For this Maker Spotlight, we had the opportunity to catch up with Keiko Brodeur, creator, and founder of Small Adventure.
Keiko is a graphic designer and self-taught illustrator who founded Small Adventure in 2009 "with the intention of exploring the majesty of nature through illustration." She works out of her studio in Los Angeles, CA with help from her friends Nellie and Sara.
In both our brick and mortar shop and online store, Lineage customers can find a selection of Keiko's beautifully illustrated cards and hand painted bird calls. Read on to discover the process behind starting Small Adventure and Keiko's line of meticulously illustrated cards and other products.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START SMALL ADVENTURE?
The lack of creativity in my job motivated me to start an Etsy shop in 2009, just to see how it went, and gradually as I started making products illustrating greeting cards seemed to be the way to go. I began selling at craft fairs and retail stores found me online and my wholesale business developed and grew from there.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR PIECES?
Inspiration can come from anywhere - a movie, children's books, a hike, etc. I'm especially inspired right now by Japanese and South American folk art and patterns.
LINEAGE RECENTLY STARTED STOCKING YOUR AUDUBON BIRD CALLS. CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO MAKE SUCH A UNIQUE PRODUCT?
I started out selling the bird call pieces as a necklace but without any painted birds on them because I loved them so much and because they complemented the aesthetic of my products well, but my sister suggested that I try and make them even a bit more my style so I played around with painting little tiny birds on each one and noticed that people really liked that addition.
UP UNTIL 2015 YOU HAD BEEN WORKING SOLELY OUT OF YOUR HOME. HOW HAS OWNING YOUR OWN STUDIO CHANGED YOUR BUSINESS?
It's been life changing! The business runs more efficiently and is more organized, I was able to hire studio assistants and was able to save money in the long run by being able to order more product and supplies and store them in our space.
YOU USE PLANT-BASED "PLASTIC" THAT IS BIODEGRADABLE AND COMPOSTABLE TO PACKAGE YOUR CARDS AND PRINTS IN. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Plastic disposables are a huge issue for our whole world today. Once they're manufactured it's too late to do much about them and they don't biodegrade. As stationery manufacturers, we have the potential to put thousands and thousands of disposable plastic pieces out there that are only used to house a paper card, a journal or pencils for a short time and then the plastic packaging gets thrown away and sits in a landfill forever and does harm to the earth and the ocean. I researched alternatives when I started my business in 2009 and found these great plant-based greeting card sleeves that have no plastic in them and are completely compostable. We also try to get as much second or third time use out of the packaging materials that house and protect our supply deliveries. Our wholesale orders that ship out might not have fresh new paper or plastic stuffing in them or even a brand new box but I think that's a very small price to pay to extend the life of shipping supplies that are still usable and would otherwise end up in a landfill.
WHAT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU'VE LEARNED ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
You can't always do it on your own. I tried for a long time to do everything myself and in the end, I worked until I got sick and wasn't even making that much money. Once I was able to hire help I put more time into improving the quality of my products, made fewer mistakes because my brain wasn't all frazzled and was able to make more money for both myself and my crew.
We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Keiko! We love when we are able to partner with other like minded, hardworking artists. You can check out our website to view a selection of Small Adventure products, including new holiday cards, here