After a summer break, this week 'Meet the Maker' is back and features Californian based designer Laura Schoorl who takes us through her journey from paralegal office worker to full time maker and designer...
Tell us a little about your background.
I am a California girl, born and raised. When I was little I dreamed of becoming a judge. I studied Rhetoric at UC Berkeley and planned on getting my law degree. After graduation, I worked as a paralegal in LA at a tech company. Being inside all day was difficult. I started taking woodworking and sandalmaking classes. At some point I quit my job and decided to take time to explore. An early retirement in my twenties. I moved back to the Bay Area, took permaculture and ceramic classes, and started making sandals on my kitchen table. Within a few months of being in Oakland, I found a studio and a supportive community and creating things became my full time job.
What does a typical day at work look like?
I spend time at home in the morning on my computer doing organisational tasks like managing orders, production and answering emails. I head to the studio in the late morning and start making things. Friends and customers come visit me in the studio throughout the week. It's a nice way to bring new energy into the space.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I am independent and extremely self-motivated. I love being the boss of it all. Mostly, I make the things that I want to exist in the world. The natural progression from making things for myself was to start making them for others.
Do you have any tips for aspiring designers or small business owners?
I feel as if I fell into the world of design. I never thought this is where I would be. Being open to the possibilities led me to start my line. It feels funny to give advice from that perspective but I would say be prepared to work extremely hard, figure out if you enjoy the process, and try your hand at many things as you can so you can see what feels best for you to pursue.
The fabrics you use are so beautiful and tactile. How do the materials influence your design process?
Material is everything. It is what composes the garment and where I glean all my inspiration. I am very drawn to the story of the material: Where did you come from? How were you grown? Who made you? How did you get here? These are all the questions that flood me before I will even let certain textiles into my world. It is difficult to find materials that feel entirely good. These limitations spur me creatively. Once I find my ideal material, I love to sit with it and figure out what it wants to become. Other times, I know exactly what I want and then my challenge is sourcing.
Who/what are you inspired by at the moment?
I am most inspired by all the amazing women in my community. I feel lucky to be surrounded by the most nurturing and loving friends who make every day a joy. I also help out at James Rowland Shop in Berkeley once a week and getting to sit with the vintage collections that Amy and Dan curate for the store is always inspiring.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Creating, dreaming up new projects, running two businesses, my line and Pansy - my organic cotton underwear company, and raising babies somewhere beautiful in California.
How do you like to spend your days off?
I tend to take little trips with friends outside the city. Stepping into the countryside immediately relaxes me. Plunging into bodies of water is necessary for sanity. I also play soccer on the weekends. It's nice to have different worlds to jump between.
What did you eat for breakfast?
A glass of hot cocoa and warm mush with honey.
Thanks Laura! Images all courtesy of Laura Schoorl.