Maker Feature: Sweetgum Textiles
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Text by Jennifer Bakos

Photography by Cynthia August

 

Sandra Venus is the founder and designer behind the beautiful textile and home goods brand: Sweetgum Textiles. After studying landscape architecture and becoming an architect for around 20 years, she wanted to get back to doing something creative that related more to her fine arts degree. 

Out of her home in the North Shore of Massachusetts, Sandra finds inspiration in her garden and the local landscapes.  Some of the designs include patterns of false indigo, sedum, chives, alliums, lavender, and more. 

Sandra is passionate about supporting efforts to protect natural habitats.  She is a Massachusetts Trustee member and her business is partnered with 1% For The Planet, so 1% of Sweetgum sales goes to environmental conservation efforts. 

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The Sweetgum process starts out with the plants and landscapes Sandra is inspired by, which she then turns into photographs or she will sketch out some little drawings and bring them into Photoshop or Illustrator. Depending on the design and what it will be used for, it will be digitally printed onto the fabric or hand screen-printed. The screen printed items are done at a family owned textile mill in Rhode Island that has been around since 1937 and is one of the few hand printed fabric mills left in the USA. Sandra also works with companies that are kind to the environment and fair with their labor laws. 

Something Sandra enjoys about owning her own business is learning all the different aspects of running it. She loves to be able to go to the printing mill in Rhode Island, see the people who are printing and working on her designs and being able to talk to them in person. She loves to collaborate with different people on her work.

The name Sweetgum came from the tree that is mostly known for growing in the south, but many don’t know that it does indeed grow close to the seacoast in Massachusetts and Sandra knows of a few trees near where she lives that she found one day and she now uses it as the name of her business and on some of her designs

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Currently Sandra is also working on a new project called Place: In The Making, a magazine featuring goods and essays, mostly about and for the home, with makers all over New England. 

 

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