Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day! Meet the Artisans behind Living Simplistically

We started with working with Josh and Rhonda about a year ago, and are simply crazy about their natural, creative approach to coastal home decor.    I thought it might be fun to get a little more in-depth with them about their art and their philosophy.  Enjoy our interview!  

1.  How were you inspired to create your company, Living Simplistically?  
Rhonda: Josh & I were friends before we started Living Simplistically, I knew he created gorgeous functional art pieces made from driftwood and once I saw them, I knew his work was too fabulous not to share with other. That’s when I offered to design and build his website.

Josh: I’ve always been most inspired in life by my time spent outdoors while exploring nature and Living Simplistically was created with this in mind. It was important to me to try to design furniture, along with some home d├ęcor items that were not only one of a kind pieces of functional art but more importantly, were designs that allowed me capture the simple beauty that I saw in nature and to be able to bring that beauty into a living space. 

Living Simplistically Driftwood Lamp
2.  How did you start Living Simplistically?  
J: It was a time when I was going through some life changes and I came to the conclusion that what I needed was to simplify my life and so I moved onto a small property nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains where I was surrounded by nature. At the time I didn’t have much furniture so I decided to make my own out of natural materials that were reclaimed from friends, local ranches and the beach. When my friend Rhonda saw a couple pieces that I had finished, she told me that I could probably sell them if I wanted to. And so she really inspired my confidence and pushed me to start Living Simplistically.

R: Sharing the same eco practices and concerns as Josh, while being an artist myself, we decided to form a partnership and combine our talents together to form Living Simplistically. Our hopes are to inspire others to rethink how they decorate their home. You can have beautiful and modern pieces made from nature and/or recycled material in your house and still be kind to the environment.
3.  Why does “Living Simplistically” mean to you?  
R & J: Living Simplistically means exactly what our brand says. To live simple. Living in an age where most people feel the more they have the better they’ll feel. We believe if you cut out all the excess clutter and simplify, you can enjoy nature while preserving the future of our planet and still be fulfilled.

4. What do you feel is your biggest influence on your own design ideas?  
R: I live in the same Southern California beach community that I was born in, so my biggest influence has been the beach, ocean, surfing or anything maritime. {Which is kind of funny because I have a huge phobia of deep water and cruise ships.} Right now all of our pillow collections have some sort of ocean influence in their design. 

J. By far, the biggest influence on all of my designs is what I find in nature. Whether it is down at the beach or up the mountains, it’s the beauty of the natural colors, the lighting, the shapes, and the sounds that I find guidance in.

5. Do you have a design or artist's mentor, someone that has inspired you to push your boundaries?  If you do, who is/was it and why?  
R: There are so many great designers and artisans out there that I don’t have any one in particular that inspires me. Now that artists, designers and bloggers are documenting their talents and artwork through pictures with apps such as Instagram, Pinterest and Vine, it broadens our access to such great talent not just locally, but from all over the world. Keeping up on that raises the bar for me to push my boundaries as an artist. I appreciate great design and when I see it, I try to soak it all in.

J. See number 4.
6. What do think is your true "uniqueness" with your products?  What sets you apart from other home decor companies?  
R: The true uniqueness with our products such as our pillow collections are the illustrations and the process to create the handmade product. Or the time and craftsmanship that goes into every driftwood piece that leaves our studios. Every step of the creating process is done by Josh or I. While having a gorgeous finished product, at the same time we feel that imperfection is perfection whether it be our driftwood or our pillow products.

I think what sets us apart is our size, I always say “we are small, but mighty”. We know how hard it is to compete with the nationally recognized stores who mass produce, but that’s why we work so hard to have unique quality designs that will stand out from the big box retailers. We sell to customers who are looking for something unique to display in their homes, who appreciate the artisan’s work, while caring about the future of our environment. We love that online retailers like Caron’s Beach House support our work and mission.

J: For me, because we’re a small company and I build everything myself, I enjoy the relationship that’s sometimes developed between myself and our customers. I put a great deal of my heart and soul into each and every custom piece that I create and I think that there’s something very special in that.

7. Do you have any favorite eco-green charities that you like to support?   
R & J: Blood Water Mission. I recently finished a “40-days of Water” challenge to raise money for wells to be built and bring clean water to small villages in Uganda. The challenge was to replace any drinks that you would normally drink with water and tally the amount of money you would have spent on those drinks and donate it instead. Without being a soda or fancy coffee drinker I was able to raise $192 and drank over 32 gallons of water during the challenge. Living Simplistically matched the donation. 

8. Does your company participate in any fun green activities in your community?  
 Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Trails
 R & J: Yes, we like to give back to our communities and help whenever possible and are active volunteers with our local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. The two most recent volunteer activities were the Surfrider Foundation’s “Hold on to Your Butt” campaign where joined with other locals to comb Huntington to pick up cigarette butts that litter our beaches. It is estimated that several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year and are so damaging to our ecosystem. Surfrider has recently been installing canisters throughout downtown Huntington to help eliminate this problem.

The second volunteer activity was January 19th on The National Day of Service at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve to do a trash cleanup. I run these trails 3 to 4 times a week and it’s sad to see the slow build-up of trash, especially floating in the levy. This water flows directly into our oceans.

9. What are you, Josh and Rhonda most proud of? 

R & J: We’re most proud of the fact that we are able to keep everything we make sourced locally and in the USA. It’s easy to get products mass produced overseas by large manufacturers, but we pride ourselves on finding resources, whether natural or manmade, from other small businesses in our own backyards. This helps to generate more local economic activity for our communities so it’s a win win for everybody.

10. Describe your perfect day at the beach…. (surfing, beachcombing, reading, etc.)
R: I’m at the beach 4 to 5 times a week so a typical day at the beach for me is grabbing my 2 boxers and heading down to dog beach. They have soooo much energy that I like to run them a couple miles along the water before I let them off their leashes to play. That’s typically when I spot a unique shell or object that has been washed ashore. While they’re playing, I like to sift through the warm sand and look for nerdles.

J: I like to collect shells.

11. If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?  

R: Costa Rica! I’ve never been, but I just know it’s a place that I could spend the rest of my life there. {and often daydream about doing so}. Their way of life is so much more relaxed and slower paced than ours here in the states. Not to mention everywhere you look is gorgeous. There motto is “Pura Vida”, a phrase that characterizes their culture……Pure Life! Who wouldn’t want that?

(Living Simplistically's City Pillows are Fabulous! Key West)
J: I was surfing since I was about 6 years old and I just love the ocean. I’ve traveled to some pretty amazing beaches around the world but there are too many places that I’ve yet to see to know where I’d like to live. However, my ideal place would have to be uncrowded, a tropical climate, a good right point break, good fishing, plenty of fresh fruit, no mosquitoes, and no poisonous snakes.
12. What would you like to try next?  

R & J: More collaboration between Josh and I and our products, where we combine our burlap with his woodworking to create another unique product customers would display proudly in their homes.

It will be a pleasure to continue working with Living Simplistically as they come up with new ideas and new products. 

Thanks again for stopping by!

(P.S. You can find Living Simplistically products on our site - simply use the search bar with the key words - "Living Simplistically")

1 comment:

digital-couture™ said...

Thanks for the interview Caron, it came out great!

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