Isobel Schofield is the founder and owner of Bryr Studio, a handmade clog company based in San Francisco, California.
In the Spring of 2012, Isobel made the brave decision to quit her 'cushy corporate job' in New York as Head Designer of a major US clothing retailer to go off in search of 'something more'. She chronicled her journey, or as she refers to it, her 'creative walk-about', with refreshing honesty in her blog, The Creative Sabbatical. By gifting herself a six month pass for adventure, reflection and creative freedom she learned an invaluable lesson... when you 'let go and follow the current' it will carry you to where you need to be. For her that was San Francisco, where she is now happily handcrafting a beautiful life for herself.
Why did you decide to share your sabbatical online?
At the time, I had no idea where life was going to take me, and I certainly didn't know I was going to start a clog company! But I did know that I wanted to think and talk about creativity and connect back to it. I hoped that someone out there might be interested in that conversation, and that it might be helpful to other people who were ready to take the leap. It turned out that those other voices really helped me get through the hard times in my own journey.
In your blog you talked about leaving New york & going in search of a new home. Why did you choose San francisco?
The reason I moved to San Francisco is that I fell in love, three times over. The first love was what initially brought me here. I came out to visit my two young nieces, and I realised that visits weren't enough. The second time happened one balmy summer night, listening to music and watching the sun set behind the eucalyptus trees in Golden Gate park during Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. It was then that I realised just how much I love this city's spirit and beauty. The third was a couple of weeks after that when I went on a first date with the love of my life. That's when I knew for sure that I was going to call San Francisco home!
I have always been really interested in working with leather. I started by taking a class at the local craft school on leather work, and then just continued making my own. I fell in love with how simple clogs are, and how there are endless possibilities for design. I also love wearing them!
How long does each pair of clogs take to make?
It usually takes about a week from start to finish.
What do you hope people take away from your work?
Mostly, I hope people like what we're making. I think for most designers and makers, it's as simple as that.
what are your design influences?
I am in awe of the natural beauty of California, and I try to take a day or two each month to go explore somewhere in the area. Connecting with nature and having that mental break is what keeps my creative batteries charged.
What is the biggest challenge of running your own business?
I had a lot of experience as a designer, working at Velvet and then as head designer at Splendid, but I didn't have any experience being a small business owner. There are many times when I have to hold my breath and just move forward, even though I'm scared stiff.
What does success look like to you?
Success for me means having a good work-life balance, being connected to my creativity and giving back to my community.
WHAT ADVICE would you offer to a young designer/maker?
My advice would be that there is nobody else who knows your business better than you do. Get lots of advice, listen to lots of people and take a small business class. But ultimately, just trust your gut.
which women do you admire?
I think we are in a time in history when women are doing some really amazing things; in the arts, in business, in politics, and in academia. I started my blog to talk about those women, to show how we are each strong, smart and capable in our own way.