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RapidChat: Erica Lang

Back in November of 2013, Rapid Growth Media covered Erica Lang and Brooke Ruble during the adolescent stage of their company - Woosah Outfitters. Nearly two years later, we have followed up with Erica (who is now the sole owner), on not only the progression of the enterprise, but to dig a little bit deeper into the mind of Miss Lang, and see what awakens her creative senses. 
Erica Lang

Back in November of 2013, Rapid Growth Media covered Erica Lang and Brooke Ruble during the adolescent stage of their company, Woosah Outfitters. Nearly two years later, we follow up with Erica (who is now the sole owner) on the progression of the enterprise, dig a little bit deeper into the mind of Miss Lang, and see what awakens her creative senses. 
Rapid Growth: I remember seeing a fundraiser online to help support your new business – Woosah Outfitters. What inspired you to reach out to the public in such a way?
 
Erica Lang: I really needed help in order to create a community space – my retail store and printshop -- and I thought asking my community to back me on Kickstarter would really create a sense of community around the space. I didn’t do it alone; I did it with the help of all 360 people who backed me, not to mention countless hours of building with family and friends. Seeing and feeling that my community, locally and not locally, supports my vision and believes in my dream has been unreal.
 
RG: How has the public responded to your new store opening?
 
EL: Amazingly! It’s awesome to hear all the positive responses and how excited people get when they walk through the door and feel the vibes.
 
RG: Why 131 S. Division?
 
EL: I have been eyeing the Avenue for the Arts since I moved to Grand Rapids in 2012. This area has always been very inspiring to me. I am not alone here, I am surrounded by several other talented makers, such as Parliament the Boutique, Have Company and Propaganda Doughnuts. It’s exciting to see and be a part of the growth in this area. Not to mention, as soon as I walked into the space I felt my heart burst with excitement, just feeling that this was it, this was my dream shop.
 
RG: What drew you to print making over any other medium of art?

EL: Well, I like to make, and I like to do it often. In printmaking you can crank out an entire edition in a day, and then move on to something else the next day. Or if you feel like spending more time, you can take months to complete a piece. I like being able to authentically print multiples and spread the woosah to more than just one person - if there was only one original. When printing from a carved woodcut, each print is an original. I also love the physical aspect of carving. It’s completely meditative for me.
 
RG: Explain to me how you go about the ‘editions’ of blocks.
 
EL: Each block is carved and then printed as an edition. An edition is a set number of prints printed from that block with the same color ink, same size, and type of paper. This means that there are only X amount of prints in the world. So, let’s say someone comes into my shop and buys a print, the print will have a number over a larger number in the lower left corner. The top number is what number print they have out of the total amount printed. They aren’t unlimited and they aren’t mass produced, they are all printed by hand here in my printshop.
  
RG: Are all of your designs completely limited? Or are there a few that will be timeless pieces?
 
EL: Right now they are all limited; however I will be printing a few of them as second edition blocks. I may also make some of the more popular or staple pieces open editions. This means that there are as many in the world as I end up printing, and I can continue to print it as long as I want.
 
RG: What does the creative process typically look like for you when creating new designs for your brand?
 
EL: I usually get a sudden urge to sit down and draw or sketch out an idea. Sometimes it comes to me when I’m out hiking. If I can't sit down and draw or create, I take pictures of what inspired me to remind me later and evoke the feeling again. Sometimes I’m just hanging out and decide to draw a circle or any shape and see what comes of it. I like designing with no end product in mind, but on the flip side I love having a very specific idea and executing it. I think being open to the natural changes that occur during a creative process is key. When I am carving I can’t predict what the lines will look like because it’s happening in that moment, and each moment following until I am finished. I think that’s beautiful if you embrace it.
 
RG: While you were still attending Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), what did you originally anticipate doing after college?
 
EL: This. I started the brand back in late 2012 while I was going to school so it was constantly on my mind. I wanted to open a store right after I graduated in May 2014, but realistically knew if I did it the same year I graduated, I wouldn’t have the funds to do it as great as I imagined. So I held off and focused on freelance jobs and growing my brand. While I was at KCAD my main concern was how can I do this as a career?” I was completely driven to prove that it can be done, to live off pursuing your passion. Just being able to be self-employed out of college was an incredibly rewarding feeling.
 
RG: Do you have any future plans for Woosah Outfitters?
 
EL: Oh yeah, so many! I am really excited to start collaborating with other makers and release limited edition goods based on those collaborations. I want to expand the brand into home goods and bags as well. Offering wholesale is in the back of my mind as well, but I see that as a distant future endeavor. I plan on opening a second location within the next 5 years and traveling the country for inspiration hopefully next summer. I think I just might need a VW Bus, you know, as a business expense. My biggest future goal is designing an entire cut and sew clothing line. I can’t wait for that day. 

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.

Photography by Adam Bird
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