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Meet Annika Schindler of Salt of the Earth Design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annika Schindler.

Annika, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a fashion and costume designer located in Portland, Oregon. Working with textiles has always been my passion and I made clothes long before I went to college. I studied fashion design at the University For Applied Sciences in Hamburg, before continuing my studies at the FHTW in Berlin, Germany. I am specialized in pattern making and pattern design. From my early college years on, I was working in the industry. Later, after a moment of disillusion and burnout, I changed my focus and started working in the field of costume design. I began working for several stage productions as well as making props for movies before transitioning fully to costume work for movies.

I was always interested in interdisciplinary merging of fields and collaborations. I worked with interior designers, artists and industrial designers. I have an engineering mind and I am a solution finder. I have a strong artistic intuition and I am able to catch an artist’s or designer’s vision to offer solutions for their projects execution. I like to mix mediums and reinterpretations of these. I am a preserver of tradition. I studied most of the traditional textile crafts into great detail. I also appreciate technology and I use both combined frequently in my work to further the art form.

This mindset brought me to work in the field of stop-motion animation. Here I found the perfect application for both. Intricate stitching and high tech opportunities. I started working for Laika animations. A stop-motion film company in Hillsboro, Oregon. Here I was heavily involved in creating their last three movies, “The Boxtrolls”, “Kubo”, and “Missing Link”.

I am a maker, I love to figure things out. Parallel to my job, I am constantly learning new things. A few years ago, I started to craft with leather as well as to dye with natural indigo dye. “Salt of the Earth Design” is a reflection of my creative searches in these fields and a way to connect and commune with like-minded people in the creative community. I am now the owner and creative director behind everything Salt of the Earth Design.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a fun ride for the most part 🙂

In my business, I depend on my resources. A lot of the bigger fabric stores around here have closed in the last year. This makes working one on one with clients difficult. Buying online is no solution for me because I need to feel the material I work with. My main struggle is to find the perfect fabric for a client’s garment. I am now working with fabric buyers in LA and New York.

Covid19 has had a big impact on what I am doing. Mostly for the better though. I was able to bring my teaching business online. I am teaching a small Zoom call series, where I teach pattern making for free. People can bring their ideas or problems.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Salt of the Earth Design – what should we know?
I am making and selling accessories under the name Salt of the Earth Design. I am a one woman operation. Although sometimes I feel as if I am many. My studio and workshop is located in SE Portland. I am selling online, at local markets here in town as well as in selected boutiques. Rachel Fox from Demimonde + Shop is my main vendor. She is a jewelry designer and collector of beautiful things and her shop is located on Alberta Street, one of the popular shopping streets here in town.

More recently, I started collaborating with Scarlet Chamberlin, a local stylist who invited me to collaborate with her to make custom made garments for her clients. She organized “pants parties” in her beautiful studio in the Pearl District where her clients would bring their favorite pants and we would take them as an inspiration to create a new pair perfectly fitted to their individual needs. This was so well received that it is now a steady part of my offering and this service is to be found on my website.

I also teach. I have condensed my knowledge of making patterns for clothing design into a 3 part basic class with add ons, as well as in person intensive coaching. Due to the high demand and good response, I am currently working on bringing it all online on to one of the subscription-based online portals. More information will be found on my website soon.

I am mostly known for my handmade products and my background in fine tailoring. I love simplicity, purpose and the beauty that unfolds when we let natural materials tell their own stories. I make useful everyday items. Currently, I use natural materials like leather, cotton canvas and metal hardware. In my designs, I’m looking for harmonious clear shapes and style language. I love simple elegance. I invite imperfections, and mix and match complementing pieces of material until it “feels” right. My pieces have a soul. Every piece is individually designed. The single dyed pieces of cloth are thoughtfully curated before they are assembled. In my indigo line, I work with vegetable tanned leather. I love the color contrast. It seems to “frame” the wild patterns in a very complimentary way. I also like the raw look that comes with it.

I developed a phone holster purse which is the most selling item next to my shibori line. It is a purse I developed to have all your most important documents close at all times. It features a phone compartment as well as a back pocket for credit cards, ID and a little cash. It is the perfect hands-free nightlife or festival companion and also perfect for traveling.

I am currently working on new designs and changing the look of Salt of the Earth Designs. Times are changing. I am changing. It will be more feminine. I am working on different purses, several one off designs and limited edition items. I will also add some textile jewelry that I am excited about. All coming very soon.

I appreciate the direct contact with my clients. I can really focus on the individual and find materials that perfectly reflect the personality and desired garment. There is a common frustration resulting out of the merely consumer-based economy. We are tired of wearing the same clothes, mass-produced overseas. I offer an experience. I create personal garments that my clients can relate to. Clothes in which they feel comfortable.

I have created a patchwork concept that is mostly experience based and interactive. It is the personal experience that is so beautiful. Next to my product line and custom tailoring services, I have built a growing community of makers that are now making their own clothes and accessories. I feel I have succeeded in my wish to give back and enable others to empower themselves to make their own things. I discovered that I am a good teacher and that makes me proud. My work is a fun exchange.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I am immensely grateful to everyone who has been teaching me everything I know. It has made me immensely confident in knowing myself and what I want. It has empowered me to do what I wanted and to create my jobs myself if the right fit was not to be found. It gave me an incredible amount of independence and freedom.

I am aware that that has been a gift and that it is not accessible to everyone. So I want to give a shout out to everyone who has contributing to my journey through their support. I know that now it is my turn to give back.

The culture and mentality of Portlands creative community has been very welcoming to me. I encountered a local business culture that is incredibly supportive and collaborative, especially women-owned businesses seem to support each other greatly. I am deeply grateful to everyone who believed in my capabilities and trusted me to work with them.

My most inspiration though are still my clients and students. Without them, it would not be so much fun!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Brian Simcoe

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1 Comment

  1. Dominik zehle

    January 15, 2021 at 15:27

    Dear Annika,
    Please give me your email so that I could send an Image to you. just in case it fits any of your expectations and might inspire you to design an outfit with the title „Long Distanze call“ it could become a good idea to order the outfit from your company instead of never risking a certain amount and therefore feeling the comfort of personal treatment. I plan to wear these things especially at my artevents in southern Germany – kind regards dominik

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