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Filtering by Tag: makers

Meet Michael the Maker

Christophe Chaisson


Michael Stricklin is a maker located in Opelika, Alabama. The business he founded, Loyal Stricklin, is a leather goods and accessories company. He shares with us the in's and out's of being a maker and tells his story of becoming the maker that he is today. 

 MICHAEL STRICKLIN
OWNER, FOUNDER, AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF LOYAL STRICKLIN


Christophe: Tell us about your process to becoming a maker. Did you go to college? Did you come from the corporate world? Or were you always a maker?

Michael: I took a serious interest in product development after returning from a study abroad trip in Italy. I realized I wanted to be able to create beautiful items on a smaller scale than the degree in Architecture I was pursuing would allow for. I started working with leather to make a phone case/wallet combo, mostly because I could make them at the desk in my living room. The material spoke to me and so I continued to develop my skills and products over the next year and a half. I launched Loyal Stricklin in the Fall of 2013 as I started my masters degree and went full-time once I graduated.

 

C: How did you decide you were finally ready to be a full-time maker?

M: I had my first mild success the Christmas season of 2013, and business never slowed down after that. By the time I graduated, I went full time with a few part-time employees helping me make everything. I haven’t looked back since.
 


C: Why are you a maker?

 M: I wanted to become an entrepreneur so I could have time to do the things I loved and not have to answer to a boss. Turns out, it’s not the days spent leisurely doing whatever that I had hoped they would be. It’s a full-time 9-5 job spent in the studio now. I’m never really “off” though, and am constantly thinking about ways to improve a design or how to run the business.

 

 



C: Why are you still a maker?

M: God willing, I’ll be one for as long as I can. Even if Loyal Stricklin could not pay the bills for some reason, I wouldn’t stop. Creating and working with my hands is my passion, and always has been.

C: As a child what did you want to be?

M: I was always drawing and creating as a kid, which is why I went into architecture. I knew I wanted to be in a creative field, but you have to make a living too. My childhood experiences spending time in the garage with my Dad on DIY projects and the skills I learned in Architecture school really lent themselves to making this business possible.

 

C: Tell us about your creative process and the evolution of that process as you've perfected your craft and as you've grown as a business.

M: I stay pretty passive on design for a long time while I think about the next product. I usually mull it over, sketch something out, and then it might be weeks before I look at it again. Because I am heavily involved in so many as parts of the business — from marketing to production and running the business and all that entails—  It can be hard to find time to set aside just for design. I keep a journal and pens in my bag at all times. Once I’ve fixated on the next product I want to create, then that’s when I get down to design, sketching slight variations until I have something I’m pleased with on paper. Then it’s onto the real design, which is creating samples and working the kinks out with the actual product. It’s important to me that our products are simple and cost and time effective, yet also beautiful and useful. One of the most important things to me is that our designs are coherent across our entire line. I don’t like to make something new just to fill up a void in our product line. I need it to fit into the overall aesthetic and design of our entire product range.

 

C: What inspires you?

M: For design itself, I’m inspired by anyone creating beautiful work. I love 2D design, but I really get excited about 3D design, from true craftsman in the leather world to furniture and building design. A lot of the time, inspiration has to take a backseat; I have employees and bills to pay, and I have to put product development on the back burner and instead go into production mode most of the time to make it all work. 

 

C: How have you grown your business?

M: We’ve been really blessed with this business. It’s hard to explain how we’ve gotten to where we are in a “do this and you’ll succeed" kind of way. I’ve found myself surrounded by wonderful people who really pushed this business forward. Friends like Folk helping us on social media when we got started. If I were still working alone, I don’t think that I’d be where I am at all today.  Our small town is cheap to live and work in, but beautiful with an incredibly supportive community; my wife has been my biggest supporter, pushing me to be a better husband, boss, designer, and businessman; My employees are hardworking and loyal, and really carry the weight of our better selling items, and Instagram has been an instrumental tool in our growth and presence online. We take careful consideration of our designs and how our products wear in, and don’t release a product we’re not completely happy with. All these things, plus our amazing customers and fans have really propelled us forward. I think we were also lucky that I started doing all of this before being a “maker” was a normal thing. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time, and I think that’s been huge for us as well in the relationships we’ve forward with our retail partners and customers as a whole. 

 

C: How have you perfected what you make?

M: I’m obsessive over the things I love. I always have been. My mother used to get mad at me because I’d find a hobby, get obsessed, and then drop it once I had had enough of it. I’m lucky to have that trait, as it’s allowed me to push forward with this business. I’ve matured at least a little since my younger days, and don’t plan on dropping this obsession anytime soon. I need to create to have a fulfilling life, and this has been the perfect outlet for my desire to create.
 

 

C: Has this growth been easy?

M: Nothing about running a business is easy, but it’s worth it to my wife and me. Even the toughest moments are something to be thankful for, as it’s the hardships that reveal and refine your character and allow for the most personal growth.
 


 

 

 

C: What has been the most successful way to get your product out there?

M: Instagram and trade shows by far. We’re starting to look into more traditional methods of advertising in the new year, but connecting with our customers directly online and with small business and store owners in person has worked well for us. Life is all about people, and connecting with them. You can’t do anything worthwhile without including someone else, and that has been a core belief in our business since the get-go.

 

                                                       C: What does the future hold for you?

M: We hope to continue to be able to do what we love, hire more people and create more jobs, and grow as big as we can while maintaining our values. We’re constantly improving and refining our current product line and coming up with new ideas. I didn’t put “leather” in our business name, because it was never just about that. We hope to move into many different forms of design and product development and will continue to expand our offerings as we continue to grow.

C: Give us three tips you've learned as a maker that can be applied to everyday life:

1. Whatever you do, work your ass off.
2. Refine, refine, refine.
3. Always continue learning something new.

 
 

C: What is the biggest lesson you've learned?

M: It all takes a lot more time than you think. Don’t compare yourself to someone that looks like they’re doing better than you. Keep your head down and worry about you, and you’ll get there.

 

 

 

 

C: Why should we support and buy maker and American made goods?

M: The maker movement is just so real, so tangible. You're not just buying a wallet, or a candle, or a mug; you're buying into someone's passions, their dream, their livelihood. It's as if you get a glimpse into a part of their day--through their eyes--where they spent hours looking over and shaping the same piece that you now hold in your hands.  That same care and attention will rest loyally in your hands, in your pocket, and in use for years to come. There's a beauty and a warmth to it that just isn't possible with your normal big box store purchase.  
Even if you decide not to purchase from us, we hope that you will purchase with a purpose from makers, from artists, and from average Joe's just chasing their dreams and living life by their own terms.

 

If something isn’t good enough, we redo it. If a stitch doesn’t look right, we redo it. If a piece of leather doesn’t look right, we don’t use it. Quality control happens throughout the process.We make sure to only use certain types of leathers, with certain thicknesses for certain things. If the material is too thick or thin, it won’t work.
 Since everything is made in-house, it isn’t too hard to maintain the quality we want. 

C: How do you ensure quality of your brand and your products?

M: We’re a small team- only four of us make all of our products. I make all of our bags, my wife makes all of our wallets, and our two production employees, Kelen Rylee and Seth Brown, make everything else. The team has been trained to really understand the quality that we’re going for, and I trust them to only let products that pass my standards go out the door. If they have any concerns, I’m right there everyday in the studio alongside them to guide them.

 
 

C: How do you live authentically?

M: I keep the same schedule and routine everyday. I speak my mind, but have learned when it’s important to remain silent. I do my best to treat others well and with respect, and I love what I do.

 

C:How do you find the divide between work and personal?

M: The actual work takes place between 9-5. Thinking about the business never stops, but when I’m home, I do my best to be at home. Rest and turning off the business mind makes your work far better than if you just think about it nonstop. Don’t be afraid to take a break. You probably need one.


C: What is the biggest question you've yet to find the answer to as a maker?
 
M: Why are there so many different taxes? It’s insane. As a small business owner, I’m taxed from all sides. I’d love to be able to put more money back into the economy by providing more jobs, and buying more supplies and materials and equipment to expand, but sadly, growth is often slower than I want because so much has to go to the government. 

 

                                 C: How/Where can we find your products?

M: The best place to find us is at our website at www.loyalstricklin.com, at our flagship retail store at 711 Avenue A in Opelika, AL, or at one of our many fine retailers across the globe. A complete list of stores carrying our goods can be found at www.loyalstricklin.com/pages/stockists

By humbly and passionately pursuing his dream, Michael plays an important and vital role in the maker movement. People like you and me have a part to play as well in supporting our local, small businesses. It is a privilege to see Michael and his incredible business continue to grow and prosper. You can continue to follow their journey on Instagram @loyalstricklin

American Field DC | 5 Must Visit Makers

Ben Ashby

 American Field is just around the corner. The Washington DC market is the final weekend of September, and we couldn't be more excited. While we try to contain our excitement, here are five must visit vendors at this falls market! 

The Washington DC market is September 30 - October 1 on the second floor of Union Market. 11-6 each day.

 

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1) Ball and Buck — the brand that never misses an American Field market! Known for being one of the best made American made menswear brands, shop their booth for deep discounts on out of season items and staple pieces. 

 

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2) Stonehill Design — everyone, especially those in Washington DC need something to brighten their days. Stonehill's one of a kind lamps and light fixtures are fun and funky additions to any space. We're obsessed with his industrial themed pieces. 

 

 

 
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3) Solomon Chancellor — these handmade bags are honestly pieces of art. If you're looking to invest in a bag that will last for decades, and is made of the top quality materials, you'll want to spend some time with Solomon. 

 

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4) Mark Albert Boots — They're sleek, yet timeless. Mark's boots are the kind you'll want to wear on the trails, on dates, and around the office. This twenty one year old boot and shoe designer has managed to create beautiful designs that are bringing the idea of craftsmanship back to footwear. 

 

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5) Schon Dsgn — Who knew that pens were such an industry. Ian craft's pens that are perfect for the pen collector or the regular guy looking for a sexy pen to sign his checks with. Talking to Ian is getting an education in a design trade you may have never realized exists. 

 

 

 

Coming Soon! FOLK's Artisan Products in Small Shops!

Ben Ashby

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We've been quietly working on this all summer...but its finally time to talk about it. As you may have noticed...we closed the online shop back in the spring. We decided it made more sense to license the FOLK name to a really amazing production house and allow them to create really amazing artisan quality products. Our first products will be the infused honeys. 

If you have a shop of know of one that needs to carry the FOLK goods please email the wholesale team today. || wholesale.folk@gmail.com.

 

Here is a preview of the collection:

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Eclectic Eccentricity Jewelry || Meet the Maker

Ben Ashby

ECLECTIC ECCENTRICITY JEWELRY

MEET THE MAKER | eclecticeccentricity.co.uk

 

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EE Jewelry or its formal name Eclectic Eccentricity is one of our favorite jewelry makers! Known for their nature themed styles and wonderfully fun photography we knew we had to learn more about this brand and the makers behind it!

 

How did you get started creating handmade jewelry? Honestly, I was stuck in a job I didn't enjoy and was really seeking a creative refugee that my head could escape to.  I had some gemstones and pieces in a box and just started - it really was that straight forward. When I ran out of gemstones, I ordered more; when they arrived, I was so excited that I got up at 2am to make them into necklaces because my brain was too buzzy with excitement. The buzzy brain never really went away, 13 years later I still have it.

 

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Were you always interested in jewelry? I was always interested in design and how things fit together, ratios and symmetry - and playing with asymmetry. I come from a maths and science background, it's what I studied at university, so I think that analytical approach has influenced the designs! 

 

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it? I wouldn't say I always knew I'd start my own brand, but I did always know, on a very gut level, that I'd do something different from the 9-5. At the time, I was aspiring to be an astronaut or work as an astrophysicist at NASA, but I'm still waiting for NASA to call. When I first began making jewelry, I quickly started developing ideas as to where I could take the business; I was working as a manager of a shop at the time so I started selling through the store and gradually over the next few months, the brand started gaining traction. I had a huge opportunity when a few months later I was featured by the website Daily Candy - overnight, sales went through the roof. It took a lot of work though, I gave up my job and my life to make the brand work. 18 hour days became my normal and there was never a moment where I didn't obsess over the smallest detail of things.

 

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots? Initially all the designs were my own as the business was largely run solo, but the team has now grown so we tend to work collaboratively on ideas. EE has very much become a brand which all of the team is a part of - everyone brings something different to the table so it's really pieces of all of us. From hiking to astronomy to our furry friends at home and travelling to far flung places, the pieces we create represent all the things that make our hearts beat. Our tag line is 'for the inquisitive of heart and inquiring of mind' and it's a motto we stick closely to when working on new concepts. Each piece tells a story.

 

 

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What are your inspirations? How do your hobbies influence what you make? Is it cliched to say anything and everything? It's difficult to pin point precise inspirations, I think ideas come naturally and you don't necessarily know where from. I think we all try to fill our time with the things we love - being out in the wilds, walking the dogs, going out for long runs. These are the moments where your brain ticks it all over, the best ideas come when you're most yourself and filling up that happiness tank with fresh air gives the mind freedom to wander a bit. We're incredibly lucky and our studio has a huge balcony with incredible views over the city; we have tables and comfy seats so at lunch you can pop out, do some yoga or just enjoy your lunch in the sunshine. Without fail, we all feel revived and connected for the afternoon and that's the best inspiration there is.

 

 

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What has been your biggest lesson?  This is easy - hiring the right people. A brand is only as good as the people behind it - you can have the best brand identity in the world but if you've got the wrong team it's impossible. If your team can't connect, how could your customer? Over the years there has been a lot of trial and error and going from a place where the company was a one woman band to suddenly having to share that load with others has been a tricky one. It's never something I'll perfect, but I try to trust my gut when taking on new people. Really, it's about knowing your tribe and putting together a group of people who are reading from the same page. You work with the same few people every day for 5 days a week, you have to get on and you have to know how the others work. We're an incredibly close team (seriously, sometimes we're all like those 'cute' couples who finish each others sentences) but that level of understanding has come from knowing each other so well and all working towards the same goal. I never thought I'd have a group of people work for me who cared and were as emotionally invested in my brand as I am. I've had to make some tough choices and there's the lesson - don't do harm, be kind, but make sure you hire the right people (no pressure).

 

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What's your favorite thing about sharing EE Jewelry with others?  Seeing it all over the world! EE has so many international customers, from people who buy direct from our website to those who buy via our little army of stockists, seeing how far we can make the EE net reach is exciting. It's like a community and that makes my face beam rainbows. On the other end of the spectrum, seeing our pieces being worn in our own neck of the woods is so, so, so amazing, I can't even begin to tell you. I was walking home from the office recently and walked past a girl wearing our 'You Cannot Be Cirrus' necklace; it was all I could do to not say something. It's not an exaggeration or a sales line to say that every piece is made with so much love and care. Our relationship with our customers is paramount and the wonderful feedback we get makes us so happy.

 

 

What's been your best advice you've been given? Many years ago when the business was first starting to expand, it was stressful and I struggled. I was finding it hard to know how to structure my days efficiently and suddenly I had a major high street retailer in the UK calling me in for a meeting. It was scary, I felt stuck and I had zero experience.  A friend called Jason said "say yes, you'll make it work later". So I did and it worked. Tina Fey said something similar a few years after that with "say yes, and you'll figure it out afterwards". Guessing she and Jason must have had a chat at some point. It's by far the best piece of advice I've been given - because 100%, you'll always figure it out.

 

 

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What's been your biggest challenge? The downside of saying yes means sometimes you are left in a pickle.

The scaling up of the business is a challenge. Knowing those tipping points, when it's time to start investing more both in terms of money and time, is vital. I guess it comes down to your gut again - most of my business decisions are gut based with a small basis of paperwork and numbers! Working with big international companies is challenging, they bring with them their own demands which can affect how you choose to run your business, not to mention how huge orders can play with your cash flow when a 6 week wait for payment is the expected. It's all good though, running a business is the harshest learning curve but it makes you learn hard and fast!

— SHOP: eclecticeccentricity.co.uk

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WILD + HABIT

Ben Ashby

THE INSATIABLE PURSUIT OF CREATING TANGIBLE BEAUTY FROM WILDERNESS // SEEKING MAGIC // FOSTERING SENTIMENT. 

 


Recently I sat down with the folks behind lifestyle shop and brand Wild Habit in Oceanside, California to learn more about their brand, their mission, and their love of nature. We also learned they plant a tree in Tahoe National Forest for every purchase in their store!


 

Who are you?

We are makers. We are best friends. We are stylists, artists, consultants, photographers, and collectors. We are wanderers, shakers, and movers with roots in to two magnificent coasts. Both Danielle Quigley and Sue Fan grew with the trees in the eastern deciduous forests. It was there we found art, meaning, a lot of poison ivy, and our insatiable pursuit for all things beautiful. We met over ten years ago chasing ice and adventure in Antarctica and haven't slowed since. We've shifted our focus from our full time photography jobs to pursue our greatest passions together in the amazing state of California: To create, to forage and explore, to seek and share.

What is your business?

We wander and forage in search of natural materials. We collaborate and create handmade products and installations from our found, natural materials. Staying true to natural beauty and to our craft, we are impulsive in gathering (picking up anything we find interesting) and deliberate in our execution (finding the best way to show of the inherent beauty of the material). We illuminate birch bark, carve bones, wear feathers and stones. Our WILD HABIT keeps us exploring & creating - from our back woods to the beach to the mountains and world-wild. Making beauty from nature is what do and what we love - from jewelry to lighting, wall art to table art.

Why are you a maker?

We want to bring the beauty of the earth into every heart and home. The more beauty we can share from the earth, and the more we stress the importance of preserving Earth's natural beauty (by planting trees, by sponsoring beach clean ups, by donating a percentage of proceeds to great organizations), we hope to make a small difference in how people see, feel, and shop.

 

Why should we support small makers?

We are real people. We should support those who live with the land, those who work to make it better, those who farm, and build, and create, those who work hard daily to keep craftsmanship alive, those who work to produce beautiful, thoughtful, and real wares, and who have amazing stories to share. Supporting small makers is the greatest step towards reconvening with the earth and people, and seeing what it truly means to be made with love.

Why did you start your business?

We want to be a part of a community that consists of artists and makers and lovers and thinkers and doers.

What inspires you?

Definitely the great outdoors. It's a very wild habit.

— www.wildhabit.com

Good + Well || Candles + Soaps

Ben Ashby

Recently I had the pleasure of shooting a series of images for Good + Well Co. Their candles and soaps are truly delightful. 

O'SHEA WOODWORK

Christophe Chaisson

Meet Benjamin Shea. He is a maker that runs a small business in Pennsylvania crafting beautiful pieces of wooden furniture. Hearing from him and being able to see his fantastic work was an absolute delight. 


Photo by     @rafael_fontana

Photo by  @rafael_fontana

My name is Benjamin Shea and my wife's name is Amanda Shea, together we run O'shea custom woodwork and furniture design located in Lititz, PA 

I always loved working with my hands, creating, building and fixing things. 

I used to be in the music industry but found that I enjoy crafting furniture better. 

I made the jump over to building furniture before I was married, I figured it was the right time and I had recently moved to a farm house that had more room for me to build. 

My wife and I design everything we build, we love working with wood and creating beautiful functional pieces that fit people's need and style. 

We've built so many pieces and in so many styles over the years but have come to find that we love simple and clean lines to our pieces, more mid century/Danish influenced. Our favorite wood to work with is probable walnut because there is so much beauty in it and it's a long lasting wood. 

We have seen that the more we grow and find our own style and make furniture that we love and turn down some jobs because it doesn't represent us that well, the more we grow as a business. 

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We live in a farm and live a pretty quiet life, we love it that way. We have 5 dogs and love having them around in the shop. 

We love meeting new clients and making relationships with them, being genuine, thankful and actually caring about people creates a beautiful life in where everyone that you meet becomes a experience that brings more joy to what we do. 

Every piece we make has a lot of attention and that is something that translates and is clear in our products, nothing is just ran through without being looked at over and over. 

From the beginning of the process, quality is never compromised because styles will change and people change but our pieces are made to live long past all that. 

Our lumber is responsibly sourced and we know all our suppliers pretty well, we take our dogs to play with their kids and we try and make it about more than just making money for everybody. 

 Photo by    @rafael_fontana

 Photo by  @rafael_fontana

One of the biggest lessons we have learned is how to communicate better and find out what people want. People don't always know what they want, even when they "know what they want" 

Our products can be found both on our site and on Etsy. We ship everything anywhere in the USA. 

We aren't a big company and we don't plan on having a bunch of employees ever because we don't want to lose contact with our clients and we want to be able to know who they are and they can just call us and talk to us. 


O'Shea Woodwork is a business that embodies the values that we cherish here at Folk. Family, hard work, authenticity. Check out any of the links below to share you support for the important maker movement that they belong to. 


           WEBSITE 

OSHEAWOODWORK

INSTAGRAM

@BENSHEA

 

Our Favorite Southern Maker Instagrams

Christophe Chaisson

The Maker Movement is incredibly important to be aware of and a part of. It creates jobs, quality goods, and allows for sustainability, creativity, & durability to thrive. Take the time to support not only the Makers that have stuck out to us below, but also the ones in your area. It is vital that we don't just consume, but we also create. 

ManReady Mercantile @manreadymerc

Founded 4 years ago by Travis Weaver from Zephyr, Texas, ManReady Mercantile is the epitome of what being a maker is all about. Their small business is founded on the principles of honesty, hard work, and integrity. ManReady Mercantile sells a wide array of high quality goods catered specifically, but not exclusively to men. Not only are they makers themselves, but they are always looking to work together and collaborate with other makers to continue creating goods that will last a lifetime. 


Great Bear Wax Co. @greatbearwaxco

Great Bear Wax Co. are makers who sell memories with a wick. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, GBWCo was founded by Jake Carnley with the idea that lighting a aromatic candle is like igniting a memory or moment. From Lavender  to Tobacco Bay to Rose, the scents they capture in wax are delightfully soothing. The Great Outdoors seem like only a flick of a lighter away when there is one of these Great Bear candles in the room.  


Loyal Stricklin @loyalstricklin

The craftsman at Loyal Stricklin can be found working in their studio near the railroad tracks in Opelika, Alabama. Fed up with mass produced low-quality goods, Michael Stricklin founded this durable goods company to commit to making goods of the highest quality from the best materials. Their handcrafted and American made leather products are not only appealing to the eye, but durable and practical as well. 


Lucy's Inspired Jewelry @lucysinspiredjewelery

Lucy's Inspired Jewelry is handcrafted and uniquely made from vintage chandeliers, architectural salvage and found keys. Another maker found in Alabama, Lucy Farmer definitely has a creative eye for design and repurposing. She does not merely craft jewelry, but strives to make a difference in her community. One of those improvements is raising awareness for sex trafficking by donating to a local organization in her city. This maker is using her brand to give inspiration and spread beauty all while making fashionable pieces of jewelry. 


Sturdy Brothers @sturdybrothers

These two brothers are dedicated to creating waxed canvas and leather goods that are handcrafted with American-made materials. Located in South Georgia, Sturdy Brother's products are made for those who still enjoy getting their hands dirty. Sturdy Brother's lives up to its name by its desire to create and craft beautiful goods that will last, while also rekindling craftsmanship in America. 


Elizabeth Suzanne @elizsuzann

Elizabeth Suzanne is a clothing company based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Yet, they are so much more than just a style of clothing. A community of diverse and powerful women make up the company and customers of Elizabeth Suzanne. They are committed to making garments from amazing, durable fabrics with designs that are practical, timeless, and elegant. Their commitment to quality and customers is something seldom seen in the retail world today. 


Old Try @theoldtry

Old Try is home decor for Southerners made by Southerners who are living in Boston. They have expanded to make art for other regions besides the South, so don't worry all of you north of the Mason/Dixie line and in the Wild West. Their decor encapsulates the unique essence and character of each state. It is patriotism with tact and style that is seldom easy to find. 


J. Stark @starkmade

Based in Charleston, South Carolina, J. Stark creates bags, accessories, and homegoods meant to last. Their goods are crafted with a timeless and authentic aesthetic paired with usefulness and practicality. They have a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from for their products. Sourcing everything from the US of A, this is a true American makers brand that wants to bring us back to the time of hard work and hand made. 


In God We Must @ingodwemust

In God We Must are makers of provisions and apparel located in Marietta, Georgia. This business is founded on hope, positivity, and perseverance. Check out their website to read the inspirational story of how IGWM was started. Whether it is a ring or a t-shirt, the message of In God We Must is to embrace the pioneering spirit inside of us all. 

Q & A with Comma Workshop

Christophe Chaisson

Our friend at Comma Workshop gives us a glance at the art of quilting and the beauty of being a maker...


Who are you:

I’m Kerry Larkin— I’m a quilter, architect, and a maker. I started Comma Workshop to celebrate experiences and stories while reinvigorating the traditional craft of quilting and through this, create thoughtful, modern-inspired quilts. 

Where are you:

Beautiful Boulder, Colorado, and easily draw inspiration from here. But I also draw inspiration from western Colorado, rural Alabama, rural Pennsylvania. And, anywhere there are lots of trees.

What do you make:

At Comma Workshop, we bring a fresh perspective to the time-honored traditions of quilting and storytelling. We create timeless, sophisticated quilts, with a hint of playfulness that are functional heirlooms for your home. We currently have two collections:

Each of our quilts in our Signature Collection has as an original story or poem quilted directly into it. Stories of nature and adventure, travel and place-making, are thoughtfully stitched into every quilt by a collection of Colorado quilters. The 800+ words in every quilt are a functional part of the quilt holding three layers of fabric together. Wrapping the quilt around oneself, the user is invited to read snippets of the narratives.  

Our new collection, Far & Wide, integrates vintage quilt tops and fabrics that I’ve collected on my travels. These new quilts celebrate stories, place, and experience in fresh, modern way. Historically, quilts carry their own stories with them. The material, the pattern, and the quilt technique chronicle the quilters’ lives and experiences. Thoughtfully integrating these into modern quilts allows me to introduce a new audience to the world of quilts.

Why are you a maker:

I grew up in western Pennsylvania and some of my earliest memories are of me and my sister playing under a large quilt stretched out on a frame where my great-grandma and her sisters sat and hand-quilted (and spoke Pennsylvania Dutch). My great-grandfather was a carpenter and built our cribs and toy boxes. For a while, he traveled the country building farm silos. My grandma was a seamstress and master upholsterer. Making is definitely in my genes. I was lucky enough to have all three of them in my life up until just a few years ago, so I feel like I’m honoring them by carrying on the making tradition.  

Why support makers:

By supporting makers, you are allowing them to cultivate their passion, joy and curiosity. You’re contributing to the local economy and you become part of their story. 

Instagram: commaworkshop

Thistle + Thread

Christophe Chaisson

How did you get started creating fiber art?

My grandmother was a quilter, and when I was little she would let me play in her sewing room and experiment with her fabrics and threads. She was patient with me as I learned how to thread a needle and form a straight backstitch, and always created different projects for me to work on while she was working on one of her masterpieces. As I continued to grow and make my way through school, I experimented with other mediums and tried to be a sculptor, sketch artist, and oil painter, but my attention kept going back to fibers. A few years ago I returned to embroidery and hand stitching and decided to treat it like painting on fabric. I moved away from pre-designed patterns and took the things that I had learned from my painting and sketching classes to begin to create my own designs and morph this love of fibers into a new art form for myself.

Who taught you how to create fiber pieces, or were you self-taught?

Much of my skills come from my grandmother and the stitches that she taught me and the rules of fiber that I learned from her, but I have expanded upon that knowledge and changed it a little to make my pieces look the way that I want them to look. Over the past two years I have heavily focused on embroidery, but I am slowly making the transition into introducing some naturally dyed products into my line. The knowledge I learned about the different kinds of fibers and how they react to dyes and their properties has helped me as I have experimented with different dye sources and perfected the products I will be releasing.  

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?

The birth of Thistle and Thread wasn't accidental, but the fact that it is now my full time job definitely is. My husband is from Uganda, and we both lived over there while we were dating. Once we decided that we wanted to get married I moved back to the States to work through his visa process to immigrate to America. We weren't sure how long it was going to take, but we knew that it wasn't going to be a short time, so I started spending more time creating fiber art and decided to sell it to fund travels back to Uganda. The plan was never for Paul and I to stay in the States for more than a few months after our wedding, so I never imagined that I would be creating a business out of my hobby, but plans change and here we are. After our wedding Paul really encouraged me to quit the other job that I was working and pursue this new venture. It has been such a gift to be able to spend each day creating and sharing my work with others.  

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots?

I have recently shifted to releasing my pieces in collections as opposed to one new piece at a time. Each collection is meant togo together and work to create a specific look. After the inspiration behind the collection is established I choose the color palette and shapes that will be incorporated. I am so very fortunate to have so many friends who are incredible photographers and have homes that serve as the perfect canvas for some fun styled shoots. So after the collection is complete I will get together with some friends and we plan out a great shoot that highlights the themes show in the pieces. 

What are your inspirations?

At the start of Thistle and Thread I was really unsure where I wanted to take my business stylistically, so I just created what I thought was popular at the time and what I believed would sell. It was really uninspiring and caused me to feel a little lost in my work. About a year ago I decided that I was going to make a shift and create pieces that excited me. It felt like a leap because I had found some success with the pieces that people knew my business for, but thankfully the new pieces came with their own success. I think my customers changed a little, but those who stayed with me and the new ones who joined truly understand the art that I am creating and share the emotions that I am conveying through my work. It has brought a new community to my business that has been really inspiring. My sources for inspiration change as I grow and experience new things, but I am currently loving the colors and shapes found in landscapes Paul and I see as we travel. My studio is above a floral studio, so that always finds a way to influence my pieces as well. 

What's your favorite thing about sharing your art with others?

There's something so great about knowing that people appreciate the things that I create and I can add something special to their homes.

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

Since starting Thistle and Thread I feel like I don't really have any hobbies in the classical sense, but Paul and I love to travel and because of our international background much of my methodology and techniques are drawn from how others are doing this same craft around the world.  

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge in business past a present, is definitely finding work/life balance. I love what I do so much that many times I don't want to stop. There are days where I will start at 8 am and keep going until 11 pm. It's such a great thing to love waking up each morning and diving into work, but my relationships around me were struggling. So, I have been making a strong effort to create office hours and have some structure to my day instead of just going and going without stopping. We are even taking a three week vacation soon that will consist of little to no work, which would have never happened six months ago!!

What's been your best advice you've been given?

"Quit your job and just go after this. You will only have regrets if you don't." —My Husband

 

TEKKIMA LAUNCH

Christophe Chaisson

Tekkima has officially launched!

What is Tekkima? 

Tekkima is an outerwear maker that is committed to developing goods that are durable, practical, and relevant.

What does Tekkima mean?

Tekkima is Estonian, and simply means the act of arising, emerging, and coming into being. The essence of Tekkima is that while each of our journeys are unique, we journey better when we journey together. 

Why is Tekkima special? 

Tekkima's identity is centered around experiencing life to the fullest. Whether that means hustling in urban environments or testing your limits in extreme natural environments.  Tekkima is extraordinary because it is versatile. It makes sense for the fashionable living in the city as well as the adventurous explorer of the great outdoors. Tekkima is the bridge between weather-proof and minimal/tailored - a feat no other outerwear brand has successfully tackled. 

Tekkima is so confident in the culture they have built (adventurous lifestyle complimented by quality product) that they've made everything on their site free shipping and return. This way there is little to no risk with seeing if Tekkima fits your lifestyle. Subscribe by email on www.tekkima.com to receive an additional 10% off! 

Cheers!