NOELLE SHARP, the creator and designer of knitwear and woven textiles company Aporta, answered a few of my burning questions about her beautiful work and design process. Her company is committed to creating long lasting and quality products by considering extreme weather elements when designing and using the highest quality yarn. Her typical day, my dream day, includes designing, knitting and weaving all over a cup of coffee with some hiking or skiing interspersed. Read the interview for more on the beautiful works of Aporta.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
A few favorite parts would be sitting down with new materials and sampling, you never know what will happen in the design/sample process (new ideas come up, things don't work out and you start over or sometimes you get it right the first time around). I also love the repetition and muscle memory of weaving, what seems like 15 minutes of weaving at the loom sometimes turns out to be an hour, you really lose yourself in the physical aspect of it. It's a meditation practice for me.
Are you self taught or did you study traditionally?
I received my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a focus in Fiber Materials. I learned how to knit when I was 6 from my mother and researched textiles while living in Iceland.
What are your favorite materials to work with and why?
I am obsessed with Icelandic Wool specifically the Unspun Lopi. It's light and airy but when knit or woven extremely warm and strong. It has such an interesting history to it and is unlike any other wool I have worked with.
Are you working on new stuff?
Constantly. Developing a new line of accessories for next year from two new U.S. yarn companies. Home decor items such as blankets and pillows for S/S 2016. Currently spending a lot of time researching new materials and sampling with them which is always fun.
Where are you from and has that played a part in your creative process?
I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and raised in SLC and Glacier National Park. My mother's side of the family is Danish so I grew up in a very Scandinavian up bringing which has influenced a lot of the aspects in my life. I learned how to ski when I was 2 and grew up with a love for autumn/winter, the cold and all things to do with warm clothing. When I'm designing a new line or a new product I always take into consideration how it will hold up in extreme weather. My creative process is highly influenced by nature and the time spent exploring outdoors, but also has a minimalist fashion aspect to it due to my time spent living in various cities.
Do you have a design philosophy or a set of values that applies to your work?
Designing with the highest quality yarn I can find in the U.S has been a part of our mission from the beginning. There are wonderful farms and companies in the U.S a lot of them family owned that produce great yarns. I prefer to work with wool and have only introduced acrylics to the line due to wool allergies that some customers have. It's important to me that my customers know exactly where the yarn came from and how it was produced. While living in Iceland I fell in love with Icelandic wool and introduced it to our line due to its unique fiber properties and lack of availability in the U.S. My design philosophy focuses on a minimalist, gender neutral aspect. My products are designed with a purpose and that purpose should aid in people's lives not clutter or impair it. I've always been drawn to male fashion and sense of being. I own 2 dresses, prefer to wear pants but that doesn't mean I don't express my femininity. This comes out in my designs by my products flowing easily between the male and female world.
Walk me through your a typical day for you.
Wake up, make coffee, put a record on, post an instagram photo on APORTA's account, sit down and review my notes for the day (check emails, see what products need to be produced, tagged, shipped out), eat Icelandic Yogurt (I'm obsessed), make more coffee, check Iceland's and Glacier National Park's webcams, weave, knit, weave, knit, eat, go for a walk, hike or ski (depending on the time of the year),meet up with APORTA's knitters to pick up product, weave, knit, watch a movie while knitting then sleep.
If you could give another designer advice for success in running your own business what would it be?
Take the time to research and learn about the business aspects of owning/running your own business such as taxes, accounting and so on. Make long term goals and write about what it will be like emotional, physically and the time you will spend working to achieve those goals. Also no one is untouchable, call/email/write to designers/artists you want to work with or connect with. Half of the business is making connections and putting yourself out there. Don't be afraid of hearing people say "no", its part of the business and it doesn't mean your product/goals/art isn't worth making.
What does the future hold for you? Whats your next project? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
APORTA's next project is releasing a line of home decor items, right now we are in the sampling process. It's a fun but tedious process which always takes time. Reaching out to more designers and companies about manufacturing in the U.S. Collaborating with more designers on products, this kind of work is always rewarding as I end up making products I would never had made with out the creativity of other designers. 3-5 years? Working with designers and artists outside of the U.S. to create new products, traveling to Morocco, Peru, Sweden to research textile techniques, living on a homestead with studio spaces to invite artists and designers to come and make work, finally getting a dog : )