Meet Shannon Laskey…a successful illustrator, and artiste from San Francisco, who happens to be my friend. Shannon operates her own business, Small Dog Workshop which showcases all of her AMAZING talents. She designs websites, illustrates “stationery”, and business cards, sells paper dolls on Etsy, and illustrates books for The American Girl franchise. She married her high school sweet heart and has two adorable sons. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s now launching a new website State Made Goods which showcases cool, quality items made in America.
It’s a busy month for you, but exciting as well. What was the motivation behind starting State Made Goods?
A few years ago, I was at an ugly website that showcased American made products. As a graphic designer and proud American, all my sensibilities were offended. America is so full of cool people and products, why was every site I went to on the topic so tacky? I loved the feature in Country Living magazine where they showed a GORGEOUS photo of an American product and told their backstory – why couldn’t there be a website that was in good taste too? At that time there were NO cool websites to get this kind of info and I didn’t understand why. Now we have the Made Collection and Martha Stewart’s American Made to name a couple and the Made in the USA trend is HUGE. I’m excited to watch State Made Goods grow and hope people will really enjoy it as a fun resource.
Anything and everything! The requirements are:
- It’s a quality item, well made and in good taste
- It’s attractively represented on the company’s website, if they have one.
- It’s made in America – of course!
Is it important that the items are handmade or does it only matter that they are created and produced in the States?
No, they absolutely don’t have to be handmade. Handmade stuff is great but so is something from a factory. I almost get MORE excited when I discover something that seems like it wouldn’t be made here but it is – like a KitchenAid mixer!
Why do you think we’re experiencing such a strong trend for goods made in America?
Of course, one big reason is the downturn in the economy and people realizing if you support a company, you help that company and it’s employees succeed. Which is obvious but something that people are becoming more aware of and realizing is important. In general people are paying more attention to their impact in every facet of life and how BIG of an impact they can make by making certain decisions.
You own your own business which means wearing a lot of different hats. Have you mastered it and what part is the hardest?
Yes, I have totally mastered it and never make any mistakes. Ha! The hardest part is that when I wear my Graphic Designer hat, I spoil everyone by usually turning around their projects really quickly. So then I get into a mess cause people start expecting things that quickly all the time. Sometimes it gets very hard to juggle cause it’s just me and there are only so many hours in the day. Add to that the fact that I hate confrontations and it can get sticky. Being freelance and never really knowing what’s coming next, I feel like I can never say NO to anything and so managing the schedule and fitting it all in can get really tough.
Who are you inspired by (artists, friends, etc)?
I’m extremely inspired by New York illustrator Kirsten Ulve and even though I’m a lowly peon and she’s never even met me, she’ll email me back when I write her and has given me advice in the past.
Name a few blogs or websites that inspire you.
The amazing thing about the age we’re living in is the INTERNET! As an artist you can present your work to your friends all over the world and have it seen immediately, and through Facebook, things can spread. How has social media helped you with your business?
It’s a fantastic way to CONNECT with more people. So many things come about through our friends – referrals, projects etc. – so it’s great to remind your friends and acquaintances what you do and what you’re about or make NEW friends.
What are your future plans for Small dog workshop?
Keep on doin’ what I’m doin’! I constantly say to myself how lucky I am. I’ve got total flexibility to be with my kids when they’ve got something going on – or take a 20 minute break and sit outside under a tree and eat popsicles with them before I go back to work. I’d love to see State Made Goods grow and become it’s own community.