Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. Today we chat with New York-based designer Pamela Barsky. She is the artist behind the sassy hand-screened pouches and clutches you’ve seen all over social media. (Both Kelly and Sydney love theirs!) Pamela shares how her business began, who handles her Instagram, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and more.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
I was born in Detroit, schooled in Colorado, spent most of my grown up years in Los Angeles, and the last five years in New York. I started out writing advertising which was really fun, but a bit like a game of musical chairs. Eventually the music stopped and I had nowhere to sit. After that, I opened what you’d now call a curated lifestyle shop, only then we just called it a gift store. When it got decimated by the Northridge earthquake, I started designing things to fill my shelves and the rest is how you say, history.
2. Have you always gravitated towards the creative world, in terms of work and/or your personal life
You mean there is something other than a creative life?
3. What prompted you to begin designing your own products?
A big earthquake, a spiral binding machine, and a crazy machine whiz who helped me turn it into something that would punch through the covers of vintage books.
4. Do you ever get attached to your creations?
I do not get attached to things at all. In fact, I have very little of what I design at home. I guess being a designer is a bit like being a mom. When you are doing it right, your babies are supposed to find a life outside of the nest.
5. Where do you see Pamela Barksy, the brand, in 5 years?
Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine where I’ll be in five years. However, I hope I have a printer that works.
6. What is your most successful form of marketing?
I used to work the marketing thing a lot; sending out press samples and taking lots of people to lunch. It is much easier living in New York and having a store in Chelsea Market. The important people just seem to know. Oh yes, and my husband does the Instagram.
7. Who is a Boss Lady that you admire and why?
Nancy Silverton because I love that she spent a full year perfecting the dough for the pizza at Mozza. I’d never have the patience for that. Also, Diane Von Furstenburg because she doesn’t seem to notice everyone in fashion is younger than her, nor does it seem to let it bother her.
8. How do you gear up for work? Then, on the flip side, how do you relax after work?
I really work when I feel like it which is most of the time. Living here in New York which has such a hamster wheel work culture, I find it easy to think about work constantly. However, dinner at Prune with my wonderful husband, Fabio always helps me relax. And I never ever ever miss pilates.
9. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Everything inspires me. Except housework. That just sucks the life out of me.
10. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
Don’t do it unless you really feel like you are going to die if you don’t because owning your own business is the most time consuming, annoying, difficult, frustrating job on the planet. And while the rewards can be great, if you are not ready to give it every iota of your love and attention, you might as well stay working for someone who contributes to your 401k.