Making the Maker, an Interview with Sara Flood
Happy Monday, all! We are so excited to share with you our very first interview-style blog post. We've gone around asking some of our favorite small, handmade businesses what their life is like on the daily and why they choose to make handmade. We think that you will really enjoy this series; I know that I am! It is fascinating to learn more about the artists and makers behind their businesses.
Today we are sharing the maker Sara Flood behind the handmade children's clothing and essentials business, Sara and Sybil. Sara currently resides in Virginia with her husband, Tyler, little son, Everett, and their three pups. They like to spend time exploring outdoors, reading, and listening to music while living amidst the cornfields and horse farms.
Kayla: Did you have any other jobs before Sara and Sybil?
Sara: Over the years I’ve done many things that have helped to shape me into the person I am today and guide me down the path I’ve chosen. I’ve been a ballerina, worked retail, been a hair stylist, and worked in several positions in the animal welfare world. Right now I’m a stay-at-home-mom, and I’m trying to get my small handmade business truly off the ground and going! This is a very exciting time in my life!
Kayla: Can you tell me more about being a ballerina? That is so interesting!
Sara: I started dancing when I was three-years-old and continued until I was 19. During Jr. High and High School, I danced 3 days a week at a studio that really felt like home to me. I was an assistant dance teacher for the younger students, and it was such a joy to see them grow and learn. I participated in ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap, and hip hop. I went to conventions and competed in groups and solo. I was accepted to the dance program at the University of Akron but decided to take time after HS to try some new things and explore other avenues. I continued dancing at a local studio until I moved to the “big city” to finish cosmetology school at the Aveda Institute. I still miss dancing, and you can occasionally spot me bustin’ a move in my living room or kitchen ;)
Kayla: How did your business begin?
Sara: I have been a maker for as long as I can remember and quilter for 15+ years. I opened Sara and Sybil on a whim to make a money exchange easy for an out of state family member who was purchasing some bandana bibs. I had talked about opening a handmade business for several years, and this was just the little push I needed to commit. I didn’t have a plan, and I’m still trying to figure out the world of small business. It is thrilling, exhausting, and a dream come true.
Kayla: Did you teach yourself how to sew, or was this a skill that you had known before you started making your first products?
Sara: My grandmother, Erma Jean, fostered my love for creating. I stayed with her during the day while my mother was at work, until I was school aged. She taught me to sew, cross stitch, and paint from a young age. My cousins and I would go camping with our grandparents, and every afternoon there was a craft to look forward to. It was my favorite part of the day! I continued sewing for 4-H projects, for gifts, and I made two of my prom dresses, all with the help of Erma. Sitting down to sew is second nature to me; it’s just part of normal everyday life. My sewing machine, Sybil, is a member of the family.
Kayla: Why do you make handmade?
Sara: There is an authenticity that comes with making handmade. You can feel the difference when someone makes something with love and passion for the craft. I love using things I make or people make for me and I want to share the joy that handmade goods can bring to a home.
Kayla: What inspires your products/business/designs?
Sara: When I am designing something new for my shop, I am inspired by the thought of it in its natural environment. I imagine most of my products tagging along while children are enjoying the great outdoors, and when they are exhausted from exploring and need a good cuddle at the end of the day, it’s with their familiar quilt friend. I try to create things that have a classic feel but are made in a modern way. Color is something that drives ideas for me as well; the colors I use are always inspired by the season and what nature is doing at the time.
Kayla: What is your design process?
Sara: I am trying to create a collection for the first time this year. Previously my process was different. Right now, I basically bring the entire contents of my craft closet out so that I can mix fabric or draw quilt designs while I have the colors and patterns right in front of me. I also try to make some of my son's clothes, so I sit down and think about what I would like for him to have and ask if it is something other people would enjoy. If he was a sweet little girl, what would I make for her? I keep a list of everything that I’ve considered making, and then I whittle it down to only ideas that I LOVE and have the means to make efficiently.
Kayla: Why do you make only the things that you love?
Sara: A long-term goal for my Husband and I is to create a tiny home. We’ve discussed many “small home” ideas, and we will probably end up in a small stationary home or tiny home on wheels. With this goal in mind we try to keep a minimalistic view on many aspects of life. In our wardrobes we only keep things we LOVE, our home is decorated with things we LOVE, we spend our free time doing things we LOVE. If it isn’t something we love to see, do, or eat, we keep it to a minimum. That is an idea that is ingrained in me at this point. Since I’m only one person and have a limited amount of time, I’m only going to create things that I need to make in order for my heart and soul to be happy.
Kayla: What is your typical day-to-day life like?
Sara: I am a stay-at-home mama, so every day I try to find balance between mama duties and creator duties. The day always begins with opening all of the windows and coffee for me, milk for Everett. He is usually most content to play with his toys and run around in the morning, so I take that time to catch up on emails and check in on social media. Then I get as much sewing and quilting done as I can before lunch and nap time. I recently started a blog and try to write or brainstorm while E is asleep. I like to spend more focused time with him in the afternoon so we spend time outside and playing together until my husband gets home. Occasionally I’ll work while my husband catches up and plays with E or we will go for a hike or to the park together.
Kayla: Where do you source your products from?
Sara: My husband and I are working on plans for a large garden next year where I can grow and harvest plants to dye my fabrics naturally! It is something that I have been researching quite a bit, and I am so excited to take my business in a more sustainable direction. Right now I am trying to support local fabric shops as much as I can, and I also have been on the hunt for repurposed materials. I love the idea of giving something new life in a useful and beautiful way.
Kayla: What opportunities has making by hand opened for you?
Sara: It has opened my eyes to a way of life. Self-sufficiency and living simply is something that is very important to my family. I try to make what I can, and if it isn’t something I can do, I try to buy from another handmade maker or from a local source. It is something that speaks to my soul. I’ve spent most of my life just trying to find myself and now I feel at home with myself and this passion.
Kayla: What is the hardest part about running a small, handmade business?
Sara: The hardest part for me is keeping my list of projects at a do-able number. I am so excited to create for people and tend to take on too much at a time because I truly WANT to do it all.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answers our questions, Sara! We had so much fun learning more about you. You can learn more about Sara on her website here, or shop her beautiful quilts and baby products here. Make sure to give her a follow on Instagram (@saraandsybil)!
If you think your handmade business would be a good fit for an interview, please contact us here or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org