Meet Our Vendor: SaltyandSweet Design
We are excited to have SaltyandSweet Design back in our show this winter. It’s been super fun watching how her business has evolved and changed over the years.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hello all! I’m Andrea L. of SaltyandSweet Design, where I make laser cut hanging mobiles, home goods, and accessories that are heavily influenced by architecture, the west, and pop culture.
What was your first memory of making something?
I come from a large, creative family that includes 3 architects, 2 graphic designers, 1 art teacher, 1 semi-well known collage artist, and one crazy furniture designer, so I cannot remember a single moment where I WASN’T making something. If I complained I was bored, my mother would toss me a roll of aluminum-foil and tell me to sculpt something. I was lucky that my parents allowed me to use tools way before it was age appropriate so I have many, many memories of accidentally sewing through my fingers or burning myself with glue guns.
How far will you be traveling to come to UCU?
I’ll be traveling from Seattle’s irresponsible little sister: Portland.
What do you love most about craft show vending?
I work alone in my studio 5 days a week, so I absolutely love talking to everyone during Urban Craft Uprising. I love meeting new customers, I love seeing repeat customers, I love getting feedback from folks who aren’t exactly my customer (and that’s okay). Learning about you all, where you come from, and what you like has been the surprise joy in each and every craft show I participate in (especially Urban Craft Uprising, which has the most loyal, repeat customers).
How did you get started in your business?
I graduated with my degree in Industrial Design from Arizona State University in 2007 but life intervened and I was diagnosed with cancer at age 25 (literally one week after graduation). I stayed in Arizona for chemo and radiation and started making laser cut hanging mobiles as a means to keep my hands and mind busy during treatment. That was in ’07/’08 and juuuuuuust happened to coincide with the launch of this strange new website called Etsy. Out of curiosity, I listed one mobile on Etsy and it sold almost immediately. The rest of the story of SaltyandSweet is a mix of good timing, intuitive business skills I didn’t know I had, new product launches, and lots of late nights with lasers.
Is this a full-time business for you?
Yes! In 2010, I bought myself a gigantic industrial laser cutter, affectionately named Rosebud, so I could do 100% of my design work + laser cutting myself, in-house. In 2014, I made the commitment to run SaltyandSweet full time and haven’t looked back since. I’m a total “accidental entrepreneur” and couldn’t do it without the community of folks who support independent makers and the handmade market.
What’s something you’ve learned through running your business in the past 12 months?
A good night’s sleep is the most underrated component of running a successful (and healthy) business.
What’s your favorite item that you sell?
My longtime favorite item is my Nevermore! (raven) mobile. I love asking customers why they’re drawn to that design in particular and always get the best responses. Spoiler alert: many of you are drawn to the crow/raven design because you love their intelligence. That said, I occasionally hear a story involving a metaphysical or cosmic connection to these creatures and those tales are the most fascinating part of my day.
What do your customers love most about your product(s)?
With my earring designs, I joke that I don’t do subtle. My earrings are bright and large, so they definitely appeal to folks who are looking to make a STATEMENT.
I also am always secretly pleased at how many of my products are given to men as gifts. I never set out to design for men or teenage boys but am always jazzed when a pocket knife or mobile design is purchased specifically for a spouse, boyfriend, or son. I’m glad I can help my customers find gifts for folks who are very, very hard to shop for!
What’s the best experience you’ve ever had with one of your customers?
A customer got one of my raven silhouettes tattooed on her wrist! She said that after looking at the mobile every single day, she decided that she wanted it to be a part of her life permanently. If that isn’t the ultimate compliment, I don’t know what is.