We had the good fortune of connecting with Brianna Bruderlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brianna, how does your business help the community?
Three of my biggest passions in life are travel/exploring other cultures, women’s empowerment and the environment. When I first started my business, it didn’t occur to me that I could combine these things into a job, it just kind of progressed naturally which I think is what happens when we follow our true paths. The Fox and the Mermaid sells clothing, accessories and home decor designed mostly by me and made in India and Guatemala, both in the artisans’ homes as well as small family-owned factories. Most of The Fox and the Mermaid products are made by women who set their own prices and work on their own schedules. All of the products are handmade using traditional, eco-friendly methods and/or repurposed vintage textiles. Absolutely nothing is mass produced. The fabric used for the clothing and bedding is hand printed using carved wood blocks that have been dipped in natural pigments made from fruit, vegetables, plants and bark. The fabrics are stamped entirely by hand and the process requires no machinery or electricity. After the fabrics have been printed, they are put outside to dry naturally in the sun. I also make clothing and bags using up-cycled vintage saris, tribal patches, and handwoven embroidery. I like to think of my products as timeless pieces that you will keep forever and can pass on to the next generation.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My company is called The Fox and the Mermaid. I sell clothing, accessories, and home decor that are made with repurposed vintage textiles and handcrafted using traditional artisan techniques with little to no environmental footprint. Most of my products are one of a kind with a focus on India and Guatemala. The fabrics used for the clothing and bedding are printed using carved wood blocks that are dipped in natural dyes and stamped onto the fabric by hand. There are no machines or electricity used in the process. The fabrics take weeks to print as it is all done by hand and eye, and the dyes are made from fruit, plants, bark and vegetables. I think of my products as timeless pieces that you can keep forever and pass on to the next generation. It definitely has not been easy. In addition to cultural and language barriers, there is the added difficulty of working from afar. I travel to India a few times a year to work on new designs with the artisans, but there are always unexpected obstacles that come up. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that you really have to plan an entire year ahead which is hard as a young small business. Problems ALWAYS come up and once you realize that is part of the deal it becomes a little easier and less stressful to deal with.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a native Angeleno with full blown bohemian spirit so I will always be partial to Venice beach. I never get tired of walking down the Venice boardwalk and enjoying the street performers, shops, impromptu drum circles, palm trees, people watching, artists and the beautiful ocean. The Venice canals are also a unique sight. After a long day of roaming around Venice, a great place for an end of the day cocktail and sunset photo op of the ocean is the Hotel Erwin rooftop bar. A drive down PCH towards Malibu is also a nice way to spend an afternoon. Along the way, Topanga Canyon, for those who also have an inner hippie, is definitely worth the detour. Lunch at Inn of the Seventh Ray is a must. If you get lucky you might even have a deer stop by to take a drink from the stream below the patio. There are also a lot of beautiful hikes that culminate with ocean views. For something a little different, Malibu Wines puts on jeep safaris around their vineyards where you can stop and feed their beautiful animal friends including zebras and giraffes. Along the way you stop and taste some of their many wines. A hike around the Hollywood sign and a visit to Universal Studios is also a fun way to spend the day. And nothing beats a concert at the Hollywood Bowl! It has amazing, clear views of the Hollywood sign and surrounding hills and you can bring your own picnic basket full of food and drinks at no charge. It almost doesn’t matter who is playing, it’s just a nice way to spend an afternoon or evening under the stars. In addition to seeing all the local spots, I really love how easy it is to take quick road trips around southern California including to Santa Barbara, Ojai, Palm Springs, Big Bear Lake, and even Mexico are all a hop skip and a jump away.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am a huge fan of the book “Get Rich Lucky Bitch” by Denise Duffield-Thomas. It has really changed my life, both personally and professionally. In fact, it was so impactful for me that I re-read it three times within the span of a month! While the book is about manifesting, what I really took from it was that there are opportunities and resources all around us, many of them right under our noses, but often we just don’t notice them. After reading the book I started making daily gratitude lists (I know a lot of people do this, but to me it felt a little out there and silly at first), writing down my goals daily and tracking my progress, re-examining my beliefs about money, and setting larger goals. I read it at a time that things were feeling very stagnant in my work life and soon after I started discovering opportunities everywhere and grew my business rapidly. I would recommend it for anyone, regardless of what you are trying to achieve.