Monday, 15 October 2012

Interview: Hana Ryan Wilson, Craft & Culture

Craft and Culture is a wonderful e-commerce site that features a well curated selection of unique pieces from relatively unknown designers from across the globe. Founded by Hana Ryan Wilson & Jason Parker in 2011, the platform gives artisans the exposure they need to find their niche and sell their products to a wider audience. I caught up with Hana to discuss her career path and the inspiration behind her latest project.

Hi Hana. Tell us a bit about yourself. I'm 25 and a native of the Pacific Northwest. I'm from a small town on the coast but I've called Seattle home for 6 years now. I took one of those degrees in college that basically comes down to "reading, writing and having big thoughts," but that really is what I love (and what got me through school). The world of art objects and independent design is something I inherited from my friends who make things.

What about your past jobs? What lead you to your current position? I worked for newspapers while I was in school. I absolutely loved being a part of a newsroom. As the business director at Craft & Culture, I use my training as a journalist almost everyday. My parents run a small independent newspaper, one of the last ones in Washington State, so storytelling and writing has always been a big part of my life. I feel very lucky to have been brought up in that world and to have them as mentors.

For the past year and a half, I’ve also been working as the fashion editor for an online marketplace in Seattle learning the ins and outs of online marketing, producing photo shoots and curating content. That experience has been invaluable.

You founded Craft and Culture with Jason Parker. How did you both come up with the idea? I was doing modeling at the time and meeting lots of young designers who were trying to get their work out there. Jason and I noticed a missing link between these talents and the opportunities available to them. His background as an Art Director for major fashion websites and ad agencies made him the perfect partner. His idea to create a store featuring fiercely independent designers creating innovative products struck all the right chords with me.

Tell us a little bit about the concept for Craft and Culture. We want to celebrate, promote and support exciting and trend-setting emerging independent artisans while telling the stories of these makers. Knowing these people and understanding what they love, why they create and the intention that goes into each piece is such a huge part of what the product is. It reconnects the maker to the object.

What do you look for in the designers you showcase? A strong aesthetic, dedication to quality and innovative perspective. Also, everyone we work with is passionate about what they do. We love working with people who love what they do.

Craft and Culture seems to be a strong network of really inspiring people. How did you all meet? The first designers we began working with were people we knew and believed in in Seattle. After we launched we began connecting with other like-minded artists locally and internationally. It's been a natural but very active process of finding artists and artists finding us.

Which new brands are you most excited about? We are adding some very exciting designers for Fall including Hendrik.Lou knits out of Vancouver, Canada and insane architectural jewelry by Fathom & Form in San Francisco. On a global scale, I'm very excited about the emerging Nordic designers.

You also run a LEDGER magazine alongside the store. How did the first issue about?
What drew you to print instead of a digital platform? Ledger was the result of wanting to take a more editorial standpoint with the products and the designers. We wanted to delve into the culture of the makers and celebrate the individuals who are changing the game of craftsmanship. Also, I think it’s so important to put out work in the physical world. Coming from a newspaper background, I’m obsessed with print. And, luckily, it seems like other people are, too.

The magazine explores the culture of craftsmanship? Why was this an aspect that you thought would capture readers? Craftsmanship is such a base level human expression and to appreciate that is what we’re after. For us, it’s about celebration rather than consumerism.

Each designer is profiled on the site. Do you think it’s important that potential consumers understand the back-story rather than just the finished product? Absolutely. These are real people, real characters with beautiful, crazy, inspired lives and a base need to create. When you buy something that you are going to wear on your body or see in your home every day, it’s nice to know it came from an individual. Especially if it came from an individual you share something with.

What does the typical work day look like for you? I start early, walk my dog through the park and get a cup of coffee. When I get back to my computer I try to get all the hard stuff out of the way first. I spend my day time hours between Craft & Culture and producing photo shoots and fashion marketing for other clients. If I'm working on Craft & Culture, I'm happiest but it's also nice to get outside of that bubble and work on different projects. Taking frequent breaks from the computer and getting outside is key for me. Luckily my dog tells me when it's time to go outside.
What’s your favourite part of your job? Working with the artists and delving into the craft of living has inspired me to be more purposeful. To live purposefully, buy purposefully and pay more attention. I also love the emotional rewards of having built a company that is founded on the principle of treating people well.
What outside of work has inspired you recently? The great Pacific Northwest, the emerging talents in Seattle, my dog, yoga and the incredible women in my life.

What’s your favourite object? I love this question but I really had to think about it. For years, my boyfriend and I would go to this little cafe called Pettirosso. We went almost every single day. It was our favorite place in Seattle and we took our dog and became good friends with the baristas and the owner. When they shut their doors last year and began selling their equipment, we bought the window table where we always sat. I love that table.

What are your 5 essentials? My Moleskine notebook, a white button up shirt, a men's blazer, bobby-pins and a good leather bag.

Can you give us a hint as to what’s coming up next? A second edition of Ledger is coming in November with an international cast of forward-thinking designers and talent. And, of course, lots of wool, leather and metal for fall!

To find out more about Craft & Culture, visit their website.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent interview. They just keep getting better and better:) Love the story about her favorite object- so meaningful.