go-to for new and exciting color combinations. ) Off the top of my head, in reference to specific artists/ designers, I would have to say I love the textile designs by Sonia Delauney and Nathalie Du Pasquier.  I’m also hugely inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s paintings and WWI British war ships painted with the Razzle Dazzle camouflage.
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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
I’m learning as I go but what I’m becoming more and more aware of by the day, hour, minute etc… is balance.  It’s easy to be consumed with deadlines and spending as much time as possible in the studio.  The problem with being an entrepreneur is that no one is setting the boundaries for you in terms of what you can and cannot do and how much time you should be working on something.  Not having these boundaries can bum me out AND burn me out.  It’s important to know how to balance my time with making work, dealing with the administrative responsibilities and also, with finding time to take care of myself and do my best to live a healthy life.   
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We can’t wait to see these designs in person! Don’t forget, our Brooklyn Fair is taking place September 12+13 at the Brooklyn Expo Center. In the meantime, find Julie Moon online here: