May 22, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.