“If you have a clear vision and it’s all you can think about – go for it! You only live once, I feel living a life of freedom is the most important goal we can set for ourselves.”
Living a creative life full of adventure and surrounded by objects that bring freedom and happiness defines Shay Spaniola and her home goods design studio, bunglo.
Drawing from Shay’s painting and photography background combined with her global travels, bunglo is focused on bringing joy into homes and spaces through unique textiles and colorful patterns.
We wanted to learn more about the founder of bunglo, so we chatted with Shay to learn about her background in design, how she got started with her businesses (plural!) and life as a creative entrepreneur. Read on to learn what a typical day looks like for her, where she goes for inspiration and what her best advice is for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before bunglo, and what led you to start the business?
Before starting bunglo, I worked at Anthropologie as a visual merchandiser and a documentary photographer. I focused on sharing stories of positive change across the global, creating marketing videos, photos and stories for companies such as the Clinton Global Initiative, Students of the World, Procter and Gamble and various fair trade companies around the world. I also had a wedding and portrait photography business that allowed me to connect with the most beautiful souls – I still do photography from time to time! I had a degree in Art & Design from the University of Michigan with a focus in painting and photography.
What has been the most unexpected part about owning a business?
Production has been the hardest part of my business! I’m not a trained ‘designer’ – I’m a painter, photographer and graphic designer but didn’t have the technical skills to create sewing patterns, tech packs or work with manufacturers when I first started bunglo. There were many times when I felt I was in over my head and ready to quit! I’m so happy I didn’t though! I now have new skills and reminded myself I can learn anything I put my mind to!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I typically wake up early and take time to meditate and write – this allows me to clear my head and focus on what’s important. My husband and I have a large dog who needs tons of walks so we take him for a few miles in the morning on the trail by the lake near our home. I work out of the co-working space The Refinery in Austin, TX and love the community there. You can find me in the office 3-4 days a week, the rest of the week I’m working on photoshoots and meetings with designers. After work, I practice yoga and love to cook. I make time for frequent trips as well, that keeps me inspired and joyful!
As a designer, where do you go for inspiration? What fuels your creativity?
Traveling always refreshes my mind and inspires new ideas! If I can’t get away for a trip, spending time in nature usually does the trick! In Austin, you can find me at Barton Springs at least once a week!
How has community played a role in your journey as a small business owner?
I love my creative community in Austin! Everyone is so supportive and genuine. I’m grateful to have friends that pick me up when I’m down and to collaborate with on new ideas!
You recently launched a second business, Indigo & Sage. What led you to start a new venture, and how do you balance both?
I saw a need in the market to curate goods for the modern bohemian — lifestyle products that support artisans, small businesses and sustainable brands. Many of my friends sell beautiful products and I wanted to highlight makers in Austin and afar. Indigo & Sage launched less than a month ago and we’re already getting sales and great feedback! I first attempted to run the company myself but was overwhelmed with the to-do’s so I took on a partner who handles the buying aspect. Hannah has been a gift to say the least, she’s so smart and knowledgeable in areas I struggle with. I couldn’t do it without her!
What are you currently reading or listening to?
I’m currently reading a few books on the chakra system. I’ve always been interested in color therapy and how color can impact the way we feel. While traveling through India, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, I was exposed to ancient ways of feng shui which led to launching colorful patterns for bunglo. I’m now interested in learning about color therapy in natural healing. It’s pretty magical stuff.
Favorite way to unwind after a long week?
Barefoot outside with my family.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to pursue their passion and start a business?
If you have a clear vision and it’s all you can think about – go for it! You only live once, I feel living a life of freedom is the most important goal we can set for ourselves.
Images by Michael Schaffer.