February 1, 2023
How Melanie Abrantes Crafts Beautiful Ceramic, Wooden and Cork Decor

Store Small is a bi-weekly collection highlighting small enterprise house owners from various backgrounds. This collection goals to go deeper than your typical product roundup, diving into the inspirational tales behind a few of our favourite manufacturers. By taking a behind-the-scenes take a look at how their retailers got here to be and highlighting the merchandise they (and their consumers!) love, we hope to place a deserving highlight on these marginalized enterprise house owners.


“Ought to I do that? Am I going to begin a enterprise?” thought Melanie Abrantes, who describes her youthful self as “needing to make ends meet.” Now at 32, the entrepreneur credit her perseverance for Melanie Abrantes Designs’ rising success.

“I used to be simply hustling,” displays Abrantes, who grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit — a trait realized from hard-working immigrant mother and father and faculty professors. “It was very a lot proven to me that you would be able to personal a enterprise and earn cash from it,” she says.

Abrantes began solo in 2013, however constructing connections and touring helped her model develop right into a four-person workforce (all girls, by the best way). The Oakland-based design studio creates handmade ceramic, cork and wooden residence items which might be distinctive, minimal and very best for patrons in search of design-driven objects. There’s every part from planters, candle holders and canisters to wood-carving instruments and blanks (so clients can create their very own items).

Right here, Abrantes takes us on her compelling journey from aspiring pupil to creator, mentor, creator and enterprise mogul.

melanie abrantes designs shops small

Maggie Shannon

melanie abrantes designs shops small

Aysia Stieb

Overcoming Obstacles

Earlier than founding her enterprise, Abrantes moved from her hometown in Houston, Texas, to Los Angeles, the place she labored as a graphic artist and studied Product Design at Otis School of Artwork and Design — which she says is “one thing I actually miss and actually love.” She later joined an area woodshop, the place she used wood-turning lathes (an instrument that smooths and shapes wooden) to create her personal designs. “From there, a few shops reached out to me and finally, I moved up right here to the Bay Space [in 2014] to pursue it full-time.”

Regardless of Abrantes’ success, her path wasn’t simple. She discovered herself burdened by a standard impediment many entrepreneurs face: a scarcity of cash. After the ultimate transfer to Oakland, her sources have been restricted. “I actually had a small mortgage from my aunt” — cash that helped her construct the assorted components of her model: a store for buying cork-wood merchandise and a Subscription Carving Membership (the place clients obtain tasks each different month and are taught DIYs over Zoom).

“For years, till I used to be capable of afford to rent folks, I used to be working seven days every week persistently,” says Abrantes. “I do not suppose folks know that. Your private life sort of will get on the top of the stick.”

To maintain shifting, Abrantes stored considering: “What’s the subsequent step?” For her, it was publishing a how-to guide, Carve: A Easy Information to Whittling, and accepting an invite to show spoon carving all through Canada (Vancouver, Victoria Island and Tofino).

“There isn’t a means me, who is only one individual, can be as profitable if I did not put myself on the market,” Abrantes says. “If it was ‘no’ this time, perhaps it is going to be ‘sure’ subsequent time.”

Cork Double Bud Vase
Cork Double Bud Vase
Credit score: MelanieAbrantes
Hardwood Candle Holder
Hardwood Candle Holder
Credit score: MelanieAbrantes
Walnut + Cork Bowl
Walnut + Cork Bowl
Credit score: Melanie Abrantes Designs
Marais Vase Collection
Marais Vase Assortment
Credit score: MelanieAbrantes
Japanese Carving Knife
Japanese Carving Knife
Credit score: MelanieAbrantes
Walnut Hardwood Bud Vase
Walnut Hardwood Bud Vase
Credit score: MelanieAbrantes

Staying True to Her Id

Abrantes’ tradition — her dad is Portuguese and her mother is Filipino — has been a giant supply of inspiration. Throughout her childhood visits to Portugal, she was amazed by how outstanding the fabric was utilized in design. “Cork is Portugal’s mascot,” she jokes.

For these interested in the advantages of cork, Abrantes shares “Cork 101” on her web site. “There are such a lot of cool issues concerning the materials” — together with its waterproof, anti-bacterial, and washable properties — “that I needed to work with it in that capability.”

“Each counties [Portugal and the Phillipines] have a wealthy custom of crafts that I am interested in and enamored with,” Abrantes provides. “The one-day dream is to make a product with each of them in thoughts, so there’s a bit little bit of me within the product.”

melanie abrantes designs shops small

Maggie Shannon

melanie abrantes designs shops small

Aysia Stieb

The Way forward for Melanie Abrantes Designs

For Abrantes, this 12 months was filled with progress, pleasure (with a sprinkle of nervousness) and stability. “Individuals have been very acutely aware of purchasing small,” Abrantes says of the pandemic’s impression. “However with that mentioned, my bills are a lot greater. How can I nonetheless preserve that momentum or make it midway?”

The reply: increasing her cork manufacturing in Portugal and beginning a ceramic decor line. “For my enterprise to sustainably develop, I can not proceed to make every part,” she laughs. “We discovered a very superior, small manufacturing unit in Portugal that does it the identical means I do it,” — a search that took her shut to 5 years.

Total, Abrantes’ purpose is to remain on-trend. She’s by no means hesitated to pivot her enterprise to swimsuit the wants and desires of her clients — whether or not it is transferring in-person craft lessons to Zoom or promoting DIY kits to extend her store’s assortment. “Having a small enterprise ebbs and flows,” she says.

Regardless of the exhausting instances, Abrantes firmly believes in taking that first step, irrespective of how massive or small. “You are accountable for what you may and might’t do.”

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