We would like to introduce you to such a lovely lady, Rebecca Crall of Territory Design. Rebecca has taken her experience working in international development, combined it with her strong family background of the arts and travel to create the most beautiful, thoughtful line of textiles, and home goods. All the while, making sure doing so will be supporting families in regions of Mexico, Thailand, and Morocco. We hope you enjoy reading about her passions and what drives her, and that it inspires you to think about how your purchasing can make a difference for good in someone's life.
Can you share a little about your Background?
For the last 15 years, I’ve been working in the not-for-profit sector in various aspects of international development, education and peacebuilding programs. Through this work, I have been able to meet and collaborate with artisan groups in Mexico, Thailand, and Morocco. It has been an incredible opportunity to bridge my international work with my passion for design and the human process behind craft. I love discovering the ways design and innovation can intersect with doing good in the world.
Almost two years ago, my husband and I (along with our 6-month-old son) decided to move about an hour outside of Chicago to a beach area on Lake Michigan. The idea was to take a break from the city and renovate an old barn-style house we call El Granero. Two years later the house is done and we welcomed a baby girl into the world in February. Life is (very!) full.
Why do you do what you do?
I believe that business can be a force for good in the world and I want to be a part of that! Whether it is empowering artisans to expand their reach or promoting social inclusion through collaboration, the platform of commerce is powerful. Coupling that core belief with a love of good design makes this business a real passion project for me.
Where does your creativity and passion for design come from?
My family is full of artists and travelers. My parents lived in Northern Africa and SE Asia for 6 years in the 1970s. I grew up looking at photos of their travels all over the world. Those images, coupled with a house full of fine art from my aunts, uncles and grandparents created a strong connection to travel and design. They both feel like part of my DNA.
Can you describe the moment or time when you knew that working with these developing regions / bringing exposure to their craft was your calling?
I’m not sure it was one moment but more like a building of moments that led me to where I am. I have been working in international development for a long time and I love it. But after years of policy work, I knew I had to engage my creative side. So this work grew naturally out of that experience working internationally and a desire to something different and create products with meaning and function.
Please share why it is so important to be intentional and ethical with how we spend our money.
There is a strong relationship between how we consume, what we surround ourselves with and our wellbeing. People know this instinctively but are often overwhelmed by so many choices. Applying mindfulness to our consumption, and what we bring into our life, impacts everything! When I am mindful, my whole outlook on life shifts. It’s been really encouraging to see more influencing voices talk about the power of less. While we still have a way to go to shift our national consumption habits, the tides seem to be shifting.
Do you have any advice on how to be more intentional about how we decorate our homes?
Lots of people say, “Only bring in what you love. You’ll always find a place for it.” I think is true to some degree. Although, I have bought some things that I loved that are now sitting in my garage or at a second-hand store.
My advice now is to sit with your space and go with your gut. I do think less is more. Buy pieces that stand out and create a space that shows them well.
What role, in general, do you think artists/craftsman play in society? What are your thoughts on being an artist in today's world?
If we are talking about American society, I think it’s an interesting question. On one hand, we have incredible artistic and handmade traditions in this country. But on the other hand, we have seen decades of decline in the production of handmade goods in favor of cheaper, more disposable items.
Over the last 15 years, the tide seems to be shifting back which is inspiring. More people are interested in pursuing craft and art as a career and technology have created tremendous opportunities for people to do that. But I still think it is hard to make a living in the handmade world. All of the downward pressure on pricing has made people become accustomed to paying very little for home and personal goods. It’s improving but I would love to see art and craft get out of the luxury market and into something more accessible to everyone.
What’s your favorite artwork? Why?
My favorite pieces of artwork are the watercolors and sketches that come from various family members. That is pretty much all I have in my house. Since I work with textiles, I also love both textile art and textiles as art. Both my grandparents and aunt and uncle were artists. And my father was an incredible photographer so I have a lot of family art hanging on my walls. And textiles of course.
What kind of daily routines or rituals do you have?
I have a two-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter so routines are hard to come by these days. In an ideal world, a morning routine would include a strong cup of coffee, time with my kids and then a nice 20-30 min yoga or meditation session before I start work. Routine and ritual are so important for creativity and productivity. Right now I prioritize a strong routine for my kids since it’s also so healthy for them. But having a good routine for them also helps me as well!
What’s your favorite thing that you created?
I love designing rugs with our partners in both Morocco and Mexico. Giving them my vision and them having them provide their own unique take on it is super fun. I am also starting a clothing line which I hope to launch next year. That has been super exciting, different and fun!
What do you try to communicate through your art/ craft?
I am trying to take the quality and essence of handmade products and translate that into something that is modern and practical. A well-made piece becomes a part of you in a way that something that is mass produced just can’t compare.
Is there a creative medium you would like to pursue but have not yet tried?
Clothing! Stay tuned.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Just keep going.
And try not to look at others too much. It’s great to get inspired but focus on your own work.
SHOP OUR LINE OF TERRITORY DESIGN