Studio tours are one of my favorite things about being a part of the blog team here at UncommonGoods; it’s impossible for me to leave a creative space and not feel fascinated, energized, and most of all – inspired. (Okay, and maybe a wee bit jealous.) There’s always new designer lingo, unusual tools, or interesting processes I discover when stepping inside a vendor’s creative haven, and my social media-obsessed alter ego immediately wants to Instagram and tweet everything I see.
Ronda J Smith’s In The Seam studio is absolutely no exception. From her super-duper mega printers to real life Pinterest-like wall quotes and images to her beloved chair that’s showered with eye cut-outs, my curiosity ran wild – and then ran some more. Yet, as much as I adored her studio, it wasn’t exactly In The Seam’s home that got me pumped up for life and wanting to run out the door to simply make something, anything. It was Ronda. She led me to not only feel like I took two shots of espresso, but was ready to conquer the world. I was on a high. Ronda’s energy and enthusiasm towards her craft, projects, and space was overwhelmingly contagious and uplifting. It taught me that whatever I’m doing in life – I should always have that much passion for it, nothing less.
How did you come up with the concept of your product?
The idea came while I was relaxing with my cat, Keywan, one afternoon and decided to take his picture. Inspired by my love of photography and sewing, I decided to print the image on fabric, cut it out and sew a pillow. That’s how In The Seam got started.
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
The toughest lesson is learning to run the business. I went to school for photography, not business or marketing. I’ve learned so much and have enjoyed the challenge. I must thank Google and my family and friends – I’ve asked them all a lot of questions along the way!
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I’m working on extending my product line and brand! I want to use my photographs on other objects so I can produce more items in addition to pillows.
What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford. This quote means anything and everything you want it to mean. Your thoughts and mindset are more powerful than you could ever imagine.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I celebrate everything, every step, even the small stuff with a jump and high-five!
How do you set goals for yourself?
I write them down in sharpie on my calendar. Once I write it there, it’s pretty much set in stone and I must follow through.
What are your most essential tools?
My most essential tool is my camera, which is obvious. Besides that, I couldn’t live without my strong sturdy silver spoon, I use the tip of the handle to inside-out the tiny corners and crevasses of each pillow.
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
Tucked in my tiny office surrounded by all my boxes and “stuff”. I feel safe and secure. It gives me the ability to concentrate and create.
Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
It doesn’t. I’m not even sure what down time means!
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I collaborate with someone each and every time a custom pillow is created. Customers send me the image they envision me to cut and shape into a pillow. I print, cut, and sew that pillow for them. Custom Pet Pillows are a large part of my business, it keeps me on my toes. And with the cast of characters that come out of my printer, it keeps me smiling too!
What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Learn to negotiate and don’t undersell your products. You can’t let people take advantage of you, especially when you are crafting a handmade product. Which is tough advice sometimes, because I always want to make everyone happy.
How do you recharge your creativity?
I recharge by either taking a long walk around the city, or a long weekend away from the city. I always have my camera at hand, so the work is never far, but it gives me a chance to step away from my studio and get some fresh air. If I’m close to a body of water and can take a swim that helps too.