Interview with Loren Profit Smith
It’s time for us to get another glance into the life and journey of a creative that really Inspires me. This Interview with Loren Profit Smith, the founder and creator of Farmette.co, a handmade paper company was an absolute dream. It was the first interview since I started this blog that I actually got to do in person, and there is nothing better than connecting real life with other creatives.
So let’s get right into it shall we?!
Tell us about yourself and your journey
Born and raised in the Bay Area, I met my husband in an internship in Kansas City, where we lived for 11 years. We moved to Redding in Northern California in 2020 and love the beautiful mountains, mild winters, locally-grown food and small town feel. We have three boys aged 2, 5 and 8, so I’m currently learning how to find somewhat of a balance between having time with our family, homeschooling the boys, running our paper business, and still making time for rest and fun!
Tell us about your journey with paper
I learned how to use a letterpress in college, and made wedding invitations on the side and for friends for years on machines in community studios. I decided to start taking paper more seriously and got my own press, and then discovered handmade paper and that paired with letterpress was the most beautiful paper combination I could imagine. Around this time handmade paper was just taking off in the wedding world and I couldn’t find it anywhere because the few suppliers who made it were always sold out. I thought I could probably try to make it myself and that it would be fairly easy (haha!), so I pulled in my best friend to help me experiment and we started making paper in 2016.
Of course it wasn’t as easy to make as I had imagined, but we figured it out and when the business launched in 2017, it exploded really quickly. It was exciting but mostly really stressful as we just weren’t prepared for the volume. The workload was huge and I started feeling like a factory manager more than an artisan and I didn’t like heading in that direction.
It took a while to hone in on exactly what I wanted Farmette to offer that would allow for a better work-life balance and also having space for my own creativity. I decided to start making greeting and stationery cards and incorporating my own writing and designs instead of offering just plain paper. And I’ve continued developing our natural dye palette – that’s my absolute favorite part of what I do. If I could just play around with colors all day I would love it.
How much paper do you make in a day?
This all depends on what kinds of paper I’m making, and the size of it, but to give you an idea: the other day I made about 400 Business Cards, 200 flat cards and 100 folded cards. We spend 30-35 hours a week working on farmette with my husband and I tag-teaming. He helps me with some of the heavy lifting needed in the mornings, and then I go out and make paper and print most of the afternoons. We’ve put a lot of work into streamlining the process and make sure we do it as efficiently as possible. We’ve also invested in a large Hollander beater and larger papermaking moulds which help us be able to make larger quantities by hand.
Where does the name Farmette come from?
I came up with it when we lived in Kansas City at a small farmstead. We had our production in a converted barn and I absolutely loved that agrarian rural life. That’s where I think I found my aesthetic and what’s actually important to me. I love to live my life at a slow pace, filled with natural beauty and neighbourliness. The name Farmette kind of incorporates the romantic idea of farming that I absolutely love.
How did your interest for Design start?
My mom was a graphic designer in San Francisco back in the 80’s, before there were any digital design programs, so I grew up seeing her creating all of her designs by hand. She would share her process of why she made certain design choices or not, and I think I just took in a lot of it. My own personal journey with designing started when I was really young. I was a very ambitious child, so when I was 9 years old I was making greeting cards and birthday party invitations that I would sell to all the neighbours. It’s funny to think that was the start of the journey that I’m on now making paper.
Where do you get your Inspiration from?
Aesthetically it’s from being outside. I pay a lot of attention to what I see, the colors, light and shadows and their interplay. Writing wise I get a lot of inspiration from family and relationships. As a family we’re really committed to doing inner work – we want to be able to reflect on and always be honest with what’s going on inside of us and move towards more and more wholeness, health and compassion. A lot of my writing comes from that journey.
What are some things that are important in your creative process?
One thing that’s really important is taking the pressure off and taking time to play. To get out of performance mode. I really like to experiment and throw a bunch of stuff out there and see what sticks. I’ve been reading a book called the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron about healthy, consistent creativity. The main practice she talks about is daily journaling, and that’s something I’ve been doing. It helps me process and put language to things.
How do you make your paper?
It’s a very repetitive process. You have a vat full of water, and you add in your paper pulp. In its wet state it looks a little bit like a bin full of clouds (or wet toilet paper!). I only use natural dyes so I add whatever color combinations I want. You then use a frame with screening on it, pull it through the water and let the water drip out so only the pulp is left to dry. We make our pulp in-house in our hollander beater from a mix of cotton remnants from the US garment industry and abaca fibers, which come from a plant in the banana family.
How long it takes for the paper to dry depends on the weather – in the summer in Redding, it can air dry outside in a few hours because it is so hot and the humidity is so low. In the winter, we dry it inside with a dehumidifier running, and it usually takes about 18 hours. Once the paper is dry, we print our designs on our own antique letterpress. It weighs about 1,000 lbs and I named her Fiona!
What makes you come alive?
I love seeing people connect with beauty in a way that gives them insight into themselves and life. That brings me the most joy!
Your 3 Favorite brands and why?
Not Perfect Linen: For clothing I really like a brand called not perfect linen. They make easy to wear linen garments.
Brown Parcel Press: For paper I like brown parcel press, a letterpress shop that does beautiful work.
Homesong Market: This is a homeware store based in Kansas City that has a beautiful eclectic assortment of vintage quilts, minimalist antiques, lots of wood pieces and old crockery. I love pretty much everything they offer.
Your 3 Favorite Instagram accounts and why?
@farmandfolk: A farmer in Colorado who makes quilts from organic fabrics that she’s hand-dyed with natural dyes. She posts a lot of beautiful photographs about their life on the farm, and of course her textile projects!
@gracerosefarm: A rose farm in California that grows heirloom roses in a lot of pretty colors – it’s like eye candy! The family that runs it is so sweet and the roses are divine.
@milkhoney1860: A northern California family that raises heirloom livestock breeds and makes really pretty goat milk soap and lotion. They have a lot of inspiring pictures of farm life as well, which is my favorite!
How would you describe your style?
I read an article once that said “peasant chic” was a thing, and I thought, “That’s my style!” I love rustic materials like linen and wood, leather and copper, sheepskins and wool and hand-loomed cotton. Objects that have been made by artisans and have a story. Pursuing peace and groundedness and intention is really important for me so that translates into what I like to surround myself with as well.
Fun fact about You?
I was a geography major in college, and the way I learned how to use design software was in my cartography class.
If you were an interior decor item or a piece of furniture, what would you be and why?
I would definitely be a kitchen table because I love both to eat and to feed people, and a nicely set table can be such a good place of connection. That’s a really special thing for me.
What are you dreaming about for the future?
I’m almost always dreaming, my challenge is trying to stay in the now! One thing I’m dreaming about is to get our paper line to a place where I could start to add other product lines under the farmette umbrella, with the intention of producing fair trade jobs for artisans. I have a connection with artisan workshops in Haiti and would love to support them more. As a family we would like to build an (almost) tiny home – as tiny as you can get with five people – on a beautiful piece of land. I would love for it to be really thoughtfully and sustainably designed, and to have my paper studio in the backyard.
Where can people find you?
That’s all for today. We hope you enjoyed our interview with Loren Profit Smith, as much as we enjoyed making it.
Until Next Time,
(goodbye in Swedish)
Josefine from Scandinavian Style House