Just because we've opened up a new physical location of New Origin Shop, doesn't mean we don't have time to talk to our favorite makers. You couldn't keep us from the Meet The Maker series for too long! This time, we're talking to Shamese Shular, the owner of Artisaan. You may know her from her beautiful notebooks and bookmarks in the Stationed by Hand section of our shop. She's been up to some exciting changes for her brand, so let's catch up with Shamese.
So, our customers may know your brand as “Stationed By Hand”, but earlier this year, you rebranded to “Artisaan”. Could you tell us a little about that decision?
The simplest way to put it is that I’d found my craft, but not the name to properly represent what I was doing. This was actually the third name change (!) and the first one that I felt comfortable making official with actual paperwork :)
More importantly, it is much simpler to remember and understand, being directly related to my work as an ‘artisan’. And, I am at a basic to intermediate level in the Spanish language (which I absolutely love the sound of), so adding an extra ‘a’ in the word would help English speakers pronounce it with a Spanish accent, too. Finally, because I knew I wanted to try my hand at expanding to curated products, it would be the perfect fit for the type of items I wanted to add to the lineup—more handmade.
I want to welcome you to the club of makers that also curate products from other indie brands! How was the transition from having a maker mindset for your business to having to think about curation?
Totally still learning, and jumped in with maybe too little experience. But, I knew that there are so many more makers out there making beautiful things and if there was any way I could contribute to spreading their talents and names around, I wanted to give it a try.
My shop is meant to add onto the overall vibe of slower living and great items for home and life so I try and curate items that inspire creativity, and offer things that make others smile and feel great in their environment. This first 9 months or so of curating has been a learning curve and I am always feeling out what transitions or changes need to be made for everything to continue to make sense—especially learning what my shop represents to others—despite the message I think I am sharing.
You do something very special, that a lot of makers don’t—which is you show your process on your Youtube channel. What have you learned from filming and watching yourself go through the binding process?
People like seeing it! I also like rewatching back some of the videos as honestly, it still interests me to see how raw materials can come together in the final form that I love to ship out to stores and customers. Between getting feedback and seeing what people gravitate towards, it always provides me more information about what is working, what my focus should shift to, and what to pull away from.
You opt to use a Japanese style of binding for notebooks called “Noble Binding”. What made you choose this style over other styles?
Loved the look of it, and it seemed very simple to get the hang of versus other popular binding styles I have learned about. It feels very underrated and hardly known except for fans of certain cultural styles. I have never seen this binding style in any stationery store, and I do not have a lot of niche stationery shops in my area but with all the searches I have done online, it is still a small market. My work has spread slowly over the years but more stores and even retreat centers, have found me this year which is so exciting. I am very excited about connecting with not only indie retailers and stationery shops, but I see these journals in sacred, and intimate spaces, too. I believe they fit anywhere that is meant to feel comfortable and calming, as something unique, simple, and for anyone.
Like you, I also work with the TV on as background noise. For me, I tend to play Guardians of the Galaxy in the background—but what is your go-to show or movie?
I am a major true-crime fan so any docuseries in that realm. And I generally love suspense, thrillers, on-the-edge type of shows. I don’t have a specific show that I am attached to at the moment, but [I'll watch] whatever looks appealing to me in that area when I open Netflix :)
What do you think has been your biggest lesson learned since starting in 2018?
Watch costs, and do not sell myself short! This is so common for me to do and I have had to make pricing decisions to make sure I am covered—not only for consumers, but for retailers. I think those who shop handmade understand it though and there hasn’t been an issue.
I was scared to venture into curating, but I wanted to give it a try so another lesson is to not be so afraid to try something out! If it doesn’t work, I won’t have to wonder and I can make another decision later that makes more sense to sustain my brand. Either way, I will still have my craft that can continue on.
I personally love all of the fabrics that you choose for your products. What’s your process for choosing a fabric?
Whatever speaks to me as I browse. There is no specific thing I am looking for, but I have noticed that my eye has been loving a lot of blues lately. It is a calming and neutral color that works will in some many designs. Looking back, I have realized there are certain designers that always speak to me, but there is no filtering I do beforehand.
What I have noticed though is that retailers have been going for the majority of the various designs—it is nice for them to have a selection, and they know their client base. It is very surprising the types of fabrics my private retail customers chose. Always so interesting to see what people like in the end versus what I think they’ll love the most.
You’ve said that your journals can be used for journaling, scrapbooking, watercolors, and more. You’ve also said that you make journals for yourself from time to time, so I’m curious what is your go-to use for journals?
I am just a writer...not a doodler, sketcher, or creator of graphs. I like to free flow my thoughts and brain dump, and I try to do this weekly. So much goes on day to day but I haven’t found a way to create a committed daily practice. I do feel that keeping record is important as a way to pass history onto family, kids, grandchildren, so I have really made a point to stick with journaling. Sometimes I like to find/use prompts as a way to answer questions or have something to focus on in my writing.
Do you have any favorite makers?
So many! Women that I work with who I get to send extra fabric to and we create new products for the shop—all of them I have met through Instagram. They’re all so lovely as humans and to work with: Jessica Coates (@sixorangesocks), Tiffany Rice (@theraspberryroom), Joy Gadrinab (@babygrnyc), and Lindsay Searles (@ricepaperdesigns).
I have not worked with her, but I've met her and love what she does: Yam (@yam_nyc).
I do have some favorite textile designers too, including most of the ladies at @rubystarsociety. [There's also] Bonnie Christine, whose fabrics I tend to select a lot without realizing it until later.
Overall, the maker community is so inspiring. There are many Black-owned stationery brands too that are out there that I have not experienced personally—but I love their style and drive so much. Women in fashion, paper craft, and artists including Reyna Noriega (@reynanoriega_) and Phung Bahn (@pb.journal) ...the list goes on! :)
What do you love most about Artisaan? What’s your vision for the business 5 years from now?
I love how unique my stationery is. I have to say that I know it is special and something many people have not yet experienced. In the next 5 years, I hope to be in a physical location that can serve as a studio space including binding lessons, and also be a place to shop gifts, stationery, and books. I am not sure yet where I will physically be in 5 years but when that is nailed down, this is a future dream of mine.
This experience has been so therapeutic for me in so many ways and offers a space for me to find silence and creativity in my mind, and I cannot see me needing to stop with that any time soon. I'll continue to expand and share more with others this beautiful ancient craft, and the creativity of others.
You can see more from Shamese and Artisaan on Instagram
See the full line of products: www.artisaan.co