One of the most challenging discussions that I’ve had with individual makers over the years of running the LAB has to do with growth. Many makers wonder how to move from being solo creators to the next step of expanding their business beyond the confines of a one-person operation. I’ve seen this goal accomplished in a variety of ways, with varying results. In the end, expansion is a personal decision that has the potential to lead to some pretty extraordinary creative opportunities. For those who are interested in this type of growth, one could not do better than to examine the journey of Andrew Deming and Rachel Gant of YIELD Designs.
It seems like ages ago that I first came across the YIELD Design and their once separate jewelry business, Endswell. The sleek and contemporary aesthetics of this now unified and expansive collection of jewelry, homewares and accessories reflect the immense love for modern design that Andrew and Rachel share. Their growth has been well documented, both in respected design resources like Dwell and in a plethora of online blogs and magazines. In fact, many of you might be the most familiar with YIELD from their Squarespace commercial, showcased below.
I’m happy to share a recent interview with the YIELD team for my continuous Handmade Profile series. It’s an insightful look at the inspiration and creativity behind the YIELD brand. I’d love to hear your thoughts, both about this interview and regarding growth, in the comments below.
What inspired you to begin your collection?
Much of our collection was born out of our personal search for items that we either couldn’t find, or couldn’t find produced at the level of craft that we desired. Rachel and I haven’t shied away from creating a collection that speaks very much to our own tastes and lifestyle.
Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
I guess I started to answer that already. In the past, the initial spark for a new product has often come from a fruitless search for a specific item that we’re looking for. More recently as our collection has grown, we’ve gotten a lot more feedback from customers on things they want to see us make, or extensions of existing product lines.
Once we get into the process of designing something new, the ideation, sketching and modeling all tend to move pretty fluidly and quickly. We 3d print a lot of our hard goods prototypes and try to refine scale and form there. We spend the longest amount of time ironing out the details and issues in the manufacturing process. Our French Press was 95% designed in a single evening. It took a year to iron out production and quality control.
How do you maintain your creative drive?
We used to run ourselves ragged at home and then rely on trips to refresh our energy and get inspiration. We still place a lot of value, but since we moved to St. Augustine from our apartment in San Francisco, we’ve established a day to day routine that’s more refreshing. We live in a house, have a yard, take regular beach walks, take our dog to the park. We think it’s really important to regularly get away from the office and get some perspective.
What materials do you love to use?
We gravitate towards materials with a natural warmth and richness. We are minimalists and create goods with subtle forms and clean lines; it’s the material use that tends to lend our products their characteristic warmth.
Every product has a story. Is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
Our Endswell jewelry collection started when close friends of ours asked Rachel to design their wedding bands. It started with a dinner conversation where the four of us were discussing weddings and their tendency to take on a life of their own, beyond symbolizing the beauty and trust that accompanies marriage. What they wanted was something true to their vibrant personalities and low stress, just a party with friends and family. They also wanted rings that symbolized more than wealth or the inherent value of the materials.
The initial rings were made without stones or ornament, but instead had form details connoting continuity and the meaning behind their commitment. These became the start of our larger collection.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
What are some of the challenges that you face as a maker?
Finding our appropriate scale. We are a small company, most of our items are produced in small batches, but we also aim for efficiency and pricing that’s inclusive and as accessible as possible.
How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
Instagram is where we focus most of our attention and share frequently. We’ve loved the connections the platform has brought us and the feedback we get through it.
We’ve always struggled a bit with blogging diligently, but we’ve been a bit better in recent months as we’ve expanded our scope, covering a wider range of topics that are of interest to us in the studio.
YIELD is an independent design house: part industrial design studio, design label and manufacturer. YIELD designs and manufactures a range of bags, jewelry, and goods for the home with an aim to pair American craft and ingenuity with an eye toward the future. YIELD’s products are sold in over 250 retailers in the U.S. and abroad and have been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Dwell, Sunset, SF Chronicle and more.
YIELD was established in late 2012 by Andrew Deming and Rachel Gant in San Francisco where the two met at the California College of the Arts (CCA). Yield is now based in the historic coastal town of Saint Augustine, FL, the oldest European settlement in the U.S.
About The Brand, YIELD Design
Where do you see your shop/project going?
We’re looking forward to a future where YIELD products have more mainstream relevance and the growth of our company employs more of our local community. We’re currently mostly an online company, but we look forward to experimenting with more brick+mortar retail in the future.
What are you working on right now?
We’re working on a new furniture collection for our first showing at ICFF this May. It’s coming up quickly 🙂