Laura Schoorl, Designer, Pansy
Laura Schoorl has spent her creative career building out her wardrobe and simultaneously improving ours. This self-proclaimed "hippy at heart" is successfully running not one, but two Bay area businesses and making her mark without leaving one environmentally. Pansy is Laura's lovely line of organic underwear, and she also has a namesake collection of uniquely wearable clothing and leather goods. This local lady has discovered that coveted balance between industry and artistry. Today, Lisa Says Gah has the pleasure of bringing you a peek behind the scenes. Enjoy!
LSG: Hi, Laura! Thanks for having us! Can you shed a little light on your career path?
I was born and raised in California and I've lived here my whole life. North, South and back North again. I lived in the Bay for the first time while I was going to school at UC Berkeley then moved to LA and came back a few years ago.
I started working as a designer when I moved back to Oakland. I studied rhetoric and planned on pursuing a law career - until I decided to retire at 25. I tinkered around as a sandal maker and then started making leather bags. I've been doing that for a couple years now. I also started Pansy with my dear friend and fellow sandal maker Rachel Corry a couple years ago. It was my first time pursuing a venture on a grander scale. After that, I launched my clothing line.
LSG: Your studio is beautiful!! Can you tell us about Ogaard and your space here?
It's getting there. I'm excited to reorganize and make it more inviting. Ogaard is a gallery and studio space run by Tessa Watson. Tessa is the best. She is a constant innovator and connector. Her curation of the gallery tends to be a collaboration - she works closely with every object that comes into the space and gives perfect guidance to each artist she works with. I am grateful to be a part of such an inspirational space.
LSG: What inspired you to take the plunge into working independently and pioneering your brands?
I like being the boss of it all. I am very comfortable with taking chances and exploring new possibilities. If I get an idea in my head I tend to follow through.
LSG: Can you speak to the differences between Pansy and your namesake line?
Today, the difference is one of name and scale. Pansy feels like its own entity. It is my sustainable underwear project. I like that it is more contained in its ambitions. I also feel perfectly comfortable with making thousands of undies. Underwear is a use object and there will always be a need. My line is a bit of everything that I dream up and feel like making. It's an outlet for my idle hands.
LSG: Can you describe the lifestyle of your brand?
I truly just make the things I want to exist in the world. So I would have to say the lifestyle is mine. Hot chocolate for breakfast and nachos for lunch. Saying yes too much. Overwhelmed with the possibilities of life.
LSG: How do the materials you use inform your work?
Materials are everything. Most of my energy is spent on sourcing the best (environmentally conscious, sustainable and ethical) materials possible, I have an insatiable guilt around making things. I am an incurable Californian hippie at heart, and I am constantly trying to reconcile creating more stuff.
LSG: Can you tell us about your process of designing a collection?
I design the clothes I want to wear, which may seem self-serving and it totally is. I have spent the last few years building out my dream wardrobe.
LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it?
I am always absorbing the world around me and that comes across unconsciously in my designs. I do take lots of photos, but I rarely look through them.
LSG: As an independent business owner, what advice would you share with someone interested in starting a fashion company?
Intern in the field you'd like to pursue and get an intimate idea of what that life looks and feels like - to see if you'll truly enjoy it. Then just start making things.
LSG: What skills would you recommend mastering before becoming your own boss?
You need to have a tireless work ethic. It also takes truly loving what you do. You'll never stop working so you shouldn't be doing it for any other reason than an innate desire to create.
LSG: Can you give us a brief overview of your bucket list? What are some “musts”?
Being pregnant, I want a couple cuties in the next few years. This year, I want to go to Japan. I also want to try out for a higher division in my women's soccer league.
LSG: Is there anything special in your studio’s neighborhood that we should check out?
Berkeley Farmer's Market on Tuesday afternoon, my favorite. Right now, there are the best blueberries!