Designer Profile: Virginia Sin, Founder of SIN - New York
Hey Virginia! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm Virginia Sin, the woman behind SIN and a Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary designer. In 2006, I left LA for Brooklyn, abandoning, “way better tacos” in the name of making a name for myself. With my collection of overalls, small rocks and medium-sized succulents in tow, I set up a studio in Greenpoint and developed my first line: The Gluttony Collection.
By 2007, the collection had attracted the attention of Design Within Reach and received “Most Sustainable” in the Modern+Design+Function Competition. Nine years later, in 2016, it was acquired by The New York Historical Society Museum, where it became part of their 20th and 21st century objects collection.
My porcelain paper plates are used at Eleven Madison Park to serve the restaurant’s picnic prix fixe. This and more of SIN’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest, The Today Show, Goop, Domino, NYT and more.
Working to continually broaden my design horizons, I have focused my recent attention on redefining ceramic coils, translating my graphic designs into weave structures and challenging the limitations of clay in the lighting industry, in hopes to bring some extra warmth into the world.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
My education was at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. I majored in graphic design with a focus in advertising. I also lived aboard for 6 months in Copenhagen to work on an international design exhibition called INDEX. This was a strong introduction to Scandinavian design, furniture, architecture and just way of life. That experience changed my life and impacted my design forever.
Following that experience, I then moved to NYC and worked as a person chef and also as a freelancer graphic designer for branding agencies before I was able to land my first job in advertising. I then built a career as an art director / creative director in advertising for the next decade, working on TV commercials, interactive campaigns for clients ranging anywhere from beers and packaged goods to weight loss and financial services. The diversity and range was eye opening and definitely a good experience but I always had my business hustle, SIN on the side. I made time for this on nights and weekends until 2 years ago, I really felt as though I was burning both ends of my candles and had to take the very terrifying leap of leaving my comfortable and secure life to pursue my dream! :)
As a multidisciplinary designer, what format did you begin working in and how did that evolve over time?
My first format is in graphic design. That was my major at Art Center College of Design with an emphasis in advertising. I then had a 10 year career in advertising as an Art Director / Creative Director but have had a passion for ceramics since my childhood. I took classes when I was in elementary school and also took 2 years of ceramics in high school.
When did you begin SIN? What values went into shaping your business?
I began SIN back in 2007 but it was my side hustle where I worked nights and weekends until October 2016! So I've technically only been doing this full time for 2 full years.
What we believe in:
HOME IS WHERE YOU DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.
THAT'S WHY WE DO WHATEVER WE WANT:
METICULOUSLY HAND-BUILDING, CRAFTING AND WEAVING
AMERICAN-MADE HOME GOODS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD.
WE DON’T MAKE THINGS.
WE MAKE COMFORT.
WE MAKE REASONS TO GO HOME.
THINGS YOU CAN WRAP UP IN.
THINGS MADE SLOW.
WITH TWO BARE HANDS.
THINGS WORTH SHARING.
DEPENDING ON YOUR PREROGATIVE.
THINGS THAT HELP YOU FIND HOME, WHEREVER YOU ARE.
How we back it up:
EXCLUSIVELY MADE IN THE USA
USING HIGHEST QUALITY MATERIALS
PAYING FAIR AMERICAN WAGES
THOUGHTFUL AND TIMELESS DESIGNS
SUPPORTING LOST AMERICAN CRAFTS
You make everyday objects in bold, fun ways with beautiful materials - what goes into your design process?
Brainstorming / concepting and trying to create an original idea is always my favorite part of the design process. I come from an advertising background where my job was just to brainstorm all day long, so this is still my starting point. Once you have a solid idea, the execution and fine tuning the details is always the fun part / the reward!
Do you have a team? If so, what steps did you take to build it?
I have a team, yes! They are amazing and I feel so grateful for each and every one of them. We are currently a family of 5. All of the hires have happened very organically; usually someone writing me an email as to why they want to work for SIN. I've been super duper lucky in that department.
Do you have a favorite or most memorable product/project you've worked on?
Our new table lamps, the Out West Collection, are currently my favorite project. Their forms are quirky and whimsical. Each of the table lamps draw inspiration from a west coast location's specific terrain while the light bulb represents the position of the sun.
What makes you passionate about what you do?
Being able to wake up every morning and choosing to go to work (for myself) has been a long time dream / goal I've been working towards–– that in itself is highly motivating and I feel extremely lucky to have gotten this far.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face?
Cash flow has been a challenge for us. Because everything is made in the US, our labor is one of the most expensive components to our business. Our margins are not as good and therefore I'm constantly finding creative business solutions to off-set that.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other? How have women supported you?
At SIN we are an all women team. I think it's incredibly important to support and lift each other up. Men do it all the time with one another. But I find that women have a tendency to be hard on themselves and therefore harder on other women. We need to build a community of strong women who love themselves so they have the space to love one another. While working in the corporate world, I went to a conference called the 11%. Only 11% of creative directors are women in advertising. This number is shocking but it still is very much a man's world in that industry. Part of the discussion was that because it's such a scarcity, women who finally reach the top fear that another women may take her position. Instead, we have to level set and realize if you've made it to the top, help other women get up there as well because chances are they won't be taking your spot but rather just knocking off the seat of another man ;) This is how we grow our community of women leaders!
What women bring you inspiration?
There are a lot of really amazing women. Without listing them all, I would say, any women who is juggling her career while being a mom is a woman I admire. These are both full-time jobs so I think its important to recognize how difficult this is! What a serious feat!
What have you learned from creating your own business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
Do you have a dream collaboration?
To be an interior designer for a private residence and design the space with all SIN products / custom furniture.
Do you have any resources that have been helpful to you that we should know of?
I love libraries. The New York Public Library's Art & Architecture Collection!! I could spend weeks in that room.
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
I'm currently working on being a better manager. Reading a few books on that. We are growing rapidly and so I want to make sure we build a good, healthy foundation as we move into the new year! I also want to learn more about raku firings. I recently did my first raku firing last month and absolutely loved it. I want to find a way to integrate this process into our work more.
What are some of your favorite places in NY?
The MET, MOMA, Guggenheim, Eleven Madison Park, the flower district, soup dumplings in chinatown, NYPL Art & Architecture Room, Hudson Valley when the leaves change colors, Wool and Sheep Festival in Rhinebeck, The Blue Tatter Textile Library.
What's coming up next for you?
We are working on new designs for the upcoming Shoppe Object Tradeshow in Feb and Architecture Digest MADE show in March. I also have to make time to plan a wedding: I got engage this year! So a lot of things!