What do you make?
I make silver jewelry, leather accessories, (bags, wallets, belts), a little bit of clothing. And by a little bit I mean maybe one top and one dress per season.
Your line used to be called Roadkill. When did you change the name over to Elaine Ho, and why?
Roadkill used to be my nickname. It was kind of fun and silly and when I first started my company (nearly 8 years ago!!!) I was making leather appliqué bags with skull, deer biting the face off another deer, rabbits getting shot, etc, and the name was appropriate. Just in the last few years, the name didn't really fit anymore, I felt like I outgrew it and it was limiting... it seemed like a really silly name and I really wasn't into it anymore. I was getting tired of people finding the name amusing, and found that I couldn't even summon a fake laugh to go along with all the dumb jokes you get when you tell someone that your company name is "roadkill." I decided to change my company name back to my own name, because even if I get tired of it, it's going to be way too much paperwork to change my name. It's so weird to become your own "brand."
You were among the first designers to sell at General 54, and before that, Local 23, in the early days. How has your business evolved since you first started with us?
I started out selling leather flower cuffs and assembled sterling silver and gold filled earrings with semi-precious stones at local 23!! Then I moved onto making fabric bags with leather appliqué, silkscreened t-shirts, clothing, and then finally silver jewelry... I'm still making things for myself first, and then putting the styles into production, but i guess my tastes have changed over the years. I'm way less likely wear a flashy metallic pink leather wrist corsage these days, you'll likely find me wearing a bad polyhedron pendant on a long chain.
You make a line of silver antler jewelry which is very popular and well-known. Can you tell us a little bit about it, and it's origins?
Antlers are amazing! I love the shape of them, I love all the curves, and I also like that they're really pointy. I think they're the most beautiful things ever!!! I just bought a huge box of shed antlers. Can you believe those little deer lose their antlers each year? So crazy! I liked antlers so much I just had to wear them too. I also like knives, so I made a knife pendant. Same with guns. And cats.
Do you collaborate with other designers?
I did a collaboration a with Furni a few years ago. We came up with a series of woodgrain his and hers stump rings and a little stump pendant, all with a little furni logo branded into the "wood." Another collaboration I did was with Montreal illustrator Matt Forsythe, I made a few pendants based on some characters from his book "ojingogo."
As such a multi-disciplinary, and multi-talented, designer, do you ever feel yourself spread too thin with all of your different endeavors?
I'm definitely spread too thin sometimes. It might just be a lack of focus, but I also think I would get bored if I wasn't able to work on many projects at once. Jewelry is my main thing right now, because I enjoy it the most. But then sometimes I need a new leather bag or wallet, so I'll work on leather accessories for a while. Or maybe I need a new top, so I'll make a pattern for a new top and produce a small run. But then I've also always really been into vintage, so I've been selling and collecting and hoarding vintage on the side. I currently run three Etsy shops (four shops if you count my mom's Etsy shop too, but I've been lazy about keeping that one up to date!!) and it does get overwhelming sometimes, but that's mostly because I'm not really cut out for customer service. 99% of my customers are amazing and the transactions go through without a problem, but there's that 1% that just put me over the edge. Which reminds me, I recently listened to a podcast on NPR about some guy who just discovered he had Asperger [Syndrome], so I was inspired to take an on-line test to diagnose Aspergers and I was one measly point away from having high functioning Autism. What??? I'm happiest just sitting at home, in my home studio, surrounded by carefully organized, hoarded supplies and making things.
What are your creative/design goals for 2012?
Bigger pendants. Bigger necklaces. To make more of a collection of jewelry instead of just adding random pieces. It's only February, and I've already strayed from my goal. Instead of staying within my, "mineral friends," theme/collection, I just made a very small sad toast and a sad hot dog pendant. I just don't feel like there's that much of a customer base for a hot dog pendant with a sad face made in precious metal, but I made it anyway. It's got ketchup. He's sad because he's full of sodium nitrate.