Small Business Saturday: Maker Profile No. 1

This year, Amex and Etsy have teamed up to promote Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to shopping local and supporting small businesses.  Held on November 29th, the day after the free-for-all that is Black Friday, it is an attempt to counter the blind consumption and excess of big-box stores and brands.

To highlight the event, Etsy selected ten featured boutiques from across the country who embody the ethos of shopping small.  For Small Business Saturday, these boutiques will each be hosting events with local Etsy vendors.  Little Paper Planes is thrilled to be one of the chosen boutiques- we find many of our favorite makers on Etsy and were early adopters of the Etsy wholesale program.  As Kelly Lynn Jones, owner and girl-boss extraordinaire of LPP says,

When you support small shops, you’re not just helping your local economy — you’re helping a community grow. When people shop small, they directly support artists and designers. The customer becomes part of the story of the objects they buy. It becomes a cycle of awareness about the things we buy: where the things come from and who makes them.

To that end, we are happy to introduce our three Etsy vendors: Kristin Renner, Maker & Mineral (Samantha Ives), and Julia Szendrei.  Over the next few days, we will be profiling each of these talented ladies.  It is a chance to learn more about the artists behind the wonderful goods that you see in the store and to get excited for SBS.  All three will be at Little Paper Planes on November 29th, with plenty of new goodies for sale.  Come out to support a local business, talk to the artists and get a jumpstart on holiday shopping you can feel very good about!

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First up is Kristin Renner, an apparel and surface pattern designer and freelance stylist in San Francisco. She creates patterns inspired by her colorful surroundings as well as bold & unique clothing with classic lines.   I interviewed her about her practice and inspiration:

When did you begin your current business?  Was it your first endeavor? Talk a bit about your background.

I’ve been designing and making clothing for about 7 years, however I didn’t expand into a business until last year. My work has evolved a lot over the years, finding my voice and experimenting. While I was studying Apparel Design in college and creating collections, I always had a clear vision of what I wanted the fabrics and prints to be, but almost always nothing I found came close. A couple years later it occurred to me that I should design the prints myself. It was something I always felt was reserved for graphic designers, illustrators and those who specifically studied textiles.

After graduating college, I moved around from Chicago to New York to Philly and began styling for various apparel brands as well as running a vintage shop on Etsy. During this time I took a step back from designing and became really immersed in the styling world. Then in 2012, I moved again to San Francisco and a whole world of pattern and color opened up to me in a way I hadn’t seen before. The inspiration of the city combined with previous thoughts of designing textile prints, felt like the right time and place to start working on my line again. So, my first venture into textile design was through applying my prints onto silk scarves. I had been collecting & wearing vintage scarves for years and loved what designers like Vera had done in this medium, so it felt like a natural canvas to work with. There is something about silk scarves that I find so special – you see it in images of women from the 1920s to the 1970s; an understated elegance. I love that there are countless ways to wear and style them, not to mention simply hanging them on a wall as decor. Shortly thereafter I began developing the clothing, with a new perspective and focused intention.


How has you approach changed (if at all)?  What have you learned? 

I’ve learned a lot in just a year; such as not over-producing or trying to force rapid growth. I’ve embraced building my business slowly, making careful decisions. And really grasping the importance of staying true to yourself.



Tell us a little about your process. What part of the process excites you the most?

I split my time between working on garments and creating textile prints. I currently draft, drape and sew all the clothing – which is an extremely rewarding process. Though, designing the prints is my favorite part of the whole operation – I love that I can create completely original fabrics without relying solely on industry offerings. My work is very much about color so having free reign to design with a specific palette on a small scale is essential.



Where do you draw inspiration from?

Walking around San Francisco has informed a lot of my pattern work – all the quirky architectural details and colors never cease to surprise me. I can instantly imagine them transferred onto fabric and all the possibilities. Im drawn to kind of abstract themes – a line from a book, a trick of the eye, or the feeling of being in a specific place – and building on that to tell a story.



What made you pursue your art as business?

I felt a passion for transporting the vibrancy of the world around me into products, and the opportunity to then connect with individuals all around the world through those physical objects. Building connections & relationships with people and bringing them a sense of joy is what I believe having a business is truly about.



What are your goals for your business and how do you envision the future?

I would like to broaden the product line, and apply my prints onto new surfaces such as home-wares, paper goods, etc. I’m also working on a collaboration with a jewelry designer I’m very fond of, and hope to continue working with other like-minded artists.

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Check out Renner’s Etsy for some early shopping or her personal site for more information about Kristin.


Coming up: Samantha Ives of Maker & Mineral! Stay tuned…

Interview No. 2 – Maker & Mineral

Interview No. 3 – Julia Szendrei




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