Editor’s note: This meeting the makers post has all the things I love best-making it a perfect fit for our February theme of Love it Up. Robyn Santamaria of Shibang Designs is a talented and passionate Canadian maker with her own innovative style. Each of her pieces is a true work of art + skill + smart design, I am honoured to introduce Robyn to share her story with us!
Making and creating things has always been natural for me. From a young age I started selling my fimo creations at craft fairs and spending most of my free time drawing, making jewellery and sewing bags from fabric that I found around the house. When I made thedecision to take the Textile Arts Certificate at Capilano College (North Vancouver) right after high school I knew that I had found the perfect medium to express myself.
Exploring all of the processes related to fibre was my starting point and I gravitated towards embellishment, wool, dying and began to develop my technique of felt applique that I have built Shibang Designs around. I began designing simple shapes for purses to showcase the bright and textured abstract floral motif and creating a line to sell in some local boutiques in Vancouver. Feeling the need to solidify my skills and training in the textiles field I moved across the country to Halifax where I transferred to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD). It was there that I completed my BFA with a major in textiles, minor in jewellery and gained experience in fashion design and pattern drafting.
While a student I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of craft trade shows, both retail and wholesale, which has had an influence in the way that I currently run my business. In the past three years since graduating I have grown my business from part time job to a full time career. Etsy has been a great start to starting up and a wonderful tool to get out there. I am thankful for all of the leads, contacts and people I’ve met through this international online community. I also feel very lucky to be a craftsperson at this time when the internet and online shopping are so mainstream.
To sustain and promote my business I sell in three main ways; online through etsy and my own online shop, in boutiques across Canada and in the USA and by large trade shows that I travel to three times a year in Vancouver, Chicago and Toronto.
As much as I love working from home I enjoy meeting other artists in person and connecting with customers directly. What I find the most difficult is managing my time in all of the different roles that you must do when you run your own business – being the designer, maker, photographer, web designer, marketer etc. Some days I am busy doing other aspects of the business that I don’t even spend time sewing. It is a balance having to switching roles all of the time.
In the new year I plan to further develop my new line of art work as well as collaborate with other artists and designers.
Connect with Robyn by visiting her: