interview with dominique from oaksmith furniture

Hey Folx!

We’re happy to bring our homie  – and Chris’ sibling –  Dominique Tutwiler to our blog!

 




Dominique is a Furniture Maker, Business Owner of Oaksmith Furniture and Designer. They started Oaksmith Furniture to make handcrafted, custom furniture accessible for all.

We wanted to interview them to gain more insight about them, their business and creative practices.

BSB: Why furniture and home decor? What inspires you most about this field?

DT: The furniture and decor that you bring into your home is a very intimate decision. These are the objects that you see and touch every day. I love that they can be purely utilitarian while also allowing you to express your personal style and taste.

BSB: You mention that growing up in small apartments inspired your desire to make pieces that maximize space on your website. Which of your works is essential for tying your home together?

DT: I try to design all of my pieces to make them worth the space they will take up. This past year, I’ve specifically focused on small space solutions. I’m still exploring concepts, but one of my latest designs, the Hayes Stool, is part of that concept. A minimalist object that can serve several functions as you need. 

BSB: Manifesting dreams: What will Oaksmith look like 5 years from now? 

DT: My dream would be to have a storefront or some open studio where I can invite the community to see my work in person, ask questions, get advice, etc. I also love the idea of a traveling pop-up where I can visit different cities and introduce them to my brand!

BSB: What advice do you have for other black/nonbinary makers? Don’t feel like you have to “follow the rules” or do things “the way they’ve always been done”. 

DT: When I started exploring woodworking, I quickly realized it was (and is) a field that is dominated by old white men who are set in their ways and are precious about the process. Luckily we are in the age of YouTube / IG / etc., so it’s easier to seek out a more diverse group of teachers and innovators who are doing some incredible things. Experiment and see what happens!

BSB: If you could be a custom-made Oaksmith original piece, what would you be?

DT: I think I would be a coffee table, lol. I feel like that’s where all of the action is in the home. Everyone tends to gather in the living room the most, so it would be great to be in the middle of that. 

Feeling like you may need some new furniture? Check out their website at www.oaksmithfurniture.com

Interview with brown sugar botanicals founders

Hey folx!

Thanks for stopping by on our Brown Sugar Botanicals Blog! We hella appreciate you.

 

What better way to start off our first blog post than an introduction, right?

Welp, we’re Chris and KaliMa! We are homies who founded a black, queer, trans and non-binary owned CBD company, Brown Sugar Botanicals. We birthed this idea from our love for plants and to express our love of plant healing. We believe that plant healing and herbalism is vital and serves a reclaimed space in medicine and to our communities. 

 

We love plants, forreal. You can call us plant dads, plant parents, plant baes is cool, too. We’ve both had our hands in some soil for as long as we individually could remember, and our exposure to herbs as healing…

 

Chris: I grew up with houseplants. My mom definitely has a green thumb, and so did her father. We also always had a variety of herbal teas in the house, so it was kind of a normal idea that plants could be medicinal. But we never had a real yard, so it wasn’t until I ended up working in garden-centered school and community programs that I realized I was supposed to be working more closely with plants. I started growing cannabis for myself a couple years back, and that’s what really got me hooked. Creating customized cannabis + hemp products naturally grew from this desire to really hone in on the type of medicine I wanted myself and my loved ones to use. 

 

KaliMa: Living at home, I grew up with houseplants. My mom cultivated the beauty of the home she had in Dominica back in our home in Brooklyn. We would have all kinds of houseplants, she loved the tropical ones of course. However my dad also had the green thumb and herbal remedies too. My dad also took care of the plants in the house very silently – he would quietly water and prune them whenever I saw him do it. He was also very savvy in herbal teas, but more so on the indigenous Caribbean herbs. He would always make it a ritual to drink tea, whether it was right before bed, during the day, or sometimes a week straight depending on the herb. So it was habitual for me to know about plants and herbal medicine. Then when I moved to California I was exposed to so much more greenery, and cannabis. I began growing cannabis two years ago thanks to Chris and my partner, and from then on, my own connection to plants emerged. My love for plants grew.

 

But besides us loving plants, herbs and all that jazz, we’re also just some dope beings doing our own thing, being our own quirky black selves. We both have our own hobbies and interests that we’re into. What connects us though, is that we are descendants of art and thrive off of creativity. 

 

KaliMa: My hobbies revolve around art – rooted in poetry and photography, but then expanded to music and performing arts. I’ve been writing poetry since I was…maaybe around seven or eight years old, but as I got older, like in my 20’s, I developed a deep love for photography. I’m also very much into music – I’m a drummer newbie 🙂 I have my own drum kit! I’ve also been drumming in a queer, trans, and non-binary black and POC group Boomshake, which was also healing for me to find solace and solidarity, and space to grow in an instrument. I’m grateful for the experience to grow another wave of connection to music by playing it and learning instruments and just being creative in that way. I also do performance art; I model and perform burlesque – very excited to begin again soon. I truly appreciate the art of burlesque because it has given me a space for healing and liberation through trauma around my sexuality and body. I’m also a bookworm when I am diligent. I’m also an anime head – I love reading anime and manga, graphic novels, comics, and sci-fi. 

 

Chris: I write a lot. Poetry, and more recently, short stories have been ways for me to exorcise a lot of the trauma I’ve experienced, so that I can let things go when they need to go. What else…reading. I love sci-fi, fantasy, POC history, any political philosophy and memoirs. Growing up I read voraciously because it gave me a chance to project into another timeline or perspective. That’s what I crave most,  being able to connect across different human-crafted barriers. Also, music! I started learning guitar from some friends in high school. I’m also working on piano. I’m hoping to start drumming more consistently by the end of the year! Right now I’m saving for a drum kit that won’t get me evicted from this tiny apartment…. One day I wanna make mixes, produce original beats, all that.

 

Us being roomies once upon a time brought us together in sharing interests, countless nights of movies, music, good food, jokes and also helped us get into a synonymous mindset. We are excitedly planning for Brown Sugar Botanicals to be a platform for networking and resource-sharing. We know that Brown Sugar Botanicals is bigger than us, which is why we decided to join together to think big. 

 

KaliMa: I definitely am looking forward to making Brown Sugar Botanicals a hub of like-minded black, queer, and trans businesses and communities. I’m looking forward to creating a resource space and giving more exposure to community projects and community funding gaps. I’m looking forward to using our platform to bridge that gap of eco-sustainability, resiliency, and social justice. I’m also looking forward to creating more CBD products for our line to accommodate the needs of the people; I believe variety is key. I’m also reeeally looking forward to connecting deeper into agricultural knowledge and herbalism and receiving my herbalism certificate, as well as experimenting with other herbs to create different types of plant medicine. I believe now is the time to de-colonize what we’ve learned about medicinal plants. It is critical now to come back to the ritual of healing through plant medicine, as it was taught by the tradition of our ancestors, and to also create a system where capitalism is not at the forefront of our existence and foundation. I think it’s important to us to formulate a business model that emphasizes no hierarchy between the community members and business people, as they’re both one and the same.

 

Chris: I look forward to figuring out fun ways to market our product and get feedback about what people like and don’t like. I love critical feedback: it’s how you grow, and keeping a close eye on growth is essential for personal and professional development. So I hope to just keep growing our brand in the most authentic way we know how. Other things: I’m looking forward to starting our own herb garden next spring. I’m looking forward to one day sourcing our hemp from black and indigenous farmers. We’re blessed to be in a network of queer, trans, and/or POC herb cultivators for our other herbal ingredients, but we’re hoping to get a raw hemp and CBD isolate producer from one of our communities as well. Strengthening economic resilience for people who’ve been economically marginalized for centuries is absolutely key to our society’s long-term success. Speaking of, I’m hella looking forward to using our platform to promote social justice and elevate community projects, whether artistic, political, spiritual, economic and so on. I come from a mostly social services and nonprofit background, so that community lens is baked into the vision for Brown Sugar Botanicals. I’m glad we’re at a point right now  where more brands are thinking critically about their roles in the community, and I hope our current political moment deepens into systems-thinking, especially about the roles that businesses play in society, and how business can’t afford to be apolitical by default. None of us can! 

 

Thanks so much for enjoying us! We hope to hear from you. Slide in our Instagram DMs or email us to say hello, ask a question, or start a conversation! We’re really into getting to know who we are serving, and what others have to serve. It’s important to us to build relationships and connections. 

 

with Oakland x Brooklyn love,

Chris and KaliMa

 
Brown Sugar Botanicals founders tabling at Black Joy Parade
Brown Sugar Botanicals founders, tabling at Oakland's Black Joy Parade