Years ago I stumbled upon Laura Wentzel's sweet Etsy shop. I was in search of letterpress cards and fell in love with her minimalist whimsy. We worked together on a blog post (feels like eons ago) and I kept up with her career ever since. I'd constantly scroll her Instagram feed feeling inspired by the precious wildlife patterns and clean design. I dreamed of one day working together again and kinder capsule offered the perfect opportunity.
Laura is as talented as she is kind--equally as business savvy as she is gifted in communication. We formed what felt like an effortless business relationship and worked together on the cotton puff design for our girls' dress romper. I got a chance to interview her and share a little more from her background. Check it out below!
What’s the story behind your brand name, Bears Eat Berries?
Some of my favorite memories as a kid are my family camping trips in the Sierra Mountains with my cousins. When you mix childhood and nature you wind up with these beautiful, simple experiences that you keep with you your whole life. One song we used to sing had a line in it... “bears eat berries, they don’t eat people…” I loved that song because it made wildlife not scary. It made animals seem friendly and playful. It seems like a far off tangent, but my brand uses a lot of nature-inspired themes with quirky animals. My brand name page homage to my early memories and the hope that my designs bring people back to that childlike relationship with nature and wildlife.
How did you get started in this design career?
I’ve just realized this recently, but I’ve been designing my whole life. At a recent visit at my parent’s house, my mom pulled out a greeting card I designed as a little kid, complete with my own branding on the back. It’s funny how some things are wired for so long, but I dabbled in a lot of other career interests before I ultimately “came back” to design. I eventually went on to study art and design in college. When I really think about the formative moments that solidified my interest in design as a career, it was about 8 years ago when my sister got married. This was before letterpress got massively popular, and my sister wanted letterpress invitations. For some crazy reason, I knew I could learn it, so my dad and I drove four hours to buy an old printing press. Learning letterpress was a massive challenge, but it told me something about myself as an entrepreneur. I learn the most and the deepest when I dive in and take risks. I’ve now been a solo-preneur designer for the past 6 years. It’s never as glamorous as it looks on instagram, but I’m so proud of and happy that I decided to dive in full-time on my own design business.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I’m drawn to minimalism yet whimsy … so funny enough, a lot of my inspiration comes from my memories as a child and the animal drawings I used to do. My travels also definitely influence my work and I try to notice and capture the details wherever I go. Today, I also pull inspiration from surroundings in where I live, the Sonoran desert in Arizona. The stark desert, the big skies and the gorgeous textures provide a striking backdrop that influences my design.
What’s your favorite Netflix show to binge?
My favorite binge-worthy show is Gilmore Girls. Need I explain? :) #teamjess
Recently, I totally binged on Grand Designs recently and dreaming of the custom home we want to build. I’m a big architecture and interior design nerd so if you haven’t seen it, Grand Designs follows couples who build custom homes in Britain and Australia. I love it because they really go deep into the architecture and stretch the imagination to build super cool homes.
Since you’re from the East Coast but now live in the West, what’s one thing you miss? One thing you don’t miss?
I absolutely miss my family and friends the most. We’re all very close and I know it’ll get even harder with our new baby coming soon. The other thing I miss from the east coast is my favorite season: autumn. There’s something magical in that season and we don’t get that in Phoenix. I always get jealous when I see people walking on crunchy fallen leaves, enjoying their coffees with cozy sweaters on as I’m still sweating in 100 F degrees here.
But what I don’t miss from the East Coast is the fast paced lifestyle and the crowded tight spaces. Arizona and much of the west is just so gorgeous in scenery and is open, vast and chill. It’s way more fitting of my personality.
Who is a designer you look up to or have learned from?
It’s amazing that we are living right now in the golden age of independent design. It’s so easy now to find people who are doing wonderfully individual things and actually support them! I’m particularly drawn to independent designers who have stayed true to their aesthetic while finding a support-base that allows them to transform their design vision. I particularly appreciate @lenacorwin - she’s applied her design to multiple media including textile design and photography. I also drool over the interior design work of @jerseyicecreamco. My husband was a classmate of one of the founders and it’s been so inspiring to see them transform the idea of how to design a home, and all in a new way and all self-taught. Design inspiration should come from multiple media, so I try to follow creatives who are applying their creativity in different forms.
What advice would you give to a creative entrepreneur wanting to launch their own business?
Be disciplined and adaptable.
I try to be disciplined on a daily basis. I make it a point to get up at the same time, dress, and work in my home office as I would if I was going to an office of my house. I think that’s important because you are the only one who is accountable for your business and to take your business seriously, you need to take yourself seriously.
You also have to be adaptable. You have to constantly understand how people bring design into their lives and how trends change. When I first started my letterpress business, not many people were doing it and it was an exciting challenge for me. But as the trend became more popular, competition grew and it became harder and harder for me as one person to operate a business like that. Any design entrepreneur needs to understand economics. As the market changed, I found the need to focus on my unique value proposition… which in a strange way, are bringing me back to my illustrations and design work.