CLOSE-UP: High Vibes w/ Seaworthy
Seaworthy is a handmade, artisan jewelry line, designed and constructed in their Portland, Oregon studio. Designer Marisa Howard and team make each piece by hand utilizing traditional metal working processes and materials that have been used for centuries. Howard's (and team's) dedication to craft, community and sustainability are at the forefront of the business - They walking the walk they talk. Marisa's 'Resting Bitch Face' keychain hits home for us... we've all been there and understand the plight of being a woman who's always misunderstood. And this keychain lets us be empowered to not give a damn. #justsayin
1. Tell us about the inspiration behind the design you made for/with us?
I have always been told that I make a strange impression on people. I'm not overly bubbly or quick to offer a lot of myself to a stranger. I've been told I'm cold and stoic. I have been told I'm unapproachable. Surprise, surprise … I've been called bossy. I've also been called a bitch.
“I don't think she likes me,” is a thing people say about me a lot. I've definitely been told I should smile more.
I've been made to feel bad about my nature as a person. Like I should change in order to make people more comfortable.
Why are women expected to act in a way that pleases others? They shouldn't speak their minds or express their feelings too openly. They should be more accommodating, more welcoming. They should put people at ease. They shouldn't be confident or strong or too occupied with the reality of life to offer a smile and giggle to a complete stranger.
I'll just never be a smile and giggle kind of woman.
I started carving my two resting bitches after a very difficult year. On January 1st of 2016, my husband went to the hospital in an ambulance for what turned out to be the beginning stages of a grand mal seizure. The seizure was caused by a mass on his brain which turned out to be cancer. My husband has brain cancer. I tell you this as a reminder that you never know what people are going through.
In the midst of all of this, I was again told how I made a stranger feel weird or intimidated or not as warm and fuzzy as they had hoped. The gift that adversity gives you is the ability to give absolutely no fucks. And, for the first time, I saw these observations for what they really are: not my problem.
It's not my fault. I don't want to smile and I don't have to.
I know I'm not a mean, cold or aggressive person. I am strong, confident, smart, funny, warm and loving. Intimidating is not something that I am; it is something that is projected on to me by someone who is intimidated. It is not my job to make a stranger feel comfortable meeting a woman like me.
I carved these faces as a practice in acceptance. I'm proud of my resting bitches. One of the faces is introspective, eyes closed, looking in. The other is eyes wide open, determined and ready for whatever is coming her way.
Stop telling women to smile.
(** Side note: My husbands cancer is dormant and is being monitored. He is doing well!)
2. Why were you interested in collaborating with Good Support?
I feel that I am in a perpetual state of wanting to do more and having no idea what to do. My comfort zone in stressful times is to lean heavily on my introvert side. I like a lot of alone time and I like to channel that angst into something creative. Collaborating with Good Support felt like an opportunity to use that comfort zone to actually participate in a community in a positive way. Also, one of my employees asked if there were any projects that she could donate her time to in order to raise money or awareness for a cause (Sidenote: Seaworthy has the most amazing team). Good Support was the perfect meshing of those things.
3. How did you get into making the goods/work/objects that you do?
I started making jewelry as a creative outlet. I had recently quit a corporate career and I really needed the money and the sanity that came with the practice of creating and selling my pieces. The business that you see now was not part of that original vision, but that is where it started from.
4. What are your thoughts on conscious consumption?
As the owner of an artisan-made line, it is important to me that I participate in the community that I ask the Seaworthy audience to participate in. Just as a baseline, for me personally. My entire income comes from the Seaworthy community--those are real people that I see and talk to and engage with. So, it's important to me that I keep that money within the community. I have to be a consumer of the ideals that I put forward as a business, otherwise … who do I think I am?
I have the benefit of understanding the financial investment involved in running a sustainable manufacturing business. I also know exactly how much a small brand cherishes every single purchase that customers make with them. So, I know that my view point is skewed a bit from the average consumer.
We recently moved to the outskirts of the city of the Portland and I'm trying to navigate this new area that has very little of the city charm. I drove past a strip mall that had a Banana Republic outlet and I thought, “I should go there.” And then my immediate next thought was, “why would I go there? I can't think of a single thing I need from there.”
It's easy to go to a place like that and get that quick fix of a deal. I did it a lot in my 20's. I had closets full of pieces I hardly wore because I didn't love them but...I got a good deal. It makes me cringe now. I would take clothes to Goodwill that still had tags on them. The pieces I buy now do cost a lot more but I buy way less and I don't waste my money. My wearables budget is lower than it's ever been. It's easy and fun to get dressed when I buy pieces I love and ones that actually fit. I also take more care of and pride in the items that I own and if at some point they don't fit into my style, I can easily sell or pass them on.
5. How invested are you in civic engagement and social justice?
This last year has spun me out, leaving me completely frozen at times by all the things that are so completely fucked up. There are a lot of surges of resistance happening, which are easy to get caught up in, but don't really fit my personality. For me to feel truly engaged, I need a steady thing that I chip away at over time, something that I can work hard at and see the results of. Figuring out what that thing is, in a time where a new atrocity is introduced pretty much daily, is extremely challenging. So, I've chosen to start internally at Seaworthy. We put practices into place that we feel impact our world in the most positive way possible. Starting with the environmental impact of our production, which is nearly waste free at this point. Carrying over to the environment that the team works within, including living wages and benefits. And finally, giving back to our community and causes that we believe in, through cash donations and also by paying the Seaworthy staff for their volunteer time. I think this is a foundation of engagement that we can continue to build on.
6. What's your sign?