7 Local Artisans Tell Us What Drives Them To Live For Their Craft

"It opens the world a little bit more than being confined to a desk."

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Being able to support yourself with your art is a momentous task many are unable to achieve. If you are a full-time artist and/or artisan, you are likely faced with a number of questions: How can I afford to make my art and live? Where do I sell my work? How do I market it? How do I get the word out that these things are available?

And if you consider yourself a socially conscious artisan, you have a whole other slew of issues, such as how to find and buy materials that are made locally, responsibly, and support individuals rather than conglomerations. You might be wondering how to develop products that combat waste, or support other women, or other local businesses

So even though selling on a website like Etsy is appealing to many, it too comes with problems. In recent years the company has come under fire for allowing fraudulent items to be sold.  To be extra safe, many artisans are choosing to sell their products on TicTail, an online retailer that vets all of their sellers to make sure they are getting items from the best, emerging artisans from around the world. Customers can even narrow down their search by city, type of good, and current trends.

We got to meet and talk to seven artisans who sell their goods on TicTail's website, and TicTail's New York City flagship store. They  told us about their inspirations, and what it's like being a small business owner.

See what they all had to say:


1. Tarin Thomas

"What made me go into having my own business [is that] my mom has always been a business owner and her dad as well. So I knew I always wanted my own business. In what capacity that was in, I wasn't always sure what that would be. And jewelry kind of just happened while I was buying for the store [I worked for] in SoHo ... [The most rewarding thing] I would say is, probably, being able to support myself and then also support other family-homegrown businesses. And just really celebrate that."

-Kylie Nakao, Tarin Thomas

2. Jocelyn Tsaih

"I really like to observe just how people interact with each other and how people react to different things. A lot of my work is based on my own reactions to things or my relationships with other people. It's a lot about human nature ... I kinda just wanted to get my work out there and I thought it would be fun to have different applications of my work. So I do some apparel, I do tote bags, and also a lot of prints, pins, I think it's just a fun way to get my work out there."

-Jocelyn Tsaih, Jocelyn Tsaih

3. SiiZU

"So [the business] all started with this eco-friendly trend. So my boyfriend and I, we have been living an eco-friendly lifestyle for so long, and I [was] struggling to find eco-friendly and ethically made products that are nice looking and also affordable. So this is why we started to build our own brand two years ago, and we spent one year traveling around the world to source the fabric, and visit the factories ... The customer loves the hand feel, so it reflects on the sales and the feedback from the customer. They really appreciate the price point and the quality that is the most motivating thing that pushes us."

-Kay Wen, SiiZU

4. Sage Collective

"I started this company right after I graduated from college. I studied art in school, so I was very sure that I wanted to do something creative, and I'm also very passionate about helping artisans in Asia having more presence in the U.S. and that's why I started the company. The most rewarding part would definitely be seeing customers loving our product. And recognize the time and work and aesthetics of the products."

-Feng Ye, Sage Collective

5. Jam+Rico

"I'm Jamaican and Puerto Rican so I wanted to create a brand that reflected me and my personality and my culture. I wanted to make something that everyone could wear, no matter what size or type of person was interested. I just wanted to make something a little bit reflective of my personality and what I like to create, so jewelry was the avenue to go. And I like working with my hands."

-Lisette Ffolkes, Jam+Rico

6. Empire Apothecary

"I decided to start Empire Apothecary as a response to the men's grooming market not having any well designed or high performing all-natural products. And so I decided to fill that void ... [The most rewarding thing is] you get to meet a lot of people. Being in an industry and meeting other like-minded creatives and professionals, and so it's definitely been a great way to have a form of self-expression amongst a group of like-minded peers."

-Zac Mallard, Empire Apothecary

7. Dolores Haze

"I read the book Lolita when I was 17 at the same time I was interning in fashion. And after I read the book Lolita, I felt like Dolores Haze would be a badass name for a fashion line. And when I was designing clothes, I was interning at Nicole Miller, I saw stuff on sale, in LA, when I was on vacation and I thought that was awesome that people would be wearing and creating memories in something I created."

"The most rewarding thing, I think, are the young girls that I've worked with and seeing the way that, whether it's doing an interview or taking somebody on as an intern, the way that you believing in somebody else and teaching them can make them feel empowered."

-Samantha Giordano, Dolores Haze


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