Out Of Office: Laura Schoorl.

Laura Schoorl is the founder of Pansy underwear and designer of her own eponymous womenswear and accessories collection. She lives and works in San Francisco and made this rad video with another babe we love, Carissa Gallo. Enjoy the good vibes!

Q / Hi Laura! Hope you are having a good morning! How do you usually start your day? Any routine that gets you up?
A / Most days I wake around 10 a.m. I try not to schedule anything before noon so that I never have to set an alarm. For breakfast, I make either a smoothie or a mug of hot chocolate, which I sip on the couch while responding to emails on my computer.

Q / Do you have a daily uniform?
A / My leather slides. And I always have to wear sunglasses, the sun is so strong in California. I tend to wear clothes without closures, I can’t handle anything that isn’t elastic or drawstring. I mostly wear pieces from my own collection or those of my friends.

Q / Is there anything you carry with you every day? If so, why is it important to you?
A / I always have scissors; there is usually something that needs to be snipped.

Q / Is there a time of day that you feel most productive? Anything specific that helps keep you focused?
A / I find the morning my most productive time for answering emails and attending to computer tasks. I spend the day running errands and making things. During the night, I have my most creative ideas.

Q / What is your favorite place to work?
A / I love to do computer work at home, cozy on my couch. I hate sitting at a desk. The rest of my work is at my giant studio table where I can make a mess.

Q / Do you find lists helpful? How do you keep yourself organized with all the projects you have going on?
A / I love lists. I make all sorts of lists: daily to-dos, general tasks, specific project tasks, and big-picture goals. I make lists that live on my computer and handwritten lists. If not for lists, I would become too overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done.

Q / What is something you are good at? Something you struggle with?
A / I am good at making things happen. I wasn’t always. Now, I crave the satisfaction of making an object or growing a piece of fruit. I am not as good at the details. I struggle to find joy in editing.

Q / What do you like most about designing? What is the most challenging thing about it?
A / Designing is exciting. It is a new process for me that I slowly adjusted my brain toward over the years. The process of imagining a thing and then fabricating the thing is so satisfying. I love the hints of new ideas coming to the surface.

Q / Is there anything you will never take seriously? Something that’s very important to you?
A / I will never take anything seriously. Love, kindness, and equality are all very important to me. I’m also extremely committed to social and environmental justice. I try to hold my work to very high ideals.

Q / Where do you go to be quiet and think?
A / I do a lot of thinking while I’m driving. The open road gives me space for brainstorming without distractions.

Q / How does your home influence the kind and quality of work you produce?
A / My home is super cozy and full of books and objects I’ve collected over the years.

Q / Did you grow up in the Bay area? How would you say the city has shaped your perception of work?
A / I grew up in Sacramento and moved to the Bay when I was 20. Sacramento is a fairly egalitarian place where most people work for the state in some capacity. There wasn’t a ton of wealth and it was extremely diverse. My idea of work was state jobs and art. My first job was as a hostess at a pie shop in Santa Monica at 16. I used to stand in the deep freezer and eat heavy whipping cream and walk to the ocean after my shifts. I interned for a state senator when I was 17 and spent a lot of time on the phone helping constituents navigate different governmental agencies. I felt deeply connected to helping people in whatever way I could and intense frustration at my failure to care for the most vulnerable.

Q /Do you keep any collections? If so, how do they influence you creatively?
A / I do keep collections. I spent most of my younger years collecting antiques. I used to spend hours at night on eBay buying Edwardian nightgowns. My house used to look like a dollhouse. As soon as I started to create my own work, I stopped needing to buy as much and collect.

Q / How would you define beauty and what part does it play in your work as a designer?
A / There are so many layers to beauty. There is the surface, which is so fun to sit with—in fact, many people stop there—and then there are all the many layers beneath, which can be more interesting. When I design, I hope to make things that are attractive on many levels.

Q / Social media and the internet play such a huge part in the fashion industry. Do you find them useful as tools? How would you say they factor into your work?
A / I do find it useful. I don’t think that I would have an audience for my work without social media. Instagram feels like a job most of the time and I try not to let it overwhelm me. It is such a wonderful connector and can be super inspirational.

Q / Is there anything you find problematic about them?
A / I spent most of my adult life eschewing social media entirely. It exacerbates my insecurities and I could never understand why people wanted to limit others’ perceptions of them to profiles and photos which are so easy to consume and judge.

Q / Do you use the internet on vacation or do you prefer to completely disconnect?
A / I do use the internet on vacation when it is available. But I also relish the opportunity to read without distraction. I take vacations as often as possible and, since it is just me running the show, I have to make sure operations are running smoothly. I can’t completely check out.

Q / Is there anything in particular that you do to take care of yourself and relax?
A / I enjoy sleep. I try to sleep 9–10 hours a night. I love going to Korean spas and getting body scrubs. It’s extremely cathartic and renewing.

Q / Was there any particular person who helped shape your career in formative way?
A / I haven’t yet admitted to myself that I have a career.

Q / How did your parents feel about your career path? Does anyone in your family work in the same industry?
A / I don’t know exactly how my parents feel about my path but I hope they are excited for me. It is not what I ever imagined I’d be doing, nor what anyone in my family has ever done. Everyone works in public service or is an artist. The most entrepreneurial person in my family was my great grandfather, who was a flower bulb salesman. He came from Holland and opened a small shop in south San Francisco in the early 20th century. One of my great grandmothers sewed fur coats in Uruguay before she married, which I realize now is very close to the work I am currently doing with sheepskin for my other, eponymous line. I just spent the weekend hand stitching patches of sheepskin into clutches.

Q / What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The funniest?
A / Working with all my high school best friends at a strange boutique in Old Sacramento owned by a tango dancer who played the same 6 tango & salsa CDs on repeat. We sold French soap and princess T-shirts.

Q / Where did you get the idea to start Pansy?
A / My friend Rachel Corry and I were on a road trip down the coast and were dreaming up new projects. We met because we both were sandal makers and fell in love over mutual infatuations with fairy tales and folk objects and our intense idealism. We discovered that we both had been toying with the idea of making underwear because there weren’t any underwear we were inspired by made in an ethical way, so we decided to make them ourselves.

Q / Your collection has such a vibrant palette. Is there any particular reference that inspires you?
A / It’s hard for me to pinpoint my color inspiration. Pansy is starting to have a rainbow now but it’s hard for me to retire any because I love them all. Most of the time my palette is shades of beige so it’s fun for me to wear pops of color underneath it all.

Q / What is the most fulfilling part of your job? The most boring part?
A / Making all the clothes I wear. Snipping threads.

Q / How does working as a designer affect the rest of your life?
A / Being an independent designer is everything. Running my own businesses means constantly working and needing to provide everything myself. If I don’t make something happen, it won’t.

Q / What has been your proudest career moment thus far?
A / Having a career, if I can admit that is what I have, is pretty exciting in itself.

Q / What are you looking forward to this year? Any adventures or new projects?
A / I’m looking forward to El Niño and the rain headed to California this fall. I hope it alleviates the pressures from the insane drought we are in and restores the snowpack in our mountains. I am also dreaming up new sandal projects for my other line. My newest project, Shepherdess, is a collaboration with a my friend Brittany Cole Bush. We are curating local sheep and goat hides for the home.

Q / Lastly, ten of your favorite people, places, and things that we should discover too?

1. Nastassia Clucas, my dear friend and photographer.

2. James Rowland Shop, best store owned by my favorite people.

3. Mendocino, prettiest little town on a cliff.

4. ØGAARD, my BFF’s gallery in Oakland and my studio.

5. KronnerBurger & Starline Social Club, favorite new places to eat/drink in Oakland.

6. Dairy, my preferred food group.

7. Museum of Jurassic Technology

8. Jeremy Atkinson, the last true English clog maker.

9. Erie Basin, dream store and collections.

10. Sally Fox, pioneer of organic cotton and color grown cotton.

Interview & Photography
Catherine Litke

Video
Courtesy of Pansy
Directed by Carissa Gallo

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