Thanks to designer Liza Rietz and jewelry designer/sculptor Emily Bixler for opening their studio to us and sharing how they continue to grow and push themselves as creative designers and balance the structure of business with their creative process.
You can view their collaborative house line 6/7 at these links:
Liza and Emily first met when they had adjacent studios at OKO gallery/art studios. They slowly began to find uncanny similarities with their work and a natural collaboration was created soon after.
Both Liza and Emily had operated their own businesses for years before becoming business partners together. The opportunity to partner with each other gave them each an opportunity to grow in new exciting ways as designers and business owners, quickly moving into their new store front on E Burnside in fall 2014.
As they said it best “When you find that right person, it’s amazing”.
Emily studied sculpture at PNCA, graduated and then worked for many different types of small businesses : Pinkham Millinery, yarn store, machine knitting, jeweler. Boet Jewelry began after getting laid off and she had time to decide where she wanted to grow next. She made accessories as a manageable and saleable item but was always running towards sculpture. In the past 2 years she has completed large scale commission pieces for firms like Skylab Architecture and hopes to continue growing this part of her business.
Liza graduated from Lewis + Clark – decided she didn’t want to do social work after studying anthropology and sociology. Realizing she had always wanted to do something creative and hands-on, she learned to sew and grew along with the fashion community in Portland.
See Liza talk about her process for the MOCC exhibit Fashioning Cascadia:
What have you learned?
- “Meet the maker” helps sell the products best.
- Know your limits of what you’re good at. Figure out what you WANT to do.
- Let go of control. Hire out tasks that other are better at.
- Liza learned while slowly growing into production, you have to be very organized to work with a pattern maker – and learn to trust their talents.
Both Liza and Emily push themselves to grow as designers, often paving their own paths. We asked them how they foster creativity while running a business?
- You can always do more but in collaboration you can push each other. The proof is in the pudding.
- Working towards events with deadlines that reach different audiences.
- Commission work often finds itself in their own lines.
- Having the public storefront forces them to have new things – it’s a gallery and they keep it evolving.
- Keep things at least 20% wacky while still being intentional
- Check in with yourself – is this working? Am I happy?
- If you’re second guessing it too much, it’s not right.
- If you like it, you got to do it.
- Jump and jump.
- Find inspiration outside of trends.
What do you want the next year to look like?
- Emily hopes to continue to grow the commission side of her business.
- Both Liza and Emily look forward to growing the 6/7 line. Their Spring line will launch in early May and their Fall line will debut next.
- Showing more of Emily’s sculptures in their storefront.
References and Resources Discussed:
*photos and work by Liza Rietz and BOET