Celebrated for making underwear that reverberates with a certain type of girl, Pansy is a direct reflection of the maker herself: grounded, generous and authentic. Laura Schoorl, co-founder of Pansy, favours moods such as comfort, ease and joy — all starting points for her range of design outlets that make up the essence found in her sheepskin hides, leather slides, bags and underwear. There’s a way in which Laura approaches and handles each of her products that is evident throughout her collections, from product to imagery to community. One can see and feel the care and consideration taken with each and every piece, every collaboration. We have long admired Laura’s intent as a maker and align ourselves with her ethical values and on-going drive to capture “new scenes from within our world”.
Interview with Laura Schoorl
Co-founder of Pansy
The ‘Pansy’ girl has a signature essence about her, which is made certain in your campaigns and imagery. Could you explain in your own words what some of these qualities might be?
I try to photograph all types of women and be as inclusive as possible. I'm sure, of course, that there are threads that carry through since they're all women whom I’m attracted to and feel connected to.
I hope to convey a sort of authenticity with my photos—nothing too precious or sexy. My favored moods are comfort, ease, and joy.
I very much admire your transparency and openness in how Pansy is made. Can you tell us about any of your suppliers and/or makers — any cute stories or experiences to share?
Thank you! It's such a huge part of my business. We’re still small enough that I’m a part of the actual production of every piece, counting and snipping threads and doing quality control. I’ve begun to find a groove working alongside everyone. One of my favorite sewers is a woman named Sally who always has mandarins for me that she sneaks into my bag.
As well as Pansy, you also have a hand in making sheep skins, sandals and bags. What motivates you to start a new project?
I tend to follow my inspiration. When I started all my businesses, they were all pretty small so I had time to do them all and make everything by hand in my studio. Now that they are all growing, it's become more challenging. These days, I have more ideas than time. My goal this year is to let go of nonessential things so I can have more room to create.
As a creative, how important is it for you to have someone to bounce off? Do you rely on instinct or do you prefer a few opinions to help the development of your ideas?
I love bouncing ideas off people. I try to make everyone who comes into my studio try on all my new styles to test the fit and see how I can make it better. Everyone’s body is so different and I try to find ways to make things comfy for as many women as I can.
For someone wanting to start a small business of their own, what sort of advice would you give them?
You should only start a business if you can’t imagine not doing it. It takes an incredible amount of love and energy to make something happen on your own. Seek lots of advice for all the unknown bits. Be prepared to work hard and remember to take time for yourself. Everything doesn’t need to happen quickly. No need to burn yourself out.
Where do you find you draw inspiration? When was the last time this happened for you?
I draw a lot of inspiration from the natural world and travelling. I like to spend time in other cultures and cities. Travel has been a huge part of my life since I was young. I am just getting home from Mexico and it made me feel human again.
I love how you work with the same people again and again. What are some words or ideas that you find you are continuously exploring together?
I think we are always finding new scenes from within our world to capture: backyards, couches, beds, farms, beaches, and meadows. All the places we find ourselves lingering.
I read somewhere that you always like to carry scissors with you. Can you elaborate on this? What sorts of things would you be snipping while you’re out and about?
Snipping threads, endless threads! Cutting paper for notes, impromptu haircuts, pruning overgrown flowers to make garden bouquets...
As someone who is managing various projects, how do you like to unwind?
I unwind by watching countless hours of TV. When I was less busy, I had many hobbies; now, when I'm not working, I’m either getting drinks with friends, hiking, or playing soccer.
On the other hand, how do you like to start your mornings when you have a busy day ahead?
Even if I am stressed about appointments for the day ahead, I refuse to set alarms. Knowing that I have to wake up at a certain time gives me anxiety. I tend to sleep until 9am or 10am everyday and then make hot chocolate and check emails before I go into the studio or factory, or attend to whatever production errands I have.
Being a considered designer, what sort of things will you let into your home, and how do these pieces allow you to enjoy your space?
Since I started making things, I find myself needing less. I did recently spend a few days in Oaxaca buying so many incredible ceramics and textiles. I like to have things in my world that bring me joy.
And in your working studio, what are some important elements for you here?
I derive a lot of inspiration from materials. There are piles of leather and shearling everywhere. I tape anything that can be taped to the wall—dead plants, photographs, old string, colors and textures I like. There is really beautiful light in the front gallery of my studio, which is where I like to take photos. I go to a nearby farmers market every week and try to keep my studio stocked with fresh fruit.
What is something that you always crave?
I always crave butter and ice cream. I crave fresh air, rivers, and blankets.
And lastly, what are your plans for this year?
This is the year where I create balance in my life. Last year was too busy. This year, I hope to create more space for slower moments. I have a few trips planned and a few new styles to finalize and creative projects I’m really excited about!
Interview by Yasmine Ganley
Photography by Nastassia Brückin