In this category on our website we want to share the story of craftsman and -women, the story of inspiring people that make a change in this – somewhat- strange world. We want to give you a peak into their lives and crafts, so you can get to know them more, and pick up a trick or two!
In this third edition we will feature Chloe Miller, owner and creator of SIREN co. She will share with you the connection she holds to nature and how this translates in her work. You also will find out what her favourite outdoor meals are – and get some great tips on creative work!
1. Where on the internet can people find you (website, socials etc.)?
2. What is your favourite way of spending time outdoors?
I like to hike. I live in western NC and I love the southern Appalachian mountains so much, I try new hikes all the time and really enjoy staring at topographical maps to really learn the land. I love to study and draw plants and sustainable forage. I enjoy nature photography and just sitting and listening to the sweet sounds of nature, especially rivers.
3. Do you have any strange habits before leaving on a trip?
I always worry too much about leaving my home, because, I’m a real homebody. I make sure my animals will have everything they need, I check to make sure the wood stove is out, I worry about weather, traffic, getting lost, etc. I look at the maps a million times. It’s pretty annoying but the anxiety stops once I leave. My near future plan is to buy a larger plot of forested land, so that the forest IS my home.
4. Can you name three things that you would never go on an adventure without?
Maps, camera and a big knife.
5. What does you morning (routine) look like when you are out and about?
First things first.
Coffee when I wake up is one of my favorite things. I usually have a couple cups while just sitting, relaxing, and writing in my journal or reading. I tend to wake up really early, then I want to get out and hike/explore pretty quickly afterwards. Not really a breakfast person.
6. What is the last (bushcraft/survival/craft) skill you learned, and how did you master it?
I wouldn’t say I am a master at anything, lots of room to improve on my survival skills, but I spend most of my focus on edible/medicinal plants. Obsessed with plants, and, there’s always more to learn.
7. What is your favourite outdoor meal?
I like soup, a hearty Japanese style broth with some veggies, and some foraged woodland edibles, just a few strips of meat.
We would love to tell our readers more about the SIREN co. The next questions will cover that.
8. When did you start making pouches, bags and other amazing gear?
I started to make bags back in 2010. I was a traveler back then, riding freight trains, hitch hiking, camping… I worked migrant labor jobs and got to a point where I just didn’t want to do that anymore and needed to think about what I could do as a career. I learned how to sew when I was 12 from my dad and I decided to take my skills a little more seriously and started to teach myself to make outdoor/traveling gear.
9. What were some of the unexpected hurdles, you took to get where you are?
Still plenty of hurdles to trip over!
There was a 4 year gap in my business of sewing gear. I was having a very hard life change and it was too difficult to work up the will power to work from home. I ended up getting a job as a manager for an all female organic landscaping crew and I got very invested in that business, studying plants, and learning/thinking about more natural ways to live with wildlife. I thought that was what I was going to do, but, it ended traumatically and suddenly, I didn’t know who I was for a little while, very torn on where to put my energy, but, I am very happy and excited that I found my way back to designing.
10. What is the greatest lesson you learned so far on your journey on making products and building a brand?
To TRUST yourself…
The creative process is so difficult sometimes. You can easily get influenced by the outside, like you can worry about people not liking your stuff if you do something differently than what is already out there, but, doing things differently is what makes your brand special.
Sometimes I feel that thinking too hard on what it is that my brand IS, can strip away the authenticity and beauty of it. I’m still figuring out exactly what my niche is and what direction to go in, but, there is no point in me sitting around stressing out about it. I need to just trust my instinct, and grow with it.
11. What role has nature got in your work?
I am inspired by nature in many ways. I am inspired by the color palette of deep damp woods. I am inspired to make gear that makes people WANT to go out and experience it, and find a connection with it. I also am trying my best to use natural materials, which a lot of outdoor companies don’t do.
I am a huge advocate for figuring out how to sustainably live WITH nature and make more choices with natures best interest in mind. It is INCREDIBLY difficult in this field, but, I’m determined to learn as much as I can, and hopefully find a way to challenge the industry. Nature also saved me from a very negative, depressed, self-sabotaging mindset and helps me stay productive and have hope.
12. Where do you want to be in five years?
I want to be living in a forest home that my partner and I build, I want to be able to walk out my door and into the woods, spending time with trees, mushrooms, and moss. I hope that SIREN co. will have grown to have its own larger space (I am just out of my house for now) and be able to employ a few folks.
I want to create fulfilling jobs that inspire creativity and freedom, to weirdos like me that never did that well in school or fit in to the way society wants you to be. I also hope to be able to donate profits to environmental organizations and find ways to teach folks about sustainable textiles, and why you should care and love your clothing/gear, and how to mend and repair such things.
13. What motivates you to get better at your craft?
I honestly don’t know, sometimes. I am just obsessed with it. Lately, I have been realizing how satisfying it will be to “master” a craft. I have dabbled in many crafts, trades, and hobbies… but I think I am finally ready to sacrifice some of them in order to master one.
14. How would you describe a perfect (work) day?
Get to work by 7:30, walk into a clean and organized studio, feel really productive, listen to some good tunes/ audiobooks while designing/prototyping. Not have anything break or any stitches go wrong! Sell a few bags! Take a SHORT lunch and get back to work. Finish the day by 3 pm with plenty of time to go garden, or spend some time outside before the sun goes down.
15. Do you have mentors, or others, you look up to?
I tend to not focus too much on one person, I like to pull inspiration from many people/places/things. I think you must in order to create something truly unique.
16. What do you want people to know about your brand and products?
I take my work seriously. I make things to last, and if something goes wrong, I fix it. I want the things I make, to be out there, but also be FUNCTIONAL, exceptional, and LOVED by whomever owns it. I design things with a few things in mind …. versatility, functionality, and sustainability.
Thank you so much Cloe for taking the time to answer all the questions. We would like to ask you one more thing:
17. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am enrolled in an apparel arts program and will eventually be designing thoughtful, functioning clothing for people who enjoy the outdoors, and, to follow me on Instagram to see this grow into something special!
Thank you so much Chloe for taking the time to answer all our questions! We love how nature resonates in everything you do and make, and hope you will be able to attend Asheville Apparel Arts School!
Photo credits, unless otherwise stated, Chloe Miller/SIREN co.