Janet and Trisha Snyder started their gorgeous line of handmade printed products, Pawling Print Studio, around the same time as I started Art Hound. It’s been an amazing experience watching their business grow and gain the recognition it deserves (they just got a shout-out from design*sponge!). For a while now I’ve been hoping to get to know a bit more about the super-talented Snyder sisters, and I recently had the opportunity to ask them some questions.
Source: Washington Life annual creative issue. What a great shot! (The text has a few errors – Janet is on the left and Trisha is on the right. And Janet is not a dancer although she looks like she could be one!)
You’re sisters and business partners. How does the design process work? Are there certain issues you disagree on?
So far, so good! We have similar taste when it comes to design aesthetics, and we learned how to build a business model together through a lot of research and even more trial and error. It definitely
helps more than it hurts to have someone else there when you’re second guessing everything. Being family also allows us to be a lot more honest about everything. “I don’t think we should do that,” or “That looks really terrible,” is the same as “You have a booger hanging from your nose.” You don’t have to edit your opinions for a sister the way you might have to towards a co-worker or another professional.
Living in different cities has also worked to our advantage. We brainstorm design ideas together, execute them separately, then come back together to review them, mix, and repeat. Being able to work on things separately has been really important for us to prevent burnout. Every time we meet back up, we’re full of new ideas, which is both exciting and energizing.
What’s been the hardest obstacle so far in starting your own business?
Both of us absolutely hate spending money and are extremely risk averse, so for us, a lot of it has been knowing where to put our money next, not paying ourselves, and taking risks. It’s harder than it looks to grow
your business in baby steps and try to visualize the big picture at the same time. Whenever we get frustrated, we have to remind ourselves to step back and see our progress. Thankfully we’ve met a lot of fantastically supportive, like-minded people through the wonder that is social media. Oh, and our families are awesome.
Etsy really inspired us to open up shop in the first place and it was the easiest place to start. When we realized we wanted to pursue this seriously, it was important for us to have our own website. Big Cartel
made sense since you can test it out for free and it doesn’t require any programming skills to start selling. Plus, when you’re up to it, you have the ability to customize it as much or as little as you want.
Why both? Well, we believe our own website is important for growth. It tells wholesalers, bloggers, and hopefully eventually magazine editors, etc. that we mean business without even opening our mouths. It also means we’re not reliant on Etsy if they ever decide to shut their doors or change their policies. But Etsy is a great community and we love being a part of it. We’ve gotten to know other buyers and sellers in a way that we never would have with just our own shop. The site really encourages interaction among users – from hearts to treasuries to convos- and almost everyone we’ve interacted with has been enthusiastic not only about the products, but also about supporting the artists who make them. You can’t get that from just your own website!
You feature some amazing work on your blog! What are some of your favorite lesser-known sites you scope out for inspiration?
Thanks! We love your site for inspiration, but some of our other favorites are:
Of Paper and Things
Unurth | Street Art
Field & Sea
Evan Sharp’s Beautiful Simplicity pinboard
Sha Hwang’s Installations and Spaces pinboard
Strangely (or maybe not so strangely) we are both much more inspired by anything outside of our academic disciplines (architecture and graphic design). We certainly follow our share of design blogs, but it tends to feel more like reading the news than inspiration. Right now we’re loving a lot of quieter art installations.
“The Snow” by Tokujin Yoshioka Design, an example of the minimalist, nature-inspired art and design the sisters feature on their blog.
Definitely the Lines Tote, which is kind of cool since it’s also one of the first products we designed. Our calendars and the Long Necked Onesies are also popular.
Do you have any thoughts on launching a non-textile product line? For example, I know you both love ceramics…
Haha, yes we do love ceramics! Of course, part of their lure is that we can’t make them ourselves, so that’s not happening in the near future! First we’d like to see our textile and paper lines continue to expand. We would love to do yardage in eco fabrics, wrapping paper, more notebooks, etc. And we originally had grand designs for a whole line of table linens, from placemats to napkins to table runners, that we’d like to develop as well.
Have you been able to maintain outside creative outlets while launching and running PPS?
Not as much as we would like. Does dancing around the studio count? We have personal knitting and sewing projects, but lately they’ve been languishing unfinished while we’ve been frantically preparing for the holiday season. We try to make it to museums when we can, but sadly most of our recent art intake has been online only.