Photographed by: Katie Jameson | Interview of: Lainey Wright of Weather & Story
How did you get started?
Weather & Story got its start when I came into a time in life where I had an unusual amount of space and decided to dedicate that space to learning a new craft. I’ve been a singer-songwriter for many years, so the idea of expanding my creativity into a different realm was exciting. I also love a good story, and though different in most ways, I believe both songs and well-used leather goods can tell some great stories.. I realize drawing that connection could seem like a stretch to some, but it was enough wind in my sails to get me headed in that direction.
I started an apprenticeship with a local leather worker, with no real expectations beyond learning the craft. The more I learned though, the more I really enjoyed it and began to wonder and dream about how I could turn this new hobby into something a bit more like a business.
Once that little seed was planted, I did my best to water it.. which mostly meant using free time to research more about the business, slowly acquire the tools I needed to get started, dream up products and designs, and bounce ideas off friends and family and mentors.. and slowly but surely W&S was born!
What influences you? / where do you get your inspiration?
Weather & Story was born out of an appreciation for hard work and good stories, and that continues to influence and inspire me. The idea of my goods becoming a part of all kinds of stories with all kinds of people makes me really happy! As far as style and design go, I’ve always been drawn to classic, timeless, beautiful pieces that are also functional, meet a need, and fit seamlessly into my lifestyle. When I find something that fit this description, I don’t feel burdened by the purchase, but rather excited to add an intentional piece into my life. This idea heavily influences my creative process for W&S.
I think life can be lived more freely when we don’t have to spend a good chunk of our time deciding what to wear, what accessories to add, and what items to toss into our bag for the day. Having consistency and confidence in those daily staples creates more space and time to think about all the other variants of each day and to live a bit less burdened. Ultimately, I want create pieces that don’t add just more stuff to people’s lives, but instead meet specific needs in order to allow more space to really live.
How do you balance your personal time + work? / how do you create separation?
I recently made a few large strides in finding this balance when I moved into a studio space separate from my living space. Weather & Story got its start in my tiny bedroom, and while I’m glad that’s how it began and often reminisce on the novelty of those days, it was nearly impossible to separate work life from personal life. I guess for entrepreneurs and small business owners this is often the case, and maybe that willingness to have your personal life a bit invaded is crucial to moving a business forward. I’m expecting this balance will continue to ebb and flow with different seasons, but I have recently set in place my “working hours” so that I have some sort of guideline.
I’m also trying to take weekends as time to enjoy life apart from W&S. I think insisting on that separation is actually really important for the life of the company. I have found that refreshment and inspiration in my personal life often flow directly into my creative process for W&S. Rather than feeling like work life and personal life are fighting against each other, I’ve seen that the two can work together in a way that benefits both me as a person and W&S as a company. I definitely have not found the perfect sweet spot, but small glimpses of this reality encourage me in the journey (probably life-long) of finding that balance.
What keeps you motivated? / why do you love doing this?
I’m incredibly grateful to be doing something that I really love. Even in the crazy days and stressful moments, I find that pausing to be thankful and appreciate what I’m doing definitely keeps me excited and motivated.
I’m also motivated by thinking about the W&S customer and wanting to provide him or her with best end product. Working with my hands and knowing every detail of every piece that I make is something I really love about my work. I get really excited dreaming about where the products I’m creating will end up and whose stories they will become a part of. Sometimes I’ll even create stories for the future of whatever pieces I’m working on.. which maybe sounds a bit nutty, but I promise it’s totally normal when you spend hours each day with these products :)
Oh, and allowing myself space from W&S is also important in staying excited about the company.. again, trying to apply that work + life balance!
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / what’s next for your brand?
Gosh, I feel so grateful that Weather & Story will celebrate one whole year as a business in just a few months! I will say that allowing myself to dream about the future is scary, but I guess it’s also crucial if I want any forward movement. As far as a business of goods, I’d love to see our pieces in different retail shops around the state over the next year, and eventually we hope to sell our goods all over the country… and I mean, why not all over the world? I’m excited at the idea of connecting with unique shops that share in our vision in adding meaning and purpose to the lives and stories that our customers are living and sharing.
As far as the brand as a whole, I really desire for W&S to encourage folks to live simply, buy consciously, and share their time and lives generously! I really believe people and communities thrive when they care to engage in each others’ stories, and I hope that in some small way we can foster that among our customers. My aim, as a person and small business owner, is to live and do business with that goal in mind. I have dreams of creating events that involve art and music and storytelling — fostering community as well as an appreciation for meaningful art.
Of course I hope to continue to make and sell quality leather goods, but my hope for Weather & Story goes beyond just the exchange of those goods with my customers — I want to offer more of an experience, create new stories, and invite people into a community. I can’t say I know exactly how we’ll bet there, but that’s what I hope for and believe is next for Weather & Story!