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PUSHING THROUGH FEAR TO FIND SUCCESS
Entrepreneurs know it takes courage, determination, and no small amount of risk to
survive the unpredictable. Fortunately, these are familiar qualities to
Alexandra Gibson, founder of Sien + Co. (Check out our interview with Alex below).
Alex works with artisan groups in Peru and Argentina to craft sustainable,
ethically produced textiles, including uncommonly soft yet very resilient
pillows made of hand-spun, organic sheep’s wool. We love mixing some our
Sien + Co. favorites like the Campo pillow in Ivory with black stripe above
with some of our new soft linen pillows from Sweden including the crisp
white version with fringe and perfectly rumpled black linen pillow, above.
ABOUT SIEN + CO.
Sien + Co. artisan partners travel to the highlands of Peru and the dry
forests of Argentina to source the best organic sheep’s wool for
these soft, handmade pillows. The wool is hand spun and dyed with
natural pigments and minerals before being woven on looms by women
in rural communities who have inherited and preserved this ancient
We checked in with Alex and reached her at her warehouse in Park City, Utah.
What’s your biggest challenge as a maker?
I think the biggest challenge is allowing myself to accept risk. Risk comes with all the scary feelings of fear, failure, anxiety, and defeat. I find that when I am able to push these inhibitions aside, it is often when the best opportunities occur. One night while awake worrying about how to get new customers, I got the courage to send off an email to Goop with our line sheet. In the morning I received a response that sparked a relationship that still exists today.
How are you staying strong and resilient?
Recently we found out that a well-known company had offered our artisans a large sum of money to copy one of our collections. Thankfully the relationship with our artisans is very strong and they declined the offer. This sort of thing happens all the time. In the beginning, it brought on many negative emotions, but we had to learn to set these feelings aside. Anytime something good happens, it's going to be mirrored somewhere else. Now we find these situations flattering and it gives us impetus to create new collections to stay ahead of the game.
Top: New Nieve handwoven wool pillow.
Bottom: New Alma handwoven wool pillow (front) and Pila handwoven wool pillow.
Where do you find moments of joy?
We are lucky to live in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. Right now in the summer I take long walks in the aspens in the morning with my two dogs after I drop my daughters off at their summer camp. This allows me time to clear my head and get ready for the workday. Almost every day I run into a moose and that will wake you up faster than a cup of coffee! In the winter this transitions into a daily skate ski after the girls are dropped off at school. There is nothing like skiing fresh corduroy all to yourself and watching the sunrise in the mountains.
What are you grateful for?
I am very grateful for the support of my husband when I first came up with the idea to start the business. In the first year I don't really think he knew all that I was doing. I was running the business out of our dining room and there was product stacked all over the house. One of the easiest ways in the beginning to market your product is to attend trade shows, but they are exhausting! I asked him if he would join me at a show in NYC to help me set up shelves and work the booth. It was then he realized the magnitude of the business. Today we now run the business together and he now runs all of the warehouse operations.
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