Made in SLO… This Little Bird

a1

Making friends in a new town, when you’re 30 something, is kind of difficult. Luckily, I have met some pretty rockin’ people that have made that easier. The most rockin’ of them has been Amber Long of This Little Bird! She is as nice as she is talented, which is pretty huge. We share the same passion for all things local and we’re looking forward to working together in creating more opportunities for the local maker community!

Not only does Amber create and run her beautiful business, This Little Bird, but she is a full-time graduate student at Cal Poly, has another job, is married, and has fur children! How does she do it all? I have no idea. Oh yeah, and she’s captain of the Central Coast Etsy Team and a leader in the SLO County Sellers Team. I’m exhausted just listing it all, imagine living it! Truly awesome.

Read on and learn how you too can be like the inspiring Amber Long…

Where do you live in SLO, how long?

I currently live in Santa Maria. We’ve been here 5 years. Before that I lived in SLO and Shell Beach for 8 years, bringing my grand total to 13 years!

What do you love most about SLO?

I love the variety we have to offer here, from landscapes, to paces of lifestyle.

How is SLO different from any other place?

We have a unique mix of fast pace and SLO pace here. You can shop at a big box store or a farm stand. You can live on a ranch or in an urban loft downtown.  You can hike or surf, go to an open mic night or the symphony.

What is the name of your shop? How did you come up with the name?

My shop is This Little Bird.  This same graphic designer friend and I chatted on Google Chat for days on end trying to come up with something. I happen to like bird décor (although I’m pretty picky about it) and so I know it would center on “bird”. But it really only came about by tossing things back and forth with someone I trusted. I am the bird in This Little Bird so to me, it means “there is a piece of me in everything I make”.

a3

What do you create?

In my Etsy shop I sew zippered pouches, bags, aprons and seasonal home décor items.  Outside of Etsy I also paint, refinish furniture, crochet, do hoop art, and try my hand at quilting.

What is your workshop like?

I’m fortunate to have an entire bedroom in my home dedicated to my studio.  Depending in the day it is a serene spot with all the fabric in it’s place and other days it’s a hot mess!  My cats like to “help” sometimes so there is always something being knocked over. (But I keep them off the fabric, by bribing them with other fabric!)

And some crafts do find their way to the living room and dining room. They have legs of their own!

a4

How/why did you start crafting/creating?

Well I originally learned a lot of crafts as a child from my grandmother.  I’d spend a week with her each summer just learning.  Sewing, painting, cooking, needle point, reading. We did it all.  Fast forward many years to the recent past and I was sitting around with a sewing machine and a graphic designer friend who kept sending me links to this Pinterest thing (it was still the early days of Pinterest) and I was so inspired by what I was seeing.  I was pinning all kinds of crafts! I was also an avid Etsy shopper so an idea came to me that if I made nice enough things maybe I could sell them!

That was how, but the why is a different story. I suffer from anxiety and I was told many times to find something to do with my hands.  The entire process of sewing, from picking fabrics, to the finished product is a time of meditation and inspiration for me that keeps me grounded.

Wow, that time and those memories with your grandmother are definitely reflected in your well-sewn pieces. That love and meditation seem to be a winning combination.

Where do you find your inspiration?

A lot of times I get color and style inspiration from Pinterest and the people I follow on Instagram.  I love color and love seeing how others put together color.  We go to San Francisco a few times a year and I’m always impressed by the store displays and urban art I see, so I take inspiration there too.

What inspires you?

I’m visual so nature and other people’s art are my main craft inspirations.  I’m also inspired by people who are living a balanced and honest life.  The more balanced life is the easier it is to be inspired by the simple or mundane. Additionally, crafting in a certain sense has a very long tradition and I want to be part of that tradition and carry it on. That’s why I learned to crochet. It’s something our grandmothers and great grandmothers did. Now I do it to but in modern colors and styles.

If any, what do you struggle with or still have yet to master by having your own business?

I still have SO much to learn.  I have things to learn as a maker, as a business owner, as an accountant, delivery person, and prototype maker.  Currently my greatest struggle is finding enough time to invest since I’m in grad school and work part time.

What goals do you have for your business?

Working backwards, in 10 years I want to have my business providing me with 1/3 of my income. In 5 years, with grad school out of the way I hope to have a schedule where I don’t work 40 hours at the day job and can commit regular hours to my business. In 1 year I want to be fully invested in my local creative community.  I’ll also almost be done with grad school.

I am so glad that we finally were able to do this! Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us.

I hope that all of you have enjoyed learning about Amber of This Little Bird! She’s offering our readers 10% through the end of this month with code SLOLife! Make sure to grab yourself something wonderful at her Etsy shop.

a2

Advertisements

Made in SLO… Back Bay Pottery

backbaypottery1

 

As an artisan and new resident to the area, I’m always looking for ways to get involved in the artist community of SLO. When I look into organizations, venues, and the like – there is always a business I see, Back Bay Pottery. Having seen this business all over, I looked into who they were and I was blown away. Christine Silbaugh aka Back Bay Pottery is absolutely incredible in talent and community involvement. She instantly became someone I wanted to meet.

Christine is one of the Captains of our SLO County Sellers Etsy Team and I’m so happy that I finally met her, in person, a month ago. Of course I wanted to do a Made in SLO feature on her and now I had my chance! So, I hope that all of you enjoy this as much as I have. Christine is so sweet and supportive and it shines through her interview.

Where in SLO is home and for how long?

I live in Los Osos and have grown up here. I was born in General Hospital in SLO and have lived in SLO, Cayucos, Morro Bay but mostly in Los Osos.

What do you love most about SLO?

I have always loved it here and have never wanted to move away. I have visited many places around the country but nothing feels like home like SLO does. Its different from any other place I have seen.

There are so many things to do here…we have the best of everything from nature to shopping!

My family and I love to visit the tide pools at spooners cove and hike along the trails at Montaña De Oro. It’s one of the first things we do when friends or family visits from out of town. I also love all the farmers markets!

How is SLO different from any other place?

I feel like SLO is very family oriented and a happy place to live. We have such a great population of people that are very supportive of our large artist community.

Like Bello Mundo Cafe in SLO (by the courthouse). I have had my work in there for a couple of years now and they keep on asking for more. They love supporting local artists.

How/why did you start creating?

I have always been a maker and was raised by artists and crafters. I grew up painting and drawing and sculpting things from polymer clay. When I started making ceramics (about 4 years ago) it fit so perfectly. It is such a versatile medium that I am able to use all of my artistic skills.

What do you create?

I create one of a kind pottery for the home, office and garden. My style is organic yet vibrant and full of color. I have so many ideas of things to make that I just don’t have enough time in the day to make it all. But I keep a list of things to make. It’s a long list!

backbaypottery3

Your pieces are so gorgeous. Where do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from so many places! Of course the beautiful area we live in like the birds, beaches, flowers and my husbands succulent garden. I love to look at textures and patterns that can be found everywhere like the amazing architecture of old buildings, the vintage bamboo textured wall paper in my dining room, and the intricate carvings of my antique wooden batik blocks from india. I also look at the trending styles and colors found on Pinterest, Etsy of course and stores like Anthropology and Pottery Barn.

What is your workshop like?

I use to have a crazy mess in the living room (that was my office) but now I have taken over the garage…well not completely.

My husband has the other half but I keep on inching my way over. We have a detached four car garage behind our house so it makes a perfect studio/workshop. I change things all the time because my business and life keeps changing. I have remolded my studio at least 6 times in the last three years. I do spend an awful lot of time in my studio so I have to make it pleasant to work and move around in.

I love decorating it with art from other artist! Especially local and Etsy artists!

We love your workshop! Visiting your workshop to have our team meeting was awesome. I loved seeing all of the art on the walls and creativity just seemed to buzz in there!

IMG_0763

You are so involved in the local maker community! Can you share some more of that with us?

Our local maker community is great and I definitely believe in buying local like at our farmers markets and art/craft fairs. I am a member of Arts Obispo and like to participate in Art After Dark, the first friday of every month form 6-9pm, where local artists feature their work at shops, cafes, and galleries in downtown SLO.

I am also one of the leaders on the local etsy team SLO County Sellers. We are a great group of people who sell their work, antiques or supplies on Etsy.

Being a small business owner and selling your work can be hard and overwhelming, not to mention scary. We reach out and offer free help and support to anyone who is currently selling on Etsy or wants to in the future. Our team supports and encourages one another by sharing our tips and tricks and our stories of why we do what we do. We try to meet up once a month and are working on creating some workshops. I really think anyone can make a business that will work for them.

What lessons have you learned from having your own small business?

I have learned to many lessons to list. One of my biggest ones is valuing my work and working slower. I am not a factory and I make everything myself so I need to enjoy the process. I have the ability to work fast and to make a lot of things at a time but it just isn’t enjoyable and my quality goes down. I let my true inner artist come out when I take my time and pay attention to every detail.

What do you struggle with or still have yet to master by having your own business?

I have always struggled with taking on to much. I usually don’t realize that I took on to much work until its to late and I start to burn out. I have learned that a work life balance is a must and it’s something I think I will always struggle with. I have to be strict with myself and make rules like no working on the weekends but even if my orders are late it’s worth it. When it comes down to it my family needs to come first.

What goals do you have for your business?

I really want to be an artist and not so much in production so I want to keep my business at a manageable size yet still continue to support my family.

My work will always change and I think that works for me. I love to try new techniques and colors.

Thank you so much for taking time for us, Christine! We look forward to what you have up that talented sleeve. Make sure to visit Back Bay Pottery!

backbaypottery2

Made in SLO… Celeste Craft

celeste 1

Celeste Sibbach of Celeste Craft shared her innovative creations with us and explains how she is “transitioning [her] shop towards a more socially and environmentally friendly model”! Our readers can enjoy a generous discount of 15% with the code SUPERSLO through December 31, 2013 on all of her hand crocheted goodies at her Etsy shop.

Celeste grew up in Atascadero and happily lives there now after returning from college + a few years.

How has SLO Grown?

SLO has grown and changed quite a bit. I remember the mall in San Luis, as a child it was unimaginably huge. It was rare that I got to go there, but I thought it was the a huge treat to get the sensory overload from walking the hall and to eat at the food court. As an adult, I prefer the relationships that come from the small shops and I avoid the “big box” experience.

What do you love most about SLO?

SLO is such a beautiful area. I love that I never have to look far for inspiration. The hills that surround us constantly changing, the different styles of seashore, the architectural lines of the little streets and the diversity of people and ideas. I love that there is something for me to learn everywhere I go.

I too find SLO to be, overwhelmingly, inspirational! How do you find it different from any other place?

The strength of the arts community so close to the agricultural lands makes life here opulent. I feel so fortunate that to have such great local foods and local talents.

What do you create?

For my Etsy shop I crochet hats, shawls, handwarmers, slippers and costume pieces. I write patterns so other people can crochet my designs.

How did you start creating?

I’ve always been a creative person. I’ve spent time in theatre, singing in choir, swing dancing and doing all sorts of crafting. I can’t imagine a life where I wasn’t creating some sort of art.

IMG_2344

Where do you do your work?

I have a shelving unit in my home where I keep my yarn. I often keep a small project in my purse and I crochet on my lunch break and when I stand in lines. When I have a new concept nagging my mind, I’ll sometimes take a bag of yarn to Dunbar Brewing in Santa Margarita and make a prototype over a beer and conversation.

IMG_2348

We really enjoy the idea of being socially and ecologically minded and you’ve mentioned that you’re moving toward that in your shop, how so?

My favorite yarn supplier is in Nebraska, they do almost all the processing and dyeing of the wool themselves and have developed water-recycling systems. I like knowing that the products that I make are gentle on the earth, don’t involve poor labor standards any where along the way, and turn out beautifully.

Thank you for your time, Celeste! Support this Local Artisan and visit her shop on Etsy. Don’t forget to use code SUPERSLO when checking out to receive your exclusive discount!

celeste 2