October 2, 2015
Etta + Billie
Today we’re sharing our Studio Visit with Alana Rivera of Etta + Billie! Etta + Billie is based in San Francisco and we are obsessed with their bath and body products.
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
– I named my business after my maternal and paternal grandmothers, Grandma Billie and Grandma Etta. While coming up with a name for my business, their names kept popping into my head. I was able to spend a couple of weeks each summer with them while growing up and it was always my favorite part of the summer. It’s a wonderful way to both honor their memory and have a constant reminder of their love, support and tenacity.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?
– It all started when my mom gave me a book on soapmaking in 2006. I’d been working a job that I disliked but wasn’t willing to quit. Knowing that I wasn’t going to leave, she recommended focusing my attention away from the frustrations of the job and onto a hobby. She gifted me the soap book and after my first batch of soap, I was hooked.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
-Of course I’ve had failures! It’s all part of the growing process. I’ve learned that I should always triple check anything going to print and have another pair of eyes look it over too (I’ve had to trash a whole order of labels because of this issue, I almost always send things to my mom for proofing). And it’s important to slow down! Mistakes and stress increase as things move faster and faster. Taking a few moments to slow down and breathe always helps clarify things.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
-Great question! I have a lot of little things I’m really proud of but two major moments stand out. One was becoming the first bath and body company to be certified as a green business in the city of San Francisco. And the second was signing the lease on my studio space. It felt so good!
How does the city you live in influence your work?
-The physical beauty of San Francisco is very inspiring to me. The hills, architecture, plants, parks, birds. The wealth of other really talented makers and the incredible food scene. There are so many ways to find inspiration here.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
-The realization that I would never truly know what my business was capable of until I was able to commit to it full time. It was a pretty incredible transition.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
-Find your niche! Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You’ll just make yourself crazy.
What are some inspirations for your work?
-My biggest inspiration is food. The combinations I’ve discovered in local bakeries, restaurants and the creations of other makers like Ritual Coffee, T-We Tea and Craftsman and Wolves inspire me plus I get to do some serious taste testing research.
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
-Embroidery! It seems like a really relaxing way to be productive while watching Game of Thrones.
When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
-I love spending time in the kitchen, cooking and baking, especially when it’s with my friends or family. Sharing some Rose in Precita Park or in my besties back yard. Sipping coffee and eating donuts on the back patio of Dynamo Donuts. Basically anything that involves food and spending time with the people I love.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
I’ve sacrificed many things over the years like sleep, time, sanity, certainty, health insurance but I don’t regret any of it. All the sacrifices I’ve made have turned into moments to learn and grow.
Would you ever go on a reality competition show to win $10,000? :p
Maybe. But if you’d asked about a game show, I’d say yes in a heart beat – especially if it was The Price is Right.
What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?
My favorite part is that it’s a special space dedicated to my business.