I can't remember when it was that I first started following Emily's work, but I remember the first time I saw a picture of her office and being shocked that such an awesome place could exist! Seriously, look at this masterpiece:
Emily is a talented designer, half of a husband and wife team behind The Oyster's Pearl, and a mother to an insanely adorable baby boy (you'll get a peak at his cuteness toward's the bottom of this interview :)! ). Her distinct style has caught the eye of just a few publications you might be familiar with, like SOUTHERN LIVING and maybe you've heard of this one - BUZZFEED? Yeah, The Oyster's Pearl is kind of a big deal, and I am so honored that Emily shared the story of her business with me so that I could share it with you! So cuddle up with a hot cup of coffee and fall in love with the modern & organic designs courtesy of Emily & Brad!
First things first, in just a couple sentences, how would you describe yourself/your design style?
I would describe our design style as minimalist, modern, and a touch rustic, industrial and organic. I love neutral colors, earthy textures and the contrast between stark modern design and organic shapes and lines. These preferences seem to shape our home, studio, wardrobes, and product lines!
What is the driving force behind your design making?
I think the most compelling force for design is the desire to see the world around me as beautiful, orderly, and communicative as possible through utilizing the elements and principles of design. That sounds so nerdy, but when color and lines and balance and emphasis are used well together, design makes the world a better, easier, more beautiful place! It brings such joy to me to see our products and designs enhancing their surroundings and the improving the lives of people who enjoy them.
If you could tell the world one thing with your designs, what would it be?
It would be that the original design of the world around us - the Earth and living beings who occupy it - are the most beautiful and authentic sources of inspiration that any human could ever imitate through their art. I feel like all of us and the art we make is just a reflection of the original creation of the world and it’s our duty to acknowledge and enjoy these reflections.
What is your favorite material to work with & why?
My favorite medium is watercolor, since it’s such a simple, unassuming paint that can yield such unpredictable and gorgeous results. Whether you’re a pro or beginner, watercolors usually end up looking stunning.
What is the strangest material you’ve worked with?
In a 3D Design class once I had to create an abstract alabaster sculpture using a chisel, mallet, and file - that was totally out of my comfort zone and an odd undertaking but I still have the sculpture displayed in our house!
The Oyster’s Pearl
When did you become full time designers?
I, Emily, have been full-time for about 4 years now and worked on the business while finishing my design degree. Almost two years ago, Brad came on board full-time and we haven’t looked back!
Describe an average work day. Do you have a specific routine you like to stick to?
I’d say one of the best parts of our job is that we don’t have a strict routine, so it keeps things interesting! But typically we get up and have breakfast, Brad heads in to the studio to screen print and package orders, and I spend the morning catching up on emails, updating design drafts for clients, and doing administrative stuff. Then we eat lunch together, and I like to take time in the afternoon to work on more creative endeavors - hand-lettering, painting, or new projects for clients that get me excited. On my end, this is all with a new baby at home this year, so I’m working mostly in the margins of the day when he’s napping or happily playing! It makes every day a little bit different.
How do you hope to see your business evolve in the future? Employees? A bigger studio space?
Excellent question! It’s so fun to dream about the future. Right now, our studio space is plenty big (thankfully!) but could use some good organization. Ideally, we’ll have an employee or two as we approach the holiday season and can’t keep up with seasonal orders. And who knows, maybe they’d stay on and join the team even after the holiday rush is over!
Many artists say they spend 50% of their time creating art and the other 50% marketing themselves. If you could break up your work day into percentages based off of how much time you spend marketing your business & actually creating – how would that look?
It’s such a relief to hear that, because it can seem like a bummer at first but is totally normal and also essential to making your art into a business! I think as creatives, we sometimes picture a full-time gig as getting to just paint and draw and make new things all day long - but unfortunately I’d say that’s only about 25% of my job right now! The rest of the time is broken down into emails (an unfortunately large chunk), website maintenance, social media, administrative tasks, packaging, and more. We definitely have room to grow in balancing these areas, but yes the marketing portion is such a big part - you can’t just create work and expect it to sell itself, you have to put yourself out there!
You’ve been featured in Southern Living and Buzzfeed – how did these features come about? Did you pursue them or vise-versa?
We were extremely fortunate in that we were pursued for these features - and very honored to be sought out by them! We love both of those publications so it was a high point for our company to have those connections.
How did you come up with a profitable price point for your designs?
That’s a really important part of being a successful business! We had to take a long hard look at our costs - including our time, studio utilities, materials, everything - and make sure we were approximately quadrupling those amounts so that we’d have profitable retail costs that also allow us to have a wholesale business. There are all these nerdy formulas that you can go through, but the bottom line is that undervaluing and underpricing your work early on may snag a few extra sales, but will set you up for failure in the long run! We really believe that our prices reflect the quality of design and goods that you’ll get from our business and are also so happy that it affords us the ability to do this full-time.
What is the hardest thing about being a husband-wife team? The best thing?
I think the hardest thing is respecting each other as equals in business the way you do in marriage. Sometimes we take turns being “the boss” with our work and it’s hard not to be tough on the other person the way a typical work environment might operate. So that can be exhausting, managing those roles, but at the end of the day, the best thing is just that we get to live our lives together and have a creative, flexible lifestyle that allows us to experience life side by side.
You have a thriving business, work as a husband and wife team and still manage to raise an adorable baby boy – how do you find balance?
Aw thank you! We are still figuring out how our sweet son fits in to our business plan, but right now we’re just taking it day by day and trying to balance it all. This includes tons of to-do lists, early mornings, late evenings, and taking turns with childcare. And the nicest part of it all is shutting down each evening at the end of the work day and making time to go for a walk, cook dinner, and unwind as a family and try not to let business talk interrupt our rest.
Stay In Touch with Emily!
IG & Twitter: @theoysterspearl, #theoysterspearl
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Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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