COMMON PEOPLE #34

hopie & lily
los angeles, ca

 

Founded on the tradition of block printing in the vibrant world of Jaipur, sisters Hopie and Lily share with us what was once their little art project to now cult textiles brand leading the way in ethical textile manufacturing in India. The Block Shop Textiles lofted studio in Atwater Village is filled with bright colours and shapes a true depiction of their brand combined with their childhood loves in a grown up kinda way.

 

INTERVIEW BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

IMAGES SUPPLIED BY BLOCK SHOP TEXTILES

COMMON PEOPLE #34

hopie & lily
los angeles, ca

Founded on the tradition of block printing in the vibrant world of Jaipur, sisters Hopie and Lily share with us what was once their little art project to now cult textiles brand leading the way in ethical textile manufacturing in India. The Block Shop Textiles lofted studio in Atwater Village is filled with bright colours and shapes a true depiction of their brand combined with their childhood loves in a grown up kinda way.

INTERVIEW BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

IMAGES supplied by block shop textiles

 

 

We love everything you do! Please tell us a bit about yourselves?

We’re sisters Hopie and Lily Stockman. Lily is the liquid and I (Hopie) am the container (analogy borrowed from this great book on creative partnerships). We started Block Shop as an art project when we were in grad school and now it’s our whole world and spans our team in LA and Jaipur.

We grew up in a big family on a farm in NJ without much oversight and spent summer days building stage sets out of painted cardboard, building forts, helping make dinner for six+ people every night, and pitching in in the garden. We’ve always loved making art, food, and, um, flower arrangements together. Block Shop is essentially a grown-up version of those pursuits.

 

Your studio is in Los Angeles, whats your lifestyle like there?

A friend said our studio is like a Waldorf school for grown-ups. It’s a big open lofted warehouse space along the train tracks in the little hamlet of Atwater Village in northeast LA. Constant designing, lots of dog-eared textile books lying around….and music and babies and dogs and snacks and Friday happy hours.

We are entirely women-owned and staffed, and our goal has always been to create an ecosystem of support and decency within our business. We believe in flexible hours and working remotely in order to accommodate domestic work schedules– block printing in Jaipur is built around the schedule and ecosystem of the family, and we’ve modelled our LA studio similarly. This of course may change in the future, but it’s how things have organically evolved.

Needless to say, we’re all deeply missing the energy and connectedness of our studio during the Coronavirus lockdown in CA.

 

How did you first get involved in the process of Indian hand block printing?

Block Shop stemmed less from our interest in the textile industry and more from our relationship to one particular family of printers outside of Jaipur, India who Lily got to know while she was living there studying Indian miniature painting. Six months after Lily left, I came to visit to learn more about the master printers’ use of natural dyes and apprenticeship method of passing the trade down over generations.

So Block Shop really began as a passion project, with the goal of honouring and celebrating the tradition of hand block printing, while creating products in our own geometric design vernacular.

 

We love everything you do! Please tell us a bit about yourselves?

We’re sisters Hopie and Lily Stockman. Lily is the liquid and I (Hopie) am the container (analogy borrowed from this great book on creative partnerships). We started Block Shop as an art project when we were in grad school and now it’s our whole world and spans our team in LA and Jaipur.

We grew up in a big family on a farm in NJ without much oversight and spent summer days building stage sets out of painted cardboard, building forts, helping make dinner for six+ people every night, and pitching in in the garden. We’ve always loved making art, food, and, um, flower arrangements together. Block Shop is essentially a grown-up version of those pursuits.

 

Your studio is in Los Angeles, whats your lifestyle like there?

A friend said our studio is like a Waldorf school for grown-ups. It’s a big open lofted warehouse space along the train tracks in the little hamlet of Atwater Village in northeast LA. Constant designing, lots of dog-eared textile books lying around….and music and babies and dogs and snacks and Friday happy hours.

We are entirely women-owned and staffed, and our goal has always been to create an ecosystem of support and decency within our business. We believe in flexible hours and working remotely in order to accommodate domestic work schedules– block printing in Jaipur is built around the schedule and ecosystem of the family, and we’ve modelled our LA studio similarly. This of course may change in the future, but it’s how things have organically evolved.

Needless to say, we’re all deeply missing the energy and connectedness of our studio during the Coronavirus lockdown in CA.

 

How did you first get involved in the process of Indian hand block printing?

Block Shop stemmed less from our interest in the textile industry and more from our relationship to one particular family of printers outside of Jaipur, India who Lily got to know while she was living there studying Indian miniature painting. Six months after Lily left, I came to visit to learn more about the master printers’ use of natural dyes and apprenticeship method of passing the trade down over generations.

So Block Shop really began as a passion project, with the goal of honouring and celebrating the tradition of hand block printing, while creating products in our own geometric design vernacular.

"We love the textured, vibrant world of design in Jaipur. The level of creativity across textile and jewellery design, as well as the emphatic decoration of surfaces is just so inspiring to us. Hand-painted beauty can be found on everything from haveli walls to gas tanks to autorickshaws."

"We love the textured, vibrant world of design in Jaipur. The level of creativity across textile and jewellery design, as well as the emphatic decoration of surfaces is just so inspiring to us. Hand-painted beauty can be found on everything from haveli walls to gas tanks to autorickshaws."


 

You spend two months of every year with your team in India, can you describe what this time is like?

The highlight is always prototyping new stuff and meeting with all the members of our block printing and weaving communities via the healthcare camps we run every six months (see our stories for more).

We love the textured, vibrant world of design in Jaipur. The level of creativity across textile and jewellery design, as well as the emphatic decoration of surfaces is just so inspiring to us. Hand-painted beauty can be found on everything from haveli walls to gas tanks to autorickshaws.  

Being on the ground with our team in Jaipur also provides the immense privilege of stepping away from regular life. In the hustle of our LA lives, we hardly ever find time for just the two of us to sit around and prattle on about the long term vision for our business, our lives, and how they fit together. Our best big-picture thinking happens during these trips.

 

You’re passionate about advocating change through your business, tell us more about this?

Our goal is to be leaders in ethical textile manufacturing in India. We do this by paying fair wages of 30-100% above local market piece rates, investing 5% of our profits each year into community health programs, and supporting decentralised family-run textile studios whose labor practices we have confidence in, based on years’ worth of in-person visits and constant communication.

On a higher level (and now more than ever in these insane times we’re living in), we believe in the potential for good in small business. We believe in values-based capitalism where human factors are inputs that determine product value. Such factors include customer life enrichment on one side, and employee and vendor fulfilment, health, education, childcare on the other side.

Once a business takes on a certain level of investment or reaches a certain size, short-term financial goals and shareholders’ gains increasingly dictate decision-making. This is why we’ve sought to remain self-funded. All of which is to say we are ambitious, and we do aim to scale over time, but our goal will always be to put creativity and our employees at the centre of our decisions.

 

You spend two months of every year with your team in India, can you describe what this time is like?

The highlight is always prototyping new stuff and meeting with all the members of our block printing and weaving communities via the healthcare camps we run every six months (see our stories for more).

We love the textured, vibrant world of design in Jaipur. The level of creativity across textile and jewellery design, as well as the emphatic decoration of surfaces is just so inspiring to us. Hand-painted beauty can be found on everything from haveli walls to gas tanks to autorickshaws.  

Being on the ground with our team in Jaipur also provides the immense privilege of stepping away from regular life. In the hustle of our LA lives, we hardly ever find time for just the two of us to sit around and prattle on about the long term vision for our business, our lives, and how they fit together. Our best big-picture thinking happens during these trips.

 

You’re passionate about advocating change through your business, tell us more about this?

Our goal is to be leaders in ethical textile manufacturing in India. We do this by paying fair wages of 30-100% above local market piece rates, investing 5% of our profits each year into community health programs, and supporting decentralised family-run textile studios whose labor practices we have confidence in, based on years’ worth of in-person visits and constant communication.

On a higher level (and now more than ever in these insane times we’re living in), we believe in the potential for good in small business. We believe in values-based capitalism where human factors are inputs that determine product value. Such factors include customer life enrichment on one side, and employee and vendor fulfilment, health, education, childcare on the other side.

Once a business takes on a certain level of investment or reaches a certain size, short-term financial goals and shareholders’ gains increasingly dictate decision-making. This is why we’ve sought to remain self-funded. All of which is to say we are ambitious, and we do aim to scale over time, but our goal will always be to put creativity and our employees at the centre of our decisions.

"Block carving is an incredible art form in itself. Each element of a pattern is traced onto a wooden slab, and carved by hand via hammer and chisel. Wooden blocks are the unsung heroes of the block printing process; they're beautiful in their own right, like little sculptures."

"Block carving is an incredible art form in itself. Each element of a pattern is traced onto a wooden slab, and carved by hand via hammer and chisel. Wooden blocks are the unsung heroes of the block printing process; they're beautiful in their own right, like little sculptures."

 

What has been one of your favourite brand collaborations so far?

Sarah and Sara from cult-restau Kismet assembled a dream team of women in different creative fields to bring their restaurant design to life. We made the napkins, which has been especially fun because we eat there all the time so we get to interact with our product. The block was designed by our pal Claire Hungerford, who is fluent in Hindi and spent time in the region where we do our block printing, so working with her on the napkins was a really special opportunity.

 

The process of dying and printing is rather complex! Which stage do you find the most interesting?

Block carving is an incredible art form in itself. Each element of a pattern is traced onto a wooden slab, and carved by hand via hammer and chisel. Wooden blocks are the unsung heroes of the block printing process; they’re beautiful in their own right, like little sculptures.

And there’s something so thrilling about touching the wooden blocks with our own hands for the first time, because it’s the moment where our design idea (usually a watercolour painting or sketch) becomes a physical, tangible object. The block holds so much potential.

Printing the first sample is like Christmas morning when you’re little– we anticipate it for months and it’s totally thrilling, every time.

 

We have your Poiret Scarf hanging in our shop window, how does it make you feel seeing people adoring and displaying your work worldwide?

We are touched to hear that! Every time we see our textiles in photos, or in real life, it brings us absolute joy and a deep appreciation for those customers out there keeping our business running.

 

learn more about hopie and lily here

 

What has been one of your favourite brand collaborations so far?

Sarah and Sara from cult-restau Kismet assembled a dream team of women in different creative fields to bring their restaurant design to life. We made the napkins, which has been especially fun because we eat there all the time so we get to interact with our product. The block was designed by our pal Claire Hungerford, who is fluent in Hindi and spent time in the region where we do our block printing, so working with her on the napkins was a really special opportunity.

 

The process of dying and printing is rather complex! Which stage do you find the most interesting?

Block carving is an incredible art form in itself. Each element of a pattern is traced onto a wooden slab, and carved by hand via hammer and chisel. Wooden blocks are the unsung heroes of the block printing process; they’re beautiful in their own right, like little sculptures.

And there’s something so thrilling about touching the wooden blocks with our own hands for the first time, because it’s the moment where our design idea (usually a watercolour painting or sketch) becomes a physical, tangible object. The block holds so much potential.

Printing the first sample is like Christmas morning when you’re little– we anticipate it for months and it’s totally thrilling, every time.

 

We have your Poiret Scarf hanging in our shop window, how does it make you feel seeing people adoring and displaying your work worldwide?

We are touched to hear that! Every time we see our textiles in photos, or in real life, it brings us absolute joy and a deep appreciation for those customers out there keeping our business running.

Learn more about Hopie and Lily here.

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common people #33

jaz & alana, thirroul nsw

Inspired by the sunny side of life, rad Mamas Alana & Jaz are defeating the pink for girls and blue for boys stereotypes with their retro baby-ware brand Banabae. Bursting with bright nostalgia and driven by their customers, Banabae has grown up to be a big kid in small worlds making forever wares kids will cherish and remember while keeping focus on doing good for the planet contributing to protect the coastal lifestyle they cherish so much.

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COMMON PEOPLE #33

jaz & alana, thirroul nsw

Inspired by the sunny side of life, rad Mamas Alana & Jaz are defeating the pink for girls and blue for boys stereotypes with their retro baby-ware brand Banabae. Bursting with bright nostalgia and driven by their customers, Banabae has grown up to be a big kid in small worlds making forever wares kids will cherish and remember while keeping focus on doing good for the planet contributing to protect the coastal lifestyle they cherish so much.