Here at UncommonGoods, we work with amazing vendors who constantly wow us with their creativity, artistry, and love of their craft. We don’t always get to meet the artists with whom we work; often relationships are forged through email and over the phone. Recently I was lucky enough to travel from our Brooklyn headquarters to Seattle to visit the studio of Ana Talukder Simpson, the super talented designer behind our beloved Latitude/Longitude jewelry collection.
Arriving at the studio, I was greeted with a big hug by Ana, and was immediately charmed by her bubbly and vivacious presence. I could not wait to see her studio and it was just as I imagined from hearing her description of it over the phone–a spacious and bright room with walls awash in her favorite color: purple. Her studio is a happy place, with touches of her personality everywhere–a purple peg board with small metal buckets to keep her organized, a board of inspirational quotes, and my personal favorite: an indoor window box of pansies (in purple of course!).
Ana and I looked at her new designs and talked about her process. I was wowed by how prolific she is, and how many new ideas she is constantly hatching. It was a great afternoon together and time flew by! Meet Ana and welcome to her colorful and inspirational world!
What are your most essential tools?
Get ready for the cheese alert: A positive attitude!!! Oh, and coffee, which helps with the positive attitude.
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
People that you know and love are going to look at you like you sit around your kitchen table stringing beads all day. Until they see you in a magazine (or 10 all at once – that’ll shut them up real fast).
What advice would you offer yourself 5 years ago?
Don’t ever, ever, ever underestimate yourself (and don’t whine).
How do you set goals for yourself?
I’m really goal-oriented. I like to make lists and to check stuff off lists and feel all accomplished by doing so.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
There are a lot of “happy dance-offs” in the studio. When we’ve met an impossible deadline, created a prototype that we’re in love with, or met a desired revenue goal… there is going to be a dance off. And we eat a lot of victory pho.
What quote keeps you motivated?
You always have to be looking to be better, you always have to be working at being better, and you always have to put all your heart in it. Otherwise, what’s the point?
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I’m working on a new collection that goes back to my first love: quotes. Jewelry with quotes on it has been done several different ways, so I’m working on coming up with some fresh ways to present text–which is requiring me to really move out of my comfort zone and explore new mediums and techniques. I learn best by doing and experimenting, so I’m just gathering materials, drawing a ton of sketches, and creating as much as possible.
How do you recharge your creativity?
I get the heck out of the studio. Far, far away from it. When I’m in a creative slump, I don’t go into the studio for a few days and after just a bit of time, I really, really need to get back in so I can create again.
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I used to not collaborate, or even discuss my ideas with anyone. My very first employee, my production manager, Nyna, has been the GREATEST sounding board ever. It’s amazing how much more creative I can be with her added creative energy.
I also have two pretty amazing kids (11 & 8) who come into the studio with all sorts of opinions and suggestions–mostly opinions–and I’m married to an entrepreneur, as well, who always has great (and blunt) business advice and is probably my biggest cheerleader, so that helps a ton!
Katara the Studio Cat