A Mano Paper and Clay Mug
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Shopping A Mano

For Minneapolis, Minnesota based photographer, Louisa Podlich, opening her online store, A Mano, was a way to represent and promote the work of her talented artist friends.  With a knack for sales and an interest in helping local and foreign artists connect with a broader audience online, her labour of love, while less than a year old is already four collections in. “The site combines two of the things I love most: art and photography. My sales background has helped me figure out who to represent and how to curate and the fact that I am a photographer by trade has been key in making the site look cohesive and beautiful” says Louisa.

While the store is virtual, Louisa is experimenting with different ways to interact with local customers. On December 7th and 8th, she is organizing a holiday pop-up shop at Forage Modern Workshop, where customers can  “After that, we’ll be working on the fifth collection and figuring out how that all pieces together. I plan on taking a break from photography for most of December in order to spend some time with my family and friends, and then it’s right back to the grind. Can’t stop, won’t stop.”

INTERVIEW: Louisa Podlich, Owner, A Mano, Minneapolis, USA

01 How would you describe the scope of products carried in store? 
The items that are sold on A MANO are things that I believe make daily life more beautiful and enjoyable. They are things made with love, elbow grease, blood, sweat and tears by actual people, and I think that A MANO customers value the personal connection with these handmade objects. The main categories represented would be jewelry and ceramics, although I am always searching for more textiles, wall art and functional items, such as purses and wallets.

02 What type of customer shops with you?
The A MANO customer is someone who is constantly looking for beauty in the day-to-day. Thinking about this question, words like hip, trendy and fashion-forward come to mind, but that’s not really accurate. It is my goal to curate the collections in such a way that every item on the site might be appealing to just one person, but also that people from all walks of life might find just one or two treasures that speak to them. The hope is that my customers will see these beautiful objects and feel a connection to them…that they’ll see a way that owning that object will make their life more pleasurable, or more lovely. SO. All of that rambling to basically say that my customer is someone with good taste and an appreciation for things that are made with soul.

03 What do you look for when you source items from prospective designers?
When I begin to curate a new collection, I generally have an artist or product in mind that shapes its direction. For instance, collection #3 was inspired by an incredible piece by Cursive Design, called The Magic Hour Necklace. The colors and feeling of that piece were the basis for a series of work that included colors like aqua, blue, purple and coral. I gave these notes to my artists and let them run with it. The result was an amazing collection of bright, summery work.

For each collection on the site, I try to make sure I have a number of different types of art represented. If there is too much jewelry I try to add in another ceramic artist. If there are too many hard edges, I’ll add something soft like fiber. I look for things that make sense together, so that customers can easily find more than one item that they “have to have.”

04 How often do new items come in store?
Currently A MANO launches a new collection every two months. The current series was launched on November 1st and will be available untilDecember 31st. The next collection will launch January 1st and it will be up through the end of February.

05 Why hand-made pieces?
The older I get, the more I appreciate things that were made by actual people. Hand-made things have stories. They have histories and personalities and they represent community, which, to me, is incredibly valuable in our society.

As a self-employed artist, I know first hand how challenging it can be to make a living in a non-traditional career. But, just as my clients see the value in the way I capture memories of them with their loved ones, I think a lot of us see value in supporting artists who make things that we don’t necessarily “need,” but things which we treasure. How many of us have wedding or engagement rings made by an artist, rather than a big box store? How many of us drink our morning coffee out of a mug we got at an art fair? There is a reason we spend a bit more money and seek out these items. There is something special about knowing where these things came from and there is a certain amount of pride in owning them and knowing we supported the people who made them.

06 Do you entertain at home? What can be found on your table?
As much as I would love to entertain more, I am often just too busy! However, this doesn’t stop me from buying lovely things for my home. My style is eclectic, but my favorite thing to collect is ceramics. Right now I am seriously into ceramic spoons and tumblers. I love drinking wine out of little ceramic cups. I also have a lovely collection of mugs and, in a totally geeky way, I have them assigned  for specific beverages. I like to drink peppermint tea out of one, coffee out of another, and so on.

07 Do you ship internationally?
We do indeed. We don’t have international shipping rates listed on the site because they vary so much from one country to the next, but we can ship anywhere. Just email us with the item you’d like to purchase and we’ll create a custom shipping rate for you.

08 What is going on in the hand-made scene these days?
I’m seeing a lot of awesome wooden pieces these days. Hand-carved spoons and cutting boards seem to be picking up steam. I’m also seeing a lot more in the way of hand-made shoes and denim. I’d love to eventually host a clothing pop-up shop with all handmade items. There are some terrific artists in Minnesota making clothing, but I’d love to have a more national roster too.

Top Five Favourite Tableware Items on A Mano:
Of course I love all of the items we have on A MANO right now, but here are a few that I covet for my own home:

A Mano Milled Co Board

  • Hand-cut and sanded cheese board by Milled Co. I love the little paint accent on the handle and how this board can be hung on the wall when it isn’t being used. When I entertain at home, I ALWAYS serve bread and cheese, so this would get a lot of use in my household.

A Mano Shino Takeda Tumbler

  • Ceramic tumbler by Shino Takeda. I love, love, love Shino’s work. Something about the way she puts glaze colors together just gets me. I also dig how her cups aren’t perfectly symmetrical…they fit perfectly in my hands and I use mine a lot for wine and tea.

A Mano Wool Trivet

  • Merino Wool Felt trivet by Molly M Designs. These trivets are so graphic and beautiful…I feel like just having one of these on the table with a little floral arrangement would be enough decoration for a lovely dinner party.

A Mano shallow bowl

  • Shallow triangle dish by Ginny Sims. Shallow serving bowls are kind of hard to find, and it seems like they’re often a bit over-thought in the design or glaze department. I love this Ginny Sims dish because I could see myself using it to serve bread, salad, fruit, potatoes or any number of things either at a dinner party or just for a regular night at home. It is cheerful and rustic at the same time.

A Mano Paper and Clay Mug

  • Danish coffee mug by Paper & Clay. The form of this mug is delicious and the grey glaze just seems perfect for a quiet morning cup of coffee or tea.

Photo Source: Louisa Podlich

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