Small Business Saturday: Maker Profile No. 2

Our next featured maker is Samantha Ives of Maker & Mineral.  This San Francisco native produces sustainable, hand-crafted and well-crafted home wears, accessories, and clothing for the modern person who wants to buck fast fashion and temporary trends.  Read her interview responses for insights into how she is currently growing her fledging business.

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

I started Maker & Mineral around May of this year.  And I have actually had two other very (and I mean VERY) small businesses that both lead to where I am right now.

I grew up right here in San Francisco. In a family of doctors, aka non creative types, I knew by the age of 14 that I wanted to pursue my own creativity and start my own business.  In high school, I took as many art classes as I possibly could without overloading and over summers I would travel to some new place to learn a new type of creative endeavor.  I did 2 summers at the Oxbow School in Napa learning film techniques and photography.  Then I spent a summer at SVA in New York taking life drawing, intaglio printmaking, and screen printing.  My junior year in high school I started a t-shirt business called A Certain Kind of Oblivious, which was destined to fail because of my complete lack of entrepreneurial acumen at the age of 16.  So, in my first few years at Vassar college, I left my business behind and chose to focus in Sculpture and Media Studies.  However, throughout college, my mind constantly floated back this idea of creating a design business.  Towards the end of my tenure at Vassar College, I briefly started a second business called The Ives Name, through which I sold decorative dishware made from upcycled plates and mugs.  Now, with more clarity of mind in what I wish to create, I have started Maker & Mineral, a line of custom textiles and handmade accessories and garments for the San Francisco woman.

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

My approach to creating textiles is constantly changing because I love to keep learning.  For the past two years I have been taking classes at City College to add new techniques to my repertoire.  I learned to weave last year and I am still trying to figure out how incorporate that steady-calm process into my daily work habits.  More than anything now, I am actually working now to hone a more specific, unwavering, process.  In some ways I would say I have creative ADHD.  I make tons of one thing, learn a new technique and get obsessed with creating that new type of product.   I think this is why I am drawn to the idea of starting a “lifestyle brand,” because then I can just keep making new products that all fit into an overarching theme.  I’ve learned that I need to trust to my own creative voice and stop over-thinking everything.

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

It all starts with a graphic idea. Usually I think of some abstract version of a natural element (a rock, shell, or mushroom) and just keep doodling it in the margins of notebooks.  Then I decide how that idea can best come to life in textile form, be it screen printing, stamping, stenciling, digital printing, dying, or some other form of weird print making.  I go out and buy my fabrics, zippers, thread, inks, and whatever other materials I can find at SCRAP (a local creative reuse center) or venture to Discount Fabrics.  Next I prepare my printing method, which could mean carving out a potato, molding a wedge of plasticine, burning an image in a silk screen, or even manipulating drawings on the computer.  These different methods of printing are without a doubt my favorite part of the job.  I love exploring new methods of transferring an idea onto fabric, and even if the result is not what I expected, I am always excited by the process!  After the printing, I let my fabrics dry for about 24 hours before I heat set them.  I cut my fabric down trying for as little waste as possible.  The fashion industry is one of extreme waste, so I am trying to make my mark by creating very minimal refuse material.  Finally, I sew up the product and give it one last press and TA-DAH its ready for etsy or a boutique.  I have my hands in absolutely every aspect of the process from picking out the base textiles to sewing the final version, and it excites me to be able to see my idea completely through to fruition within the walls of my studio!

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Where do you draw inspiration from?

My biggest source of inspiration is Marimekko.  Not that I want to copy the iconic Finnish designs in any way, but Marimekko drives me to create innovative new design based in graphic imagery and color.  I would love to someday be a small scale version of Marimekko here in San Francisco.  Other than that, I draw inspiration from nature and sustainable design.  My own graphic sensibility is very tied to natural abstract forms.  And, I am simply obsessed with rocks.

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What made you pursue your art as business?

 

It’s honestly all I have ever wanted to do.  I could never imagine myself in any other career path.  Despite studying Fine Art, I knew I wanted to pursue design, and so many of my works in college referenced the rift between craft, design, and art.  I even did a piece in my senior year of college in which I opened a little shop and sold my art.  Maybe I’ve limited myself, but I choose to believe that I have just been following my passion.

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

I would love to eventually open my own shop.  Where I am right now is the beginning of what I hope will one day be a local lifestyle brand.  Ideally I would partner with other local designers and artisans to open a shop not so unlike Little Paper Planes, but with a studio in the back or upstairs for both teaching classes and for production.  I don’t have those grandiose ideas of one day having a line at fashion week, that actually terrifies me, but instead I dream of having my own brick and mortar store and partnering with other local creative types in the community!!

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You can see more of Sam’s work on her site and shop her goods in her Etsy shop.  Be sure to follow her on Instagram, @makerandmineral, for more behind-the-scenes images, product updates and giveaways.  There are some exciting new projects coming up soon!

 

Finally, we’ll hear from Julia Szendrei, our last featured maker and a long-time LPP favorite!

 

Interview No. 1- Kristin Renner

Interview No. 3- Julia Szendrei

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