An interview series with creative online entrepreneurs. Utilizing the tools available to them, these artists, musicians, videographers, and more aim to make a living for themselves on the internet. At "The Orbit", we sit down and get the scoop on their process, history, and goals in order to better understand the ever changing small business economy.
Sahil Lavingia is the CEO and founder of an online selling platform called Gumroad. Sahil was 19 when he left Pinterest to start his own venture, and today his business allows creators to sell their products quickly and easily. Like many of Gumroad's users, Sahil is an artist (he writes and paints). Though his social circles are mostly tech entrepreneurs, his interests lie in creative pursuits and continuous learning. From San Francisco to Utah and now Los Angeles, Sahil is still in the thick of his journey, so we asked him about his overlapping lives in art and business.
Joann Miller teaches Microsoft Office and other computer skills at an Adult School in the Bay Area. She also happens to be my mother. We talked about the challenges she faces as she tries to provide an affordable service to folks who need certification in order to do their job better. Sometimes it can be difficult to reach students, and other times navigating the public school system can be more complicated than expected. Together, we talk about what folks of all ages need to to in order to be marketable in the economy of tomorrow.
Emily Griffin is an illustrator that does most of her networking on Twitter. Her secret? Being herself. Her art has been featured by Hellogiggles, Tumblr, Glitch, Marie Kondo, and more. With her knack for drawing cute digital comics that have the feel of watercolor, Emily doesn't know where her illustrations will take her next. For the time being, though, it has made her well known in tech circles both in and out of New York City.
For more info on Emily and her work, check out her website:
Moji runs Blule Daisi Consulting, which helps small businesses become more environmentally sustainable. Her venture has been live for six months, and she tells us that a lot of her work is education since some folks don't really know what it means to be "sustainable". Through networking, trash audits, and knowing exactly where your products come from and end up, Moji is inventing her career by focusing on a need that means a lot to her.
MarninSaylor sell their handmade line of toys, Pastry Pets, in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market. Known for their impeccable retail theater, their rich brand identity, and of course the cutest toy you've ever seen, it is sometimes hard to picture how much work Thomas Marnin and Skye Saylor put into their small business. In this interview, we discuss manufacturing, outsourcing, world-building, and business strategy in order to understand the grittier side of what goes into making such a soft, delightful collection of toys. Intrigued? You can find their most recent shop updates on Instagram @MarninSaylor.
Cordero Core is a jack of all trades. By day he's a computational chemist, and by night he's a baker, an MMA fighter, and an aspiring congressperson. In this interview, we ask him how he pursues his interests and why, in order to figure out how to market and manage ourselves as we navigate our own hobbies and hustles. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Cordero tells us his strategies, passions, and plans with enthusiasm and focus that is certain to inspire.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Emily Lakehomer works a tech job by day and runs an Instagram vintage shop by night. Under the handle @shopfruitstand, Emily curates 60s & 70s styles with Western flair and ships them across the United States to paying customers. She manages to make her hobby profitable when she finds the time, and hopes one day to open a physical shop using what she learned on this venture. You can find her collections on Instagram, Depop, and Etsy.
Elias Higham set out to pursue his dream of becoming a screenwriter in Los Angeles, and it hasn't been easy. However, through persistence and staying true to himself, he managed to work his way into the writer's room of an upcoming animated series. In this interview, we talk about the ins-and-outs of getting work in the entertainment industry as a writer, and what it means to Eli in terms of landing the right job.
Abbey St. John (also known as "oatmeat" on Instagram) is an illustrator that is finishing up her degree at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Her drawing style is a bit cubist, really whimsical, and always changing. In this interview, we discuss what goes on at art school, the importance of mentors, and how she goes about each of her projects.
This week, we're talking design, art, and reason with Lito Nicolai. As a programmer by day and an art boy by night, Lito often puzzles over what makes things beautiful. This led him to become interested in the architect Christopher Alexander, who wrote several books that attempt to capture what makes buildings and spaces feel good. One of those books is "The Timeless Way of Building", which outlines a strategy for making things through an emotional argument. Lito combines his personal experience with his reading of Alexander's works to come up with a better understanding of the parts that make up a good piece of art.
Following his fascination with architecture, inside and out, Marshall Steeves specializes in design photography. Specifically, he is drawn to cafes in Portland, Oregon, which all have a unique pattern language that overlaps with web development trends. Garnering a following of over 7k on Instagram, Marshall's work captures the minimalist beauty of cities in parts. In this interview, we discuss his work and what his plans are as a younger creative looking to carve out a career somewhere in the mix of technology, design, and life.
Kevin Wright is the founder and captain of Wright Hand Twill, an online storefront with a focus on specialty denim. Kevin has a ton of experience in indigo dying, fabric production, and old-school jeans, and today he talked about what it is like retailing products from small, independent manufacturers. Using his extensive product knowledge and hands-on involvement with his customers, Kevin operates in a niche that very few are able to navigate well.
Nina is an illustrator (under the moniker "mis0happy") that has a knack for product design. Through her online store, she sells t-shirts, enamel pins, prints, washi-tape, and more featuring her own artwork. Though she features some art theft from time to time, she manages to travel North America to set up shop at festivals to sell merchandise to her community. We talk process, inspiration, and social media in this interview.
Pikarar draws doggos in hoodies, remixed Pikachus, and more. Currently she balances her side hustle and her day job, yet manages to travel across the country to various festivals to pop up shop and sell her merchandise. In this interview, she shares her history, challenges, and advice for folks trying to make money with their art.
Jordan makes art tutorial videos on YouTube, a hobby that turned into a business that spans Instagram, Shopify, and Patreon. We talk about her challenges, what she enjoys about her work, and what others in her field can do to optimize their creativity.
An interview with Trevor Ford on the various subjects of shoes, startups, social media and vision. Herein lie some contradictory (and highly useful) viewpoints on staying positive, ‘making it’ in the world of New Media, and escaping the life of a Barista.
Now that they have published their book "Sustainable Loops", Connor and Cheyenne talk creativity, the internet, and entrepreneurship. Cheyenne gained a following through Tumblr and YouTube which allowed her to pursue illustration full time in 2017. Together, they discuss the challenge of running a business by yourself.
Conversationalist and playlist curator Aaron Whitlatch shares his thoughts on music, joining Twitter, and how in general technology's effects on social situations. As a co-host of the podcast "Talking About Talking About It", Connor and Aaron thought it best to try and cover as many topics as they could.
Laurel and Connor have a dilemma: they love reading, but increasingly doubt its utility in the modern world. Everyone of us is overwhelmed by the amount of media available to us, specifically book recommendations. What if there was a bigger purpose to reading? To recommending a piece of literature? Does art fulfill a spiritual deficit or does it help us more acutely understand a complex world?