Photographed by: Rachel Maucieri | Interview of: Carolyn of Matine
How did you get started?
MATINE began as an Etsy shop. I had a couple of ideas in mind for bags that I wanted for myself and couldn't really find anywhere. I've always had a very "I could make that" attitude, so I thought, why not?
I purchased a piece of leather and without really knowing what I was doing, got to work constructing my first bags. Once I made the decision to open up shop, I got a few friends on board to do a lookbook shoot and set a launch date.
MATINE was just a side hustle at first while I worked a full-time job, but over a couple of years it grew to the point that I had to go full-time in order to give it the attention it needed.
What influences you? / Where do you get your inspiration?
I'm inspired by all kinds of things, and the quest to simplify. I studied as an oil painter in college and completed my Master's degree in art history. So, in a way I've always been preoccupied with beautiful objects, whether making them myself or observing and studying what others have made.
It's no different today. I am constantly observing and pulling inspiration from the things I encounter on a daily basis--fashion, art, stationery, interior design, jewelry, architecture, botany, really anything.
How do you balance your personal time + work? / How do you create separation?
I'm not sure if I do! Right now I'm typing this at home on a Thursday morning while my daughter is napping. This is the story of my life. My work and my personal life are so intertwined, and intentionally so, that the idea of balance is pretty fluid and means different things each day. I think the best thing I can do is give all of my attention to the top priority in a given moment. When I'm at work, I try to get hyper focused so I can be as productive as possible in the hours I'm dedicating to it. And the same goes for personal time, it's not fair to my husband or my daughter or friends if I'm distracted by emails or something else while we're hanging out. I certainly don't succeed all the time, but I try.
As far as separation, the best decision I've made by far is renting a studio outside our house. I have worked from home in the past and that is a really easy way to become a complete workaholic. When I have a separate place to go, shut out the other distractions, make a big mess and then walk away at the end of the day I'm much happier.
What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?
I'm a maker deep down in my core. There's nothing I can do about it. Whether painting, drawing, designing, sewing, crafting, constructing things, it doesn't matter.Since I was a little kid, that has been my thing. I used to wake up early every morning during summer break to watch the old craft shows on HGTV and decide on my projects for the day. I was a 70-year-old in a 10-year-old's body. The greatest thrill of my life was convincing my dad to drive all the way across town for a trip to the art store.
If I'm not making something, I get off-kilter somehow. Now that this is my job I am content in my core. I can cram non-stop 15-hour days in the weeks of my busy season and never really get tired of coming into the studio in the morning—physically exhausted, yes, but there's never resentment or a wish to give up on it. So motivation isn't really a question, in a way it's just automatic for me.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / What’s next for your brand?
In the coming years I plan to expand production with my manufacturer and continue to spend more of my time on design. I have so many ideas for new lines, like men's accessories and home goods, but so little time to pursue them at the moment.
I want to bring on more employees and continue to work on delegating and streamlining the business side of this business. In five years I'd also like to see myself in a bigger workspace and maybe opening up retail space to the public.