As part of a fun team member project we were assigned fellow SF Etsy team members to work with for this online meet another creative person Q&A. I met the wonderfully talented Usha from UshaDesigns – Handcrafted Accessories made in San Francisco. I just love the embroidery work, Usha does an absolutely wonderful job! Enjoy this interview – we had a lot of fun emails along the way to make this happen…
|Embroidered henna inspired notecard – find them here|
1. When did you first pick up your craft?
My first memories of sewing & crafts are from when I was 4 or 5 years old. I had one of those plastic square loop-weaving looms (yes, it was the ‘70s!) where I could weave potholders. I also distinctly remember making a bubble-gum pink half apron (all hand-sewing) from some scraps of fabric my mom’s friend had. And I used to make necklaces by stringing berries using a needle & thread from a shrub in the front yard. When I was 7 years old, a neighbor started giving me sewing lessons at home. I’d go to the fabric store with her and my mom and select a pattern, read all of the yardage & notions guidelines, and select fabrics. By the time I was in 4th grade, I remember making my own outfits to wear to school! I ended up taking home economics in middle school, and advanced sewing in high school. By the time I was in college, I took a pattern-making class, a costume design class, and started working in the costume shop in our theatre department. That turned into working summers at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in their costume shop, and eventually working for several theatre companies in San Jose.
|Beautiful freehand embroidery experiement|
2. Following on so when did you decide that you wanted to be an artist or a creative person?
I don’t think I ever “decided” to be creative. I was actually a studio art major in college, primarily doing abstract oil painting. But working professionally in the theatre made me realize that I missed being creative for the sake of being creative. I would spend 40 hours (or more) per week sewing for work, which left little mental or physical energy to work on my own projects. I definitely remember moving to San Francisco in the mid-‘90s and conscientiously deciding to NOT work in the theatre. Ironically, my first job was working at a clothing boutique on Haight Street where I was hired to do on-site production and alterations. But I also remember realizing that I got much more enjoyment from working on things for myself or for my friends than working on other people’s ideas.
|Floral appliqued fleece hat to keep you nice and toasty|
3. We all have that product that people always ask for and we’ve made a few of them – what do people ask you for? Also, what product would you wish more people would “show some love”?
I don’t get too many requests, and I want to encourage my customers to ask for something specific if they don’t see exactly what they want in my shop! Last year, my main focus was on machine-embroidered coasters and fleece beanie hats. I did get a couple of custom orders for specific flower (accent) colors on the hats, and I worked with one customer on a batch of custom fleece scarves that she wanted to give as holiday gifts. But I wish more people would check out my coasters – I think they’re really cute and make perfect gifts (for yourself or for a friend). And I’d love to get requests for different color embroidery – sometimes changing the color can make the design look really different, and I love discovering the endless looks one technique can produce.
|Embroidered coasters make perfect gifts|
4. What drives you to continue to work with textiles and sew?
Wow, I thought this would be an easy question to answer! I’m a really tactile person – I get really excited about fabric. But I think there are a few things that drive me: I have endless ideas for projects I want to make, and so many techniques I read about and want to incorporate in a unique way in my own items. There are so many creative people out there who write blogs and create tutorials, and there are so many projects that look like tons of fun to make. I’m always really careful to find out whether those tutorials are for personal use only or if they can be used for commercial production – the ones for personal use are the ones I love to make as a special gift for a family member or friend (of course, I still blog about it and give creative credit where it’s due!). My newest motivation is that I’m about to become a mom, and I am just bursting with joy about the prospect of me making things for my little one!
|Tote bag created from upcycled curtains – love it!|
5. Any new items coming out in your collection soon?
I’ve been talking for a while about creating a line of iPad placemats. I got the idea when I took a beginning quilting class. Our project was the perfect size for me to carry around with my iPad and use it as a mat on a café table. One of the best things about an iPad is that you can take it anywhere with you. But the tables at coffee shops are usually a bit dirty. I found myself always grabbing 2 napkins – one to wipe down the table, and one to open up and use as a barrier between the table and my iPad. I hope to make a couple of those and put them in my shop soon.
I also have a lot of material I was using years ago to make tote bags (before taking your own bag to a store was fashionable!) but I got tired of making those bags. Recently, I was playing with some ideas of how to use that material for placemats, so hopefully those will be in my shop soon, too.
Another line I’ve been working on for the past few years is upcycling vintage Indian clothing (mostly embellished silks) into beautiful decorative pillows. Each pillow/set is one-of-a-kind, and I plan to put those items in my shop later this year.
For more information and beautifully made products you can find Usha at the following: