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Life & Work with Sabrina Mar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sabrina Mar.

Hi Sabrina, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My career path has never been a straight line, but more of a winding, confusing maze of switchbacks, left turns and do-overs. Thinking of the chronology of my path and how I got to this point, it would be something like: Gymnast, Athletic Trainer, South Park Animator, Television Producer (in progress), Woodworker (also still in progress). After getting my Physiological Science degree from UCLA, I went back to school for computer graphics. At about the same time, a show called South Park was getting insanely popular and just by pure luck, I found my way to an entry-level animation job there. Many seasons later, I was making cartoons, laughing a lot and loving life. Working on a wildly popular show was amazing – but the 20-hour workdays were not.

After getting married and having my first child, I discovered working around the clock wasn’t the best for a young family, so I left looking for something new – and serendipitously landed on an Emmy Award-winning show called Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Working several seasons as a producer on a home building program, I fell in love with building and construction. I witnessed home after home being thoughtfully designed and built from the ground up. Watching our design team, artisans and woodworkers collaborate was awe-inspiring. It was mesmerizing to witness how they planned every joint, ripped every piece of wood, and problem-solved, all with such joy and attention to detail. Taking something from concept to completion was so satisfying to watch. My television career and burgeoning love of woodworking grew alongside each other for many years. The nature of television production allowed for frequent breaks, which afforded me time to explore woodworking purely as an enthusiast. I enrolled myself in the Furniture and Cabinet Making Program at El Camino College and slowly learned to build furniture under the tutelage of Jack Selph, professor and unassuming master woodworker who had the patience of Mother Teresa.

Six years ago, I added woodturning to my interests and joined the El Camino Woodturners Guild – a wonderfully supportive group of like-minded wood aficionados. What started as a supplement to my woodworking skills has slowly evolved into my life’s passion. Today, I have an Etsy shop called Park Street Goods and happily fill it with handmade pieces. Everything I make is a labor of love and gives me great joy to create beautiful pieces from wood; oftentimes wood that has been recycled or repurposed. Looking forward, my dream is to transition to full-time woodworking. While I still love working as a freelance producer, splitting time between television and woodworking allows me to have the best of both worlds; at least until the kids are out of college.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Never! I’ve had my fair share of disappointments, failure and struggle. But the one thing you learn from failure is what you’re made of. How fast can you get back up? How quickly can you recover and move forward? Over the years, I’ve learned not to dwell. I’m so appreciative of our customers and maker friends, who are an incredibly kind and supportive community. The slow growth of my shop has been steady and constant while I balance my two careers.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I like to think that my woodworking is a little unpredictable. Sometimes it takes a long time (months and sometimes years) to figure out what a piece of wood will become. If it has an incredible bark, I know I’ll want to incorporate that into the design. Shape is the best predictor – whether it eventually becomes a planter, a cutting board, or a bowl… I like to let the grain, shape, or the natural bark inclusions determine the final product so they can express all that Nature has so generously offered us. I put a lot of thought, care and love into each and every piece – and I like to think all that effort is reflected when you purchase something from Park Street Goods. “Proud” is not a word I use a lot, but if I were to describe what I’m most thankful for, it’s the ability to start over. My entire life has been about taking a step back, reassessing and starting again. Being a high-level athlete as a child has taught me many lessons that I still use today. Adversity builds character and failure isn’t always a bad thing. You get to learn how to identify what you’re good at – and what you’re not.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
Lots of things, but mostly woodworking. And trees! I love everything about them. I love the smell of the wood when I’m turning – each species is so distinctive. It’s hard to decide which I love best. Olive wood smells like the most delicious warm olive oil; juniper has a woodsy, earthy, peppery scent; camphor is medicinal, like menthol. It’s so effusive and all-encompassing – I love how everyone in the shop knows the second I cut into it. What makes me the happiest of all? It’s when someone receives a package from Park Street Goods and knows that their piece was created by someone who absolutely loved making it.

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All images are owned by Sabrina Mar

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