INTERVIEW / HAN STARNES

What keeps you stable during the chaos of your work?
This season has felt particularly busy, as I’m 33 weeks pregnant right now. We’ve been working double time to get things organized and finished in time for baby’s arrival, trying to ease the transition. I’ve been learning a lot about building a team, and letting the brand have its own life. I feel very connected with this work, so things are always harder than they seem - we’ve been pretty particular about sourcing and fostering healthy relationships with our partners and in the whole design process. But, what seems to keep me stable is perspective - which has changed a lot since becoming pregnant. There are so many things that can happen in a day that distract and deter your energy towards a certain goal, but as my time becomes even more limited with work, I’m finding that it’s easier to weed out what’s not worthwhile — allowing myself to more truly focus on what matters.

What people/place/things do you find yourself consistently going back to for inspiration?
I really admire certain writers, filmmakers and artists - filmmaker Terrence Malik in particular has been someone who does a really incredible job of capturing human interaction and emotion that seems so real and honest to me. After I saw the Tree Of Life for the first time, I was silent for like 30 minutes! His ability to show beauty using the medium of film has been a constant inspiration for my work.

Flip to a page in the last book you read and give us an excerpt.
This isn't a book, but I recently read a New Yorker article by Richard Brody who was reflecting on Terrence Malik’s “Knight of Cups” and it’s really stuck with me:
“Physical and emotional pain is everywhere; poverty imposes specific and grievous agony, people who endure it are very nearby, and you’re likely to be upset by the sight of those who suffer from it—as you walk past them. Family relationships may suffer; that’s a sad commonplace. And there may well be a temptation to leave, to go home, or to go, at least, elsewhere. You are not likely to be an angel; it’s not part of the job description for being in the business, or, for that matter, for being an artist. But be honest about your experiences, about your failings—and about your enduring intimations of beauty even in places and situations that you’d hesitate to call beautiful, because the production of beauty in a world of suffering, and from your own suffering, is the closest thing to a higher calling that an artist has, the closest thing to the religious experience that art has to offer.”

What is your background? Is it specifically in fashion design?
My background is in Intercultural Social Work - I’ve worked in South Africa with women dealing with HIV, and also in Nashville with refugees in resettlement before moving to New Zealand. It was while my husband and I lived in Wellington, New Zealand that my textile journey began to take shape. There I began a journey of being immersed in handspun knitwear, and had my first exposure to the fashion industry as I began to collaborate on knitwear projects with New Zealand designers. The brand really started there, and though we moved back to Nashville in 2013 to be closer to family, the work has been an exploration of textiles and beauty ever since.

If you weren’t a designer-- what other occupation could you see yourself in?
I’m pretty good at math, and have been since I was young. I’d sometimes think being a math teacher would be fun — something that’s concrete and has answers :) I’m not sure I have the patience though and think I would really miss the creative process in what I do now. I feel pretty drawn to my work right now, but there are so many other interesting things to explore in life!

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