She used a design by Adrienne Wong.
This interview with the lovely Danielle Hazen kicks off our series of Spoonflower staff interviews, appropriate since Danielle herself fairly kicked off Spoonflower. She's been with us for three years now, since almost the very beginning. Hope you all enjoy getting to know her a little better!
You were the first person hired at Spoonflower--and you didn’t even get paid at first! I’d love to hear your take on the early days at Spoonflower. Was it what you were hoping it would be back then?
You know, I really had no idea what to expect! When I first contacted Spoonflower I was fresh out of college and job markets were crashing. I had spent my summer looking desperately for work and was toying with the idea of going back for a Masters degree. During my summer Internet escapades, between looking for work and reading a gazillion blogs, I read that Anna Marie Horner had taken on an intern of sorts. (You can read the article here). I thought to myself, ‘I could totally do that.’ I love coffee, I love fabric, and I REALLY needed something to do during the day. I was driving my boyfriend nuts just sitting at home all day. Here's the email I sent to you all at Spoonflower.
Hi, my name is Danielle. I recently moved to Raleigh from Greensboro after graduating from UNC-G. I've been admiring your efforts and would really like to help out. I have a degree in sculpture and I am looking to apply to UNC for a dual Masters in Art History and Library Science. I am a hard worker and very dedicated to those around me. I know a little bit about a lot and pick things up quickly, and there is little I'm afraid to conquer. I would love to do some volunteer work (everything from housework and babysitting to packaging and answering phone calls ) while waiting to hear from employers and even after finding work.
I thought I would paint the walls of the office! I really never imagined things would evolve the way they did.
How would you compare a typical work day back when Spoonflower first started to a typical day working here now?
A work day for me now is so different than from the beginning. Three years ago (!) my work day was from 10-2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I mostly worked on cutting and packing fabric. Slowly over the next few months as orders increased, I began printing more and more. By October I was offered a part-time job, then by January I was working full-time. My favorite memory of that time was the two tents we erected during the winter to control humidity around the printers within that old factory. I lovingly referred to that small zipped up spaced as my office, sofa and all.
Currently, my day involves lots of maintenance and upkeep of our twelve printers. On any given day, you may find me with my head hidden in the depths of a printer fine tuning motors or replacing parts with ink all over my hands.
What sort of education and work experience did you have before coming here? Did it prepare you for what you’d be doing?
I went to college at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I have a BFA in Fine Art with a concentration in Sculpture and a minor in Dance, Performance and Choreography. I ended up changing my major a total of three times. I started as a Dance major, then after a few art classes and injuries, changed my major to Art. Within the art department, I changed from a Design Major to a Sculpture Major. To me, the process of building sculpture is very similar to the process of choreography and this made the change easy and obvious.
During the latter half of college I worked in a camera store lab processing photos and doing photo restorations. I worked there for close to four years and watched photography evolve from mostly film to digital right before my eyes.
As for whether I was prepared to work here, I believe the best thing about a liberal arts education is that it teaches you to be prepared for anything. The actual things I learned in school were welding, wood working, wheel-throwing, etc. The theoretical things I learned were more about visual communication, perception, and being a hands-on person. You need to be prepared for the unexpected, find a solution to every problem, and explore every option when you work in the medium of sculpture. Those are the most valuable concepts I learned in school, and I put them into practice every day at Spoonflower.
What have you learned so far from working here?
Boy, I’ve learned a little of everything, from color management and how to work in Adobe Illustrator, to fabric manufacturing and everything in between. I try to learn everything I can about fabric design and printing now. I google anything I don’t know or don’t understand right away, and I get involved in online communities that will assist me. I love challenging myself.
One of the fun things I learned while working for Spoonflower is about reflectance. The smoother the surface of a fabric is, the brighter and more vibrant your colors will appear. This is because when the light reflects off the fabric, it bounces back directly toward the light source, creating an even tone across the whole area. The more texture a material has, the more directions the light will reflect to, dulling the area overall.
What is your favorite way to get creative in your spare time?
I’ve got a serious love for all fiber-y things. I especially love to knit socks and hats during football season. I can knit a hat in one regular season game which is approximately three hours. Because of the heat lately, though, I’ve been doing less knitting and more sewing. I am trying to learn more about proper garment fitting and pattern manipulation. I also love to cook. I made English muffins this weekend. De-lish! The best part of cooking is eating. :-)
What’s your favorite Spoonflower base fabric?
Up until recently my favorite fabric was our organic cotton sateen. It’s a great all-purpose weight fabric, with a nice, natural sheen and wider than normal width. I used it for everything including quilts and dresses. My NEW favorite is the cotton/silk. I think everything I make from now on will be with the cotton/silk! It washes amazingly, holds color spectacularly, and feels great against the skin. It’s also a breeze to sew with compared to 100% silk.
Complete this sentence: If I could only ___________ at Spoonflower, ___________ would be much _______________.
If I could only drink more coffee at Spoonflower, packing fabric would be much faster. (To clarify I CAN drink as much coffee as I want at Spoonflower. It’s more of a personal limit than a physical one.)
Anything else you want Spoonflower folks to know about you?
I credit my dad with teaching me to sew. While my mom knows how to sew and still does needlepoint, my dad taught me to hand-sew patches on my backpack so they couldn’t be torn off. When I was 13 or 14, he brought home a few sewing machines in trade for some computer work he did for a friend’s aunt. I claimed the Singer Touchtronic in its split pea-green case as mine. I still have that sewing machine, and I use it all the time.