Echo Park Studio Visit: Beatrice Valenzuela

Beatrice Valenzuela is a Los Angeles based shoe & accessories designer and co-founder of the Echo Park Craft Fair. She lives and works in Echo Park with her husband and two children.

Q / Hi Beatrice! How do you usually start your day? Any routine that gets you up?
A / The first thing I do when I wake up is open all of our windows and doors. Then I make coffee or tea and pack Astrid’s lunch, then make breakfast for everyone. Eggs usually.

Q / Do you have a daily uniform?
A / I don’t really have a uniform. I dress according to the weather and whatever I have going on that day. I wore a uniform throughout elementary school. I liked it very much, it was a green quilt with green socks and a green v-neck sweater with mustard and white fine stripes around the neck line. I do miss it.

Q / Is there anything you carry with you every day?
A / I always bring my phone with me. I keep all my credit cards and I.D. inside the case. I do a lot of my work on the phone and I listen to romance novels on it.

Q / Is there a time of day that you feel most productive? Anything specific that helps keep you focused?
A / I feel the most productive around 11am. I like to write lists but usually have it all in my head in a jumble of thoughts in disarray. Somehow I get stuff done. (I surprise even myself.)

Q / What is your favorite place to work?
A / I love to work from home with all the windows open. We get a wonderful breeze where we live. Papers are always flying every which a way. I love having a giant table where I can really spread out. It never seems big enough and I manage to fill it and still have things on chairs.

Q / How do you try to balance your time?
A / It’s important to me to make time for all things that fill my cup: Time with family, time with my partner, girl time, me time, and adventure time.

Q / Do you find lists helpful?
A / Like I said before, I make lists all the time but never really go back to looking at them. I don’t really know how I keep it all going at once. That’s the truth!

Q / What is something you are good at? Something you struggle with?
A / I’m really good at self-care. Scheduling a blow-out, manicure, spa time, and drinks with my ladies. I’m not so good at keeping up with my emails.

Q / What do you enjoy most about your career? What are the most challenging things about it?
A / I really love the aesthetic part of my work. Deciding on materials, colors, and placement of things, all that is so fun. The worst part is getting it made. Production is always very trying.

Q / Is there anything you will never take seriously in terms of your work?
A / Problem clients. I’ve realized so many times that it’s not worth dealing with problematic people. It’s a waste of energy and time.

Q / Something that’s very important to you in you work?
A / Staying informed with what’s going on now. It’s important that I know what people are making so I can stay fresh and inspired.

Q / Where do you go to be quiet and think?
A / The Korean Spa. I love taking a nap on the warm marble floor. I always crave that time.

Q / How does your home influence the kind and quality of work you produce?
A / I always feel that if my home is organized my work will be better. I’m not sure that it is true, but it feels that way. I feel at ease around order, probably because I’m a Virgo.

Q / Do you keep any collections? If so, how do they influence you creatively?
A / I guess I collect shoes, clothes, jewelry, and bags. They influence my mood and inspire me in many ways. Their craftsmanship, design, and the confidence I get when I wear them.

Q / Where did you grow up and what led you to your current home? How would you say these places shaped your perception of work?
A / I grew up in Mexico, New York, Arizona, Paris, and California to name a few! I think that being in so many places at such an impressionable age really informed my taste. I feel very fortunate to have seen so much art and culture growing up. I am who I am now because of it.

Q / What is your first memory of work? Of success? Of failure?
A / My first memory of work: I worked for my aunt Zoila at the flea market. She sold everything used that you could fathom and I would wake up very early and join her. My job was to lay things out and charge clients. I wore a cap and a fanny pack and felt so proud and empowered. I was about ten years old. Memory of success: When I started making real money all on my own from working with my hands and using my talent. Memory of failure: That’s a hard one.

Q / How would you define beauty and what part does it play in your work?
A / I’m in constant search for beauty. I find it in the hand that made the object or experience. I also find it through food and fragrance. Being in a place where nature is all around. It’s the thing that elevates all my senses and makes me want to swallow the whole world at once.

Q / How does social media factor into your work?
A / It works great with my brand and with what I do. I have a separate private one that I use to post pictures of my children.

Q / Do you use the internet on vacation or do you prefer to completely disconnect?
A / I use it. I try and limit it though.

Q / Is there anything in particular that you do to take care of yourself and relax?
A / Yes, I go to the spa. I also love taking a short trip to be in nature – the beach, desert, or mountains…

Q / Was there any particular person who helped shape your career in formative way?
A / I would have to say my husband Ramsey. Meeting him made it really clear to me that I wanted to live the rest of our days together. We have built our life and careers around that idea.

Q / What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The funniest?
A / The worst was working in a hair salon in Brentwood. I have never felt so out of place. The funniest was as a pool monitor when I was still in high school.

Q / Would you say your career is more solitary or collaborative?
A / Collaborative and solitary both. With the Echo Park Craft Fair I work with a team and there are so many people involved, but with my own designs it’s a lot more quiet and a much slower process. I enjoy having both in my life.

Q / What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
A / To be my own boss and make my own hours. It is really ideal with my life style and choices.

Q / How does your work affect the rest of your life?
A / Personally, I get to spend time with my family and show up and be part of their lives. Financially, it’s a great way to make a living. Time-wise, the flexibility has made motherhood very enjoyable.

Q / What has been your proudest career moment thus far?
A / I really couldn’t say. There have been many. 🙂

Q / What are you looking forward to this year?
A / I’m really excited for the Winter Echo Park Craft Fair. It will take place on December 12th & 13th at Mack Sennett Studios. We are hosting a new big group of new designers we’ve never had before like Nu-Swim, Mondo Mondo, Shaina Mote, Peter Sheldon Ceramics, Santi Rom, and many more.

Q / Lastly, ten of your favorite people, places, and things that we should discover too?
A / Cuba (will be discovering soon myself…I hope), The Cactus Store in Echo Park, Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneer Town, Cookbook in Echo Park, Olive and June in Pasadena, Dinette in Echo Park, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada, Natura Spa in Korean Town, Arclight Cinema in Hollywood, and the Echo Park Craft Fair!!!

Interview & Photography
Catherine Litke

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