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Meet Aubrey Wood of Nova Goods in Larchmont Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aubrey Wood.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m from a huge family full of creatives. One of my first memories of painting occured in the back of my dad’s automotive shop in New Haven. I was using car paint on a piece of scrap cardboard when I was probably like six years old. I remember him finding me and being pissed because the paint was toxic. I remember watching him weld things together and do bodywork and my eyes seeing dots for minutes afterwards. I’ve always been drawn to creating things. One year for the science fair, I made a robot sculpture with scrap parts from my dad’s shop and the teacher discredited it because it didn’t actually do anything. Actually it had lights that turned on so yeah… it was science!… right?!? Everyone in my family has always been super resourceful and my parents grew up poor so they worked with whatever they could find. My mom would paint on rocks, my uncle made mixed media art with treasures he found at the dump and my dad would go to auctions where they’d sell repossessed cars and junkers that he would fix up beautifully. Because of that upbringing, I think I’ve always been drawn to trash and making interesting things out of it. When I started with natural dyes, I loved foraging for plants on my hikes and later testing them on fabric or keeping all my food scraps to see what color they’d produce when rubbed on silk. When I’m painting I’m drawn to the same thing. I love to paint people that look like my people- scrappers. People who show their whole life in their face.

Nova Goods started when I was going through a really tough time mentally. I had been an actor for years. I decided that acting wasn’t making me happy anymore and fired my agent and manager. All of a sudden, free from the constraints of an acting career, it was like a tap was turned on and the creativity just flowed out of me. It was like it had been bottled up for years and used only sparingly when I was occasionally allowed a little freedom in an acting role. I began painting again and started to dye fabrics with indigo after falling in love with indigo curtains I saw at Ojai Rancho Inn. After indigo, I moved on to cochineal (tiny bugs that feed off prickly pear cacti and produce a beautiful red in addition to a huge range of other colors). Then, I started experimenting with whatever I could find. I would dye fabric with different food scraps, flowers, bugs, plants and then cut and sew the fabric into clothing or other items. People seemed to like what I was making so I began selling my creations at markets, pop up shops and I also created a website. I started teaching workshops and things just kept expanding. This month, I’ll be teaching a bundle dye workshop for Seedlip drinks that I’m very excited about. I’m also creating a series of my Kaleidoscope scarves for Illumine Social Club, a new shop by the incredible artist Megan Victoria (also known as Jupiter Lala).

When I need to take a break from dyeing, I’m at my studio at La Bodega gallery, painting. I find that I need multiple mediums to keep happy creatively. I get bored very easily and I’m not a patient person so sometimes taking a break from one medium to work in another helps me to stay productive. Lately, I’ve been painting mostly large portraits of women with faces that I find interesting. Last year I released a zine, “I Like Her” that’s currently for sale at Skylight Books on Vermont as well as Little Dame Shop and Verbatim Books in San Diego.

Two years ago, I gave birth to my son, Boo. He’s the best work of art I’ve ever created (and was also the most fun to make).

Great, 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?
I would say that the creative part has been mostly smooth for me. That’s because I no longer pressure myself to make things that I’m not interested in. I go with the flow and if I don’t feel good about working with someone I just don’t.

On the other hand, business stuff has always been a struggle for me and still is. I am not the best record keeper and I don’t love technology. That being said, I am a do-it-yourself kind of person so I created my own website and have taught myself how to do anything that needs to be done for the business.

Money is also always an issue. I have never taken out a loan and I only buy things when I can afford them. That makes it very difficult sometimes. But I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a husband, Nate Hoffman, who’s a professional photographer (hire him!) and supportive partner. He helps me with everything.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Nova Goods – what should we know?
Nova Goods is a natural dye business. I use all types of techniques and constantly experiment to learn new techniques. One thing I love about the natural dye community (yes, there is one!) is that the flow of information is so free. I’m completely self-taught, I’ve never once taken a class. That being said, I have found so much information online and in books because people WANT to share information. It’s really incredible.
I’m most proud of my batik work because it allows me to paint within the natural dye world. Batik is the use of hot beeswax on fabric to resist dye. I paint a design onto fabric with the hot wax and wait for it to dry. Then, I dye the fabric in my indigo vat and once I’m happy with the color I boil off the wax to reveal the painting in white.
I’m also really excited about my Kaleidoscope scarves. I named them that because the design looks like what you might see when looking through a kaleidoscope. The effect is achieved by using folding techniques and wooden blocks resist in multiple dye baths. The result is so beautiful and the range of colors are incredible. They just make me so happy to look at it!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I would say that for me, success is making work that makes you happy. If you have to make work that doesn’t bring you joy, then how can you be successful? When someone comes to you for YOUR vision, it’s the best feeling in the world.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nate Hoffman

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