Meet the Maker: Zoë Linn Anderson

FEB 13, 2017

Our latest featured maker, Zoë Linn Anderson, returned to her hometown of Portland, Oregon after years of zigzagging between Massachusetts, San Francisco, New York and her home state. Encouraged by her mother, artist Carola Penn, to explore her own eye for design, Zoë began using Spoonflower to create her line of home textiles featuring tea towels, napkins and zipper pouches. Get to know Zoë more below, visit her website, and shop her wares on Etsy.

My day starts with:
“the smell of coffee, the kid-size thundering of footsteps, and our dog Ollie wagging his whole body in an exuberant greeting.  After scrambling to get breakfasts and lunches made, the kids to school, the dog walked, and the news read, I finally settle in to work.”

Tea towel | Zoe painting a design

I fell in love with making things when: “I got my very own sewing machine.  For years before, I had created designs for other people and companies and rarely saw the finished product.  One year, my family came together to get me a sewing machine for my birthday, and I felt like my world had opened up; I could actually touch, and sell, my designs as physical objects.”

Zoe sewing a corner of a mushroom fabric design | 2 potholders
When I’m in my studio: “I feel quiet and focused, I strive to not be pulled by life’s various distractions.”

Who or what influences or inspires your work and why? “My mother, artist Carola Penn, has always been an inspiration to me: seeing her work, her process of art-making, and her persistent encouragement to be creative at every stage in my life.  When I went to college she encouraged me to go to art school. When I floundered about after the dot com crash, she suggested we form a family pet portrait business.  When I left my textile design job in New York and moved back to Portland during the Great Recession, she encouraged me to make and sell my textiles at a craft sale. For better or for worse, she’s never suggested I give it up.”

From left to right: Zoë's mother Carola Penn, brother Lev, and Zoë
From left to right: Zoë’s mother Carola Penn, brother Lev, and Zoë

What’s in your toolbox as a creative maker? “Pencils, watercolor paints, Wacom tablet, iron, rotary cutter, sewing machine.”

My proudest accomplishment recently: “is getting through 50 yards of fabric in time for winter holiday craft shows and sales!  I did appreciate the help of a couple local seamstresses for some of the fabric, but much of it I sewed myself.”

Zoe's plant pillow | Zoe holding fabric | Tea towel featuring cross-section of wood

What piece of your wardrobe best represents your style?
“Though I love creating and combining
patterns in strong color ways, I tend to wear solid navy and black clothes.”

Before starting a small business, I was told/wish someone had told me “how to make a business plan.”

What has been an important resource to you as a small business owner? “Etsy helped me get started selling my textiles, thinking about how much to charge, how to advertise, how to photograph, how to brand. Spoonflower has allowed me to make my own textiles. Local craft sales have been a great way to make connections.”

My favorite Spoonflower textile to work with “WAS Linen Cotton Canvas because its thickness and stiffness works well with the tea towels, napkins and zippered pouches I’m making, but I think I’m going to start ordering more of the new Lightweight Cotton Twill!”

Tea towel featuring mushroom design | Zipper pouch with trees | Tea Towel with funghi design

We love the organic elements in Zoë’s designs that beautifully evoke the natural world around us. You can email her directly on her website to shop  her beautiful home textiles, or stop in at Made Here PDX in Portland to shop her tea towels. You can also see Zoë and her wares at the Buckman School Art Fair on March 11-12, 2017.

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  • Hi Zoe…Beautiful work , and congratulations! I have worked with Spoonflower too, and was featured as a designer a few weeks ago. I am not a textile designer per se…..I post my images from my mural work as a sideline…. but I like Spoonflower because they honor (as well as they can) the copyrights of artists and seem to be a standup company. Anyhow, as a NW artist tucked away in Seattle, I always keep an eye out for our tribe. Good work, and good luck….your designs are fabulous!