Sierra YB

Maker Spotlight

Sierra YB_Speckled Hexo Vases

If you haven’t seen Sierra YB ceramics – you are missing out! These ceramic pieces play on traditional geometric shapes with organic patterns and lines making an entirely unique collection of must-have housewares.

Sierra YB_Beached Bottle

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

I sell my ceramics under my own name, Sierra YB, for short, because no one could pronounce Yip-Bannicq. I am half French and half Taiwanese, which is where my hard to pronounce name comes from.

Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always had a love for design. I moved to New York to study Industrial Design at Pratt Institute back in 2009.

Sierra YB _Casting Table

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

It was when I was studying at Pratt that I rediscovered my love for making ceramics. I had dabbled in ceramics in high school but it was not until I took a slip casting class at Pratt when I realized I really loved the process and became totally hooked on making ceramic products.

What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

I really like playing with shapes; I am drawn to a lot of more geometric forms, most of the shapes of my pieces are ones that are specific to my production process. The non-symmetrical forms could not be made on a pottery wheel or even easily hand built. I love how thin you can cast ceramic slip in plaster molds, which allows my pieces to be lightweight. I also enjoy playing with bold patterns; I think that helps set my designs apart.

Sierra YB_Hexo Planter

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

In regards to ceramics, I do not think I have ever had any big failures. I have been bouncing around shared studio spaces for the past few years and am finally in the process of setting up my own studio with a couple friends, where I will have my own big kiln and a lot of space to work. I think the studio pace limitation these past couple years has limited my ceramics work because it was not always easy to do what I wanted to do in such a small space. Apart from that I think I have only had one kiln miss-fire on me, which ruined a few good pieces.

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

I feel pretty fortunate in the sense that I have not had to sacrifice too much to do what I love. I get to spend most days making work at my studio. I supposed I have sacrificed a lot of my time, but I do not regret it because I love what I am doing.

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

One of my favorite things about working for myself is that I get to meet so many amazing and talented makers from all different fields. I enjoy meeting other vendors at different fairs and markets, some of them I become great friends with, and it’s nice to be able to talk to people who are experiencing similar things and being able to bounce ideas off of others.

Sierra YB_Speckled Mug

How does the city you live in influence your work?

I feel like I am inspired by the city in subtle ways. Living here for almost seven years has made me feel like New York is my home, and I can see how over the years my designs have evolved and seem to be getting more and more geometric and angular. I am not sure if the architecture of the city has played a role, but I’m sure I inadvertently draw inspiration from my daily life in the city.

Sierra YB_ slipcasting process

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

I worked for a small design studio for a couple of years after graduating from college, it was such a great learning experience. I was given a lot of responsibility and through that I was able to learn so much about the ins and outs of running a small business on a day-to-day basis.

Sierra YB_slipcasting into molds

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

After working full time at the small design studio, I began to realize I wanted to start spending more time on my ceramics work. I reached a point that going to the studio for a few hours late a night after work to try to get some pieces done was not sustainable, so I finally decided to transition into doing ceramics full-time.

What are some inspirations for your work?

I feel like my work is heavily inspired by geometry. I like to play with different shapes and find ways to combine them that make them more unique and interesting.

Sierra YB_slipcasting process 2

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

Taking the leap to start your own business full-time is a hard decision to make, but I would encourage anyone who knows exactly what they want to do, to take the plunge.

Sierra YB_Cleaning up greenware

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