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Artist Studio Tour: GDS Cloth Goods

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Cooking with Passion

I love to cook. As the summer approaches, I start to get excited about BBQing and cooking more. I'm almost sure it has to do with the clouds opening up + the longer days combined. I can't think of a better time to embrace the full cooks' regalia, head out to my Grill and start flippin' some ribs.

A while ago, I stumbled upon this artisan, Geana, at a local farmer's market, of all places. Geana, of GDS Cloth Goods, selects selvedge and new denim straight from Japan and other sustainable practicing companies, to create lovely aprons that stand the test of time. I just had to have them for one of my gift boxes. I contacted her and we put our heads together to create a semi-customized apron for our Start Cooking box. Let me just tell you, the one I have been using for years is so soft and supple, and still kickin' it with every brisket we prepare and banana muffins we bake. 

In full desire to share with you the craft and incredible brilliance of artisans in our gift boxes, I interviewed Geana Sieburger, of GDS Cloth Goods, in her studio space where she designs and crafts her aprons. I'll be sharing more of what made her a success and so passionate about the product she creates.

An artist at work: Interview with Geana of GDS Cloth Goods

When I first walked into Geana's shared artisan space I immediately fell in love with the light. What an ideal place to work day in and day out. The front doors were so welcoming and gorgeous. This light plays into her passion for creating quality products for her customers.

Apron Studio Tour of Artisan GDS Cloth Goods

bright light open doors

Let's dive right in. How did you start your business/your craft/your art? What were some hurdles you've been overcoming?

The idea for my business came to me while having coffee at my local farmers’ market one Sunday. I grew up in southern Brazil, a place where, in the 80’s, bread was bought at bakeries and produce from farmers. Urban gardens weren’t aspirational, just a logical way to have food. That day at the farmers’ market, I realized that there was something about the community aspect of the market that allowed me to make sense of expanding my personal practice into a business. It allowed me to connect with my values in a deeper way, values that were established at a very young age through the environment and culture I was raised in.

Apron Studio Tour of Artisan GDS Cloth Goods  Apron Studio Tour of Artisan GDS Cloth Goods

Do you consider yourself a maker or an artist? How do you perceive the intersection of these two worlds? Do you feel like they are one in the same?

This is something I’ve given a lot of thought over the years, both during my education at California College of the Arts and after. I do feel generally that craft and art are different but equally valuable. I consider craft or design to be more similar to each other. Craft and design are present in our everyday lives and can therefore make a regular contribution. Whereas art tends to be confined to designated spaces that often require a fee to enter, times when the art is and is not accessible, restrictions on how close you can get to it, etc.. Personally, art that is accessible is the best kind of art. And I especially believe in art being present in our everyday lives. 

I consider myself a designer and craftsperson that sometimes blurs the line between craft and art through object-making. 

 

Apron Studio Tour of Artisan GDS Cloth Goods 

How do you conceptually approach your work?

I’ve been interested in labor for a long time. I’ve also been surrounded by trendsetters, designers, and seamstresses since I was born. It’s interesting, in studying the history of fashion, I rarely came across how the working classes dressed. Art history on the other hand, has been a rich source of inspiration both visually and conceptually. 

The GDS logo is a great characterization of our conceptual approach. If the harp represents the idea and the donkey represents the labor necessary to make that idea come to life, the studio is the coming together of the two.   

 

What gets you excited about your product being in the world and growing as a business owner?

I’m really excited about offering things that are well-designed, made to last, and contribute to the ecological restoration of the environment. This is what keeps me going–the idea that business can be and do good. 

Apron Artisan Studio Tour Apron Studio Tour of Artisan GDS Cloth Goods Dog

Do you partner with other businesses or artists? how does that influence your work?

Working with other businesses and creatives has always been part of my work. The business is here to serve the community so working with others is a big focus of what we do and how we hope to grow. At the heart of it, I want to help make people’s work more enjoyable, which sometimes becomes making people’s lives more enjoyable. I love my work and want to feel joy from it, but I want my clients and collaborators most of all to feel heard and that they got something really special beyond a well-made product. 

  Apron Studio Tour of Artisan GDS Cloth Goods

 

What type of challenges do you find yourself faced with at this stage in your career?

There are two main challenges I am faced with right now. One has to do with transitioning to using only ecologically-sustainable textiles in all areas of the studio’s work. The studio currently uses no polyester textiles, not even blends. We use only high-quality cotton and sometimes hemp and linen. However, conventional cotton isn’t going to save the planet anytime soon. We are already using organic cotton in our base collection and working directly with mills in the United States to create our organic cotton Ebb Filter. Our goal is to use only ecologically restorative and sustainable textiles without any major price increases to our customers. As a small studio, this can be tricky since we don’t have the purchasing power that large businesses purchasing thousands of yards at a time do. For now, it’s about finding a balance and making the right partnerships with mills that have the same values and goals. It’s a challenge, but one I’m excited to face.

The other challenge has to do with managing life as an entrepreneur. I started my own business to have more control over how I spend my time and life. But, it’s easy to lose sight of that when it all depends on me. Even when someone else is on the task, it’s still my project to manage and deadlines mine to meet. Being my own boss is great, but I’ve had to learn so much. I am still learning everyday. I make mistakes, overlook details, and struggle to find balance. Being a business owner is challenging to the core (just writing that makes me laugh out of discomfort). I’m still learning to respect the challenges, acknowledge that I don’t always have the skills for the job, and seek out the people and organizations that can help me strengthen my abilities to be a better business owner. Though I hope this challenge can be overcome, I do think it might be part of the job and that my work will always be with me.  

Old craftsman sewing machine 

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Photos by Feather Weight

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