Meet the Designer: WKNDLA

When you pop in the shop, you'll always find one of our favorite artist adorning our walls, Meet Cindy Hsu Zell, the talent behind WKNDLA.

Tell us a little about how you got started with WKNDLA

Back when I was a full-time corporate display artist and running my own business was just a daydream, I spent most of my weekends making things and experimenting with new ideas. After working nights and weekends for a year and really developing my brand’s aesthetic and first collection of wall hangings, I finally took the leap and quit my job to pursue WKNDLA!

You work with all different materials, what is your favorite to work with? How much does the materials play in the design of each piece?

I love working with all materials, which causes a bit of a problem sometimes. If I have an idea for something I get really obsessed, such as learning how to make rope from scratch or how to bend and solder brass shapes. Great things have come out of it but it makes it hard to focus sometimes with all the possibilities! I keep learning that I can’t force a material to do something it doesn’t want to do, so I try not to keep a design I’m excited about as a sketch on paper for too long before making a prototype of it because oftentimes it just doesn’t work the same in real life as I imagined. A lot of times the material inspires the design so I’m always keeping an eye out for new things to play with!

Where do you source your materials from?

I buy so many of my materials online. It’s not always up to me, I wish there were more resources here so that I could touch the materials and pick them out in person. However, this also allows me to reach out and try different products from all over the world! I’m a big fan of linen from Lithuania, the raw brass tubing I use is made in Chicago, my organic cotton thread is from Canada, and my spalted maple is from Oregon.

As a small business, what have been some of your challenges that you came across that have strengthen you and your business?

Pricing was and is still the most difficult thing I deal with as an artist and business owner! I was really self-conscious about whether anyone would want to pay for my work and I wasn’t taking into account the time and effort I was putting into them. It was a hard lesson to learn that I need to value my ideas and skills, as difficult as it is for me to be confident as an artist. I recently made a really big spreadsheet that details the cost of materials and labor that goes into each piece so I have a consistent guideline for my prices. When I feel doubt about whether I’m over- or undercharging I remind myself that I can’t argue with the math!

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What is the biggest joy of working for yourself?

I love working from home, being my own boss, and making my own hours. I now have my own studio space in a finished garage and I can’t believe I get to make anything I want to in here. It’s my wood shop, soldering station, indigo dyeing room, rope making space, and more!

So you named your business after your favorite time and place, we love LA too - tell us some of the reasons why LA is home for you.

Los Angeles is where I grew up and it’s home, always. I love the influence that it has on my work. My pieces are optimistic, playful, and simple because it’s hard to take everything too seriously when the city is this beautiful and bright! The sunshine is my constant inspiration.

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