ARTIST INTERVIEW: Laura Schoorl of Pansy and Shepherdess
Laura Schoorl is the co-founder and designer of Pansy. She lives and works at home in Berkeley, California, while raising her beautiful son, Pascal. Pansy was born from a need for comfy, ethically produced undies. Their organic cotton is grown and milled domestically and their underwear is designed and sewn locally in the Bay Area. Schoorl is also a partner with Brittany Cole Bush on Shepherdess, a holistic hide project you can also find at Echo Park Craft Fair.
Tell us about your current work and how that work has evolved since you first started your business?
These days, I spend most of my time taking care of my son Pascal but, in every spare moment, I try to keep my other baby, Pansy, alive and thriving. Pansy just introduced two new styles: a unisex stretch short that can both be worn as underwear or as shorts and a cross bra similar to our full bra but with natural elastic straps that are covered in fabric for extra sturdiness. Over the last 5 years, we have grown really slowly. A lot of my energy is spent on photography and creating a community. In the beginning, it was just me doing everything but now I have 3 employees to help me with Pansy. I’m so grateful for their help and everyone who’s helped support us along the way.
How long have you been participating in the Echo Park Craft Fair?
I’ve been coming to EPCF since May 2015 so it will be 4 years this spring! Back then, Pansy only had three styles and a handful of colors. In the beginning, I would also bring Shepherdess hides and my own line of bags and sandals, LS. For the first two fairs, I was able to stuff everything onto a small table. Later, we moved to a booth along the wall next to Beatrice. When the demand for hides grew, we decided to open a dedicated Shepherdess booth outside. Now that I’m putting LS on hold, Pansy finally has a booth to itself <3!
How does being a part of the EPCF community inspire you?
I love being a part of something beyond my own businesses. Beatrice and Rachel are so good at bringing people together and creating a community and space to celebrate the work that we are all doing. It makes me feel so much more grounded knowing that I am not alone in my struggles and successes. The fair is a moment to connect and take stock of what we are all creating and give each other love—to touch everything and try things on. The last few shows have felt like summer camp.
The ethics of production are on our minds a lot recently; questions of sustainability, fair labor, location, and artistic integrity. How do these concepts come in to play in your craft and your business? What choices do you make that take into account these ideas?
What impact do you hope your creative work will have on your community?
Pansy was created to do the least amount of harm in the world. Every decision we make always goes back to that. I am constantly looking for ways of doing things that are good for our earth and everyone on it. We are working on repair kits for replacing worn down elastic bra straps and hoping to start hosting mending parties later this year. We really want people to understand the lifecycle of their garments and feel connected to fixing and composting when they are fully worn out. We hope that people see our business model and are inspired to do better and make better choices. We dream of starting our own factory where we can control every decision that goes into how our garments are made and create the most positive loving environment.