We have been longtime fans of Samantha's, recently working together on an
exclusive Candelles x Hemleva Garden Collection, which is available now!
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about the background of HEMLEVA:
Hello hello! My name is Samantha Leung, and I am the Creative Entrepreneur behind HEMLEVA. Launched in the Autumn of 2013, HEMLEVA is focused around bringing greenery into the home and into our daily lives. HEMLEVA is currently based out of Seattle, Washington.
As both the geometric and botanical pin collections grew, the number of stockists grew as well. You can now find my handmade brass mobiles and plant-inspired enamel pins and keychains in over 300 retail stores around the world.
To this day, each and every mobile and wall sconce is handmade by me. Every plant is hand-inspected and cared for, and each pin and keychain is designed and packaged by me out of my Seattle studio.
How did you come up with the name for your business? Does it hold a special meaning to you?
When I was rebranding, and moving away from my original company name, Handmade Sam*Made, I wanted to come up with a name that reflected the direction of my business. I reached out to a friend of mine, who is an amazing artist in the Seattle area. She is Swedish, and with the help of her brother, who was living in Sweden at the time, together we came up with the name HEMLEVA. HEM is a Swedish word that means "home" and LEVA means "life". Together they do not create a new word, but instead, it gives you a feeling of warmth, like that of a warm, cozy cabin in the middle of the woods. That feeling is exactly what I wanted my business to evoke, and was a step in the right direction for the evolution of my business.
What inspired you to take your love of making and turn it into a business?
It was following a car accident actually. I have been a maker my entire life. I was crocheting at the age of 4, wood-burning at 6 - I started my very first business at 16 with two friends where we hand-sewed bespoke costumes - but it wasn't until after that car accident that I started my business. My husband and I were driving cross country from Chicago to Seattle during a relocation. We were in a pretty bad car accident where we ended up totaling our car. I was in Physical Therapy several days a week for a few months and during that time, I couldn't get a "traditional" job. Not one to sit still, I decided to start a business, a shop on Etsy where I would sell things I made by hand. And while the products and even the company name has changed over the years, 9 years later I'm still enjoying each and every day.
What are the biggest inspirations for your work?
A lot of my designs are intuitive and inspired by someone, something, or a moment in time. For example, both my Protea and Bird of Paradise Pins were inspired by my very first trip to Maui. It was incredible seeing so many tropical plants thriving in that lush environment, and I wanted to capture that feeling in some way.
I also enjoy visiting Botanic Gardens, local parks, and Conservatories to learn about new varieties of plants and flowers.
How would you describe your aesthetic, and how did you work to develop your style?
I would describe my aesthetic as minimalistic, yet intentional. I have always strived to create things that will live beyond a solitary moment in time, to have pins resemble that of classic brooches that you could use to accessorize regardless of the situation. I have pins worn at weddings, graduations, special occasions, and of course, every day.
Do you have a favorite design to create, or specific product that you enjoy making the most?
In the past year, I have worked with 8 other small businesses on collaborations - and I would have to say that they are one of my favorite things I've ever done as an artist and an entrepreneur. From hand-etched mugs to rubber stamps, the sweetest little earrings to this upcoming collaboration with Candelles and the Garden Collection!
What is a typical working day like for you?
Can you describe your workspace? Where is it, how have you designed it, and how does it support you in your craft?
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a maker and small business owner? What did you learn from it?
What does being a maker mean to you?
What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
What do you feel is the most fulfilling part of being a career creative?
What advice would you give to other creatives looking to turn their passion into a business?
We are so grateful to Samantha for taking the time to share a peek inside of her world with us. To see more of her work, you can check out her website, Hemleva, and follow along with her on Instagram @hemleva. And of course, be sure to check out our exclusive Garden Collection!