Maker Monday: Bear Co.

Happy Maker Monday! 

This week we are featuring Sara Sparks of Bear Co., a shop of cultural and bohemian wonders for all the free spirits out there! You will find products from bootcuffs and necklaces, to home decor and bags all in her shop. We love that Sara celebrates different cultures through her art! We think it is awesome when an artist can speak towards the environment they are most familiar with and at the same time expand their viewpoint to the beauty found in other’s perspectives. Many of the pieces found on Bear Co. are a thoughtful expression of the cultures that have directly inspired Sara through her travels or dream destinations, and each piece is always handmade. Something we think is pretty special in and of itself. Read on to learn more about Sara and her shop!

: Tell us a little about yourself.

: Oh boy! Where to start! Well, I’m 25, engaged to my middle school sweetheart, and a registered Occupational Therapist (OT… that just so happens to love making jewelry and all other crafts that I seem to run into! I am a complete animal lover, outdoor adventurer, world traveler, and a total introverted extrovert. I am also biracial – Iranian American – and complete enjoy celebrating my Iranian culture. My heritage and fascination with all things culture have a huge influence on my Bear Co designs.

: How did your shop, Bear Co., get started?

: It all started while I was in Occupational Therapy (OT) school. I was living the broke grad student and needed a creative outlet to relieve some stress. My fiance actually brought up the idea that I start an Etsy shop, because he recognized my situation and stressors. At first I was super hesitant, due to all the responsibility that would come with starting a business venture, but now I am so glad that I did! Starting Bear Co. has definitely helped me with my initial motivators – stress and money – but it has also helped me meet new people, venture to new stores and locations, and even enabled me with a new sense of creativity!.

: You have a passion for all things artistic and you also have a Masters in Occupational Therapy. Have you found that the two coincide in certain ways? What do you love about pursuing both of these endeavors?

: I definitely feel that the two are related!! OT started out as a very craft and mental health focused field, catering towards rehabilitating injured and ill individuals through creative outlets. While this is not something therapist use as much anymore, it is still something I can occasionally incorporate into my treatment sessions with patients. I have found that I cherish both nearly equally, but yet in different ways. Bear Co. is a creative outlet that I also have ownership of; OT is my means of helping people, which I love. It makes me so happy to work with all sorts of people from various backgrounds, and help them accomplish their goals and get back to the life activities they value.

: Your product and jewelry lines are globally inspired. What are some unique cultural finds that you have incorporated into your pieces?

: I have been lucky enough to travel to 11 countries, in these travels I have found that some of my favorite cultural finds are Kuchi tribal pieces from Afghanistan and Iznik ceramic paintings from Turkey. I have yet to travel to India, India, but I am SO inspired by and in love with almost everything celebrated in their culture. You may notice that a great deal of my jewelry is gold and occasionally ornate, which is also heavily inspired by the jewelry in the Middle East and Africa.

: Your hand painted cow skulls are so cute! How did you become interested in creating these decor and jewelry pieces?

: I honestly don’t even know. I realized that they have become a popular bohemian trend, so I decided that it would be a cool alternative to paint a skull from the everyday canvas. For me, it is so much more fun to paint something that is 3D than 2D. I also feel that they make for such a great conversation piece, whether worn or on the wall!  Plus I live in Texas, so the idea of a cow skull is not too far fetched!

: You’re based in Texas. What about your home state inspires your work?

: Some of the Texas landscapes and wildflowers have certainly inspired me, as well as the cow skulls. The area of Texas that I live in is quite green.I find that I am constantly inspired by the beautiful outdoors I see. Overall, I have found that my style generally juxtaposes the general style trends in Texas, which is okay with me! Because I embrace cultures that are different from that of Texas, I have never conformed to the status quo around me. I am totally okay with my artwork being different too!

: How would you describe the Bear Co. wearing gal?

: I would say the Bear Co. individual is anyone who fancies themself semi-bohemian. I imagine they appreciate culture, art, and being unique. They also have an appreciation for fashion and enjoy making a fashion statement.

: What are some things you’ve learned about juggling all that goes into running a business, creating art, school and “having a life,” haha!?

: Well, I have definitely have learned that when we think we’ve met our limit, we can probably push it a little further! (not necessarily saying you should!) Most importantly, I have learned that organization is key. There is no way that I ever ever ever could have held it together, had I not forced myself to become organized!

: Currently, what is your go-to Bear Co. piece to wear?

: I am SO obsessed with my Esther Persian Coin necklace! I made it, maybe 5 months ago, and it is consistently my go to piece. The piece I want to wear out, the piece I love to market, and the piece I want to replicate. I am not sure what it is about it, but I absolutely love it!

: Any advice for those wishing to become makers, starting a shop or dreaming of one?

: Absolutely! I would say I have 2 solid pieces of advice. 1. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new. You never know how it will turn out until you try, and if you don’t like the result, it will be OKAY! 2) Learn CONSTANTLY. I am constantly learning new techniques, learning about market trends, learning about advertising, learning about materials, etc. It is so important to constantly stay educated so that you and your shop do not become stagnant.

See more from Bear Co.

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