International Women’s Day: Artists & Artisans

International Women’s Day

In Profile: Artists & Artisans

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating female craftsmanship with local artists and artisans. Discover our conversations on early memories, inspirations, and more with these inspiring women.

Elizabeth Jaime
Floral Designer of Calma Florals

How did you get your start?

When I first got to Miami from NYC, I decided to start to play with flowers to cure boredom and keep myself busy. I posted them on social media and people were responding positively to it. Then I got my first big gig doing flowers for a beauty brand and my business grew from there.

What’s your earliest memory related to craft?

My grandmother always had a craft waiting for us at her house. I remember painting on sand dollars when we were in the Bahamas, where I spent a lot of time in my childhood. My grandmother still has them in her house—and I love her for instilling that love of craft in me.

What keeps you inspired?

I get inspired by everything but some of my best ideas come from just dazing off. I try not to look at too much other flower work, but I love to look at interior design trends, artwork, and spaces in general.

What do you love most about your craft?

I love that I'm making something with my hands. I always had a desk job before this so it's fun to be out of that environment and create things with living products—letting the flowers and materials speak to me.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

I don't want to sugarcoat it—my one qualm with the floral industry is how incredibly wasteful it is. At Calma, we try to incorporate a lot of dried materials into our work, especially for large-scale installations. They are more expensive but last much longer and are more sustainable.

Abigail Smallwood
Ceramicist of MYRTH Ceramics

What’s your earliest memory related to craft?

It was actually ceramics. In first grade one of our projects in art class was a hand-built slab vessel. I built a tall rectangular vase with raised lines with the perfect 80s colorways for glaze—purple, teal, and blue.

What keeps you inspired?

Enveloping myself in nature or art usually does the trick. I also pay attention to tactile things like the curve of a sculpture, the texture of a fabric, or the coloring of a beach stone.

What do you love most about your city?

I love our small biz community in Boston. The people we meet through the studio, be it customers, clients or collaborators, have to be the most personally fulfilling part of our work. These connections are everything.

What do you love most about your craft?

I love how clay gives me the ability to express myself tacitly, in 3D.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

Everything. Fewer, better is also in our ethos. Our ceramic wares are designed for everyday use, yet are intended to last lifetimes. To create enduring products, we have chosen to work exclusively with porcelain. We also keep our line very small, with items that are classic, timeless, or multi-functional.

Katie Gong
Wood Sculptor

What’s your earliest memory related to craft?

Running around my grandparents’ house barefoot, in overalls, with uneven pigtails making forts and rummaging through the garage to make my “creations.”

What keeps you inspired?

I really appreciate nature, I love to take long walks where I can look out and see trees and the landscape while being disconnected.

What do you love most about your craft?

Every piece of wood I touch is unique and special. As a material, there are never two pieces of wood that are completely identical, they all have their own idiosyncrasies and unique qualities, a lot like us.

What are you most proud of?

Being able to continue to work at the level I am while being a mother. I love being a mother, but it is also super important to me to be able to create and make works of art, both are part of my identity.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

Fewer better is completely inline with my philosophy for my art as well as my life.

Carrie Lau
Ceramicist of Object-Matter Ceramic

How did you get your start?

I was introduced to ceramics by a good friend, it quickly became a meditative hobby and a new outlet for my creative energy. Then I started going to craft shows and working with stores on commissioned works; now I also sell my works online.

What keeps you inspired?

Nature, plants, animals, landscape, people around me. Travel keeps me inspired by learning from new cities, cultures, and art.

What do you love most about your craft?

I love the creative process the most. It allows me to connect with myself and share my thoughts with others.

What are you most proud of?

I appreciate all the support from family, friends, and people I met through the projects and hangs. I am so happy that I can make a living from what I love to do, it’s magical.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

Being more conscious of my needs and desires. Rethinking how I go about every day to live more sustainably.

Happy Menocal
Watercolor Artist

What’s your earliest memory related to craft?

I used to sit on the cement floor of my mom's studio and color in graph paper with markers. Meticulous, neat little patterns, Paul Klee style—very unlike what I do now, but it was all about color, which is still my beat.

What keeps you inspired?

Right now it’s children’s books by William Steig, D'Aulaires, James Marshall, the emergence of the first spring flowers, and watching the chocolates go down the conveyor belt at the LiLac chocolate factory near our studio.

What do you love most about your craft?

While most of what we do is completely custom, there's enough range that a project will eventually come along that has some connection to whatever I’m inspired by. Each project is like a micro education for me.

What are you most proud of?

I think I have an original style and am relentlessly making things, but my real achievement was assembling my team. I could not love them more. Every idea is improved when we execute it together.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

I completely believe in this, and I've been pretty good about sticking to it. I don't buy much, and when I do it's usually vintage.

Jennie Lennick
Embroidery Artist of Jenny Lemons

What’s your earliest memory related to craft?

My mom taught me how to embroider and sew to keep me occupied when we couldn’t play outside during winter—we lived in a rural area of Minnesota. When I was 7 years old I entered a little cross stitch doll to our county fair and won a blue ribbon. Crafts then turned into a lifelong obsession.

What do you love most about your city?

San Francisco is so beautiful. I love the weather here, the history, and the creative community around me. I also love how people here are so accepting of new ideas. It’s a very innovative place.

What do you love most about your craft?

I love the simplicity of embroidery—you can do so much with just a few materials. All you need is thread, fabric, a needle, and a hoop.

Can you tell us a favorite project you’ve worked on?

It’s definitely my partnership with SFMoMA. We plan and facilitate craft activities related to their exhibitions. The fact that I went to art school for 7 years and am now helping create new things with SFMoMA is a dream come true.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

I live a pretty simple life. I am very thoughtful about items I consume and create. Having fewer, better makes day to day decision making a lot easier, which frees up more time to do the things I love, like spending time with my family and doing my crafts.

Stephanie Deangelis
Illustrator

How did you get your start?

When I was working my first job as a designer for a digital publisher, an art director asked the creative team if anyone had any illustration interest for editorial pieces, and the rest was history.

What keeps you inspired?

Being present is my biggest form of inspiration. I try to put my phone away when I’m walking and take in these little vignettes of life that are often missed if you just keep aimlessly scrolling.

What do you love most about your city?

I grew up in Los Angeles and credit her for all of my inspiration. Los Angeles is so diverse and beautiful in so many ways, the food, the people, the communities, it doesn’t get boring.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of myself. I grew up in an environment that didn’t bode well for future success, and had to navigate a lot of my earlier years with no guidance or roadmap. I got to where I am by following my intuition, staying dedicated to my craft and trying to build a life where the work I produce makes myself and others happy.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

As consumers, we have choices in the things we purchase and how we live our lives. There is the appeal of convenience, which is costly to the environment and to those who are making the items we wear. If we all invested in fewer, better products we have the ability to minimize our impact on our home, Earth.

Bee Shapiro
Fragrance Designer of Ellis Brooklyn

How did you get your start?

I've been the New York Times beauty columnist for almost 12 years and it was about six years into writing about and really geeking out over beauty that I started Ellis Brooklyn. It was the early rise of clean beauty at the time and I was obsessed.

What’s your earliest memory related to craft?

My mom didn't wear any perfume. For me, the idea of scent comes from playing in the woods as a child in the suburbs of Seattle. Because of that, I'll always be inspired most by natural ingredients.

What do you love most about your craft?

I love the mystery of it. Fragrance is so primal and so instinctive that it's capable of touching us on deep levels and sometimes out of nowhere.

What are you most proud of?

We were one of the earliest to show that you can do luxury, stunning fragrances, but in a clean, sustainable way. It was extremely difficult in the beginning as no one would return my calls and emails. But I'm proud that we were able to open some of those doorways.

Cuyana is founded on the Fewer, better philosophy. What does Fewer, better mean to you?

For us, the quality has to be there and in that, you don't need a gazillion scented body sprays lotions you don't 100% love. Go for scent quality and you'll be surprised at how much your life and mood can improve.

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