My name is Valerie Thai, and I am the founder of Cabin + Cub. I make fashion accessories, art and housewares with a wooden touch. I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with my husband, Roger, and my two-year-old son, Jasper. From my home studio, I balance working as a freelance graphic designer/illustrator and caring for my son.
Art has always been my passion, and it led me to a career as an art director at an international magazine. While working at the magazine, my fellow co-workers and I started a casual craft collective. Over time, what started as a hobby became a more serious venture. In 2006, I left my 9-5 job and founded Cabin + Cub. My goal was to have my own company that would enable me to work as a freelance designer and develop my own line of crafty products at the same time. Working on my own line of products allows me to express my creative freedom and share my vision and art with others.
Each of my bamboo accessory pieces starts as a doodle in my sketchbook. With sketch in hand, I redraw the illustration on my computer in Adobe Illustrator. Once the design is finalized, I make a batch to keep wood waste to a minimum and laser cut them all. After the bamboo pieces are cut, I adhere the appropriate findings by hand. The most rewarding part of the whole process is packaging the items and watching them go to their happy buyers.
I take pride that each of my bamboo pieces starts off as a sketch or a doodle and evolves into a final work. By designing the wooden pieces, I don’t rely on pre-made parts, which, I think, makes them stand out. Also, the ability to be involved in both the creative and production process from start to finish ensures that the quality of craftsmanship remains high.
To me, conscious consumerism is about knowing where a product you are purchasing comes from and/or how it was made. Buying handmade and supporting creative small business, creative individuals and artisans is what helps a healthy community thrive. And knowing that an item you bought or were given is handmade, to me, just makes it that much more special.
I love being part of the Etsy community – it has been a valuable resource for getting advice from other creative individuals, from business tips to supply resources; a great place for discovering (and buying) beautifully made items from around the world; and a fantastic place to run my little shop. Etsy has given me the ability to provide personal service while at the same time reaching an international audience.
My creative business has forced me to take more chances and risks — in a good way. I feel it drives me to want to create new and innovative designs, as well as succeed in running a small creative business.
All photographs by Cabin + Cub.