The Perfect Button Down, Interview with Noushie and Ronda of Eight+Sand

Eight+Sand Button Down

Eight+Sand embodies what we value at Stripe — well made clothing, ethically sourced materials, and timeless style. In this interview, we talk to the founders of the company, Noushie and Ronda, about the perfect button down, and what it takes to start your own business. 

 

What was it like first starting Eight+Sand?

Honestly, it was amazing, crazy, humbling, inspiring, and really, really overwhelming. We aren’t originally from the apparel industry so we didn’t come up through the design world and learn by osmosis the way you do when you’ve been doing something for a long time — we started from scratch in our forties! We had to learn everything from the ground up, all at once, and in apparel design, that’s no small amount of things. It’s an incredibly complex, nuanced, and often veiled industry that took a lot of sleuthing to navigate. And it’s a very troubled industry as well, so much of what we’d go to the trouble of learning we’d immediately have to scrap and re-learn our own way, so our collection could be in line with not only our aesthetics, but our ethics as well. But it was so worth the effort. There were times we thought, “What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?” But that’s always the case when you’re doing something unfamiliar and exciting. We just kept on through the chaos and one day we looked around and found ourselves on the other side. It’s still very hard work to be sure, but now it’s a little more second nature; the fun-to-work ratio is getting more how we like it. 

 Eight+Sand Stone Twill Button Down

What are your wardrobe staples?

Our forever go-to’s are: vintage 501s, any good white v-neck tee, vintage overalls (especially the railroad stripe variety), Converse, CYDWOQ shoes, men’s cardigans, and any good hat we can find — we’re a hat family. But it’s funny because so much of our reasoning for starting Eight + Sand was that we weren’t finding staple pieces we loved, so a lot of what we wear now is our own stuff — we live in our samples. Lately it’s the britches we’re about to release and our new seersucker PJs, also coming out soon. Those and a good cardigan is our idea of the perfect outfit. 

 

What goes into designing the perfect button down?

A good button down is all about fit. Fabric matters too of course, but excellent, ethically made twill is the easy part, it’s the fit that took us forever to get right. We are active people, and so are most of the women we know, so we started by adding some breathing room through the shoulders. Most button downs on the market are great if you’re sitting still typing, but go to hug a friend or ride a bike or pick up your kid and forget it, they’re so uncomfortable to move in. We wanted a slightly longer fit for all the same reasons — nothing too long, just not too cropped to move freely in.

We also wanted room through the hips, since this is what makes all those men’s button downs we covet not work on women’s bodies, but we say no to darts, so we had to get really creative with drawing our patterns. We also added hidden buttons on the collar so our shirts could easily move between the tailored look of a pressed collar and the casual look of something looser. Lastly, we wanted classic colors that could be worn with jeans, pants, or dresses. The colors we’re still perfecting and adding to — currently we’re at work on some custom commissions and our dream is to have a large selection with swatches available for order.


Eight and Sand Hoodie and Button Down


How do you like moving between two different cities – Oakland and Austin?

For us, it’s perfect. We both have deep roots in Texas, but our kids go to school here in Oakland (except our daughter in college), so moving between the two feels natural. At this point in our lives, our Texas time is all about respite and recovery — it’s where we go to decompress, to design and to be still. Oakland is the opposite; in Oakland we’re always on the move. It’s where we manufacture and where we spend most of our time, so it’s where the business, the inspiration, and the bustle of kids and work and friends come together with the diversity and energy of the city we love. Together, they make a complete whole for us, fulfilling everything we and our kids need to live full lives.

 

Lastly, what advice do you have for people who are considering starting their own business?

You’ve gotta love it, plain and simple, because so much of your psychic and physical energy is spent thinking, dreaming, strategizing, imagining and doing for this one thing. A lot of people have told us they want to start their own business so they can work less and we just smile. Work less? Try work constantly. But if you love it, it’s worth it. 

From a purely logistical perspective, our advice is to develop a rigorous business plan before you get started. A lot of people think they can just wing it, but a detailed plan is a must for making it happen well. It forces you to figure out if your business is viable, how much capital you’ll need, what cash flow is, what differentiates your product, how you’ll market the business, etc. After that, if you still want to start your project, begin by making a list of everything that has to be done, from getting a business license to finding suppliers, leasing space, photography, building a website etc., and do three things on that list every day. You’ll be amazed by how far your vision and passion will take you.

Lastly, ask yourself, “Does the world need this?” There’s a lot of things the world needs badly, and a lot of things it doesn’t. If you can, be in the first category, it’s the better one to be sure.

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Follow Eight+Sand on Instagram and shop their amazing clothing here.

Eight+Sand will be having a Pop-Up with us Saturday, August 12th from 2–6pm.

 

 

 


Meet the Designer — Monica Squitieri, Jewelry Designer/Badass

Monica Squitieri Jewelry

How did you become a jewelry designer? What was it like in the beginning?

I've always painted and worked with metal, but about four years ago I started Monica Squitieri as a business. Within two months of creating a handful of pieces and starting a website, I got my first wholesale order from a shop in Los Angeles. I was like, "Oh! I guess I'm a business!" I was working out of a closet in a 500 square foot trailer in Santa Monica. I worked out of that closet for two years even though those were some of the largest orders I've ever received. It wasn't a closet space just for jewelry. It had tons of motorcycle gear, tons of books and who knows what else. I have no clue. It made me realize I can work almost anywhere. As far as what it was like in the beginning? I was excited. I didn't have expectations except to make things. I didn't have any guidance. Honestly I had no clue what I was doing. But I learned fast. I'm still very much learning. It's one thing to make and create, but it's a whole other beast to do that stuff and try to buy groceries and pay vet bills off it etc. I'd say the one thing I have (and thankfully still do) is the support from others to keep creating. I can't tell you how important positive support is when diving into something new and daunting.

Monica Squitieri Jewelry

We know how much you love music, and you site music as a big influence on your work. In what ways does music show up in the jewelry you make?

Oh yeah. My first album as a kid was the Grateful Dead. Dylan, Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Zappa and Pink Floyd were top contenders. I felt so rad when I got my first pair of headphones. I could be in my own world. Getting drowned out by the sounds was critical for me in my painting and creating growing up. Going to shows added a whole new element of inspiration to my process. As an adult, it's literally crucial for me to see music for my spirit and for my work. I've been wanting to make pieces for musicians for a couple years now. I never got around to it till recently. I got lots of help designing guitar slides and picks from master guitar shredder Neal Casal. I’m pretty pumped with how they've turned out. Making these things is much more complicated than jewelry. You wouldn't think so because at first glance the shape is so simple. But trust me. This was difficult.


The slides have been really well received and I'm starting to make them in pewter, a metal I've never worked with before. This will make them much lighter in weight for folks that are used to jamming with glass. The thumb picks are loads of fun to make and people seem to really like them, which makes me happy. I make a few different thumb pick shapes. With both the picks and slides, I'm super happy that I get to offer them customized with my etchings and gemstone groupings. There's more coming soon from me with regard to musical objects. I'm so happy to see this collection grow.


Is there something you’ve always wanted to design and make but just haven’t gotten to yet? If so, what is it?

I've been wanting to create various objects for a while now, tiny, metal sculptures. I'm starting to get into that a bit now. I've been carving out designs. Usually when I have ideas, I wax them out. I've had some waxes sitting around for years. I'm almost there. Hopefully you'll see them soon.


What kind of advice do you have for people who want to start their own business as a designer?

Oh man, owning a business is hard if you love what you do, because you'll be thinking about it 24/7. There's a lot that goes into the "everyday" stuff. From my perspective, if you're an artist and you love 100% making and creating and putting out those vibrations, then go for it. But my advice is to do it like there's no turning back. Give it your all. People will feel that. And the energy from others’ excitement for your art will feed you to keep going.

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Shop Monica Squitieri jewelry online with us here.

Follow Monica (and her adorable dog Noe) on Instagram.

 


Interview with Agnes Ysselstein of Vssel Leather Goods

It’s easy to spot a Vssel bag as you walk through Stripe. The design is strikingly simple, clean, and beautiful. And the moment you pick one up, you can feel the quality of the materials. In this interview, Agnes Ysselstein, the woman behind Vssel, shares her story of how she started and what it’s like to be a designer in Santa Cruz. 

How did you first get started making leather goods?

Growing up, my mom would take me with her to fabric stores. She was a big influence with my love of sewing and taught me how to use her sewing machine. She encouraged my creativity which led me to have the best dressed dolls at my elementary school.

I had never worked with leather until a few years ago. It was a challenge at first, I started making little leather wallets... My sister was getting married so I decided to make gifts for her bridesmaids. I found some shiny gold leather and made ten little wallets. The girls loved them! Their excitement got me started.

What was it like when you first started?

I loved it! Working with leather was different, it's a 3-dimensional medium that allows me to visualize shapes differently than fabric. I started making little things like wallets, key chains, water bottle holders — using every bit of leather. Then I started making bags. My husband asked me to make him a grocery bag so I modeled his after a paper bag. He got compliments whenever he used it. I then started making these as birthday gifts for my friends. They all suggested I start selling them. 

 Vssel leather bag and accessories

What’s your design process like? Do you have an imaginary customer in mind? If so, could you describe them? 

After my first bag, I started making bags for myself. I designed it around the needs of an active mom. As a mother of two boys and always on the go, I wanted a big front pocket, inside pockets, it had to hold their water bottles, snacks and their gis for Jiu Jitsu. I would describe my design process as combining practical function using beautiful materials and clean lines. I have never thought of an imaginary customer, I imagine they would be my friends since they are my biggest supporters. They like me want a bag that is versatile, using it for whatever is going on that day.

Santa Cruz has a thriving community of artists and skilled makers. How has living and working here been for you?

I love downtown Santa Cruz!  First Fridays, pop up events, etc. I see artists selling their work in our local shops and it inspires me. I'm very shy when it comes to presenting my own work. I was sooo nervous the first time I went to Stripe with my bags. But with the encouragement of my friends, I'm so glad I did. I'm thrilled to see my bags every time I walk into Stripe.

I'm very thankful for the support that the Santa Cruz community has shown me! 

Lastly, what advice do you have for people who are considering starting their own business?

There is a lot of support here in Santa Cruz for small, local artisans. I think many of the stores and customers appreciate well-crafted work and are willing to support new local people like myself, if they believe in the products they're making. Store owners like Suna and Dana have great knowledge, and I have found they are more than happy to help out a new business person. I've been happily surprised at how well my work has been received, and I would encourage anyone who is passionate about what they are doing to get it out there. This has been, and still is, a learning process for me, becoming a small business owner has been more gratifying than I anticipated it to be.

Follow Vssel on Instagram and come shop Vssel bags next time you're at Stripe.


Michelle Magdalena Maddox — First Friday at Stripe

 


Michelle Magdalena Maddox
Artist Statement

Michelle Magdalena Maddox is a local commercial and fine art photographer on the Monterey Peninsula and has had over 25 solo and group exhibitions since 2006 when she graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. Magdalena currently lives in Pacific Grove.

First Friday Artist Reception
July 7th
5–9
Cocktails will be served


Campbell Steers at Stripe Men First Friday Santa Cruz

Campbell Steers Linocut Stripe Men

Campbell Steers
Artist Statement

If you hadn’t noticed yet, I’m hopelessly obsessed with bicycles. They inevitably become an essential component to my art—and it’s fitting, as so much inspiration and idea generating is spurred by the sights and sensations experienced by pedaling them around. This series of linocut prints honors the two-wheeled machine and explores its different personalities—from playful to sympathetic to serene. For me artistically, this series is an active leap into the imaginary. As much fun as it is to be on the ground, it’s also fun to catch some air.

This series was printed under the redwood foliage in the beautiful print studio at UCSC.

First Friday Artist Reception
July 7th
5–9
Cocktails will be served

Raen Summer Instagram Giveaway

raen vista sunglasses giveaway 

We're giving away a pair of the Raen Vista sunglasses! To enter, here are the rules:

1. Follow @stripe_santa_cruz

2. Like the giveaway post on Instagram

3. Tag 3 friends who you're spending time with this summer

Contest runs 5/18-5/21. Winners will be randomly selected on Monday 5/22. We will message the winner on Instagram. Winner must be able to pick up the Raen's from our headquarters in Santa Cruz.

Head over to our Instagram to enter: @stripe_santa_cruz

Good luck!


Just a Really Nice Shirt — Staff Pick by Nicholas

 

Nicholas wearing Raleigh Denim Workshop Button Down

Raleigh Denim Workshop Button Down

 

Nicholas works over at Stripe Men. When he's not working with us, he's finishing up his senior year at UCSC, where he's majoring in Creative Writing and Philosophy. He's been part of the Stripe crew for about nine months now, and he's our first employee feature in the revamp of our Staff Pick blog series.

What do you like about the shirt?

I really like the slim fit in the body and the sleeves. Also, the fabric is really comfortable — it's made from linen and cotton. And in the design, they really paid attention to the details like the textured buttons and the sleek front pocket. It's just a really nice shirt.

Coffee or tea?

I love both, but in my current day-to-day existence I prefer coffee.

What's your favorite place to grab coffee downtown?

Cafe Delmarette makes the best cup of no-nonsense cheap coffee. They brew either Cat and Cloud or Verve for their coffee of the day, and it’s only 2 bucks for a 12oz cup.

Who do you look up to as a poet?

I admire Sharon Olds, a brilliant contemporary poet whose work makes me weep. If you cannot help yourself from staining a book with tears, then you know the poetry is inspirational. Other than Sharon, I look up to my peers. Santa Cruz has bred some fantastic poets in the last few years, and their work has pushed me to think and write each week.

 Raleigh Denim Workshop Button Down

A little more about the brand:

In 2007, Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough founded Raleigh Denim Workshop in the heart of their hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. They opened their own workshop and hired a team of skilled craftspeople to make jeans the old fashion way. Sewing, hemming, and riveting is all done in house.


4 Great Gifts for Your Mama — Mother's Day With Stripe

What better way to celebrate those special women in your life than treating them to some lovely gifts that are as unique and special as them. We thought we'd help get you inspired with some of our beautiful Mother's Day cards and unique gift ideas to show how thankful and grateful you are for your mama.

 

1. Card, Flowers & Something Extra

You could go simple with a beautiful card and flowers, or go a little more bold with some URB Apothecary products and a linen pouch. If your mama is into all natural products, these are the must haves. Plus, they're made right here in Santa Cruz.

 

2. Lovely Kitchen Goodies

For the mom who loves to trying new recipes, we have a range of amazing cookbooks in-store and online. Paired with one of the beautiful wooden cutting boards Suna brought back from Texas, you've got yourself a truly inspiring gift.

 

3. Garden Love 

These forged iron tools are perfect for the mama who likes to spend her time outside in her garden. Durable, functional, and really cute when paired with our wooden carry-all. 

 

4. Go All Out 

If you're looking to splurge a bit more, we've got some great things that can be separate or paired together like the Vssel leather tote and Sandgrens Clogs. Both are handmade and of wonderful quality.

Mother's Day is just around the corner — what are you getting for Mom?


Brian Rounds at Stripe Men First Friday

Brian Rounds Painting

Brian Rounds 

Artist Statement

Art has the power to instill within us a sense of belonging. I grew up in the Bay Area where rapid suburban development resulted in a dichotomous landscape — places of commerce and consumption intermixed with patches of land left somewhat wild. While "the grid" provides certain benefits, the trails, creeks, and forests of the foothills present something indispensable — a respite from the culture of commodity, and a much needed contact with the ancient and nameless. My landscape paintings offer a sanctuary, a meditation, a point from which one can follow along and perhaps lose oneself among the contours of nature. So begins the process of building up a small reflection of the world before me —a  thoroughly absorbing task urged on by gradual and changing passage of light. Through the act of painting outdoors, I hope to express the unique and mysterious pull that landscape holds when we feel connected to it.

We're excited to have Brian's work at Stripe Men. Join us for art and cocktails at our First Friday reception on May 5th, 5–9pm. 

To view more of Brian's work, visit brianrounds.com.


Shannon Belardi at Stripe First Friday

Shannon Belardi painting

Shannon Belardi

Artist Statement

My recent work has been an exploration across three mediums — drawing, painting, and printmaking. In my paintings, the surface is developed by pouring puddles of solvent and pigment on the canvas and later going back into the work with opaque marks. In my drawings and etchings, value is created through a process of accumulated marks organized in a soft ground of abstract grids and spectrums. I work cautiously to preserve specifics areas of the paper or canvas to create controlled environments for my mark making. I often use photographs as a starting point and later abandon source material in order to abstract the images from memory. My work references recent photos that I have taken while spending time in the rural areas of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from San Jose State University in 2015 and currently live and work in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

We're excited to have Shannon Belardi's work at Stripe. Join us for art and cocktails at our First Friday reception on May 5th, 5–9pm.

To view more of Shannon's work, visit shannonbelardi.com.