Spotlight: Kristy and Shayla with Sassafras Lane Designs
Sassafras Lane Designs is a mother and daughter team, designing quilt and bag patterns. A perfect match as business partners, each brings a different set of skills to the table, and it all adds up to a successful creative business venture. They love fresh creative ideas and lots of color, especially orange! Sassafras Lane is the street where their Orange Studio was located, where the business was born and where Kristy and Shayla lived for years.
How long have you been sewing and quilting? How did you get started?
Kristy: I began garment sewing when I was very young and started quilting in my early 20’s when I was pregnant with my first kid.
Shayla: My grandma taught me to sew and make quilts when I was 5 or 6. I kept seeing my mom and grandma make these gorgeous quilts and I wanted to be a part of the fun!
How did you find your creative niche?
Kristy: I have always been crafty. When my kids were young I used to do craft shows with painted wood creations. I cut the wood, sanded, painted, the whole nine yards. I also made little stuffed Santas and things like that – the quilting bug really got me when we moved to Colorado and I wanted a part time job while the kids were in school. There was a new quilt store just opening so it was perfect and it just snowballed from there!
Shayla: Falling into the quilting world seemed to be a bit fated for me! I grew up with it, worked in various aspects of the industry and fell in love with creating quilts and sharing them with the world.
Do you dabble in other creative endeavors or mediums? If so, tell us more!
Shayla: I love photography and love that I get to combine my loves by photographing quilts for social media and pattern covers. My favorite blog post I have written recently is about photographing quilts. I also design fabric for Windham Fabrics. My first line launched this year and my next is coming out next year!
What inspires you to create?
Kristy: I get inspired from all sorts of things! I’m always jotting things in a notebook for later inspiration!
Shayla: Anything and everything! I have a bazillion photos on my phone of shadows, architecture, color schemes, window displays, cute animals and more. I have stopped a night out to snap a picture of the neat shape on the floor and have taken pictures of bathroom color schemes before!
When is your most productive time for creating?
Shayla: I am a complete night owl. I tend to do most of my creating and designing with a glass of wine after dinner and deep into the night. Once I have an idea in my head, I can’t sleep until I have gotten it out on paper or into fabric.
What is your favorite storage tip for your creative supplies?
Kristy: My entire studio has things from Ikea – and probably my favorite containers are what I keep my scraps in. I have 12 of the Vessla crates so that I can separate my scraps by color! They stack and they have little caster wheels so they roll. I could write a whole article on organizing my sewing room from Ikea. =]
Shayla: My biggest tip is to color coordinate! I sort everything in my sewing room by color to make it much easier to find what I need.
What is your typical day like?
Kristy: My typical day starts with yoga & a dog walk. My mail lady arrives super early, so next I fill orders from the day before. I have coffee while answering emails. Once I have Sassafras business done, I long arm quilt for my other business, Wolf Creek Quilting. If we are designing a new pattern or bag I try to get a couple hours of sewing done in the afternoon and once things are settled in the evening I watch a show and stuff patterns or put hardware kits together. Glamorous sounding right?? Rinse and repeat. =]
Shayla: My typical day is ever changing these days. It really depends on the agenda. If it is a computer day, I would sleep in a bit, wake up, make some coffee and respond to emails, do some computer work like photo editing, writing blog posts, mocking up our designs in new fabrics coming out for fabric companies and plan our new upcoming patterns. If it is a sewing day, I usually wake up and head straight to my sewing room, only to take breaks for showers, coffee and food! But if it is a photography day, I tend to get up early, load the car and head out to assorted locations to snap photos all day. If it is close to Quilt Market, my day is filled with all of these things!
How did you get into pattern making and publishing? Was it a plan, or did you just fall into it?
Kristy: It was planned! Shayla had finished college with an architecture degree, was working for a quilting magazine and really wanted to be her own boss. We had been designing our own patterns for a while and making them into mystery classes at our local quilt store and people were loving them. So, we decided that we might as well take a leap of faith and jump in with both feet!
Shayla: Between the two of us, we had worked in almost every facet of the industry and knew we both loved this particular avenue, so we decided we would do it together!
What inspires your pattern designs?
Shayla: Architecture is my main inspiration. I have found that there is a lot of overlap in quilting and architecture – the creativity and structure. Geometry, texture and color are also big influencers. Our Block-of-the-Months typically begin with a basic shape and morph into more intricate designs.
When embarking upon a project, do you pre plan your entire endeavor or do you simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
Shayla: I would love to say I am “go with the flow” girl, but I usually have the entire project planned out in my mind from fabric choices and design to quilting and binding. Occasionally there is some inspiration that strikes mid project and it takes a 90° turn, but not usually!
Are there indispensable tools in your studio? How do they improve your work? Where are they available?
Kristy: I take Miracle Chalk (which disappears when you iron it) and put it in a Chaco Liner chalk marker. It is perfect for marking when you’re making bags, and I especially love it for long arm quilting! These should be available at your local quilt shop.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
Shayla: Stepping away when you are feeling uninspired or overwhelmed is my favorite course of action. Focusing on another project, taking a hike with the pups or cleaning (particularly vacuuming), help me to get refocused and find motivation. Getting together with other creatives is also a great way to get motivated. Every time we come back from Quilt Market, we are all revved up to create, create, create!
What is your favorite accomplishment?
Kristy: I think for me, my favorite accomplishment was seeing our first book, Arcadia Avenue, to fruition. We made all the quilts in the book (with help from a couple good friends), took the pictures, designed the layouts and found a great local printer. So, when it was published and people reacted positively, it was very rewarding!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Kristy: Someone early on said that most quilters would be willing to help us if we just asked, so we did! Also, embrace social media. It helps more than you could imagine!
Shayla: Create what you love and the right people will love it too! We all want to create something that will sell and everyone will love, but the harder we try the further from the mark we sometimes get. Trust your instincts and create something you love!
What is your advice for someone starting out in your field?
Kristy: Reach out and ask questions – there are some very nice and helpful people in the industry. Attend a Quilt Market before you have a booth just to look and get ideas so when you get there it doesn’t overwhelm you!
Shayla: Engage the community! There are so many groups and people out there that are willing to help you along the way – use them! Then someday you can return the favor to another up and comer!
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
Kristy: We released 6 patterns when we first started, and they were well received, but it was really when we released our first book, Arcadia Avenue, and got such an overwhelming positive response that I knew we were in this game for the long-haul!
Shayla: For me it is that I am doing what I love! I get to do a little bit of everything from creating to sewing and marketing to book design. There are always aspects of running a business that aren’t fun, but sometimes it is nice to sit and stuff patterns when you aren’t feeling super creative!
What trends are you seeing in quilting?
Kristy: We have seen a younger crowd enter the quilting arena in the last 10 years which is great! There’s also been a huge Modern Quilt presence in the last few years.
Shayla: It’s been fun to watch the traditional and modern worlds blend together. There are a lot of modern twists on traditional blocks and events encouraging everyone to learn from one another!
Find Kristy and Shayla on their website, and follow them on social media: