One evening I was reading one of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, when I came across a tutorial by Rachel Denbow. This was the first time I had seen weaving done in a modern way and done as a wall hanging. I was completely infatuated! Initially I was drawn to weaving because it allowed me to work with my hands, make patterns, use color, and explore all sorts of new materials- but eventually it became so much more than that. After my first loom and set of materials arrived in the mail, I started weaving and never stopped. As time passed, I realized that weaving not only fulfilled the creative void in my life, it was a form of meditation and therapy that was also strongly needed. At the end of the day, it felt so good to challenge both my mental and creative self, all while creating something completely handmade. Eventually friends and family were asking for weavings for their own homes which led to the opening of my first Etsy shop, (which I no longer have) at the end of 2014. From there, things just started happening! The Charleston West Elm location reached out to me about becoming a part of their "Local" program. I was absolutely thrilled and said yes without hesitation. Over time this lead to my product being sold online through West Elm and things really took off from there. It has been a wonderful opportunity for Sunwoven that I will be forever thankful for.
I am often asked, "How do you do it all?" To be completely honest, I don't! There was a time when I was doing EVERYTHING on my own and it became really overwhelming. After a lot of thought and contemplation, I finally took a big step and hired my first employee. Because of that decision, Sunwoven has grown to what it is today. Not only did this decision spare my own mental state and my growing business, It has given me the opportunity to meet new people in my community, teach them the craft of weaving, and create new jobs for other women. At the moment I employee a full time studio manager and production assistant who is trained in all of the woven textiles such as pillows and tote bags. We also have two recent Charleston locals- one of whom is a fellow stay at home mom (hero!) and the other, a recent studio art grad. They are both trained (extensively) to aid in production of the wholesale work we do through West Elm, and a few of the "made to order" items that we offer in our own shop. In doing so, this has allowed me the time I need to spend on custom work, new works, growing my business beyond just wall hangings and so on. But most of all, this allows me to keep my business moving forward, without sacrificing time with my family and children.
There are so many great places to find materials and equipment, but I have had great luck finding a huge variety of materials on Etsy. I buy all of my looms from Lost Pond Looms. Roving from Fiber Felt N More and Purple Moose Felting. Some of the yarns I use is found at most nationwide craft stores, but I love to source out specialty yarns either from Etsy, or when I'm traveling.